Thinking out loud … while wondering what really happened to Reggie Wayne a year ago?
— How soon we forget? Through various means, Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork and others all left New England, seemingly still in their prime. The Patriots’ trading of Jamie Collins this week really shouldn’t have come as such a shock, even if it did.
— It shocked me, but upon further review, I get it. It may not make the Patriots a better defensive team right “now,” but since when do the Patriots ever deal in the “now”? They always look with an eye to the future, and that’s how they’ve stayed at a high, championship level for 16 seasons.
— In Bill Do You Trust? Ya gotta admit, his batting average is pretty good — right, Steve from Fall River? You and I might not make this deal, or any one of several others, but we’re not Bill Belichick, either. He’s not perfect — I wouldn’t have sent Seymour packing in 2009, for instance. Thought that move potentially cost NE another Super Bowl.
— Maybe this move costs the Patriots another? It doesn’t make the defense better today, but there still are eight games left on the schedule — plenty of time to reach a level of competency that, coupled with the offense, makes you championship-worthy.
— Here’s the deal, as far as I can tell: Collins wasn’t re-signing, at least not at the number the team wanted him to sign. Get what you can for him while you can. And to those who wonder why they wouldn’t have kept him around until the end of the year, it’s really quite simple. Based on the compensation they will receive from Cleveland (a compensatory third-round pick), they have the chance to cultivate that compensation and “grow it” at a much faster rate than if they waited until the season’s end.
— Plus, you have to wonder this: If Collins was worth a third-rounder to Cleveland, what did other teams think of him? Not as highly thought of, perhaps? So, did we overvalue his talent, ability and worth?
— Bottom line: It doesn’t matter what we think. Fantasy and reality often are mistaken for each other when it comes to player evaluation in pro football. Pardon me, but … it is what it is.
— That the Patriots lead the NFL with the best record (7-1) at the halfway point surprises who? You? I figured them for 6-2. They’re playing with house money, and TB12 is on a mission. There’s a definite upward curve coming on offense — and if the defense can tag along, they’ll be special. That’s certainly the focus right now.
— Did I mention I hate bye weeks? Gotta have ’em, every team needs ’em, but to think there’s another week to go before your team plays again? Agonizing. By the time your team plays again, you’ve gone through the equivalent of a two-week-long football lobotomy.
— Bold move, Harvard. Suspending men’s soccer for a culture of sexual commentary toward the women’s team is, however, still remarkable in that the Crimson were in first place in the Ivy League when the deed was done this week. Championships and crass (locker room?) behavior are, it seems, mutually exclusive at one school at least.
— Providence’s Kimani Lawrence, one of the nation’s top small forwards, chose Bobby Hurley and Arizona State as his collegiate destination last week. It’s disappointing to not keep local talent at home — even though PC and URI might be stacked at the position. He did sign with a Hurley, though.
— Initial impressions from the PC-Carleton exhibition game? Emmitt Holt is better than previously advertised, and he might need to be. So are freshman Kalif Young, Maliek White and Alpha Diallo. Now, freshmen normally take time to adjust to the level of play in college ball, especially within the Big East. These guys will have ups and downs this year — but a few more ups than normal might have the Friars surprising some people.
— If the Friars play anywhere near the way they played in the second half of that exhibition, they won’t finish ninth, certainly. But again, take that with a grain of salt. Carleton is good, but that team had just been extended the night before at UMass into an overtime during a scrimmage — which means no legs at the end.
— Much, much better to play a team that is used to winning Canadian national titles than a D2 or D3 school, with all due respect to our neighbors. Ed Cooley has said he wants to challenge his young guys early, and this was a good start. The challenge picks up considerably later this month.
— Vermont’s Catamounts come to the Dunk for the opener Nov. 14, returning five starters and 12 lettermen from a team that won 23 games last year. UVM is the preseason favorites to win America East and reach the NCAA Tournament.
— The Cats are no cupcake. It’s a good RPI game for the Friars to play, and PC’s staff knows how (and who) to schedule to put its team in position to dance in March. Apparently, at least a few national folks think so, too. SI.com ranks the Friars 66th out of 351 Division 1 teams this year — already putting PC squarely on the tournament bubble.
— Just think about this: In the previous 89 years of Providence basketball, never has the program put together four straight seasons of reaching the NCAA Tournament. True, the NIT was THE national tournament prior to 1966 (Texas Western’s win over Kentucky helped the NCAA get on top), but four dances in a row? That’s Kentuckified air, for sure.
— No real surprises in the preseason Top 25 polls, and the Big East has defending national champ Villanova, Xavier and Creighton with numbers by their names. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Seton Hall, Georgetown, Butler or even Marquette crack the polls this year at some point.
— URI’s preseason hype has arrived, with the Rams ranked 23rd in the Associated Press poll and 24th in the USA Today coaches’ poll. It’s the first ranking of any kind for Rhody since 1999. Great to be there, as others think highly of you. Now, the mission becomes to stay there as others take their shots at you.
— Don’t be surprised if there are a couple of early bumps for the Rams. Their returning injured stars, E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin, will need time to re-acclimate. It’s not reasonable to expect they pick up right where they left off before their injuries.
— At the other end of the spectrum lies URI football. I literally had to do a double take when I saw the 84-7 score last weekend. Really, 84-7? C’mon. It’s too easy to say URI football should go the way of the dinosaur, really. Alumni need to demand more. Students need to demand more. The taxpayers of Rhode Island should demand more, too.
— The point here is: No one cares enough. That’s the biggest embarrassment of all, really.
— Bill Reynolds pointed it out in the Providence Journal — and it’s quite simple. Rhode Island football is on a different plane compared to other programs in the Colonial Athletic Association, with fewer scholarships, which means fewer players, which means difficult recruiting — leading to beatings like 84-7. The CAA asked URI a couple of years ago to stay in the league rather than move to the NEC. Isn’t it at least time for the state university to consider what’s in its best interest first?
— Rhody’s misfortune comes at a time when college football coaches’ compensation across the country is at all-time high. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh has usurped Alabama’s Nick Saban as the No. 1 wage earner at $9 million per year. Nine million! The apocalypse isn’t upon us. It’s done passed us over.
— With salaries completely out of whack, with TV revenues sure to shrink in the coming decades, with schools fighting budget deficits (or shrinking profits, depending on your viewpoint) and travel difficulties, and the ever-increasing player safety issues, I gotta admit: Dim and grim comes to mind when I think about a future picture of this sport.
— Especially when ESPN loses 621,000 channel subscribers in a single month, or did it? It’s such a surprising number, the Nielsen ratings service has withdrawn its estimates for further research — at ESPN’s request. But it’s clear consumers are dropping cable channels as bundling disappears in order to save money on channels they don’t watch.
— Not for nuthin’, but Disney stock dropped more than $1 per share when the November cable subscriber losses were initially released this week. Nielsen might not be completely accurate, but it’s hit close to home.
— Oh, and Twitter is cutting back on 10 percent of its workforce, too. Gotta stay lean in order to stay mean, I guess.
— Forgive me for my lack of excitement over the Red Sox picking up Clay Buchholz’s option and deciding to increase ticket prices for next year. That’s already two strikes against ’em, and we’ve got 3 1/2 months before pitchers and catchers report.
— The finish to the World Series definitely was one for the ages. And why not? It took ages to create. Or at least 108 years, which is damn remarkable. Remembering how I felt (and how YOU felt?) in 2004 when a mere 86-year-old curse came to a crashing end around here, I smile for Cubs fans.
— And ache for Indians fans — but not too much. They still have LeBron and the Cavs.
— First team since the ’85 Royals to win a Series after trailing 3-1. First team since the “We are Family” ’79 Pirates to win a series with a deficit and having to win the last two on the road. The fourth team ever to win a Game 7 in extra innings. Mark those down — all historical moments in a single game Wednesday night.
— Pretty unbelievable, in fact, that it took 39,466 days between titles won by the Cubs. And that Teddy Roosevelt was President when they last won, that New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states yet and that the Ford Model T automobile was only two weeks old.
— There was a part of me that really didn’t mind seeing Chicago’s Aroldis Chapman get bounced around in the eighth inning as Cleveland, literally, rocked. Just desserts? Just sayin’.
— The pitching failures were epic, the managerial moves were questionable, the drama was off the hook. All of it good, absolutely. But the rain delay in Game 7 aside, the games simply are too long. I fell asleep at some point in every one of the seven — which either says something about the direction the sport is heading into, or says something about the age I’m heading into.
— But Theo over Tito? They’re both certain Hall of Famers in my book, anyway. Two numbers are all you need to know about Epstein: 108 and 86. ‘Nuff said.
— Usually it takes me until after Christmas to pay attention to any part of pro basketball. But there may be a reason, surprisingly, to follow the Brooklyn Nets’ D-League team (the Long Island Nets) for a while, at least. Their roster has familiar names on it, including former Seton Hall star and 2016 second-round NBA draft pick Isaiah Whitehead, former Friars guard Donnie McGrath, recent Friars foe Egidijus Mockevicius from Evansville, and former PC all-American Ryan Gomes an assistant coach with former Butler guard Ronald Nored serving as head coach.
— ICYMI, former Providence forward LaDontae Henton, after playing last season in the Philippine Basketball Association, was selected in the NBADL draft by the Golden State Warriors with the 10th overall selection. He’ll play for the Warriors’ affiliate in Santa Cruz, California, after spending the summer of 2015 playing for the Warriors’ summer league team.
— Besides being an all-time Friars favorite for his work ethic, if not his all-Big East ability, Henton is one of 110 players in college basketball history to record more than 2,000 career points and more than 1,000 career rebounds — as is Ryan Gomes. Providence is one of 13 schools represented on that list with multiple players.
— My favorite Halloween costume this week? Paul Pierce dressed up as Rick James. He was an absolute dead ringer for the pop-rock icon of the 1970s and ’80s who passed away 12 years ago. A real super freak. Probably also a nod to his own era and age, what with his impending retirement and all.
— My buddy Statbeast sez he heard a pretty good Halloween joke this week from Statbeast Junior. “Dad, what do ghosts fear the most?” Statbeast said he didn’t know. So Junior replied, “Ghostbusters 3!” Even the ghosts are critics these days.
— Ray Allen’s official retirement from basketball after two years away from the game wasn’t a surprise. Still, his jump shot will be missed by those who saw him play — from the halcyon UConn days to championships in Boston and in Miami. When you can leave a game as the “best” at something — and Allen is the all-time 3-point king of the NBA — that’s saying something.
— Is his legacy worth his number residing in the rafters of TD Garden? Seriously, ask yourself that question, look up in those rafters, and then get back to me on that one.
— Best shooter(s) I’ve ever seen? Can’t name just one. Pete Maravich comes to mind. There’s also Austin Carr, the “Iceman” George Gervin and my broadcast partner, “Sonar” Joe Hassett — and I remember the night he hit the very first 3-pointer in Dallas Mavericks history, in 1980, before I arrived in New England. But in the modern era, I think we’d all be hard pressed to find better range with accuracy than from Reggie Miller.
— Reggie Wayne was an odd fit when the Patriots picked him up following his release by the Colts a little more than a year ago, to be sure. But hey, In Bill We Trust, right? Nevertheless, it didn’t work out for him in New England, where it was widely reported that he just didn’t have his heart into it — or into the Patriots playbook, long thought to be a source of angst for many wide receivers who have come and gone around here. Which made this week’s revelation by Wayne, on NFL Network’s Total Access, that Tom Brady wasn’t eligible for this season’s MVP award because he “cheated” pretty remarkable.
— Obvious misinformation aside, Wayne forgets that any alleged transgression occurred last year, not this season. And since Wayne was a member of the Indianapolis team that was pounded by New England in that AFC championship game, which started the entire soap opera with Colts management squealing like a stuck pig, we’ll forgive him (partially) since he’s likely embarrassed more than anything else. Lashing out is a simple defense mechanism — which is more defense than the Colts showed in January of 2015, for sure.
— And Reggie, you were a Patriot for all of what, a day? Before calling it quits? Actually, it was 12 days, but it didn’t seem that long. He took to Twitter with Patriots fans who also called him out for that this week, with such missives as U Pats fans R funny. This is hilarious. B4 I get into this. 1st . . . where are you guys hear’n that I quit? and ask BB if I quit or said it was 2 hard. Tell da source to holla at me. Lol.
— Again, it was widely reported by several sources last year that Wayne thought the work environment was “too tough.” That explains a lot right there, Reggie. Enjoy retirement, enjoy your gig at NFL Network, and enjoy another embarrassing moment when TB12 takes that trophy (should he keep up his current pace) from Roger Goodell — who will be more than happy to join you in your embarrassment, too.
— Aaron from Greeley, Colorado, posted this week on Facebook, concerning Jamie Collins: Not a fan of getting rid of him for a 3rd. I know the contract being up next year hurts his value but this kid is AWESOME and a huge piece to our puzzle. I love what Roberts is doing for us but this will take a while to soak up. Aaron: What you have to stop and consider is, what was anyone else offering for Jamie Collins? You’re right, his contract next year most likely took him out of several teams’ thinking, not wanting to deal with or being able to afford the negotiation mess in the offseason. So, the third-round pick is the best of the best. In retrospect, how awesome is he now? Not enough to make a difference here, or in many other places. Take it and move on.
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