Curran: O'Brien in a mess at Penn State

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Curran: O'Brien in a mess at Penn State

Well, if Bill O'Brien hoped to enhance his coaching career by showing he could deal with adversity, he landed in the right spot.

But as sanctions for the Penn State football program dropped on Monday, this feels less like adversity and more like unmitigated disaster.

And now it's worth wondering whether O'Brien would have made the decision to leave the Patriots and join the diseased Penn State program as Joe Paterno's successor if O'Brien knew then what he knows now.

A story this morning detailing O'Brien's contract shows that O'Brien did little to protect himself contractually from the Sandusky fallout.

Sara Ganim for The Patriots News reports that "if (O'Brien) wants to terminate employment for any reason before his five-year contract is over, he has to pay back his base salary at the time multiplied by the number of years left."

His base salary, Ganim reports, is 950,000 for 2012. He makes another 1 million for media-related university appearances and 350K from Nike.

Ganim also points out that the bonus structure in O'Brien's contract tied to the win-loss success of the Nittany Lions is where O'Brien will really take the hit. O'Brien would make up to 33 percent of his base salary for winning his division in the Big Ten, winning the Big Ten championship game, playing in a bowl game and winning the BCS title game.

The sanctions levied will make two of the bonus targets -- playing in a bowl game and winning the BCS title game -- completely unreachable for four seasons, since one of the penalties is that the Nittany Lions can't play in a bowl game.

O'Brien released a statement Monday morning reaffirming his commitment to the program despite the sanctions brought against Penn State:

"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.

"I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university."

You'd like to be able to credit O'Brien's desire to face the challenge in Happy Valley and say that it seemed like a good idea at the time when he took the job. But it wasn't. And now it's miles worse.

Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack

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Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are starting to make a habit of this.

After clinching the AFC East title during the regular season, they made sure to grab a picture together that they could throw on their respective social-media pages. They did the same again on Sunday night. 

Sporting their brand new AFC Championship hats -- and Brissett, who didn't dress for the game, in a championship t-shirt -- the trio posed in front of their lockers like the three best friends that anyone could have.

When Brady posted the shot on his Instagram page Monday morning, he captioned it with a speech from the movie "The Hangover," calling Garoppolo and Brissett part of his "wolf pack."

Belichick on Bon Jovi moment during AFC title game: 'He had the place rocking'

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Belichick on Bon Jovi moment during AFC title game: 'He had the place rocking'

After LeGarrette Blount plunged into the end zone from one yard away, giving the Patriots a 27-9 lead over the Steelers in the third quarter of the AFC title game, the Gillette Stadium crowd partied like it was 1989. 

While fans celebrated, the massive in-stadium video board showed Rob Gronkowski, Donnie Wahlberg and Jon Bon Jovi all sharing a booth while Bon Jovi's hit from 30 years ago, "Livin' on a Prayer," blasted over the public-address system. The crowd belted out the words while the man who made them famous orchestrated from his perch.

Of course it caught Bill Belichick's attention.

"I was definitely aware of it," said Belichick, who calls Bon Jovi a friend. "Jon, I've heard him play that song dozens of times. But he had the place rocking . . . Maybe a little more than we did. Pretty impressive."

Belichick and Bon Jovi met while Belichick was coaching with the Giants, where he spent 12 years as an assistant. Bon Jovi's style of music wasn't exactly Giants head coach Bill Parcells' cup of tea, but for some of the younger coaches on the Giants staff, one of the perks of the job was that there was a rock star from Jersey to wanted to hang around the team. 

Thus, a friendship was born. Once last night's game ended with Belichick making his record seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, Bon Jovi came down from his box to celebrate with his pal on the field. 

"He's a great friend," Belichick said. "He's been a great friend for a long time, all the way back into the 80s and we shared a lot of great moments together, including the 1990 Super Bowl in Tampa, when he was in the locker room after the game, taking crazy pictures and stuff like that. Great memories from there. It was great to have Jon here. Always appreciate his great support. It was quite a moment. One you usually don't see at a professional football game so it was special."