Patriot Report

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Friday, January 30, 2004

Hochuli Named Super Bowl Referee



Ed Hochuli (sorry Walt Coleman fans) has been named as the NFL Referee for Super Bowl XXXVIII. The 14th year veteran selection has sparked heated debate at the holy grail of Officiating Web Sites, officialforum.com

mighty is not a hochuli fan:

this guy wants more on air time than the players. ever notice that he has to explain everything more often than the next guy. to me he over exerts himself to be in the limelight. they have always told me that the best officials are the ones that go unnoticed. thats not the case with "mr.benchpress" hochuli.

The juggling ref offers a counter opinion:

I'm really sorry to hear you say that, mighty. I think Ed Hochuli is the best R in the NFL. His physical size has no reason to be referred to as "mr. benchpress." His reasons for being fit and healthy are his and his alone.

Bad Cats



The expansion Carolina Panthers have reached the SuperBowl in only 9 years, but off-field criminal behavior has clouded the on-field success. Lynn Zinser looks back at the star-crossed Cats from Carolina.

The downfall began in training camp in 1997, only months after that National Football Conference championship appearance, when Collins, the franchise's first draft choice, uttered a racist comment to some black teammates, including Muhammad, while they were celebrating the final night of training camp. It set off a year of internal turmoil, and in 1998, Collins was released.

In November 1999, Panthers receiver Rae Carruth was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder in the drive-by shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams. Before dying, she implicated Carruth in notes to a nurse. After a manhunt, the police found Carruth hiding in the trunk of a car off a Tennessee highway. He is serving a sentence of at least 18 years, a verdict that was upheld by an appeals court last summer.

In July 2000, Fred Lane, then the Panthers' career leading rusher and one of the team's most popular players despite his trade to the Colts two months earlier, was fatally shot in his doorway by his wife, Deidra, who later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced last fall to nearly eight years in prison.

The team hit its on-field low in 2001, losing the final 15 games of the season to go 1-15. Many of the Panthers, despite all the other tragedies, said this week that they considered that record the franchise's low point.

But 2002 brought more fallout. The Panthers released their starting right tackle, Chris Terry, at midseason, after he failed to appear in court to face a charge of assaulting his wife. A week later, receiver Steve Smith was arrested for assault after punching Anthony Bright, a practice squad player, during a team meeting.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Funkadelic Football



Pigskin film fans will enjoy Seth Schiesel's funkadelic look at groundbreaking film technology at Super Bowl XXXVIII.

More than half a billion people will tune in to the Super Bowl on Sunday, watching on all sorts of monitors: monochrome and color, small and big, thick and thin. But all those screens will have a shortcoming in common: they will deliver a picture in merely two dimensions.

So while that $5,000 high-definition plasma set might let you count the whiskers beneath the players' eye black, it won't fully convey a visceral sense of the teams' power and agility, or of watching a 220-pound man run 40 yards right in front of you in 4.5 seconds.

To get the true feel of the game, you have to be on the sidelines, seeing in three dimensions. That is what Steve Schklair, the chief executive of Cobalt Entertainment, and Steve Andrich, the vice president for cinematography at NFL Films, are aiming to deliver.

NFL Films, a part of the National Football League, has been gathering awards for its cinematography since the 1960's. But in repeated discussions since the early 1990's about shooting in Imax format or with various 3-D systems, the company had always said no. Among other issues, the cameras were too bulky to get close to the field without possibly hurting a player, and without compromising the cinematic intimacy that has long been a hallmark of NFL Films.

"But the technology has gotten to the point now where we feel we can give this a shot, and it's exciting to do things that have never been done before," he added. "We've always looked at a football game in terms of layers. Television brings you one layer. We like to bring you another layer, and we feel that with this big-screen format we can peel back yet another layer."

In an offhand way, credit for the new project belongs to George Clinton, the funk music guru. In October 2002, John Modell, son of Art Modell, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, went to one of Mr. Clinton's concerts in Los Angeles to catch up with an old friend named Jon Shapiro.

Mr. Modell had recently designed the technical systems at the Ravens' new stadium. With his brother Peter, Mr. Shapiro had recently produced an Imax concert film called "All Access."

"We were just catching up on what we had been doing, and all of a sudden we looked at each other and it was one of these simultaneous 'aha' moments and we both said, 'N.F.L. Imax,' " said Mr. Shapiro, a partner at a production company called Ideal Entertainment.

"But the technology has gotten to the point now where we feel we can give this a shot, and it's exciting to do things that have never been done before," he added. "We've always looked at a football game in terms of layers. Television brings you one layer. We like to bring you another layer, and we feel that with this big-screen format we can peel back yet another layer."

In an offhand way, credit for the new project belongs to George Clinton, the funk music guru. In October 2002, John Modell, son of Art Modell, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, went to one of Mr. Clinton's concerts in Los Angeles to catch up with an old friend named Jon Shapiro.

Mr. Modell had recently designed the technical systems at the Ravens' new stadium. With his brother Peter, Mr. Shapiro had recently produced an Imax concert film called "All Access."

"We were just catching up on what we had been doing, and all of a sudden we looked at each other and it was one of these simultaneous 'aha' moments and we both said, 'N.F.L. Imax,' " said Mr. Shapiro, a partner at a production company called Ideal Entertainment.

Countdown to Championship



Michael Felger takes a look at Ted Johnson's family owned Rib Tickler in Houston.

"I worked. That's all we did,'' said the younger Johnson, who ate at the restaurant on Tuesday night with teammates Mike Vrabel and Matt Chatham. "That's how it was. Put on an apron. That's how my dad grew up and partly how I grew up, too. . . . A lot of my work ethic was inspired by my dad. And I think that's a great gift.''

Ted Sr. could only chuckle when told of that comment. He pointed to a picture showing the porch of the restaurant, where a swinging chair used to hang.

"See that swing?'' he said. ``The staff was looking for Ted one day, and they step outside and there he was sound asleep on the swing. Out cold. So he got fired. No more working at the Rib Tickler. He just eats here now.''


Steve Buckley is shoveling shit in the paddock with Jake Delhomme.

If the Panthers emerge victorious over the Patriots [stats, news] in Super Bowl XXXVIII, they will be our modern-day Seabiscuit, ridden to victory by none other than Jake Delhomme.

Michael Smith visits the only coach on the sidelines for all 4 Patriot Super Bowls.

Typical Dante Scarnecchia. So unassuming...Keep it simple. Punch in. Do your work. Punch out. The humble assistant head coach's face rarely is seen, though his influence is evident.

"When you sign on to a job, you're asked to give a full day's work for a full day's pay," Scarnecchia said. "You've got to have a passion for what you do, and you have to work hard to help the guys that you're coaching. You have to give them everything necessary to be successful. I just think you've got to work your [rear] off. I'm not talented. Believe me. They're never going to use the word genius in front of my name."


Bob Ryan has the disappointment of Charlie Weis.

He's a little disappointed, OK? Charlie Weis has got enough confidence in his knowledge and expertise to think he'd be a pretty good head coach.

"I can think of a lot worse jobs than being the offensive coordinator for a team that has gone to the Super Bowl two of the past three years," he points out. "A lot of people would like to be in that position."


And on his coaching influences, Weis adds,

"Bill Parcells's greatest strength is button-pushing," Weis maintains. "He knows the right button to push with everyone, from the owner on down. With me it was the idea that I wasn't working hard enough. It would be 11:30 at night, and he'd come by and say, `Oh, you planning to leave early? You trying to get out of here?'

"Bill Belichick is the most cerebral coach I've ever known. I've never seen anyone with more foresight -- foresight and insight -- into the game. He is always a step ahead, whether it's a personnel issue or in the middle of a game. I'd like to think that if I ever get the chance to be a head coach in this league, I'd like to play to the strength of both guys, the button-pushing of a Parcells and the cerebral aspect of a Belichick."


Kevin Mannix looks at the two defenses in the Big Game.

The Patriots' base defense is the 3-4, although in passing situations they will occasionally come out with four down linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs. At other times they've mixed up defensive packages - and coverage schemes - by coming out with only two linemen combined with four linebackers and the usual complement of five defensive backs.

Tom Curran grabs the genie breaking down the Patriots defensive game plan.

All season long, the New England Patriots have kept the genie in the bottle.

Time and again, they've gone against high-profile running backs and held them down.

Look at the backs they've held under 100 yards -- Eddie George twice, Ricky Williams twice, Curtis Martin twice, Edgerrin James twice, Travis Henry twice, Fred Taylor and Tiki Barber. Only one back topped 100 yards against the Patriots this season -- Denver's Clinton Portis (26 carries, 111 yards in a 30-26 New England victory).

But the Patriots feel the challenge that awaits them in the Super Bowl is different. With big banger Stephen Davis and the shifty DeShaun Foster, the Patriots face a team that is both talented and deceptive.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Golden Ticket Eludes former Patriot



Fred Mitchell has the story of former Patriot Darryl Stingley waiting on the Golden Ticket in his hometown Chicago.

The telephone rang in his Chicago condo Tuesday and Darryl Stingley's heart started pounding.

"I saw the [713] Houston area code on my caller ID and I thought it was someone from the Patriots calling to tell me they'd found a room for me and they were going to fly me down for the Super Bowl," Stingley said.

Instead it was a sportswriter checking up on a Patriot from a quarter-century ago who never got the call to a Super Bowl as a player either.

Stingley, a Purdue alum from Chicago's Marshall High School, was paralyzed from a vicious hit by the Raiders' Jack Tatum during an Aug. 12, 1978, exhibition game in Oakland.

Later on Tuesday he did get a call from the Patriots, but nothing has been worked out for him to come to the Super Bowl. He said the team has tried to be accommodating in the past, but they were late getting back to him. Because he is confined to a wheelchair, he needs a couple of weeks to prepare for a trip like this.

"I'm alive and I'm well and I'm doing OK for a man my age (52). I rejoice with all of the fans of New England, which I think are second to none, including Bears fans, when it comes to supporting their team."

Silly Day



The annual NFL Super Bowl Media Day has become a parody of itself. Scott Dodd of the Charlotte Observer is impressed with the antics of Panthers self-promoters He Hate Me and Jarrod Cooper.

If CBS wants big ratings, it needs to sign Rod Smart and Jarrod Cooper for their own reality show. Right now.

Below is the witty duo in action.

• Reporter: "How did the two of you hit it off?"

• Cooper: "He kept me out of jail. Nah, I'm just kidding. ... As soon as he came into the locker room, me and him, it was like love."

ON COOPER'S PET SNAKE, WHICH ATTACKED HIM WHEN HE PUT IT IN A BATHTUB WHILE CLEANING ITS CAGE

• Cooper: "I had a steak knife. That probably wasn't a good idea, to keep an anaconda in there. I beat it off with a pan."

ON THE PANTHERS BEING A NO-NAME TEAM

• Cooper: "No-name team? Man .... " (turns to Smart) "They just said you a ho.' And I was a bitch just now. Hey DeShaun! They said he was a ho' and I was a bitch!"

The incomparable Patriot Report Archives visted with Smart in Hip Hop and Hate(9/16/03).

At the Patriots media session, a Tonight Show minion took the wrath of expectant father Rodney Harrison after his Bob Eubanks imitation:

"One person asked where the weirdest place I've ever made whoopee with my wife was," safety Rodney Harrison said. "I just thought that was a bad question. Very disrespectful. I think that's very private and intimate and I'm not going to answer that. I just looked at him and asked why he would ask me a question like that. You try to be respectful of the guy knowing that he's probably not in his right mind asking a question like that."

Paul Zimmerman from Sports Illustrated told the guy to "Get the hell out of here." Tonight Show Guy says, "What are you, the kicker?" Zimmerman: "Yeah, I'll kick your ass." Click here for Dr. Z's SuperBowl analysis.

With his past experience, the safety was asked if he had any advice for the younger Patriots, like Branch, who are in their first Super Bowl.

"Yeah, don't lose."


Patriot Nose Tackle Ted Washington comes from the Pedro school of media relations. Nick Cafardo catches up with the weight sensitive lineman on NFL mandated speaking day.

If you get through an interview with Ted Washington without being yelled at, it means you've avoided all of the issues that really irritate him. It means you have not asked him about his weight, his age, his personal life. It means you have not asked him to elaborate.

Of course there was the inevitable question of why he detests the media so much. And the answer was as in-depth as any he gave all day.

"There was some stuff said early on in my career in San Francisco and in Buffalo, misquotes and they caused a little stuff between the players and the club," he said. "If you're gonna do that, I don't want any part of the media. Just keep your mouth shut because every team I played for I loved my teammates and never did anything to jeopardize my career or their career. When you get misquoted, I just want no part of it. And another thing, all reporters want to talk about is age and weight. I wouldn't be around this long if I was too heavy."

While he hadn't yet seen the town, he said he did go to Antowain Smith's barbecue Sunday night. He requested barbecued ox tail, a delicacy in these parts, and he had a good helping.

"You eat well, you sleep well and you play well," said Washington.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Back in The Day



Ron Hobson dusts off his AFL notebook and takes a look back at Patriot history in Houston.

Professional football was a lot looser in those early days. For instance, the team stayed at a Ramada Inn near Rice Stadium in 1963. It was a showdown game against the Oilers, and the Patriots spent the week getting ready. The hotel had three elevators, one in the middle near the lobby and two on each end of the building. Players would go up the middle elevators and come down the end elevators for a night on the town. Some players jumped in the back of a pickup truck loaded with hay and motored out to a night of frivolity.

The agony of Super Bowl defeats has hardened longtime Patriots fans. Bob Fedas flashbacks to the first nightmare in a piece titled "Wild-card invitees took grisly beating.

The Bears, who came into the game with the only blemish on their record being a Monday night loss to Dan Marino and the Dolphins in Week 13, failed to -- as linebacker Otis Wilson boldly predicted they would -- produce the only shutout in Super Bowl history, but it's hard to believe the 46-10 beating the wild-card Patriots absorbed could have been worse.

"I was ready for Bourbon Street after the third quarter," said Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael, whose fellow Super Bowl Shufflers had made no secret of the fact they had become quite familiar with the French Quarter in the week leading up to the game.


Steve Richards handles the knife with a look back at Super Bowl XXXI.

Late in the third quarter of Super Bowl XXXI at the Superdome, it seemed the Patriots had taken the best body blows the heavily favored Green Bay Packers could offer and somehow remained standing. Curtis Martin's 18-yard run and Adam Vinatieri's extra point pulled New England within 27-21 with 3:27 left in the quarter. Suddenly there was hope. Maybe they could pull this off after all. The Patriots were right back in the game.

For 17 seconds.

That's how long it took Packers speedster Desmond Howard to field the ensuing kickoff and put a 99-yard pin in New England's balloon.



Jackie MacMullan looks at the recruiting skills of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli.

"Yeah, they really wined and dined me," Harrison said. "No Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in my future. Right to the Ground Round. And you know what? I didn't mind. I liked it, in fact. There was no b.s. about it."

"It was not a glamorous visit," Colvin said. "I went to Bill's office and talked to him for an hour. Then Scott came in, and we talked another hour. Bill asked if I wanted to see the locker room. He opened the door a crack and said, `There it is.' There were no lights on. He took me to see the club seats -- in the dark.

There was a time (yes, that would be in Cleveland) when Belichick subscribed to the red carpet approach to free agents. He rolled out the limos, bought the top of the line Bordeaux, showered them with perks. It didn't work for him then, and it doesn't work for him now.

"If that's what a guy cares about," Belichick said, "then he's come to the wrong place."


Michael Felger is also looking at the Pioli factor.

It's unquestionably one of the most unique relationships between a head coach and a front office executive in all of sports, one that has produced a team that is remarkably consistent in temperament, attitude and work ethic from the first player on the roster to the 53rd. It's a relationship that has the Pats one step away from their second championship in three years.

"He's outstanding at what he does professionally. And I would say he's one of my best friends,'' said Belichick.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Patriots Land Golden Ticket



The new Air Force One landed yesterday afternoon at Ellington Field in Houston. Disembarking from the maiden voyage was the New England Patriots, who were loaned the "Don't Mess with Texas" plane from Patriot fan 43 for the Texas Super Bowl.

President Bush has long admired the Patriots. The nfl.com reported from the Patriots last visit to the White House.

"I remember all the experts -- no one thought they would win," Bush said. "They learned what I learned. The experts are often wrong."

Bush praised the team's character, saying he was impressed by the way they took the field all together before their 20-17 Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams.

"I thought that was a pretty good signal to America that teamwork was important, that the team is bigger than the individual," Bush said.


Week 2 is here and let's take a look at some of the media coverage about the big Patriots-Panthers showdown in the Lone Star State.
Michael Smith checks in with the hard nosed Mom of Rodney Harrison.

Rodney joining one[gangs] was never a concern, however. "Rodney was always a good listener," his mother said. "Some kids have to have their head bumped before they listen. All you had to do was tell Rodney he would get his head bumped, and he would listen.

Sounds like a Chunky Soup commercial in Mrs. Harrison's future.

Michael Holley counters the endless 2001 Super Bowl Champions comparision with the 03 Panthers.

While there is no shame in being compared with a Super Bowl champion, it needs to be said that the trendy analysis of the Panthers -- they are similar to the 2001 Patriots -- couldn't be further from the truth.

The team the Patriots will face a week from today has a defensive line that is better than New England's in '01 and just as good as New England's in '03. Antowain Smith had his best season in '01, but he wasn't an MVP candidate as Stephen Davis was this year. Brady of '01 was given an opportunity to start when Drew Bledsoe got hurt; Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme was signed to compete for the starting job with Rodney Peete.

The '01 Patriots were a group of veterans who received a boost when Belichick and Scott Pioli brought in a staggering number of free agents who contributed. These Panthers aren't like that. Davis was the most obvious difference-maker in free agency. Dan Morgan, Kris Jenkins, Steve Smith, Julius Peppers, DeShaun Foster, Will Witherspoon, Jordan Gross, and Ricky Manning Jr. are all draft picks from the last three springs.


Karen Guregian tackles veterans reaching the Title Game for the first time.

...there remain a number of Patriot veterans still hoping to join the club and cap off their careers. This could very well be one of their last shots -- perhaps their final shot -- at hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy and fitting that ring finger for the crown jewels.

At 14 and 13 seasons in the league respectively, both Larry Centers and Ted Washington realize they might not ever have another opportunity to cash in. The same could be said for veterans Rodney Harrison (10 seasons), Christian Fauria (nine), Tyrone Poole (eight), Dedric Ward (seven), along with some less recognizable names such as Fred Baxter (11) and Don Davis (eight).

"Now that we get the golden ticket to go through the gates, and actually get on the field, it's really special for me,'' Fauria said


The Golden Ticket has indeed arrived for the 2003 New England Patriots. On news of the Patriots Superbowl arrival, Longtime Patriot fan, Grandpa Joe discovered he could still walk when Charlie came home with 2 tickets to the NFL Title Game.


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    One man's take on the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and a look at the lighter side of media coverage on the team and the NFL. Parody is not intended as grounds for libel

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