Suffering for Takeo Spikes

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Suffering for Takeo Spikes

This afternoon, Tom E. Curran posted an interesting story on Patriots defensive back Derrick Martin, who signed with the team last week, and comes to New England as the only player in the NFL with a ring from each of the last two Super Bowls.

Not that he did anything to earn them he was on the IR with the Packers in 2010 and only made four tackles last season for the Giants but that won't matter 30 years from now. Martin's got rings! Two more rings than Dan Marino and Dick Butkus combined. One more ring than Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis and Brett Favre. And this year, now that he's on board with the Patriots, Martin will look to join Ken Norton Jr. as the only guy in NFL history to play for three consecutive Super Bowl winners. Amazing stuff. Read more about Martin here.

After I was done reading, I thought about Takeo Spikes.

I guess that's pretty random, since he has nothing to do with the Pats, but . . . let's connect it this way: The Pats play the Bills on Sunday. Spikes had two of his best seasons while playing for the Bills. Not to mention, Spikes is also the older cousin of Brandon Spikes. Is that enough? OK, good.

And here's why Derrick Martin made me think about Takeo Spikes:

Now in his 15th NFL season, Spikes is currently playing for his fifth different team (the Chargers). He's seventh among active players with 207 career starts and, over that time, has amassed nearly 1000 solo tackles. But all those numbers pale in comparison to Spikes' true claim to fame: HE'S NEVER PLAYED IN THE POSTSEASON.

Never. Fourteen years and he's never made the playoffs. Not in six years with the Bengals. Not in three years with the Bills. In 2007, Spikes went to the Eagles who had made the playoffs in six of the previous seven years and they fell short. He then spent three years suffering through the Singletary years in San Francisco. Last year, he went to San Diego, a team that had been to the playoffs in four of the previous five years, and THEY fell short.

This season, he's back with the Chargers. At 35 years old, he's started every game. As always, he's playing his ass off. And as always, it probably won't amount to much. San Diego's 4-4, but with Norv Turner at the helm and only one playoff spot realistically up for grabs, it doesn't look good for Spikes. Again.

Crazy how that works, huh? Derrick Martin has two rings (and counting?) without breaking a sweat. Without even playing. He can't stop winning! Meanwhile, a guy like Spikes gives everything and gets nothing. You can't help but feel bad. You can't help but root for the Chargers to sneak into that sixth playoff spot and give Spikes a taste of the real thing.

And then we can go back to pinning our hopes on Derrick Martin winning a third straight Super Bowl.

God knows he deserves it.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

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Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

NEW YORK - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received significantly more votes this time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell, on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.