There's that word again

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There's that word again

By Michael Felger

I never thought I'd be so happy to see Tanguay's face in person again.That's what a week in Texas will do to you. Hey, Felger,

Now that the 2010 season is in the books, the main focus can be shifted to the new CBA and what 2011 will bring. With you being in Dallas all last week and being around everyone involved, what is your gut? What do you think will happen? It would be a shame to see any interruption to the 2011 season, especially considering the Super Bowl was the most-watched show in television history. Both sides say they want to come to an agreement, but it is pretty hard to come to an agreement when the sides are so far apart.

Ryan If I base my opinion solely on what I heard in Dallas, then I would say there's no shot of a new agreement getting done by March 4. And I agree with those who believe that once March 4 comes and goes, its going to get much, much worse. Thats when the lawsuits and legal maneuverings begin. And we all know what happens when lawyers take over. Its never quick and its never pretty. So on the face of it, Ryan, it doesnt look good. If gets past that date, I can see the preseason being impacted and perhaps even the regular season.But heres what I think has a decent chance of happening, and I base it on nothing more than a gut feeling. The owners are going to push the players as far as they possibly can, and then settle some time around that March 4 deadline. All the players have to do is move a little. Perhaps the owners will extend the deadline by a few weeks, but either way, they'll come to their senses before the lawsuits begin. Its the owners who started this, so it's up to them to end it. I just have to believe they'll do it before anything is lost.Kraft was right. It would be criminal if a labor dispute interrupted the success the league is enjoying right now. But Kraft needs to look in the mirror. If the owners didnt want a labor dispute, then why did they opt out? Again, this is their mess. Felgy,The Patriots have had difficulties making adjustments during the past three playoff games, which I think has played a major part in their lack of success. We know the ENTIRE team runs through Brady, from the passing attack to the complimentary defense -- which therefore limits the adjustments BB can actually make -- and that the coaching staff has been somewhat depleted. But what about Spygate? Since that fallout, and the end of videotaping opponents' signals, the Patriots are 0-3. Coincidence? And I'm not a disillusioned fan trying to pin the team's shortcomings on ONE thing. I just think it's peculiar that since they were busted for those tapes they've had difficulties in making adjustments; and since those tapes offer advantages in adjustments, I therefore don't think it's crazy to connect the two.What do you think? Crazy? To the dismay of the suckups, there had to be SOME reason for taking the time to record that footage. Perhaps we, as Patriots fans, underrate the role it has played their ability to make adjustments?
Greg
Manchester, NH The 'S' word, Greg? Really? Be careful. Youve got Patriots fans spitting up on their footy pajamas right now.Seriously, the No. 1 reason the Pats lost their last three playoff games is because they were the less aggressive, less physical and weaker defensive team in all three. The No. 2 reason is that Brady wasnt great in any of them. No. 3 relates to the game plans. They were poor, especially against the Giants and Jets. Whatever the next reason is, it's a distant fourth.That being said, somewhere down on that list comes the Pats' ability to decifer defensive signals. Ernie Adams just cant spin his magic the way he used to. And it has nothing to do with videotapes. Even after Spygate, the Pats could still try to decifer those signals. They could do it with their eyeballs. Or a pad of paper. But, remember, following the scandal the league went to radio communications in the helmets of defensive players. There are no more signals to steal, legal or otherwise. The Pats were good at it, and now they cant do it. It has to have had an impact. But, again, it pales in comparison to the issues they've had on defense and with their overall aggressiveness. Hey, Mike,There remains some members of the custodial staff in Dallas you didnt bring up Spygate during Super Bowl week!Listen, I have supported your show, even written a complimentary article about it, but you went off the rails big time last week in Dallas, and even among your most ardent supporters you should be shunned.I know youre trying to fill four hours a day, but no new information came out about Spygate. NOTHING!! Absolutely nothing. All that came out was that the commissioner wanted Belichick to answer questions three years ago after he punished him. Sorry, Rog, if he hurt your feelings. Youre the commissioner. If you felt deceived you should have demanded he do it or be suspended.But that was all. Goodell never said he still had doubts, he never said there was new information, he never said it tarnished Belichick's legacy. He just whined, because he has a massive ego. You also keep citing this article in the New York Times. New York media bias towards BB in NY?? Never! The New York Times, that bastion of objectivity? NEVER! Well, it came out in 2008, so why did you pick this week to talk about it?Mike, youre welcome to your own opinion on Spygate, but the bottom line is the story hasnt changed. People have made up their mind one way or the other. I dont need your dumb (expletive) opinion or Dick Vermeils or Chris Russos. Most educated people dont think it really mattered, and that includes me, but if people want to believe it tarnished the Patriots, let them. Youre not going to change everyones mind.Mike, youre not that smart. So let me give you a little history lesson: There have been presidents in this country that have saved the World from evil that were hated by at least 30 percent of the population. There are no absolutes. I think the Patriots were still taping in 2005-2006 and didnt win the Super Bowl. So clearly it wasnt foolproof or they would never have lost. Ask Marshall Faulk if it was the tapes or the three turnovers by the Rams? The Patriots havent won because they havent performed, and that is plain truth. You reference the story because it's news, but to bring it up to every person on your radio show last week, like it just broke on the wire, is bad radio.To be honest, that was the week I shut your show off for good. You're tabloid.GeorgeWoburn

So you're saying I'm never going to see or hear from you again? Say it isn't so, George! You can't leave. All the plants will die.And when you say the story hasn't changed and that no new information has come out for three years, you're mostly -- but not completely -- right. The only thing that's changed is that the Pats have lost yet another playoff game where they were outcoached and the in-game adjustments were slow to come. It's entirely possible that you're right and the signal-stealing had absolutely nothing to do with it (that would be zero percent, George). Maybe I just like a good conspiracy theory. Maybe I just enjoy the topic.
Hey, Felger,

I haven't been able to write or comment for the past few weeks because I was totally disilusioned by the Patriots' loss. I hated the 2009 team and was prepared to just casually watch this year's edition. But I got absolutely hooked and let myself get hoodwinked into thinking this was a Super Bowl team. Now, finally, I am able to realistically evaluate what went on and what will go on in the future.

Obviously, this team needs to get bigger and tougher. Yet they are going to let their biggest, toughest guy (Logan Mankins) go. I am really getting tired of the way the Patriots do business. I can't stand Bob Kraft and I'm souring on Belichick, and I'm also looking at Brady a little differently. The comments about how Belichick coached the Pro Bowl were very interesting to me. I can see a scenario where the players start to tune him out. His act is wearing very thin and his playoff record recently puts a real dent in his credibility. The stat that Gasper put out about the age thing is still holding up.

I loved BB and Brady as much as anyone, but I no longer have blind faith in either one. And Kraft? Phoney baloney. He always talks about the Patriot family and the fans and blah, blah blah. I believe Patriots Nation is slowly wiseing up to his bull.
Whew, all better now.

Steve
Chester NH Have you tried any primal scream therapy? And just so you know, you had every right to be "hoodwinked." The Pats were a legitimate 14-2. They beat just about every good team in the league. You had every right to expect more. And based on his comments in Dallas, it's clear Kraft did, too.I'm still hoodwinked, frankly. I expect the Patriots to be a Super Bowl favorite next year. They have the best coach, one of the best quarterbacks and an improving defense. I still believe that. I'd be stunned if they were one-and-done again.
Felger,I agree Bradys last three playoff games have been really subpar. However, if Asante Samuel holds on or David Tyrees helmet doesnt have stick-um, Brady would have engineered three game-winning Super Bowl drives in the final five minutes. As mediocre as he was in Arizona, that is what people would have been saying about him. Fact, not opinion. No other quarterback has ever done that, or even put their team in position to do so. Think about the legacy of Brady and the Pats if they hold on. But they didnt, so now there is doubt Brady can bring back playoff magic.

It's amazing how a win or a loss changes things in the NFL so dramatically. No one remembers Montana's three playoff losses in a row (just learned that). If Roethlisberger or Manning engineered game-winning drives in the last two years, think about how that changes their legacy. Now people will say (rightfully) that Ben won his first championship despite playing horribly, and James HarrisonSantonio Holmes were the main reason he won in 20052008.

Manning was able to beat Rex Grossman. Pathetic. (And if the Pats dont get called for too many players on the field in the AFC Championship -- not sure why that call doesn't live in infamy with Pats fans-- Manning doesnt even get to that Super Bowl).

Now Aaron Rogers will carry the "clutch" top playoff QB banner until next year, when Green Bay suffers the usual hangover or teams catch up to the Packers via scoutinggame planning.

No other sport is like this. Sox fans still think Beckett should be starting game 1.

Signed
Anonymous Pats fanI don't know how other fans view it, but I think I'm pretty consistent. I put a lot of weight on postseason success. I think it should define the top players. I don't care how many Norris Trophies Zdeno Chara has won, or how many times his team has won its division. He's in his 13th year and has never been to a Stanley Cup Finals, never mind won one. He's been to the conference finals just once. Until he clears those hurdles, I think you have the right to look at him skeptically. I believe you have the right to over-value Curt Schilling and under-value Alex Rodriguez for the same reasons.That's all a long way of saying that, in my mind, it's perfectly okay to judge Brady, Manning and the rest solely on how they've played in the postseason and the Super Bowl. On Rodgers, there isn't enough of a sample to draw conclusions. Favre looked pretty good at that age, too. Hey, Felger,

If you had to take a GM to build your team between Dimitroff and Pioli, who would you take? I'd take Dimitroff.

JP Well, Dimitroff has a better team right now, but he also had a year's head start. I'd still take Pioli.
Felger,What do you think about Michael Vick winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award? To me, it's a joke. His hiatus was due to his own criminal behavior. Why don't we just pardon Lawrence Phillips and Rae Carruth and see if they can light up the league next year? Better yet, the NFL should institute a Convicted Felon Player of the Year Award!!!KenWhitman
I agree, it's absurd. If you have to "come back" from something that was self-inflicted, should it even count?

Hey Felger,Last Sunday when I was watching Celts-Lakers, I saw Koby push a Celtic from behind into another Celtic. No call, but I thought about the sixth game of the Finals when Perk went down. I watched the tape and insist Koby kicked Perk's leg out from behind. What's your take? Dirty player or not?PatEast BostonSigned, Greg Dickerson.
Felger,Having viewed the video of KG "hitting" Gentry in the groin area, I think that your comments about this incident are completely wrong.In the first place, KG didn't hit Gentry, he reached out . . . and clearly did so with little force behind what he did.Secondly, it's not even certain that contact was made. If you examine the footage, Gentry doesn't act like anyone that I've ever seen who got their bells rung. He's angry, certainly, but other than that, there's no discernible physical reaction to what you have called a "low blow," excepting a brief bending at the waist -- after which Gentry struts around like an extra in a bad Michael Jackson video. Unless you've lived a charmed life, Mr. Felger, you know that that is simply not possible. I think that you responded to KG's reputation as a mean-spirited player (long-winded euphemism there) and you followed the herd. That's supposed to be how other sports reporters make their money.Ray North Adams
Signed, Gary Tanguay. FELGER!
Every time I hear the words J.D. Drew and sore hamstring in the same sentence, I just want Francona to whack him in the leg with a club and ask him if that hurt. Mike, here's the problem with Mr. Guts Drew: he doesn't have the heart to win. He's baseball's version of Jay Cutler. If Theo honestly believes this guy is worth a tad over 14 million and submitted it to a polygraph test, the Boston Fire Department would've showed up to put out the fire. Thank God one more year with him.

Matt
FraminghamNot a bad little No. 8 hitter, though.

Felger,What do you see as the Sox starting lineup? Does Jacoby get the No. 9 slot or the leadoff spot? I see him at 9 with Pedroia or Crawford leading off. I think Pedroia is a better 2 spot and Crawford doesn't want to lead off, so I'm not sure who leads off. As for cleanup, I think they'll start Gonzalez with Youkilis at 5, and if Youk starts off hot or Gonzo starts cold they'll switch. Either way. I'm SOO EXCITED!!! GO SOX!MikeRandolph
Signed, Dan Roche.Seriously, though, playing with the Sox lineup right now is pretty fun. Here's mine:1. Ellsbury2. Pedroia3. Crawford4. Gonzalez5. Youkilis6. Ortiz7. ScutaroLowrie8. Drew9. SaltalamacchiaVaritek

Felger,Better career -- Reggie Miller or Ray Allen?

Andrew
LeominsterAllen.
Felger, You DB! Some not-so-random thoughts as we wish Andy Pettitte well in his future endeavors as a full time hypocritical government rat:Rothlisbergers career Super Bowl line now reads as follows: two wins, one loss, 55-for-91 (58.4), 642 yards, 3TDs, 5 INTs, 64.4 QB rating. Hes not going to be entering the all-time great Super Bowl QB conversation anytime soon, and considering both his wins came against two of the weaker contenders this decade (Seattle and Arizona), Id rethink if he really belonged in the conversation in the first place. Especcially when you consider than in both those wins, the game turned in the Steelers favor on plays Ben had nothing to do with.I was very impressed with Dan Shaughnessys work this past week. Not only did he take time off from writing the Curse of Rohan Davey to actually host his own show, but in back-to-back columns he managed to craft observations about Gil Meche and Dan Paille into potshots at his good buddies Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, respectively, by the second paragraph.If A-Rod didnt let Papa Johns face feed him popcorn like a Roman emperor, he wouldnt need to throw a tantrum and demand Fox not show him again. What a freaking Diva. And Im torn about whats more unbelievable. That A-Rod expected a measure of privacy while using Cameron Diaz as a feedbag in the front row of a luxury box at a Super Bowl, or that he had Fox executives in his calling circle? By the way, if Im A-Rods cousin, I absolutely view Diaz as a threat to my job security. Can the NFL just get ACDC to do the halftime show? Thunderstruck, You Shook Me All Night Long & For Those About to Rock = Best Halftime Ever.And finally, Mikey, The Wood must be stopped. First there was the Christmas ambush. Then the Jorts Photoshop. And now the Wood posts a video of you looking and sounding like you just smoked a super bowl. This body of work represents a breach of trust on a WikiLeaks level that not only must be addressed but responded too.The line in the sun room has been drawn!Mike Attleboro The Wood better start feeding me popcorn after that one, Mikey.
Felger's weekly column appears on Mondays. E-mail him HERE and read the mailbag on Thursdays. Listen to Felger on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

HEISMAN: Lousiville's Lamar Jackson wins College Football's highest award

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HEISMAN: Lousiville's Lamar Jackson wins College Football's highest award

NEW YORK -- Lamar Jackson leapt over a loaded field of Heisman Trophy contenders early in the season and by the time he slowed down nobody could catch him.

The sensational sophomore quarterback became the first Louisville player to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, beating out preseason favorite Deshaun Watson of Clemson despite some late-season struggles.

Baker Mayfield finished third and Oklahoma teammate and fellow finalist Dede Westbrook was fourth. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was fifth.

For more clicke here . . .

Bruins lose third straight with 4-1 loss to Leafs

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Bruins lose third straight with 4-1 loss to Leafs

BOSTON -- The Bruins’ season has gone in extreme swings both up and down thus far through the first couple of months, and that was the case as they lost their third game in a row to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The Bruins couldn’t only scratch for one goal despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by a 32-20 margin, and fell by a disappointing 4-1 score to the young and talented Toronto club at TD Garden.

The Bruins never enjoyed a lead in the game against the Leafs, and were flirting with danger after failing to score in the first period despite out-shooting Toronto by an 11-2 margin in the game’s opening 20 minutes. Instead it was a David Pastrnak neutral zone turnover in the second period that was picked off by William Nylander, and ended with Auston Matthews firing a rocket over Tuukka Rask for his 12th goal of the season.

Toronto extended the lead with five minutes to go in the period when Zach Hyman tipped a wobbly Jake Gardiner point shot past Rask, and made it three games in a row that the Bruins have dug themselves a considerable hole. Brad Marchand got one goal back at the end of the second period on a nice hustle play as he sealed off Frederik Anderson’s clearing attempt and then stuffed the puck past the Leafs goalie on a second chance bid.

That’s the way the score remained until the third period when the Bruins couldn’t convert on a couple of offensive chances -- included a bang-bang shorthanded bid for Austin Czarnik in front of the net -- and then James van Riemsdyk scored in front as a Toronto power play expired. That was the backbreaker for a Black and Gold bunch that continues to scrap for goals, and has now scored two goals or less in 20 of their 20 games this season.

Connor Brown added an empty netter in the final two minutes of the game to truly put it out of reach for the Bruins.