The Ides of March Madness

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The Ides of March Madness

Goal: Paoletti (1, 1)
Assisted by: Hart (1, 1), Shakespeare (0. 1)
CSNNE.com

ACT I, SCENE II. A public place. Like a Denny's.

Flourish. Enter CAESAR; BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a Soothsayer: ZOLTAN MESKANOV.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
Caesar!
CAESAR
Whaaaaat? I'm in the middle of a Grand Slam over here.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR
Huh?

BRUTUS
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

CAESAR
That wasn't a "Huh" like, "What did he say?" It was a "Huh" like, "What the hell is he talking about?" Is "ides" a type of cholesterol? . . . Get that crazy punter out here.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
It means March 15th. Beware March 15th -- today. And, I'm not the Patriots punter, our names are just really similar.
CAESAR
Whatever you say, weirdo. I'm outta here; I gotta lock everybody's brackets in the safe.
Exeunt all except BRUTUS and CASSIUS

CASSIUS
Hey. So, what's up with you this week?

BRUTUS
Just having a hard time with the March Madness this year. Florida a No. 2 seed? Are you kidding me? Pat Forde putting Kansas State in the Final Four threw me off, too. I'm conflicted.

And it doesn't help that Caesar thinks he's Jay Bilas and gets all cocky about his picks. His rules are ridiculous; does he really have to lock our brackets in a safe? I'm not going to back out of the pool. He's just a jerk.

CASSIUS
You're totally going to beat Caesar.

BRUTUS
I can't beat that guy. Caesar rules, man.

CASSIUS
Naw. You're gonna kill him. Seriously.

ACT 3, SCENE I. CASCA's crib.

A crowd of people; among them, the Soothsayer, ZOLTAN MESKANOV. Flourish. Enter CAESAR, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and a bunch of other guys. There's beer everywhere. Ev-ery-where.

CAESAR
To Meskonov It's March 15th and I'm fine, sucka!

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
Whatever, dude. Still some daylight left.

CASSIUS
Hey, Caesar, I'm on my knees here. Can you please let my bro, Publius Cimber, back in our group? That was a dick move to kick him out of the pool.

CAESAR
No way. Listen. The rules of our March Madness pool have been the same for 10 freaking years. I have never -- not once -- bent those rules for anybody. I'm like the North Star of bracket challenge commissioners. I'm consistent like Gary Bettman. I'm fair like Tim Higgins.

As the great MC Hammer once said: "You can't touch this." Cimber shouldn't have tried to white-out that Princeton upset over Kentucky. That's cheating. Your brother stays OUT.

CINNA
Caesar, you dick. Come on.

CAESAR
I SAID NO.

DECIUS BRUTUS
For real, dude?

CAESAR
DID I STUTTER?

CASCA
Enough of this.

CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS kick CAESAR in the testicles.

CAESAR
Et tu, Brute! Aw, God, what the HELL!

Vomits

CINNA
ONIONS! Ahahaha! That was NOICE! The March Madness tyranny is OV-AH. Tell eeee'rybody!

BRUTUS
He had it coming. Looks down at Caesar, who is clutching his groin The bracket challenge is supposed to be about fun. And money. Not you being a bigger jerk each year.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV To Caesar
What'd I say?! What. Did. I. Say?! But did you take me seriously? Nooooooo.

Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

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Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

What goes through Dont'a Hightower’s mind in the minutes before he takes the field and lowers himself into a cauldron of collisions, pain and exultation?

Not a thing.

“I rest. I literally rest,” said the Patriots Pro Bowl inside linebacker. “I don’t do anything else. I sit at my locker, I don’t listen to music. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I don’t look at film, I don’t look at notes. I’m just relaxed. Calm before the storm. I’ve done enough preparing, I’ve done enough notes, I’ve done enough of that stuff during the week. If I don’t know it by now, I don’t know it. It’s not gonna help me last minute. It’s only gonna make me play slower.”

By the time an NFL team hits the field – in the Patriots case, runs out of a giant, inflatable helmet while Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” blares – they are primped, polished, taped and glistening.

But what is their day like leading up to that? I asked a few Patriots to take me through their game-day prep from wakeup to anthem to give me insight into what we don’t see.  

You can hear Hightower, Nate Solder, Alan Branch, Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich detail the steps they take to get game-ready. French toast is involved. So are naps. And sock preparation.

It all builds to that moment of theater that Ninkovich says is what players truly miss when they leave the game – that feeling of euphoria.

“When we finally get to run out, that’s the most exciting time in the world,” says Solder. “The crowd wasn’t there earlier when we went out there and all of a sudden, the crowd is there. Very exciting, very fun, especially with the guys you work so hard with.”

Says McCourty, “I always think when I run out of the tunnel to look up and say, ‘Thank you’ just to be able to play.”

Listen to them tell their stories here:

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

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Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick was not in any mood to start revealing his behind-the-scenes pre-kickoff routine on game-days. The air of focus he's exhibited during his media-availability periods this week continued on Friday, particularly when he was asked about his Sunday rituals. 

When a reporter wondered if there was anything in particular Belichick does before a game, he initially said simply, "No."

A follow-up about superstitions was tossed Belichick's way next. He swatted that aside as well.

"Try to play and coach good," he explained. "Goes a long way."

There you have it. An easy-step-by-step guide on how to approach a game like a future Hall-of-Famer.