Kraft and Jacobs: From one extreme to the other

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Kraft and Jacobs: From one extreme to the other

On Friday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Patriots owner Robert Kraft dedicated a permanently empty black seat to the memory of this nations service men and women who have been prisoners of war or have gone missing in action.  It was a touching tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price for the preservation of the American way of life and just another example why the Krafts are widely regarded as the gold standard for owners in the realm of professional sports franchises.

On Friday in New York, Boston Bruins owner and Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors Jeremy Jacobs was doing his best to make sure that every seat at the TD Garden remains empty for the rest of this hockey season.  

Has there ever been a larger dichotomy between a towns team owners in the history of professional sports?  

On one hand you have Robert Kraft, who is almost universally loved.  A rocky relationship with NFL coach-and-prostitute extraordinaire Bill Parcels, and a aborted move to Connecticut, are distant memories for fans who now adore the Krafts and their loving stewardship of New Englands NFL franchise. Their hard work and personal capital have built a new stadium and instilled a championship tradition into a franchise that used to be a laughingstock. The days of the superflush gave way to three Super Bowls and more than a decade of championship contention and relevance.

And on the other hand you have the Jacobs family.  Since 1975 Jeremy and company have taken a successful and beloved franchise, rich with history and tradition, with undoubtedly the most loyal following in town, and done everything in their power to turn the fan base against them.  The Jacobs legacy, as far as Bruins fans are concerned, is composed of miserly spending, invisible leadership and years of profitable mediocrity.  This resulted in over 30 years of promise ending in failure and disappointment.  The ledger being in the black was always more import than the Bruins being in contention.   Forget one seat; Jacobs had to color half the seats in the then Fleet Center black so the vast number of MIA fans would be less evident to TV telecasts.  

You would think that these two couldnt be in any more diametrical opposition than the above examples, but the gulf between the two only widens when you compare the roles Kraft and Jacobs have played in their leagues respective labor disputes.  

Robert Kraft is widely credited as the man who instigated the deal between the NFL owners and the Players association during the 2011 NFL Lockout.  In-between caring for his wife Myra as she battled terminal cancer, Robert Kraft worked to bridge the gap between the players and owners.  Nobody who saw it will ever forget the announcement that ended the lockout where a haggard and drained Kraft was embraced by player rep Jeff Saturday and thanked personally for his role in bringing about labor peace. Football fans all over the country found out on that day what fans in New England already knew: That Robert Kraft loved the sport of football and was there for it and its fans when the sport needed him the most.

Jeremy Jacobs? He is widely regarded as the driving force behind not one but two crippling NHL work stoppages.  

In 2004, JJs years of frugality at the expense of contention came to fruition as Jacobs and the rest of the owners finally got the salary cap he lusted for.  No Bruins fan will ever forget Jacobs willfully killing off a season in exchange for his precious cap.   Nor will they forget that in the process, the best Bruins squad in a decade was gutted during the lockout and it left the team woefully ill-equipped to contend afterwards.  But in Jeremy Jacobss world, cost certainty made it all worth it.  Bruins fans would beg to differ.  

The Bruins suffered through a rebuilding process that included front office turnover, roster churning, and a period of fan apathy like no other.  But after years of rebuilding, Jacobs had a sport experiencing record growth, a Stanley Cup and a new chance to rewrite his hockey legacy.

Once again labor related turmoil is threatening the NHL.  With the blood feud to establish a hard salary cap behind them, the opportunity for compromise between the players and owners seemed attainable.  The chance to mediate a settlement and complete his legacy rehabilitation was there to be had for Jacobs. But unfortunately, there was also a chance at more money.  

Instead of stepping to the forefront to broker an agreement and save hockey from another cataclysmic event, Jeremy Jacobs is once again the leader of a cabal of hardline owners determined to line their pockets at the expense of the NHL and its fans.  According to some reports, Jacobss mere presence at Fridays meetings may have derailed any recent progress. 

Jacobs never was and never will be a caretaker of the game like Kraft.  Hes never really been a fan, just a guy out to make a buck.  In order to make more money Jacobs is again willing to risk the future of a contending team and a fragile niche sport.  In his never-ending quest for a better deal, Jeremy Jacobs is more than willing to spit in the faces of the players the fans.  When this mess gets sorted out there wont be a photo op of Sidney Crosby thanking Jacobs with a impromptu embrace, and if  Sid the Kid did hug J.J. hed  be wise to check for his wallet afterward.

On Friday in Foxboro, Robert Kraft once again proved that he and his family are worthy caretakers of the Patriots.  A bust in Canton will bare his likeness because, like the POWMIA slogan, Robert Kraft has never forgotten his role as the caretaker his the team, the sport and the fans he serves.  

On Friday in New York, Jeremy Jacobs proved he is once again willing to put his sport at risk for money.  The Jacobs name will live in infamy and be forever synonymous with unquenchable greed.  Jeremy Jacobs willfully and repeatedly damaged the NHL and the sport of hockey. For this he will never be forgotten or forgiven.

Belichick taking wait-and-see approach with Stork's status

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Belichick taking wait-and-see approach with Stork's status

FOXBORO -- Bryan Stork has had a whirlwind few days. 

On Wednesday, news broke that Stork had been informed of his release. Then before that move became official, the Patriots and Redskins worked out a trade to send the third-year center to Washington. After that, indications were that Stork was retiring, and the Redskins were unsure as to whether or not he would even report. 

Stork eventually made up his mind, tweeted that he was ready to start a new chapter in his career -- a tweet he has since deleted -- and made his way to the Redskins.

The latest update on Stork's saga is that he failed his physical and that his right have reverted back to the Patriots. When asked about the situation, Bill Belichick chose to wait on illuminating the media of his plans since the picture was still a bit hazy.

"I don’t know if that’s official," Belichick said of Stork's rights. "That sounds like the way it is going to go."

Asked if the Patriots would be releasing Stork, as they originally intended, Belichick replied, "Well, we’ll find out exactly what the story is and whenever that is we’ll make the best decision that we can."

Stay tuned.

Return of Gerald Green could fill vital bench role for Celtics

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Return of Gerald Green could fill vital bench role for Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON –  Say what you want about Gerald Green, but his athleticism is the one thing you can bank on him delivering.

The 30-year-old Green doesn’t play above the rim nearly as much as he used to, but he does enough to where his presence will indeed be an upgrade for the Celtics this season.

But in terms of what his exact role will be, that will be worked out in the coming months as Green begins a second tour of duty with Boston (the Celtics drafted him with the 18th overall pick in 2005).

The ceiling for Green: Sixth or seventh man

Green’s return will in no way impact Jae Crowder’s status as the Celtics’ starting small forward. And Avery Bradley has nothing to worry about when it comes to Green competing for his spot as the team’s starting shooting guard, either. But Green’s experience will give him a chance to compete for minutes behind both coming off the bench.

At 6-foot-8, Green has the size and length to play both positions. And having played nine seasons in the NBA, Green has learned enough in that time to find ways to impact games in ways besides highlight-quality dunks.

Green is coming off a not-so-stellar season in Miami in which he averaged 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds, while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and just 32.3 percent on 3s – both numbers below his career averages.

Part of Green’s drop in production last season (he averaged 11.9 points or more in three of the previous four seasons) had to do with the emergence of Justice Winslow, and Green’s own shooting struggles, which eventually led to him playing a more limited role in the Heat offense.

But in Boston, Green won’t be counted on to be a significant contributor in terms of scoring. Instead, he will be seen as a player who can be looked upon from time to time to provide some punch (offensively or defensively) from the wing. If we’re talking offense, Green can help both from the perimeter or as an effectively attacker of the rim.

The floor for Green: Active roster

As much as the attention surrounding Green’s game centers on what he does with the ball in his hands, it his defense that will keep him on the Celtics’ active roster all season. Although Miami sought scoring more often from others, doing so allowed Green to focus more of his attention on defense, which may wind up being the best thing for his career at this stage.

Coming off the bench primarily after the All-Star break, opponents shot 33.3 percent when defended by Green, which was more than 10 percentage points (10.9) below what they shot from the field (44.2) overall.

He was even tougher on opponents shooting 2-pointers against him. They were held more than 15 percentage points (15.5) below their shooting percentage from 2-point range when he was defending versus their overall shooting for the season.

But don’t be fooled.

Green can still score the ball and as he gets older, he’s finding more and more ways to do so.

While much of Green’s NBA success has come about with him attacking the rim, he has progressively improved his game as a catch-and-shoot player. In fact, 54.8 percent of his shot attempts last season were of the catch-and-shoot variety according to nba.com/stats.

That makes sense when you consider that he had an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .491 when he took shots without taking any dribbles, which was better than Green’s eFG% when he shot from the floor and took at least one dribble.

Green’s second stint with the Celtics doesn’t come with nearly as much hype as there was when Boston selected him  out of high school with the 18th overall pick in 2005. Still, he has the potential to fill a vital role for the Celtics now, a role that could go far in determining how successful this season will be for himself as well as the Celtics.  

 

 

Injured offensive linemen Cooper, Mason return to Patriots practice fields

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Injured offensive linemen Cooper, Mason return to Patriots practice fields

FOXBORO -- The Patriots saw two of their injured offensive linemen return to practice on Monday.

Both Jonathan Cooper (out since suffering a foot injury on July 30) and Shaq Mason (reported hand injury) were on the practice field for the team's warm-up period. The pair then headed down to a lower field to do some conditioning with others. 

Special teams ace Matthew Slater, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, running back Dion Lewis and tackle Sebastian Vollmer were missing from the session. Lewis and Vollmer remain on the physically unable to perform list and won't be prepared to begin the season Week 1. Grugier-Hill missed Friday's preseason game with the Panthers due to an absence.

New Patriots edge defender Barkevious Mingo was present for his first practice with the Patriots. He was wearing the No. 51 which was most recently worn by former defensive captain Jerod Mayo. 

Danny Amendola (PUP), Tre' Jackson (PUP), Rob Ninkovich, Shea McClellin and Malcolm Mitchell went down to the lower field for conditioning after warmups. Jabaal Sheard, who has dealt with a knee injury he suffered against the Saints in New England's first preseason game, remained with the team for drills after warming up. Also, Alan Branch, who was suspended by the Patriots for a week and reinstated late last week, was present at practice.