Suddenly interested in Favre


Suddenly interested in Favre

By Rich Levine

It pains me to pay attention to Brett Favre.

Not that I need to explain why, but heres a quick recap:

Over the past decade, Favres become the poster boy for all thats wrong with todays sports coverage; a muse for lazy, short-sighted writers and broadcasters whod still rather blindly harp on his grit, determination, courage and toughness than recognize everything he does to offset those redeeming qualities. Hes developed and cemented a reputation as one of the most needy, insecure and self-centered stars in sports, which in relative terms is as impressive an accomplishment as his Super Bowl ring. Anytime you hear someone say, You see, this is why I cant stand ESPN!, theres an 80 percent chance theyre talking about Favre.

Quite simply, Brett Favre makes it less fun to be a sports fan.

His presence clouds better, more interesting and inspiring story lines, and always leaves us wanting more. And by more, I mean different; anything other than Favre. It will literally be a relief when he finally hangs them up for good. Seriously, 2035 is going to be a fantastic year.

So given all that, writing a column about Favres latest headline stealing story feels wrong. It pains me. Its like theres a garbage fire burning in my living room and Im ready to toss in a bucket of human hair. Thank God its Columbus Day and everyone's out of the office. Well, everyone except for you. (Sorry.)

But the more I think about Favres alleged voice mails and MMS crotch shots, the more I find myself paying attention.

Im not so much talking about the actions themselves. I mean, yeah, its awful; a stupid, unprofessional move on his part. But Im not going to pretend that Favres the only married guy in America sending sketchy text messages to another woman. Im not going to get on a soapbox and criticize his morals, question his marriage, or call for his head. Although, I will say that I wasnt surprised to hear what (allegedly) happened.

Had Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or pretty much any quarterback other than Ben Roetlisberger been caught in a situation like this, I might be. But Favre? He hasnt necessarily portrayed himself as the most loyal, stable, considerate or trustworthy guy over these last few years. When I saw the video, I wasnt like, Wow! Brett Favre, really?! This wasnt a Tigers a sex addict revelation. It was more, Ha! Man, Favres such an idiot. Not that I saw the whole incident coming, but it kind of fits. Its not a shocker.

But what is shocking, and what keeps me coming back to this story, are the potential consequences a suspension, and the end of the most impressive and unbreakable record in NFL history.

288 consecutive starts and counting.

For all the trash I can talk about Favre, theres no denying his consecutive-start streak is all kinds of remarkable. Seriously, just think about it . . . the guy hasnt missed a game since 1992!

For comparisons sake, consider the team the Patriots fielded the day Favres streak began September 27, 1992. They started Hugh Millen at QB and Leonard Russell at RB. On that afternoon, a 41-7 loss to Buffalo, New England's leading receivers were Greg McMurtry and Marv Cook. Irving Fryar was still a Patriot; Andre Tippett, too. Dick MacPherson was coaching! This was ages ago.

Its hard to compare baseball and football in this respect, but given Favres degree of difficulty, you can make an argument that his streak is just as impressive as Cal Ripkens. Its beyond legendary.

And the fact that after withstanding 18 years of battle against the biggest, baddest and craziest monsters in the world, this streak has the potential to end at the hands of three pants-less photos is . . . I dont know.

Fitting? Unjust? Hilarious? Karma?

Really, I dont know. But its certainly interesting. Its definitely a Brett Favre subplot that Ill follow intently; one that wont make me want to throw myself into that garbage fire every time it comes up on SportsCenter. Its a story that Im excited to watch play out.
Until Roger Goodell chickens out and only gives Favre a fine. Then Ill just go back to despising him.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''


Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month


Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

BRIGHTON, Mass. – He hasn’t been cleared to play just yet, but fourth line energy guy Noel Acciari is closing in on a return to the Bruins lineup. 

Acciari joined in for a Bruins morning skate for the first time in 14 games at the end of last week, and practiced with the team again Monday for a morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. The 25-year-old has missed almost exactly a month with a lower body injury, and said he can thankfully now see the light at the end of the injury tunnel for a healthy return to the B’s lineup. 

“It was getting lonely with all the guys on the road, and with me just skating with Frankie [Vatrano] and Zee [Chara],” said Acciari. “It’s great to be back out there with the guys, and it’s good to be back. Each skate I feel a lot better out there and just trying to get my conditioning back. Just being back with the guys is a great feeling, and it’s a big help.”

The fourth line has been okay in Acciari’s absence, but it seemed to be lacking the same kind of energy and hard edge the Providence College standout provided when he was healthy. That was part of what led the B’s to call up the similarly rugged Anton Blidh from Providence at the end of last week, and could provide some interesting energy line options when Acciari is ready to return. 

“I’ve played with [Blidh] before, I’m used to him and I know what he brings to the table just like he knows what I can do,” said Acciari. “So it would work out well [if we played together] I think.”

Acciari has two assists and a plus-1 rating along with four penalty minutes while averaging 10:01 of ice time in 12 games this season, and proved to be very good at unnerving opponents simply by playing all-out all the time.