Strange times over here at the mailbag. I'm still battling back from a root canal on Monday, which was pretty much the worst two and a half hours of my life that didn't involve characters speaking the Na'vi language.
But in between screaming in pain and weeping in the arms of Omar, the strong but knowing dental assistant (sorry, Omar -- technician), I was able to form a plan for the future of the mailbag. After last week's attack on one of the readers, I decided it was time for a more positive piece of real estate. The days of the cheap shot? Gone. Goodbye snark, hello substance.
A new day had come. Nothing could change that.
Except Kevin Harlan. Or the Kevin Harlan imposter.
So we go back to the bottom as we try and figure out the mystery of Harlan (though the fact that he called a brutal game on Sunday is no mystery), debate if Tom Brady (and what happened to all the Vick emails?) made Bill Belichick weep at the fallen career of Robert De Niro and say goodbye to the no-respect card. There will be substance here one day, I promise. Just not today.
To the 'bag we go …
A friend directed me to your review of the game between the Patriots and Bills. I just finished watching the broadcast from start to finish and would like to address your comments. I did say Woodhead instead of Welker on a crossing pattern in the 2nd qtr. That was the only time I made that mistake. You said I said it “numerous times.” That is wrong. You said I said “Victor Page,” I did not. And I carefully listened to every time Page was mentioned. I too grew tired of my mentions of leading with the helmet as well. That was spurred by a conversation I had with an official over the last couple weeks as he mentioned that the Patriots were among the most closely watched in that regard. But you are right, often in the first half I did point out the possibility of an illegal hit. Far too often. You write that I “failed to recognize it also meant home field.” I started the broadcast off with that note, and stopped counting at 10 the number of times I said win the AFC East, get a first round bye and have home field throughout. And on the Dane Fletcher interception, I initially called an interception because the near side official motioned touchback. The far side official however was waving it off. We didn't have a good view on our screens so it took sometime to clear up.
I appreciate your time.
A: Wow, until now John Wesley Harding was the biggest celebrity to ever appear in the 'bag.
I'm not 100 percent sure that this is actually from Kevin Harlan. But after a little bit of legwork (I am a hell of a bloodhound, after all) I'm pretty sure it is Harlan. And you know what? It would be easy to speculate about the level of insecurity that must exist inside a guy who, as a CBS announcer, feels the need to respond to a postgame blog that dared to suggest that efforts like the one he put forth on Sunday wasn't exactly the second coming of Ray Scott. But I'm not going to do that. And was "the friend" that led him to the story really a Google search of the name Kevin Harlan by Kevin Harlan? Perhaps. But that's OK -- we all do it. The guy wanted to come forward and defend himself. I respect that. And give him credit for admitting to some mistakes. The broadcast overall just struck me as lazy. Two guys (Solomon Wilcots was the other) who sort of blew into Buffalo on a Friday, didn't do a lot of prep and just mailed it in. Kevin Harlan is an entertaining enough basketball announcer who I think always sounds a little overwhelmed during NFL broadcasts. But what do I know? I think Sean McDonough is the best play-by-play guy on the planet and he's stuck doing bowl games on ESPN2 with Matt Millen.
How awesome is it that Kevin Harlan goes around responding to blog criticism. It strikes me as something only a paranoid/delusional mental case would do. what other possible explanation is there?
A: Again, we don't really know if it was Kevin Harlan. But let's assume that it was (because it was). I think his energy would be better spent preparing for games than responding to dopes like me afterward. Just one minor example from Sunday that aggravated me? The shock from both Harlan and Wilcots when Wes Welker had those back-to-back drops. Welker has 13 drops this year -- top five in the league. It's been a problem. If Harlan had watched some tape or maybe asked a question or two he might have known that. But instead he (and Wilcots) looked at Welker's reputation. That's the kind of laziness that gets guys like Brandon Meriweather voted into the Pro Bowl.
Kevin Harlan is the D-team announcer for CBS. The fourth guy on the depth chart. Fact, not opinion. There’s a reason he’s fourth. Don’t eff with Kirk just because he pointed out Harlan sucking (and not the first Pats game this season he’s sucked on either–he also blew on the first Bills-Pats game). Harlan did a poor job, his flow was awful, he made obvious errors, and the over-emphasizing the “head shots” was inexcusable. Mushroom stamp.
A: Yeah, the head shots was definitely the headliner, Dennis. OK, Harlan talked to an official who told him that the Patriots were being closely watched. No problem. Warrants a mention. But not when Jerod Mayo is hitting a Bills receiver in the back while clearly leading with his shoulder. Stuff like that was being forced on us the entire game. A hard hit isn't always a dirty hit, Kev. I'm sure that official was an impeccable source and all, but trying to jam a storyline that doesn't fit is exactly why you're buried in the rotation. Jim Nantz isn't going to do that. I don't know. Who cares, really? Let's move on.
If Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots suck than does that make you a writing genius? Your analogies are...YAWN. How was my grammar Minihane? If you make the big time I will be shocked. Oh, did you invent the report card too. Tool bag, why don't you try calling a game from a press box sometime and post your tape you douche, it is a lot harder than your writing after the game.
A: Maybe one more.
Make the big time, Haus? Are you suggesting that hasn't happened yet? I hate to pull rank here, but you are talking about a guy who has appeared on not one, not two, but THREE podcasts with Rob Bradford. And now I'm in the middle of a major media feud. A true power struggle with Kevin Harlan. And you know what? Even if it's someone pretending to be Kevin Harlan it's still big-time. Even bigger than the time I feuded with a fake Craig Mustard.
(And your grammar was fine, Haus. Don't worry about that tricky question mark thingy. Always tough to figure out where that should go. That's been keeping pre-school kids up deep into nap-time since the dawn of the planet.)
Here's the thing I actually love most about this team right now, Kirk. They're HUNGRY and playing with a chip on their shoulder (especially that defense). After all this time, after this season especially, I'm dumbfounded that there are still people that believe Tom's a system QB or a product of Bill Belichick's coaching.
Tom Brady became and is the keystone of this "system." No matter the talent around him, he's consistently helped lead this team to a winning record, made the players around him better, and consistently delivered solid numbers, indoors or outdoors. For those who point to Matt Cassel's 11-5 season with the Patriots: a) They didn't make the playoffs. b) They had an easier schedule than the 2007 Patriots, who, oh yeah, went 16-0 in the regular season with basically the same offensive talent that Matt Cassel had around him. c) Matt Cassel has shown that he's an above average QB, despite the fact he didn't have much experience starting games.
(However, he also still has to prove whether he can play with the type of poise in the playoffs that Brady has consistently displayed.)
There is so much more I could say, but if there are still people out there not recognizing/acknowledging Tom Brady's greatness, they simply don't know as much about football as they think. The guy is a future first-ballot hall of famer who has consistently helped his teams become great rather than good to very good.
NY Pats Fan
A: I think there is a very, very small crew out there who still has any question regarding the greatness of Brady. He's not a system QB, but he is a QB that plays a particular system perfectly. That doesn't mean he wouldn't be an MVP in Philly or Minnesota or wherever. Never forget this: Bill Belichick was 5-13 as head coach of the Patriots when Tom Brady made his first start. To me that's a strong starting point if you ever want to get into a "who made who?" debate. Great coach, of course (I think the best ever in his sport) but if Tom Brady had been picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 196th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft I'm not sure if Bill Belichick is a head coach today. It takes a lot of luck is all.
Good call with the Chan Gailey bashing. Normally I might think that you are using a bit of hyperbole when you suggest he be demoted to "assistant quality control coach", but that guy really is that terrible. That first Buffalo drive was killing the Pats until he decided, inexplicably, to switch to almost exclusive pass plays. Thanks, Chan!
You think Gailey is toast? Or is Ralph Wilson totally senile at this point?
A: Why would you think that Ralph Wilson might be senile, Roofus? Because Woodrow Wilson was President was he was born? It's not like the guy was alive when the Red Sox won the World Series in September of 1918. He was born a whole five weeks after that. I'm sure Chan Gailey will turn it around and get the Bills to 12 wins next year. I mean, there's been no evidence in Chan's first 40 years as a football coach to suggest that'll happen, but color me an optimist. Plus, going 6-10 with a magnetic personality like Chan Gailey as your coach (while paying him Minihane money) beats having to worry about finding people to shovel out snow for a home playoff game.
As I always believe its all about yards per point not yards (Or SD would be best in league, not Pats).
However, if you look at best in yards per point, Pats are tops in OFF, Pats have been in top half DEF and have moved up steadily to top 5!!!
Thanks for your time.
Deployed MSgt in Iraq
24 Outstanding Yrs!!!
A: Reading this email again (and the correspondence I've had with the Master Sergeant subsequently) only solidifies the belief that people truly do care about me and Kevin Harlan. Important to have perspective.
The reality, of course, is that I'm overwhelmed whenever I get an email from a member of the armed forces. Hasn't happened a lot, but I've gotten a few over the years. And after thanking Master Sergeant Fortis for reading my stuff and for his service (and pathetically I actually think I did so in that order) I asked him if he's able to watch a lot of Patriots' games over in Iraq.
Honestly sir with a job where I work 7am to 5pm (abnormal here, but I am a Master Sgt) I have to get up early or go to bed late. So far this year I missed only the Browns game (thank God, lol)...however during the Bears game they switched to Jets/Miami since we were KICKIN their Arse all over that snow bound flat they called a field lol.
AFN (AFNetworks) plays three games at 9pm here from 1pm games EST and does an online vote to get fans what they want over the week prior, pretty cool.
At midnight they play two games usually from 4pm EST games back home and always play the late Sunday, Monday, Thursday games but they are at 4am here.
And then he sent me a brilliant formula he's worked on (Excel spread) about yards per point and how it translates to wins and losses. Really interesting to look at -- the Master Sergeant is a self-proclaimed "math whiz." This what he does in his free time. You know, when he's not busy making sure we all have the freedom to watch "Teen Mom" and drink 96 oz Pepsi's.
Pretty cool guy (duh). One email like that makes up for the buffet of morons I must inhale each week.
But wait! I thought the JETS were the "Class of the AFC East"??!!!"
Kirk M. Sux
A: Ah, from hero to zero. That's more like it. Feels like home.
Re: Little Fockers
And yet the movie was the #1 box office draw this weekend at $34 million. Hardly a disaster.
A: If Brett Favre was still playing in 2022 I think he'd be almost at the point in his profession where Robert De Niro is in his today. It's beyond depressing. To me, 1995 was the last great De Niro year. "Casino" and "Heat" -- one a solid Scorsese mob flick and the other a crime masterpiece (and I mean it -- "Heat" gets better each time you watch it). Since then? Nothing. I mean nothing that mattered. If you are 30 years or younger you've probably never seen a great Robert De Niro movie in the theatre. But the good news is that his next project (according to IMDB) is something called "The Killer Elite" with Jason Statham as his co-star. A tip: It's OK to say no, Bob. Really.
(Aside: Can anyone think of a good comedy sequel? Has it ever happened?)
Re: Great Report Card
Haven't been able to read a report card since the Herald let that hack
Borges take over theirs--I refuse to read his garbage.
I just bookmarked your site.
A: Wait, how did this make it through?
(The truth about Borges? I think he's a MUCH needed contrarian on the air at WEEI and I always enjoy reading his stuff. Plus he's the one guy in town who cares about boxing. Do I think he can lose a little credibility when he gets into the Belichick bashing? Sure, but I don't think he believes half the stuff he's saying. He's just playing a role is all. I get a kick out of him.)
I remember the talking heads going on and on in early October about the best teams in the NFL. They were talking about four or five teams, and the Pats weren't even mentioned.
A: We're done with the no respect card, guys. It's over. No more of it. Everyone thinks the Patriots are the best team in the NFL. Everyone except Terrell Suggs. So it's time to put the "what about us?" t-shirts back in the closet and embrace life as a clear Super Bowl favorite.
Enjoy the Irrelevant Bowl. Pats 24, Dolphins 20. No clue how much anyone plays, but I wouldn't let Brady out of the locker room myself.