Thinking out loud: Breaking down the week that was leading into Super Bowl LII

WEEI
February 02, 2018 - 11:56 am

By John Rooke

Thinking out loud…while wondering if true communication – talking to one another – is a lost art…

  • Six more weeks of winter.  Thanks, Phil.  Now get back in your hole.

 

  • Speaking of Groundhog Day, is it just me, or did it seem like most of the news coming from the Mall of America this week have to do with rumor, innuendo or simple #fakenews?  Every day?  Excuse me, but isn’t there a football game coming up?

 

  • I’m not going to pile on Alex Reimer.  He was wrong, what he did by calling out Tom Brady’s five-year old daughter was at ill-advised, if not simply dumb.  But for the semi-popular take that Brady shouldn’t have included her in his Facebook documentary series if he didn’t want her criticized?

 

  • If we can’t have some decorum, some sense of decency left in this “gotta have a hot take” media world we live in, I’ll get out and leave it all to the punks, the smart-asses and the know-it-alls.  They have jobs, because good people came before them, doing the right things.

 

  • And while the venerable Boston Globe jumped into the Reimer-reaction fray like everyone else, they then committed their own faux pas via social media by tweeting, in essence, “Dog Bites Brady!”  Those tweets have since been deleted, after the proper context was applied to the story.  You see, the biting took place years ago – not this week.  Stupid is as stupid does.

 

  • That’s the problem with Twitter.  Once it’s out there, it’s out there.  Reporters should know better.  Hey, how about some good, ol’ fashioned fact-checking first?

 

  • I’d much rather be last with a story – and 100% correct – then first with a story and dead wrong. #credibilitycounts

 

  • And the Globe writes a piece this week on Tom Brady kissing his son during Episode 3 of his documentary?  Don’t we have other issues at stake worth writing and opining about, other than a fathers’ affection for his child?  Sheesh.

 

  • Good work, John Henry.  Let’s get your reporters to talk about things that matter, like fake news and father-son affection.  Yeah, that will help pick up business, and show reporting chops. #sarcasm

 

  • Maybe the lunacy is because reporters have been cooped-up in a mall this week, and they’re ready to turn on each other?  You can only eat so many Auntie Anne’s pretzels or drink so much Orange Julius. 

 

  • Super Bowl festivities inside a mall will do one of two things – 1) revive the popularity of indoor malls around the country, or 2) kill them off for good.  I’m betting on #2.

 

  • Of course, this is Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Where it was hovering around 0 degrees most of the week, and those were the warm days.  Not much to do outside except freeze your nose hairs.  And the NFL still thinks this was a good idea?

 

  • What was a good idea, was the Patriots’ ground-breaking Not Done Network.  24-hours per day for the six days in Minneapolis, streaming live on Patriots.com from the Mall of America.  Guests, talk shows, fun and games, eats.  Cool idea – even if it did wear the staff out.

 

  • Next time, though?  Bring a few more people to work.  And include a few more people who actually know how to conduct/produce/host a show?  Those on site will like you more.  But kudos to the early-risers and late-sleepers for the fan engagement idea.

 

  • I was asked this week about Foxboro someday becoming a Super Bowl host.  Hmmm.  My magic 8-ball reports “not likely,” and I believe it.

 

  • First, Gillette doesn’t have the capacity to hold the necessary crowd.  Can you imagine Route 1 with an additional 20-30 thousand people trying to get in and out?  They would, eventually.  Maybe by August.  Just sayin’.

 

  • Second, and last – it’s cold here, too.  Not Minnesota-cold, but we don’t have a domed stadium.  Or a mall big enough to handle angry reporters and hungry fans.  Let’s just keep it at hosting AFC Championship games?

 

  • So what if some Eagles’ players and Philly media believe the Patriots knew their signals back in XXXIX?  It ain’t illegal.  They had four turnovers that day, didn’t they?  Seems to me they might need to take care of their own business a little better. 

 

  • The smart money has been on the Eagles all week long, getting four to five points.  It makes sense (if not cents) to me – New England’s five Super wins have been decided by six points or less.

 

  • As for the game itself, if the Patriots are within two possessions of the Eagles in the 4th quarter, I like their (TB12) chances.  For Philadelphia to win, they’ll most likely need to get up early, and keep pressing the pedal to the metal. 

 

  • Or, the defense can revert to early-season form and forget how to stop teams on 3rd down and get off the field.  The Patriots’ defense scares me, at least a little.

 

  • Speaking of TB12, I thought his Facebook documentary was well-done, insightful and fun to watch.  Even if you’re a hater, the man is always trying to perfect his craft with his family in mind.  Admirable.

 

  • The Winter Olympics start next week?  Really?

 

  • The road is a cruel place.  A lonely place.  We’re not waxing poetic here, but describing where the Friars are after road tests at #1 Villanova and Seton Hall.

 

  • The Pirates proved they can still roll, even with a short bench.  Seniors usually get clued-in at some point as to their suddenly-short shelf lives right about now, with 10 games left on the schedule.  That needs to kick in for Kyron Cartwright and Jalen Lindsey.

 

  • Off nights?  For both?  Being held scoreless in the same game hasn’t happened since the two were freshmen.  And they played like freshmen at Seton Hall, so it’s no wonder.  You can’t disappear if you hope to be dancin’ next month.

 

  • The remedy, is to figure out a way to beat Marquette – which already owns a win in Providence over the Friars, and where the Friars have won only once in 12 years.  It’s likely the two teams will battle it out for one dance ticket – and if the Golden Eagles hold a sweep?

 

  • Angel Delgado became the Big East’s all-time leading rebounder in conference games, surpassing Derrick Coleman.  But the per-game rebounding average, for a career, still belongs to Providence’s “Michael, Michael motorcycle” Smith.

 

  • Even with their 6th man on the bench with an injury, Villanova is still playing like a #1 team should play.  Dominating.  Can anyone force them into foul trouble?  A 22-1 start to the year is a program record.

 

  • This Week in the Big East features PC’s Ed Cooley, Big East senior associate commissioner Stu Jackson on looming transfer rule changes in college hoops, and Seton Hall voice Gary Cohen.  Westwoodonesports.com, BigEast.com, ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM (Channel 84), Sirius 108/XM 201, App Channel 961.  Lots of places to go and listen.

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but TWITBE is the #1-rated NCAA basketball podcast on iTunes.  Thanks for the ratings and comments – keep ‘em coming.  And if you have questions on the teams, send them to #TWITBE on Twitter.

 

  • Long time Big East college basketball referee Ed Corbett – who has called multiple big games and several Final Fours – told Joe Hassett and myself this week he’s hanging up his whistle when the season ends.  Say what you will about Corbett’s officiating (and Joe has, a lot) but he’s one of the good guys in the business.  Always with a kind word and wink-of-the-eye for us despite Hassett’s, um, critiques of his work.

 

  • Rhody climbs to #22 in this week’s AP Top 25.  A close call with UMass, yes, but my thoughts are good teams always find a way to win when they don’t play well.  Senior teams usually do too. 

 

  • URI is one of 13 teams nationally to remain unbeaten in conference play, going into Friday night’s game with VCU. 

 

  • A key to the Rams’ success?  Has to be taking care of the ball.  The guard play is efficient, if not spectacular at times.  URI has the 16th fewest turnovers in the country.  If you don’t give the other team extra chances and keep them for yourself, you’ll do okay, right?

 

  • Those guards also force their fair share of mistakes, almost 17 per game, which is 16th most in the country.  I’m feeling a theme here.

 

  • Former URI and PC assistant Pat Skerry, who is the head coach at Towson, came up in conversation this week.  The Tigers are 16-8 this season in the Colonial Athletic Association (Northeastern is 14-9, but 7-4 in league play). 

 

  • Former Friar coach Rick Barnes has Tennessee on the rise in an improved SEC, at 16-5 (6-3 in the league).  Ex-Friar coach Keno Davis is 14-8 at Central Michigan.  Have also run into, at various points this season, ex-PC assistant Bill Courtney at DePaul and ex-URI assistants Preston Murphy at Creighton and Luke Murray at Xavier.

 

  • And, we’ll run into ex-Friar assistant and former Seton Hall head coach Louis Orr next week, as he assists Patrick Ewing’s rebuild at Georgetown.  The Rhode Island reach in college basketball’s coaching tree is long.

 

  • It has been a mixed bag of results for the area smaller schools on the floor this year.  Division III Rhode Island College has struggled at 4-15, but Roger Williams is 14-6, Johnson & Wales is 12-8 (but 9-2 in conference) and Salve Regina is 8-12.  Dean College in Franklin, MA is in its’ first full season of D3 play, and the Bulldogs are 11-9.

 

  • That rumbling you hear in the distance are recruitniks gathering for the National Prep School Invitational this week in Providence.  The most-attended tournament of its kind in the country, games run through Saturday at RIC.  Nationalprepinvitational.net is where to go for the schedule, and future Friar David Duke will be there.

 

  • Two this weekend for the 8th ranked PC Hockey Friars at Vermont, as Providence remains one of college hockey’s hottest teams with just one loss in the last 10 games they’ve played.  If the Friars put the puck in the net early, they usually fair well.

 

  • The 9th ranked PC women’s team tries to rebound from two losses to Boston College last week, with one at home against Merrimack and a road contest at UConn.

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez it’s getting more and more difficult to hear conversations, especially in public places, and I sympathize with him.  He went to see an audiologist last week who told him hearing aids work great, and you can get one for as little as $2, or as much as $2000.  Naturally, “E” asked to see the $2 model – so the guy brought out an ear piece with a string attached to it.  “Big E” asked how it worked.  The guy said “put this in your ear and run the string down your back.  It doesn’t work, but when people see it on you they’ll talk louder.”

 

  • This past week was a big travel week for many in the media.  While my duties didn’t take me on mall-walking tours in Minnesota like others, my week was spent traveling covering college basketball – typical for this time of year.  Traveling with the Friars for 30 years, you get into a routine, you know?

 

  • Meeting the team on the Providence campus to accompany them by train to Newark, NJ this week, I needed to leave my car at school so it would be there upon our arrival (by bus) home late Wednesday night.  Stopping at campus security, as I have for 30 years, I ask the attending officer where to park my car so it will be there for my trip home at 2:00 am Thursday morning.  Smart, right?  The officer informed me the parking garage would be best.

 

  • Lo and behold, when I returned at 2:00 am Thursday morning, with an early morning class I teach looming a few hours away, there was a ticket on my window – the FIRST one in 30 years of traveling and covering Providence basketball.  The ticket stated I did not have the proper permit to park on campus, yet I parked EXACTLY where the officer told me I should park. 

 

  • I think one of two things – either a) communication at work is a lost art, especially for Providence campus police, or 2) the issuing and/or instructing officer(s) must not be basketball fans.  Or they weren’t pleased with Wednesday nights’ result.  Hey, neither was I.  But they didn’t have to sit through it – I did.

 

  • My friend Edward from East Providence posted this week on Facebook: “Roger Federer has to be in the conversation of greatest athlete of the 21st century.”   

 

  • Edward:  I figured his Aussie Open win would get you motivated.  But I would augment your thoughts with saying that Federer is in the conversation of greatest athletic “champion” of the 21st century.  First off, we’re still in the very early stages of the 21st century itself, so perhaps it’s nothing more than semantics in pointing that out.  Secondly, you can make whatever arguments you wish about comparing tennis to the “Core Four” pro sports in this country – and you probably wouldn’t be wrong.  But when it comes to actually winning something, Federer surely belongs in the discussion with the Brady’s, the Patriots, the Red Sox (3 titles), the Warriors and even LeBron James. 

 

  • But let’s not have the tennis vs. All Other Sports conversation?  I like tennis.  We have the Hall of Fame in Rhode Island.  But pro sports these days are the sports that ‘move the public needle’ and drive attention and revenue.  Tennis hasn’t done that since the pre-internet days of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.  And it may not ever do it again.

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to [email protected]. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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