Mike Reiss – NFL officials working Saturday’s playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots forgot footballs specifically used for kicking, as well as gauges to measure air pressure, which required the Massachusetts State police to deliver them an hour before kickoff.
“At approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Massachusetts State police at Logan airport were notified by the Hyatt Hotel on airport property that the officials at Gillette Stadium for that afternoon’s Patriots’ playoff game had left official, specially designated footballs and pressure gauges behind at the hotel,” Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said. … State Police contacted an NFL security official at Gillette Stadium. NFL security requested State Police assistance in bringing the footballs and gauges to the stadium. … A hotel employee retrieved the equipment.”
This is your National Football League. Here is Roger Goodell’s “integrity of the game” in action. This multi-billion dollar collection of frauds, back-stabbers and nincompoops. This is the very same organization that couldn’t ever be bothered to ever care much about how game balls are treated. To the point they let any Dorito Dink game day team employee handle them and had no problem handing Tom Brady blimps pumped up to 16 psi (see The Wells Report) for a game against the Jets. But who arbitrarily, unilaterally and without notice decided that the care and handling of the balls was the single most important issue in the world. Worth millions of dollars in legal fees, months of everyone’s time and damage to people’s reputations that will never be undone.
Now we find out these same bungling clods can’t remember to bring the K-balls or pressure gauges with them to the stadium. For a playoff game. The same stadium in the same week that was ground zero when they dropped a nuke on the Patriots last year.
I spent the offseason saying that after the huge, hairy deal the NFL made, I would satisfied with nothing less than the balls being brought out to the field in a Brink’s truck under armed guard. I was only half-kidding. I didn’t think they’d actually come with a police escort. But I guess I underestimated the monumental carelessness and stupidity of the people running pro football. Then again, when those same K-balls were being stolen by an NFL employee in the very same game the whole Deflategate sting operation began, maybe Massachusetts’ Finest should be protecting them.
I suppose now we’re left with one question: If the care and maintenance of footballs is so unimportant that officials are leaving them back at the hotel like a phone charger and we’re putting them in the hands of room service workers, can the Patriots get their draft picks back?
The saga of the Patriots Darius Fleming rescuing a woman from a crashed car, getting accused of lying about it by some media outlets, then being vindicated unfolded Wednesday while we were doing The Dale & Holley with Thornton Show, and we talked about it at length. But Fleming is both a Patriots player and a former Notre Damer. So there’s no way I’m going to miss out on a double shot of righteous indignation like this without weighing in on it here.
After a sleeping on it, Fleming’s story sounds less like a current event or a study in journalism than it does a Bible parable. Something Jesus would preach to teach us important, moral lessons:
A Good Samaritan stops along the road to help a traveler in need and is injured. He accepts no thanks and returns home without telling anyone of his good deed. The other villagers hear of it, but do not believe the story. They bear false witness against him, compare him to his old classmate who fell in love with a fake girl, and cast the first stone. When the story is proven true, they do not ask forgiveness for their sins. Amen.
And there are lessons to be learned from the entire episode. The Gospel According to Thornography:
5. Darius Fleming is a hero.
A car with deployed air bags fills with powder or whatever accelerant is used to inflate them. And it makes it look like the car is on fire and maybe about to explode. With that, he risked his life to help this woman, cut his leg kicking her window in, pulled her to safety, held her hand until the police arrived and went on his way without asking so much as a “thank you.” And in a world where some people would take selfies of their heroics and post them all over social media or hold a press conference to bask in their own glory, he said nothing. I once changed the tire of a girl I worked with and campaigned for a Congressional Medal of Honor for it. You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.
4. No good deed goes unpunished.
If Fleming had just kept driving along, listening to another spectacularly entertaining “Unsportsmanlike Podcast,” minded his own business and left the rescuing to someone else, no one would’ve known. There would have been no suggesting he lied to cover up the real reason he cut himself. Ben Volin wouldn’t have reported there was no accident. TMZ would not have been quoting a ‘law enforcement source’ who said “it’s starting to look like Manti Te’o.”
3. Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.
In a world with Brian Williams, Deflategate, Te’o, that USC player who made up a story about saving a kid from drowning and Brandon Spikes slamming his car into another in the middle of the night and claiming he hit a deer, it’s perfectly normal to question everything anyone says. In fact, it’s healthy. But that includes being skeptical of media reports too. Believe only what you can verify.
2. Journalism is not dead.
While I’m all about the distrust, it was real, old-fashioned investigative reporting that got to the truth. Our producer Ben Kichen and my man Chris Villani of WEEI and the Herald simply took the time to go on line and find the report of the crash. Volin and TMZ apparently made phone calls that didn’t get them the information they wanted and went with the “there was no crash'” narrative. It’s 20 years after the Atlanta Olympics bombing and news outlets are still Richard Jeweling heroes rather than let the facts get in the way of a juicy story. But there are still people trying to get the facts, and the Internet gives us access to them.
1. It’s easier for a camel to fit through the head of a pin than for a media outlet to admit they blew it.
When the crash report was verified, TMZ’s ‘”correction” read “Cops Change Story… Questions Remain.” As Quint said in “Jaws,” “It proves one thing Mr. Hooper. It proves you wealthy college boys don’t have the education enough to admit when you’re wrong.”
Special bonus lesson: Darius Fleming is a hero.
It bears repeating. If we learn nothing else from this witch hunt, and I hope like hell we do, let’s remember this at least. @JerryThornton1
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The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
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THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS: NHL: Canucks at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Clippers at Cavaliers, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Spurs at Suns, 10:30 p.m. (TNT) College basketball: Hofstra at Northeastern, 8 p.m. (CSNNE)
College basketball: Iowa at Rutgers, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kentucky at Arkansas, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Memphis at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Ohio State at Purdue, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Belmont at Tennessee-Martin, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arizona State at California, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Rice at Alabama-Birmingham, 9:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Utah at Washington State, 11 p.m. (FS1)
Tennis: Australian Open, 3 p.m., 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
Smith has worked alongside Ryan for the past seven years, including last season as an administrative assistant for Buffalo’s assistant coaches.
“She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities,” Ryan said in a statement. “She has proven that she’s ready for the next step, so I’m excited and proud for her with this opportunity.”
Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito, not known for his sensitivity, tweeted support for Smith, writing: Congrats Kathryn!! I know you will do a great job.
The Cardinals had Boston College product Jen Welter serve a six-week coaching internship during training camp last season, and Ryan said he consulted with Arizona coach Bruce Arians before promoting Smith. Ryan also noted how well Becky Hammon has done as an NBA assistant with the Spurs.
“You can see the success some of these young ladies are having in the coaching profession, such as the young lady that is an assistant to Coach [Gregg] Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, and realize how exciting this is for women like Kathryn Smith as well as the Bills organization,” Ryan said.
Smith started working for the Jets in 2003 as a game day/special events intern. She became a college scouting intern two years later and the team’s player personnel assistant in 2007.
She replaces Michael Hamlin, who was not retained after this season.
— Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman became a concern this offseason when news broke that Florida police were investigating an accusation of domestic violence against him.
“In this country, when allegations are brought against a person, that person is completely innocent until proven otherwise. Not the other way around,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday at baseball’s owner’s meetings in Coral Gables, Florida.
While Major League Baseball could discipline Chapman for the incident, Steinbrenner said the team did due diligence before sending four prospects to the Reds.
“We did as much research as we possibly could, and that’s what I’m going to do anytime I’m looking to get rid of some of my good young talent or spend $100 million signing a free agent,” Steinbrenner said.
The No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, Drouin was demoted to AHL Syracuse on Jan. 2. His agent, who asked for a trade in November, said Wednesday that Drouin is better off sitting out until his request is fulfilled.
“We proposed to Tampa that Jonathan not play in the next few AHL games but continue practicing with the club to avoid any potential injury from preventing an imminent trade,” agent Allan Walsh said. “Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning refused this reasonable request, however, Jonathan was not willing to accept this risk.”
General manager Steve Yzerman has said the Lightning would trade Drouin only if it improved the team.
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Jan. 21, 1954, the NBA All-Star Game went to overtime for the first time. Which Celtic scored 10 points in the extra session and was named MVP after leading the East to a 98-93 victory?