Felger: Things not what they used to be

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Felger: Things not what they used to be

By Michael Felger
CSNNE.com

A handful of quickies for you on a summer Tuesday:

The two big quotes to come out of the Tom Brady contract discussion last week were Brady's statement that he didn't want to express his personal feelings "with anyone other than a few people'' because "it doesn't help this organization,'' and Robert Kraft's insistence that Brady is going to remain a Patriot "one way or the other.''

The Brady comment constitutes the high road.

The Kraft quote? Not so much.

In fact, it sounded more or less like a threat, since the only way Brady will remain under team control short of a contract extension is through the franchise tag. My buddy Tom E. Curran called the comment "unseemly," which is one way to put it.

I don't know exactly what the word is, but it didn't feel right.

I have no problem with the Sox not reaching for a deadline trade that would have required them giving up a real prospect. The Sox are rightly leery of such deals, and you need look no further than what you saw over the weekend for the reason. It was just a few years ago that the Texas Rangers were asking for Clay Buchholz in return for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Sox passed, of course, and now they have both after giving up lesser pieces for the caching prospect on Saturday. Buchholz, as we all know, was again stellar on Sunday and has been their best pitcher over the past year.

So the Sox didn't want to dip into the farm. No problem. What, then, was the excuse for passing on Kerry Wood? Do we need to give this guy credit for providing the answer three weeks ago?

Considering that Bill Belichick said late last season that Derrick Burgess was as good of a run-pass combination outside linebacker as hes had in New England (better, presumably, than Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin), the news that Burgess is pondering retirement should be treated as a major development, right?

Well, not exactly. It was obvious at the time that the Belichick comments were CYA in nature. The Pats had given up a third-rounder for the veteran end last August and he clearly didn't deliver on the investment. So Belichick was selling. Fine.

But here's the scary part: For all his faults, Burgess just may be the best the Pats have at this time. The top four players at outside linebacker currently listed on the depth chart are Tully Banta-Cain, Jermaine Cunningham, Rob Ninkovich and Pierre Woods. Yikes.

Its official. Jonathan Papelbon is no longer an elite closer. At least not this season. He may return to that status next year, but in 2010 hes no longer among the best. Thats just a fact.

The only closer stat that I believe matters, save percentage, tells the story. Of the 12 American League closers who have at least 20 save opportunities, Papelbon ranks 11th at 82.7 percent (24-of-29). The only guy he beats is the woeful David Aardsma in Seattle (18-of-22; 81.8 percent). Papelbon's five blown saves are the most in the American League.

For the first time in his career, Papelbon has become just another guy.

There are apparently folks in the Bruins hierarchy who like forward Blake Wheeler. I'm not sure why.

There are certain skills that are attainable in hockey and things you can improve on over time. But I dont know if toughness is one of them. Either you have a nose for the crease or you dont and Wheeler never has.

His 2.2 million arbitration award was hardly exorbitant, but it still means that Peter Chiarelli is either going to have to buy somebody out (Michael Ryder?), ship somebody down to Providence (Ryder?) or pull off another trade (Marc Savard?) to get under the salary cap. Call me crazy, but I would have gotten under the cap by moving on from Wheeler.

Email Felger HERE andstand by for the next installment of the mailbag on Aug. 12. Felgerwill post another column early next week. Listen to him on the radioweekdays, 2-6, p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

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Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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