Paoletti: Following the routine on a night that was anything but

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Paoletti: Following the routine on a night that was anything but

INDIANAPOLIS -- It ended so abruptly.

Tom Brady heaved that last Hail Mary into the end zone and nobody caught it. Game over. It felt like, four hours into the most ambitious, revealing conversation you've ever engaged in, your listener suddenly turned heel and walked away.

New England filed off the field, avoiding, beyond everything, the celebratory snowfall of confetti that precipitated for the New York football Giants. It was as if one glittery shred could have scalded Patriot skin.

The tradition that followed -- the media meet -- was hardly routine.

New England lost the Super Bowl. Again. Now the players had to talk about it. A job hazard. An obligation of both sides, every week, until the end.

Except there is no bright side at the end. No chance to correct mistakes, no chance to prove that the loss is not who you are, no chance to git 'em next week.

This truth was written on their faces.

One by one, the Patriots trickled into the makeshift "interview room." Black curtains partitioned the enormous space being occupied inside the bowels of Lucas Oil Stadium. Podiums dotted the slate gray floor in a horseshoe shape.

The players stepped up, sat down, and dared reporters to speak.

Sometimes, nobody did.

Jerod Mayo didn't even relieve himself of his uniform, so badly did he want the damn thing over with. He broke the silence first trying to expedite the process: "Let's go! Let's go!"

BenJarvus Green-Ellis barely moved his mouth to shape his words, as if that would soften their reality. "Football is a game that's played where everything's earned. Nothing is given to nobody. The Giants earned it." His is not a dynamic personality anyway; Sunday night, Green-Ellis looked broken.

James Ihedigbo took his corner podium like a wounded wolf. He bared his teeth on every answer, stubbornly refusing to show weakness. "I don't think there's one play they beat us out there," he growled.

Rob Gronkowski was heartbreakingly gracious. "We'll have more chances." The optimism betrayed his youth -- and his remarkable talent. Confidence, naivety -- both -- fueled his optimism. You wanted to believe him.

The rest ranged from near-tears regret (Wes Welker) to broad-minded determination. (Kyle Arrington). And all of it happened in startling proximity to the Super Bowl Champion Giants.

Figuratively, the teams were separated by an ocean of a designation: winners, losers. Literally, all that stood between them were those indifferent black curtains.

The PA system's boom of player announcements cut awkwardly into the Patriots' efforts. "I can't hear you," more than a few said.

Eli Manning's availability was pronounced too loud.

Finally, it was time to pack up and go home. Today they went to Gillette, packed up, and went home from 2011 for good.

Until the conversation can begin again.

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.

Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find relief help?

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Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find relief help?

Jared Carrabis joins Sports Tonight to discuss the news that Carson Smith will undergo Tommy John surgery, and whether he has faith that Dombrowski will be able to find bullpen help.