Pro Bowl bids are a team honor for Patriots

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Pro Bowl bids are a team honor for Patriots

FOXBORO -- Vince Wilfork was voted into his fifth Pro Bowl, the NFL announced last night, and it's an honor that never gets old.

"Just appreciate everybody who voted," Wilfork said. "It's always an honor to get acknowledged for being in the Pro Bowl. That's always ver exciting for the wife and the kids. A lot of hard work so I'm very appreciative for everything, being a Pro Bowler and everything."

The defensive lineman was voted to the Pro Bowl in part because of his impressive numbers this season. He already has a career-high in passes defensed with six. He also has a career-high three forced fumbles and a career-high four fumble recoveries to go with 27 tackles and two sacks.

He insisted that the honor said more about the team than his own play, and he hinted at the fact that there were even more Patriots who deserved the honor than the seven named on Wednesday.

"All these guys, these guys work very, very hard," Wilfork explained. "There's probably some guys who got snubbed around the league. I know there's a couple guys out here who feel like they were snubbed. But you know what, just keep working hard, it'll pay off. We got a lot of guys in this locker room that was well deserving of being an All Pro and Pro Bowler so I was just lucky to get picked by my peers and everything, people I play against. It just shows a lot of guys respect what we do so I'm very happy with it."

Wes Welker, who set a record last week by recording the fifth 100-catch season of his career and was named to his fifth straight Pro Bowl, felt similarly. It's a nod that is a testament to the team, not just the honored player.

"It's definitely an honor," Welker said. "I think it's a reflection of how well the team has done this year. Hopefully we can just keep it going.

"I think it's a good reflection of our whole team and everybody coming out and trying to execute their job to the best of their ability. It's more of a team thing really than an individual thing I think around here."

And as nice as it is to be named to the Pro Bowl, none of the Patriots are really hoping to see Hawaii for the game. It would mean they didn't reach the Super Bowl, which will be played in New Orleans the following week.

"Team success is more important than any of this," said special teamer Matthew Slater, who was named to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year. "I'd rather be eating gumbo in New Orleans than pineapple in Hawaii. I think that the team has had a good year, and that shows by us getting individual awards. But really they're not individual awards. They're team awards and team honors and I feel like my honor goes to the rest of the core guys are out there with me."

Tom Brady (eight Pro Bowls), Logan Mankins (five), Rob Gronkowski (two) and Jerod Mayo (two) were also named to the Pro Bowl for their play this season.

Freeney, who expressed interest in joining Pats, taking physical for Bengals

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Freeney, who expressed interest in joining Pats, taking physical for Bengals

Dwight Freeney, who expressed a modicum of interest last week in joining the Patriots, is being checked out on Wednesday by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 36-year-old pass rusher, who had an eight-sack season with the Cardinals last year, is in Cincy for a physical, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter

The Patriots kicked the tires on Freeney back in 2013 before Freeney spent two seasons with the Chargers. He was with Arizona for just one season and has expressed that his first choice is to return to the Cardinals. 

Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

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Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

Peter Chiarelli may be long gone from Causeway Street, but his spirit lives on. 

If someone can explain to me the Bruins' fascination with bottom-of-the-roster veterans with average talent, then I'd love to hear it. I used to think it was the problem of Chiarelli, the B's former general manager. But now I have to wonder if it's just in the water down there. And current GM Don Sweeney is chugging it.

I have no other explanation for the team's decision to sign defenseman Kevan Miller to a four-year (four!) extension worth $10 million yesterday. Miller is a nice role piece. But how that translates to four guaranteed years when he will turn 29 early next season and the Bruins have massive holes throughout their roster is beyond me. 

What's more, the B's already have nearly the identical player in Adam McQuaid, who is roughly the same age, same size, same shot (right), same injury history (poor) and plays the same role (bottom pairing, right side). McQuaid is a little less skilled than Miller, so of course, using Bruins logic, he makes a little more ($2.75 million). But McQuaid also got four years when he re-signed prior to last season.

Certainly, contracts worth $2-3 million annually aren't going to ruin your cap in a vacuum. But start adding them up you see how the Bruins got into trouble in the first place. Combine McQuaid and Miller's hits and you have $5.25 million of valuable space chewed up against the cap. Basically, that's the price of a solid, top-4 defenseman, which the Bruins need ten times more than a depth piece.

Scary. The Bruins currently don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2 defensemen. (Sorry, Bruins writers, Zdeno Chara belongs on a second pairing right now.) Yet they have decided to lock themselves up with a pair of No. 6 guys who basically duplicate each other. Again, why do the B's continue to overpay the bottom of the depth chart when the top is so lousy?

It's one thing for Chiarelli to overcommit to the likes of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Dan Paille, Greg Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg, etc. Those guys at least helped you win a Cup and get to another final. From an emotional standpoint, you can explain those mistakes. But Miller? He's been a part of one of the worst defense corps in the league the last few years. He's been on a team that has failed to make the playoffs two consecutive seasons. How do you fall in love with that guy?

Please don't tell me that Miller would have gotten that contract on the open market. I mean, it's true; he probably would have. But what does that matter? Does that mean it's a good deal? Just because Colorado was willing to pay Carl Soderberg just under $5 million a season, does that mean the B's should have paid the middling centerman that money last year? Of course not. Use your head. Just because someone else gets stupid doesn't mean you have to.

You shudder to think what's coming next. Loui Eriksson is still out there as a pending free agent. Ditto for Torey Krug. On a good team, the former is a third liner and the latter is another third-pairing guy. Neither have been good enough to lift the B's above the playoff line the last two years despite playing prominent roles. Both are about to get overpaid on the market . . . unless the B's step in first and insist on being the team that gets stupid and overcommits first.

Given what we've seen with Miller, how can anyone be confident that the B's will be smart enough to pass? My confidence level on this is somewhere around 0.0.

Which is exactly how much cap space the B's will have left with this approach.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN. 

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

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Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former Major League Baseball player is running for governor in Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union party, which bills itself as nonviolent and socialist.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells WCAX-TV voters will "need umbrellas" if he's elected, because "it's going to be raining dollars," referring to money trickling down from the wealthy.

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lee says he's a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker." He supports legalizing marijuana, a single-payer health care system and paid family leave.