Archive for March, 2008

Hairy Issue
March 31, 2008

So the hot topic for this week’s NFL Meetings is big hair.

No, team owners and league officials will not be debating the best hair bands of the 80’s, they are going to talk about a proposal put forth by the Kansas City Chiefs to ban hair so long, it covers a player’s name and number.

Of course, the worst offender of this is Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, and he’s also the inspiration for the proposed change.

During a game against the Chiefs in 2006, Polamalu intercepted a pass, and was dragged down by the hair by Chiefs running back Larry Johnson.

The Chiefs say it’s a safety issue. You could argue the players with the long hair know it’s not against the rules to use it as a tackling aid, so it’s their bad for not getting a haircut.

Seriously, this is a pretty trivial thing. NFL players hate having their personalities stifled. And it’s really flimsy if you go with the reasoning of 49ers coach Mike Nolan. He says the long hair keeps fans from being able to identify players. Isn’t the long hair the REASON we can recognize them?

With Asante Samuel and Donte Stallworth gone, and Matt Light the likely victim of a wife-ordered haircut, it’s up to Laurence Maroney and Brandon Merriweather to stand up for the long haired here in New England.

Other rules changes proposed by the League Competition Committee:

– Granting wild card teams home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs if they have a better record than the division winner. The thought here is to keep division winners from benching all of their starters after clinching (and thus essentially tanking any remaining games). Tampa Bay and Indianapolis were the most notable teams to do this last year, although you’d think the entire league would take note of the New York Giants, who played hard in what was a meaningless final game for them against the Patriots, and rode that performance all the way to the Super Bowl.

– Forcing receivers to get both feet in bounds on a catch, even if they are pushed out by a defender. The NFL is concerned about referees making bad judgement calls. But opponents say it will shorten the field and ultimately cut down on scoring.

– Allowing instant replay on field goals. This one is a no-brainer, especially if you saw Phil Dawson’s pinball like kick against Baltimore that cleared the uprights, hit the rear crossbar and bounce back.

-SI

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Bergeron’s Battle
March 30, 2008

Here’s the piece we did on Patrice Bergeron, the 22-year old Bruins center trying to comeback from a severe concussion he suffered at the hands of Philadelphia’s Randy Jones last October.

Jones creamed Bergeron from behind, a cheap shot that earned him just a 2-game suspension, while we learned yesterday that Patrice will miss the rest of the regular season, and very likely the playoffs.

When we were allowed to watch his workouts in the weight room and on the ice at the beginning of March, you could tell he was still trying to rebuild his stamina. I can’t help but think his return would be a huge emotional boost to a Bruins team that has been frustratingly inconsistent during this playoff push. But at 22-years old, he has a long career ahead of him, so being 100% sure he’s 100%, is probably for the best.

-SI

From The Vault: UFC Star Kenny Florian
March 28, 2008

Another addition to our YouTube collection is our profile earlier this month on mixed martial artist (and Dover native) Kenny Florian, a rising star in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight division.

Florian (who got his break on the 1st season of the Ultimate Fighter reality show) was gracious enough to let us in to his training sessions at Sityodtong USA, a gym in Somerville run by master trainer Mark DellaGrotte (himself a trainer on the 4th season of the Ultimate Fighter).

The atmosphere in the gym was great. There must have been 50 people packed into the small basement space. It was so hot and humid the camera lens fogged up immediately. But it was great to see how these fighters, who have to master so many techniques, train for a fight.

Kenny takes on East Bridgewater product Joe Lauzon on Wednesday, April 2nd live on UFC Fight Night on Spike TV. The winner will probably get a shot at the lightweight title currently held by B.J. Penn.

Here the original story we posted on The Boston Channel, complete with slideshows and more links on Kenny and Sityodtong. And then, check out the piece!

-SI

Oh, What Could Have Been
March 28, 2008

Remember how excited Celtics fans were at getting the #1 pick in the draft and grabbing THE Ohio State center Greg Oden?

Well, the ping pong balls didn’t fall our way, Oden went to Portland, the Celtics ended up with Allen and Garnett, and the rest is history.

But the story of Greg Oden continues to intrigue. The top pick had to go under the knife almost immediately for very serious microfracture knee surgery.

His recovery is coming along, and he’s on target to return next year. But… there’s a problem. The not-too-bright Oden was caught playing pickup basketball at a Portland-area gym Wednesday night.

Of course, one of the participants immediately went home and blogged about it, and word quickly got back to Blazers management, who were none too happy with Mr. Oden.

Pickup basketball is one of the great no-nos in just about every professional athlete’s contract (right, Aaron Boone?). It’s even more ridiculous when you consider the injury Oden is coming back from, and how many millions he put on the line just to post up 5’9″ Joe Blow a few times.

I can’t believe the guys Oden tried to run with didn’t call the Portland television stations. If he had showed up at my Wednesday night game in Newton, I would have abandoned the low post immediately and called my crew.

-SI

Brian McNamee Comes To Town
March 28, 2008

Roger Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee today made his first public appearance since testifying before Congress last month, and he made it , in of all places, Everett. Why Everett? He’s a good friend of the owner of Everett’s American Nutrition Center.

McNamee was talking to a small (about 12) select (personal invitation only, so there wouldn’t be any questions that would make him uneasy) group of students, trainers, and friends (mostly friends).

McNamee talked about getting a second chance and this was his first step to that end. McNamee also talked to the audience about learning from his mistakes, admitting them without specifically referring to his involvement in baseball’s steroids scandal.

He attempted to offer some well meaning advice of not trusting too many people except for your family. I guess he takes that from personal experience.

McNamee then backed out of a pre-arranged interview with us because he was afraid that the New York tabloid newspapers would find out about it and criticize him so harshly that his three kids wouldn’t be able to deal with it. I think he has bigger issues to deal with than worrying about what is written about him.

-MD

Celtics 117 Phoenix 97 (F)
March 27, 2008

And that’s a wrap.

Dominating second half from the Celtics, spurred on by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on offense, great team defense, and Glen Davis’ hustle on both ends, despite being totally outsized (sort of) by the Suns.

Great win over yet another potential Finals opponent. Now it’s time for a rematch with the New Orleans Hornets on Friday.

-SI

You Should Be Dancing
March 27, 2008

Because the score is 112-92 Celtics and there are less than 3 minutes remaining, it’s GINO TIME!

Kendrick Perkins is coaching Sam Cassell on how to get into the groove.

In The House
March 27, 2008

Back to back threes by Eddie House have sent the Garden into a frenzy. Tack on a 3-second violation by the Suns, and the blowout is on. The Celtics are up 22 and Steve Nash and Shaq just left the game.

MVP?
March 27, 2008

The crowd certainly thinks so. A huge MVP! MVP! chant erupted as Kevin Garnett made two foul shots with 5:48 to play. Garnett has 28 points (but only 2 rebounds and 5 assists) and the Celtics are up 104-86.

I should note that there is a random Knicks fan in the crowd wearing an old school Patrick Ewing jersey with a paper bag over his head that says “Help Us Walsh.” If Donnie Walsh is indeed headed to New York to save the Knicks, and he plans on hiring Mark Jackson as coach while clearing cap space for LeBron, I’ll pay attention.

The Truth Hurts
March 27, 2008

Rejoice! The Superman kid is here. You’ll know more about him once I finally get Mike Dowling’s hilarious piece on the inner workings of the CelticsVision jumbotron posted on YouTube.

Paul Pierce is lights out right now. He’s been abusing the Suns guards all night, but now it’s really out of hand. He’s scored 12 points in the fourth so far and just made a sweet pass to Garnett for 2. 102-83 Celtics with 6:33 to play and I smell GINO TIME…