Rondo credits Dooling with helping Celtics locker room

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Rondo credits Dooling with helping Celtics locker room

BOSTON -- Keyon Dooling sat at a locker as Jeff Green, Jason Terry, and Chris Wilcox listened with somber expressions on their faces. The Celtics had just lost a game in early January and their struggles with consistency continued.

As the media began to fill the locker room, Dooling ignored all distractions and continued to speak. He stayed seated to deliver his message. He stood up to demonstrate his advice. All the while, he never took his eyes off the trio of players, and they didn't break their attention from him.

Dooling never wanted to leave the game completely when he retired from the NBA in September. After an emotion-filled summer, he walked away from the Boston Celtics as a veteran guard and re-joined the organization as a player development coordinator.

Just months into his new role, he is already being credited for delivering the motivation and positivity he was so passionate about bringing during his career.

Since Jan. 4, the Celtics have gone from a 14-17 team on a four-game losing streak searching for an identity to 20-17 club that has won six straight. Following the C's 100-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, Rajon Rondo credited his former teammate and close friend for helping the team rediscover their swagger.

"Keyon Dooling has actually helped, actually," said Rondo. "Hes been in the locker room, amping guys up. His personality, I think it started with him."

Dooling earned the nickname "The Reverend" last season for his inspirational and impassioned talks. His trademark question, "What's driving you?" has forced countless athletes to look within and realize what they were playing for each day.

Rondo has noticed a change in the locker room since Dooling began infusing his personality within the walls. The point guard has seen his teammates playing more loosely on the court, with role players like Courtney Lee and Jeff Green smiling more often since the team began hitting their stride.

Our spirits are better, obviously," said Rondo. "It's not fun losing, and since we've been winning, the locker room has been a little bit more relaxed and not so tense. Guys are smiling again and joking, so it's back to where weve been from the start.

"We lost a couple games, but we never got down."

Just the type of optimistic sentiments Dooling would express, too.

Bennett on Goodell: 'Where is he? He's like Waldo right now'

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Bennett on Goodell: 'Where is he? He's like Waldo right now'

FOXBORO -- Leave it to Martellus Bennett, the children's book author, to make a cartoon reference when asked about the lingering effects of Deflategate. 

Could hear the "Where's Roger?" chants that rang throughout Gillette Stadium on Sunday night, a reporter wondered? Bennett deflected at first. 

"Who's Roger," he asked? 

Then it was pointed out to him that the chants were directed to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who opted to attend the NFC title game in Atlanta -- his second trip to the Georgia Dome in as many weeks -- instead of the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers. 

"Oh yeah," Bennett said, his memory apparently jogged. "Where is he? He's like Waldo right now. He didn't want to come here."

Tom Brady was asked about the chants as well. He had to have heard them, a reporter noted. 

"I didn't hear that chant," Brady insisted. "I did hear them singing to Bon Jovi, though, that was pretty cool."

Awaiting the Patriots in Houston will be the Atlanta Falcons, obviously, but one side plot will be the potential for a face-to-face for Goodell and the Patriots.

In the past, Goodell has handed the Lombardi Trophy to the Super Bowl winner following the game -- a tradition one would expect would continue this year regardless of who wins. The commissioner has also awarded the game's MVP award to the honoree on the morning after the game. Following the Super Bowl two seasons ago, Brady and Goodell shared a stage as Brady accepted the MVP hardware.