CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk briefly about footballs, the Super Bowl and what Sunday will bring. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

As a former NFL quarterback, Esiason weighed in on Deflategate, noting that people have been “manipulating the ball for as long as I can remember.”

“It goes all the way back to when I was playing,” he said. “They started playing with brand new balls out of the box, we were all angry about that. Then it was that the home team had to furnish the footballs, we were angry about that. Then it was Tom [Brady] and Peyton [Manning] who went to Roger Goodell back in 2006 and said, ‘Hey, we want to bring our own footballs.’ And I’ve been saying over the last five or six years, I don’t care if they’re underinflated, overinflated, the fact is when you look at those footballs, they all look like they’re 100 years old. They don’t look anything like the balls that we played with. So I think everybody has gained an advantage at the quarterback position.”

Esiason then mentioned that it sounded to him like “the officials didn’t really do their due diligence” in terms of checking the balls carefully.

Aside from the unrelenting talk of deflated footballs, the story this game is that both the Patriots and the Seahawks match up to an astonishing degree. For Esiason, it’s the strength of both secondaries that interests him most.

“I can’t remember the last time both defenses, in terms of the secondaries, had a decided advantage against the wide receivers,” he said, adding: “I think this is going to be a struggle for both of these offenses, and even Tom Brady said it last week, with Seattle, nothing’s easy, and the same thing can be said for the New England Patriots.

“The interesting thing here for me is whether or not Seattle can generate any sort of big play in their passing game. They were able to do that towards the end of the game against Green Bay and certainly did it in overtime. They did it against Carolina, but those secondaries aren’t nearly as good as the New England secondary.”

Esiason, who predicts a 23-20 Patriots victory, stressed that these are “the two best rosters in football” and that the game most likely will be down to the wire.

“This is why you went out and got Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis,” he said. “This is when you take a look at what Russell Wilson has been able to do in his young career. I believe this is going to be a great game. I think it’s going to go all the way down to the fourth quarter. I think it’s a field goal game, and I think the quarterback who has the ball last is going to have a chance to win the football game.”

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen


PHOENIX — Even Katy Perry couldn’t resist making fun of the ridiculous hype.

We’re not talking about the Super Bowl but rather Deflategate.

Wearing a two-piece combo with a football design covering her chest, Perry made a joke before promoting her halftime performance on Sunday.

“I don’t think I’m so much of an expert on the game of football, but I can assure everyone in here, nothing in my performance will be deflated,” the pop superstar said during Thursday’s press conference.

As for hyping her own act, the 30-year-old Perry promised sharks and lions would be on stage as part of her highly-anticipated performance.

Perry also promised a secret surprise guest.

“It will be a real female-fun night. Jaws will drop, faces will melt,” Perry said.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Aaron Hernandez‘s trial began Thursday, with his defense attorney claiming that the former Patriots star is an innocent man “targeted” because of his fame. Meanwhile, the prosecution presented evidence that showed both Hernandez and Odin Lloyd’s DNA on a marijuana cigarette.

Hernandez is charged in the death of Lloyd, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds in 2013 and was found in an industrial park close to where Hernandez resided in North Attleboro. Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.

The District Attorney, Patrick Bomberg, played security video for the jury that first showed Lloyd getting into a rental car that Hernandez was driving and then later footage at Hernandez’s home without Lloyd in the car.

Hernandez’s DNA was found on the shell casing from a bullet that had been under the driver’s seat of the car. According to Bomberg, that type of bullet had been fired from the same weapon as the one at the scene of the crime.

In addition, an image from Hernandez’s surveillance system was presented showing the former tight end standing outside his basement with a gun in his hand.

The defense attorney, Michael Fee, said that Hernandez “was planning a future, not a murder” and that authorities couldn’t come up with a motive for the shooting.

“Aaron never had a chance,” Fee said. “They locked on Aaron and they targeted him.”

If convicted, Hernandez could face life in prison. He also will be put on trial for a separate shooting incident that took place in Boston in 2012 and ended with the death of two men.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

PHOENIX — Friday is the last day of media availability before the big game on Sunday, although the players’ final access came on Thursday. The real big event on Friday is Roger Goodell’s state of the league address.

PHOENIX — Friday is the last day of media availability before the big game on Sunday, although the players’ final access came on Thursday. The real big event on Friday is Roger Goodell’s state of the league address. The Patriots and Seahawks will practice, and the final injury report will be released as well.

Here is the media availability schedule for Friday:

8:30 MT Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll joint press conference
11:30 MT Roger Goodell state of the league address

Here are a few of the bigger stories and audio segments from Thursday:

Making of a coach: How Bill Belichick became the leader he is today. By Ryan Hannable
Bag of tricks: Patriots defense has spent season secretly stashing takeaways. By Chris Price
Tackling subject that could decide Super Bowl 49, YAC-ity YAC. By John Tomase
Dean Blandino admits footballs are not logged: ‘Certainly something that could be a thought’. By Mike Petraglia
Kirk’s showdown with the competition on D&C.
Marshall Faulk joined Middays with MFB.
Herm Edwards joined Dale & Holley.

Blog Author: 
WEEI
There were signs Bill Belichick would become a successful coach one day during his college years at Wesleyan University. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

There were signs Bill Belichick would become a successful coach one day during his college years at Wesleyan University. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Everyone knows the Bill Belichick of today. 20 seasons as a head coach, 15 of those with New England. Five Super Bowl appearances. Three Super Bowl titles. A very guarded and reserved man at his meetings with the media.

But, what was the coach like 40 years ago, as a 20-year old college student at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut?

The son of a football coach played three sports at Wesleyan — football, lacrosse and squash. Contrary to what some might believe by where he is today, lacrosse was his best sport.

“He was captain of the team. I trusted him,” said his lacrosse coach Terry Jackson over the phone this week. “He did a great job of leading us to the ECAC finals in his senior year.”

“The good thing was we play with a rubber ball and you can’t deflate that,” he joked.

The team fell in the ECAC finals that year and Belichick had a strong game, but he wasn’t supposed to even play in the game. Earlier in the year he suffered a thumb injury and the school doctors wouldn’t clear him for the game. Belichick took matters into his own hands and went down to the Naval Academy where his dad was the coach and talked with their doctors. He got himself cleared to play and played with a soft cast.

“Such a tough kid,” said Jackson.

On the football field, Belichick wasn’t a star. A defensive end/outside linebacker, during his senior season a star freshman came in and Belichick wasn’t going to see much time, so the coaches tried to make him a tight end so he could see at least some time on the field.

Despite his lack of playing time, it was clear he knew the game — an early sign that coaching could one day be in his future.

“He had very, very insightful questions,” John Biddiscombe, his position coach and former Wesleyan athletic director said via phone. “His question wouldn’t be where do I line up on this defense — I know where to line up — but what happens if they all of a sudden change their defense into the boundary, what do I do then? Kids don’t ask that at that age. They pretty much do what the coaches ask them to do and line up where they are supposed to line up as the playbook says. I was impressed. He was a very respectful, hard worker, easy to get along with. Just a good guy.”

Biddiscombe’s office was near the lacrosse office so he saw Belichick in the spring. Belichick and another star player would often go to the lacrosse office on a Tuesday or Wednesday night to go over the game plan for the next weekend’s opponents with Jackson, drawing plays on chalkboards, which was very unusual back then for players to have an input on a game plan with their coach.

In the classroom, Belichick was a very hard working student, as all Wesleyan students are, mostly all in the top 10 percent of their high school class. An economics major, the coach cared a lot about his school work.

“He was a very diligent and intense student,” Dick Miller, Belichick’s faculty advisor and professor said via phone last weekend. “He paid attention with what was going on in class. He participated a lot in class discussions — one of the courses [he had me in] was a discussion class. The attributes that I observed then has been evident for the last 40 years of his career.”

“His attention to detail and his intensity dealing with the topic at hand. He was a very focused student and still is now,” Miller added.

Belichick graduated in 1975 and not one of his coaches had any idea he was going to follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a coach.

“As smart as I am, I had no clue. I knew his dad was a coach and I thought Bill was expiring to do something beyond that,” Jackson said.

Biddiscombe was told that Belichick was looking to latch on at NC State as a grad assistant under Lou Holtz, but for some reason it fell through. Once he learned of that he thought Belichick would give something else a shot, but later that year he ran into him at the National Football Coaches Association meeting in Washington D.C. and it was there Belichick told him he was going to move near his dad and break down film for the Baltimore Colts.

“There was a hint there obviously that he had a passion for the game and couldn’t get it out of his system by just forgetting about it all together,” Biddiscombe said.

The Belichick that is shown on TV is not the same person who is remembered at Wesleyan and who was inducted into their Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. Although his former coaches will admit he isn’t the most outgoing person in the world, he isn’t anything like what he comes across on TV.

“He was very laid back even then,” Jackson said. “[His teammates] loved him. Bill is an easy guy to like when you get to know him. He is completely loyal to his teammates and to this day has them come in and see him at the stadium. Bill was well liked.”

“He was reserved, particularly on the field,” Biddiscombe added. “Socially off the field, he fit right in with the rest of the guys. I get to see him as a Wesleyan alum in social settings and he is much more outgoing in those situations than he appears on TV.”

Belichick still says connected with his Wesleyan roots, showing off his caring side. He occasionally goes back and visits campus to gives speeches and talks, he keeps in touch with current football coach Mike Whalen for anything that he needs, including recruiting or even game planning tips.

He stays in touch with all of his coaches, via regular mail mostly. He also invites them and his former teammates to a training camp practice once a year to stay in touch with the guys he really grew up with.

“Bill is an easy guy to like when you get to know him,” said Jackson. “He is completely loyal to his teammates and to this day has them come in and see him at the stadium. Bill was well liked.”

A few years back, Belichick’s youngest son, Brian, graduated from Suffield Academy. Soon after in one of Jackson’s letters to Belichick said that his grandson had just applied to the school and was really hoping he would get in. Three days later Jackson’s grandson got his acceptance letter in the mail. Belichick had reached out to the headmaster on Jackson’s behalf.

Belichick’s success that he has today clearly is the result of hours and hours of preparation to go along with his football intelligence. The coach will be going for his fourth Super Bowl title Sunday against the Seahawks.

“He is very strategic and stick to what he thinks and hopefully it will work — most of the time it does,” Biddiscombe said. “The other thing is he was such an incredibly hard worker. The amount of time that he would put in to preparation is just legendary.”

Going along with how prepared he is, he always has something to keep the opposition off guard — something to look for Sunday night.

“He’s a smart guy and he is always surprising somebody about something,” Jackson said. “Whether it’s trick play or something, he always has something up his sleeve, but he never reveals it to too many people.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
DeOssie joins Mut from Arizona to talk about how big the hype has been for this year's Super Bowl in comparison to other Super Bowl games in the past and how Seattle's defense matches up against New England's offense.

[0:09:04] ... jets. The ravens and the giants greatly from wrong that that the Seattle Seahawks their huge in the back they have a big safeties but. Built Selig huge team on the defensive line the type of ...
[0:11:42] ... feel better. Capsule ward was right then Russell Wilson right now probably. Aaron Rodgers when he told you so. That the objective. About these boulders would negate or. Yeah OKB. Slugfest that's an apple but. I ...
[0:13:55] ... the first Super Bowls that I remember. Was the giants and Matt Bart Scott forward. Missing that field goal and it's as what it let it was just about to turn eleven years old. Errol I like Bill Parcells. Because he was this guy that you would say stuff the other coaches Wednesday. And I'm a Mets Super Bowl vividly than ...





Join Chris Price of WEEI.com for a Friday chat to get ready for Super Sunday

Live Blog Chris Price Live Patriots Chat
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

PHOENIX — The Patriots held their second practice in Arizona of the week Thursday afternoon at the Arizona Cardinals‘ practice facility. Despite showers in the area and an option to go indoors, the team practiced outside in shorts and shells.

Bryan Stork

Bryan Stork

PHOENIX — The Patriots held their second practice in Arizona of the week Thursday afternoon at the Arizona Cardinals‘ practice facility. Despite showers in the area and an option to go indoors, the team practiced outside in shorts and shells.

It was the same report as yesterday, with the exception of Akeem Ayers being added with a knee injury. He was limited. Rookie center Bryan Stork continues to be limited with his knee injury suffered in the divisional round win against the Ravens. All signs continue to point to him playing Sunday.

The pool report, courtesy of USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, says the team worked on special teams, two-minute offense and two-minute defense against scout teams, and spent more time working on red zone offense plays. There were more situational packages, including a sequence that began with Tom Brady and the offense backed up on their 2-yard line.

Belichick seems to be expecting a lot of noise Sunday night, as they blasted loud music, including Ima Boss, a rap song by Meek Mill, featuring Rick Ross.

Here is the complete practice report:

Limited participation

LB Akeem Ayes (knee)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (shoulder)
DT Chris Jones (elbow)
DT Sealver Silga (knee)
C Bryan Stork (knee)

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle)

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable