FOXBORO - Rank Brian Waters' signing as one of the best of the Bill Belichick Era. For an offensive line in desperate flux all season, he's been an amazingly steady, dependable part.
Think about it, heading into this season, the Patriots hadn't really replaced right guard Stephen Neal, they just "next man upped" the position and let Dan Connolly have it.
Then a ton of their offensive line depth got ripped through. Guys like Rich Ohrnberger wound up on IR before the season started and injuries to Dan Koppen and Connolly brought the shuffle on.
Into the breach has stepped Waters, signed September 4 to a two-year, 3 million deal that is a steal. He brings talent, smarts and tremendous leadership to the team and seems so genuinely happy to be here after spending his entire 11-year career in Kansas City before this year.
"The year itself has been really good for me because I've come to a place where I've been accepted and I feel very comfortable here so that's been the most positive part for me," said the 35-year-old Waters, a Pro Bowl selection this year for the sixth time in his career.
New England wasn't something the Dallas native necessarily sought. But after three playoff appearances - all losses - in Kansas City, his current reality is very acceptable.
"You have to be a fool to be in this game this long and think you're going to play your entire career in one place," said Waters. "It's a difficult thing to think about until you're actually in it. It wasn't anything that passed over my mind a lot until the situation presented itself."
When it did, Waters came willingly and hit the ground in Miami running, plugged into the Patriots lineup right away.
It's been a terrific fit for both sides.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said today on WEEI's Dale and Holley Show that he has not apologized to Dennis Eckersley for the recent incident on a team flight in which David Price ripped into the Hall of Fame pitcher -- to the applause of some teammates -- for being too critical in his role as a team broadcaster.
“Yeah, that’s a no,” Farrell responded when asked specifically if he had apologized to Eck.
MORE ON PRICE-ECKERSLEY
According to Brooks Sutherland's story on WEEI.com, Farrell said he has spoken to Eckersley since the incident and has a "positive in a professional way" relationship with Eck.
Sutherland quoted Farrell as saying: “I’ve had interactions with Eck, yes. I have, yeah. Whether it’s been at the hotel, or whether it’s been at the ballpark, there’s been interactions there, yes . . . At the time when we did meet, which was down in Texas, as I mentioned, and then again in the ballpark there. I’m aware that people reached out to him the morning after the incident when we were headed in to Toronto. So, knowing that that was in place, you know, I followed with my conversations with Eck as I’ve always done. They’ve been cordial, there’s been professional respect on both side and I think my relationship with him is positive in a professional way.”
Farrell said he heard Price yelling at Price on the plane.
“You know at the time when it did happen,you heard some loud talk,” he said. “but I can’t say that that’s . . . you know there’s banter that goes back-and-forth that’s relatively calm, and I would say this was a different situation. I can’t say that the banter is in this nature. After it did take place, I know Eck came up to the front of the plane to talk to Dave Dombrowski and myself. Obviously outlined what took place and that’s why we met with David the next day in Toronto."
What about the games?
You know. The games that are played between the lines. The controversial calls, the second-guessing of strategy, the why-the-hell-did-he-shoot-that?
This all came to me today. The games have become secondary. The main theme of what we do is drama.
Yep, we have done it. David Price being a complete asshat. Does Belichick really love Jimmy Garoppolo more? (Bill does have a history of trading for a younger model.) Should the Celtics do whatever it takes to trade for Kyrie Irving?
We have become a soap industry. It’s all about the gossip, the in-fighting, the free agent offseason.
And you know what?
I LOVE IT!