|01.31.12 at 11:36 am ET|
The New York papers were blasting the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady on Monday for celebrating before their trip to Indianapolis with a fan send-off ahead of the Super Bowl. On Tuesday, the travel celebration controversy continued as the New York tabloids praised the Giants for their quiet trip to Indianapolis on Monday.
The New York Post applauded the Giants in their paper Tuesday, running with the headline, “Plane Focused.” According to the Post, about 125 Giants fans cheered on the team at Timex Performance Center as they boarded buses to Newark Airport. That number is in stark contrast to the organized 25,000 who showed up for the pre-flight pep rally at Gillette Stadium Sunday morning.
Justin Tuck, the defensive end who constantly pressured Brady in Super Bowl XLII, scoffed at the way New England organized its travel plans.
‘I wish we could have flown in at night with nobody knowing we were here, instead of having everybody cheer you on, because all that ‘ what for?’’ Tuck told the Post. ‘Nobody wants to talk about before the Super Bowl, everybody wants to talk about after it. If you leave this place as the winner of the 46th Super Bowl, then you can have as many parties, you can have as many pep rallies, you can do whatever you want to do after that.
‘Until that happens then I could care less for all the hoopla.’’
The New York Daily News carried a similar story, saying that the Giants flew “under the radar” to Indianpolis with “no plans for a victory party next week.”
The Daily News then quoted the outspoken safety Antrel Rolle. Contrary to the Daily News’ assertion that the Giants are not engaging in the confident talk that the Patriots are guilty of, Rolle said he “expected” the Giants to win.
“We’re not here for anything but to take care of the Patriots on Sunday night. I mean, we wouldn’t have boarded the plane if we didn’t expect to win. I think that is the bottom line. We have come here for one thing and one thing only, which is to win. We are expecting to win this game come Sunday.’
The New York Times, as opposed to the city’s tabloids, took a more business-like view of Super Bowl travel. They ran a story on the cost of going to the Super Bowl in last-minute fashion.
According to the Times, a room at budget hotel Best Inn costs $898.99 per night this week (normally, rooms there are $55 per night). The Days Hotel near the Indianapolis airport is charging $1,840 for two nights despite normally costing $47 per night. Game tickets range from $2100 in the nosebleeds to $516,484 for a suite. Flights from Boston or New York to Indianapolis, which are normally about $400, have jumped to $1,379 to $1,837 this weekend.
But of all the hoopla surrounding Super Bowl travel, none is more welcome than that of Mark Herzlich, current Giants linebacker and a former Boston College standout who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2009. Almost three years later, Herzlich is cancer-free and participating in his first Super Bowl.
Herzlich acknowledged the accomplishment via Twitter. Not long after landing in Indianapolis on Monday, Herzlich tweeted: 2 yrs ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in The #SuperBowl. #TakeThatSh*tCancer
|01.31.12 at 10:33 am ET|
Former Patriot Heath Evans made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to provide a player perspective on the Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and Giants. Evans was a member of the 2007 team that saw its bid for a perfect season end in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII thanks to an incredible drive by the Giants that engineered New York to a 17-14 win.
Evans eventually won a Super Bowl with the Saints before retiring after the 2010 season. Now, looking back on the 2008 heart-breaker against the Giants, Evans said he does second-guess some of Bill Belichick‘s decisions prior to the game itself.
“I’m going to do something stupid and I’m going to second-guess Bill Belichick,” Evans said. “We all completely agreed with the full pads Thursday Friday Saturday in Foxboro, the bye week. When we get to Phoenix, Wednesday was kind of a lackluster practice and I think Bill kind of thought maybe we were overlooking the [Giants] team. I don’t think we were. It was just, you have a bad day. Bill opted to put us in pads again on Thursday, which is that the reason we lost the game? Probably not. But if there was a way to freshen us up ‘¦”
Evans also weighed in on the upcoming Super Bowl, noting that he does not expect Rob Gronkowski‘s high ankle sprain to hurt the team as much as people may expect. Gronkowski, Evans noted, seems tough enough to play through the injury. If he is unable to go, Evans said the Patriots coaching staff will be able to use a slightly different style of offense so that instead of having someone else fill in for Gronkowski, they will be able to play someone else in a situation that best helps that player to succeed.
Evans claimed that the most important factor in the game will not be Gronkowski or the secondary, but rather the protection of the quarterback.
“My thought is this, it is protecting Brady, but it’s not just by pass protection,” Evans said. “It’s by running the football. You flash back to 2007, the game plan was to run the football. We had some key mistakes early on in the game. Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick elected to get away from the run game, put the weight of the world on Tom Brady‘s shoulders. Ultimately, he did his job.
“Yes, 14 points, people said, ‘No, you should have scored more,’ but he drove us down the field. We scored. Just left a little too much time for young Eli Manning at the time.”
|01.31.12 at 9:06 am ET|
It is the Super Bowl and it comes with pomp and circumstance unlike anything else in American sports, and so the issues on the periphery can feel bigger, at times, than the game itself. And with the Patriots and Giants now five days away from the game, it is no surprise that the volume is amplifying on such pressing issues as:
— The absence of Chad Ochocinco from a podium on Media Day.
— On Sunday, Tom Brady addressed Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium, saying, “Hopefully, we’ll have a lot more people at our party next weekend.” That is being treated by New York tabloids as the second coming of Joe Namath‘s Super Bowl guarantee of victory. More on that here.
— Gronk is now a cultural phenomenon, as evidenced by the fact that he’s now a subject of a hip-hop track on which Timbaland served as the executive producer. Gronk’s response (via twitter): “Wowsers this is crazyyy!’
With media day on the horizon, such matters are the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg. Here is a roundup of coverage on WEEI.com that may (or may not) have greater bearing on the outcome of Super Bowl XLVI:
— The Patriots practiced in full pads. Rob Gronkowski didn’t. Chris Price examines that development as well as a number of other matters — including the possibility that there could be a position up for grabs at right tackle — in wading through the muck and identifying what we learned (that matters) on Monday.
— The legacy of Super Bowl XLII is unavoidable given that the Patriots and Giants are once again facing each other four years after their epic championship tilt. Kirk Minihane writes that if the Patriots win on Sunday, it will represent the death of Spygate.
Patrick Chung, who was in college during Super Bowl XLII, had no interest in discussing David Tyree‘s catch against Rodney Harrison. Chung also had no interest in addressing Harrison’s comments that the Patriots secondary is awful.
— Former Patriots special teamer Ray Ventrone is thrilled to see his brother, Ross Ventrone, in a familiar position.
— Bill Belichick said that it was former Giants coach Ray Perkins who taught him how to conduct tough practices.
— The round of press conferences included BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who addressed a number of topics including his return to Indiana as well as a career in which he’s never fumbled; Devin McCourty, who discussed the evolution of the Patriots secondary; and Patrick Chung, who discussed the challenge of shutting down the Giants.
|01.31.12 at 8:25 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The journey through Super Bowl Week has begun, and WEEI.com will help you taste all the flavor. The following is the first peek into the world of all things Indy …
|01.31.12 at 8:11 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The Ventrone brothers both played for the same high school, the same college and the same NFL team.
Ray Ventrone made his first NFL tackle in Super Bowl XLVI in Glendale, and delivered a devastating tackle on Dominik Hixon in the fourth quarter, a hit on kickoff coverage that appeared to set a good tone for the Patriots before Eli Manning began a drive that would make him a Super Bowl legend.
“Yeah, I watch it and I feel like I’m back in that game every time I see it on NFL Network,” Ventrone told WEEI.com by phone from his Cleveland-area home on Monday.
“It’s really great that my brother is going to be able to experience everything this week that goes with being in the biggest football game there is,” Ventrone said of 25-year-old Ross, who is four years younger. “It’s cool my brother gets to experience what I did. I just told him to take everything in and enjoy it.”
In keeping with his role with the Patriots all season, Ross Ventrone may or may not get into the game on Sunday against the Giants. But Ray pointed out Monday that Ross is hardly bothered by the 20 or so transactions for his brother this season, including numerous cuts, activations and practice squad assignments. Ross has played in eight games this season and is currently on the practice squad and has yet to appear in the playoffs.
“Ross understands how everything goes,” Ray said. “Honestly, he’s not bothered by it. He was able to play in NFL games. I don’t think he would trade that for anything. He played in eight games. He’d give me the rundown on how he played. Football players in general, even the ones in this league, I don’t think always understand how lucky we are to do what we do”
|01.31.12 at 6:35 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Before there was Bill Parcells, there was Ray Perkins.
“I can say before I got to New York, and coach Perkins was like that, too, we had tough, physical practices, too,” Belichick said Monday. “He definitely set the tone. When I got there in 1979, relative to what the Giants had done previous to that, it was kind of a country-club atmosphere, from what I understood. I wasn’t there. It was a little bit different than what I had been used to. I learned a lot from the mental and physical toughness standpoint that Ray, and then Bill, built their teams with. Maybe I took it a little too far in Cleveland, I don’t know. It was kind of the same thing when I got there. People said that we were too demanding and we were doing too much. I was thinking to myself, ‘I was with the Giants for 12 years. I saw this every day for 12 years. Don’t tell me we can’t go out there and have 9-on-7 two days in a row. I know we can.’ ‘
Perkins coached the team until 1983 when Parcells took over.
The “toughness” of a team was a topic of conversation Monday when Belichick came out and announced his team spent Monday going through a “crisp” first day of practice in full pads here in Indianapolis.
Belichick also reminisced fondly about his days on the Giants coaching staff from 1979-90, with the last several years spent with Tom Coughlin, who served as wide receivers coach while Belichick worked on the defense. Belichick reminded everyone that, back in the day, there was never any question from the players about going full contact in practice. Now, thanks to the new NFL collective bargaining agreement, teams are allowed only one practice in full pads per week during the season.
‘It was awesome,” Belichick said of his Giants’ days. “We had a great staff and great players. One of the biggest things I learned, that I can’t do today, but I know, is how tough those players were. We practiced every day in pads, every single day in pads. There were years that we practiced every single day on the turf before we had the grass practice fields up there on the hill, or it was being rebuilt or something happened. How we did 9-on-7, which is a good-tempo running drill, and how we did that on a regular basis. In training camp, we went out in pads every day. We hit every day. We did 9-on-7 every day. There was no way Bill (Parcells) would go out on the field without doing 9-on-7. We’d skip stretching before we’d skip 9-on-7. Going back to last year, and even this year, going out in pads, working on 9-on-7, having more contact work in practice, we’d get that look a little bit like, ‘I don’t know if the players can do it.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘Can’t do it?’
“We were in pads on Fridays with the Giants, and nobody said anything. That’s the way it was. You went out there and practiced. I know what players are capable of doing because of how demanding we were with them from a physical standpoint, and that certainly didn’t lessen their aggressiveness or their toughness in games. That was a physical defense. That was a physical offensive line. Even getting ready for the Super Bowl against Buffalo, the way we ran the ball in that game. That started on the practice field with the tempo in practice. When you get those guys crashing into each other ‘ Jumbo (Elliott) and Mark Bavaro blocking (Lawrence) Taylor, (Carl) Banks, (Jim) Burt and all them ‘ they just lined up and played football. I know it was a different era, but it will never be like that again. I learned players can be tough, they can be physical, they can do more than they think they can do from that standpoint.”
|01.30.12 at 11:19 pm ET|
Rap producer Wizz Dumb and rapper Brasco teamed up on a new track about Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Credited as an executive producer on the track is none other than hip hop and R&B legend Timbaland.
The song surfaced on YouTube on Monday. Timbaland tweeted it to his followers calling Gronkowski a “super TE” and using the hashtag “#gopatriots.”
Gronkowski also took to twitter with the song, tweeting:
“Thanks to @Timbaland for this new gronk song! Wowsers this is crazyyy!”
Timbaland responded to Gronkowski, tweeting:
“i gotchu! Now lets win superbowl.”
The 22-year-old Gronkowski set the single-season record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 17. He hopes to play in the Super Bowl Sunday despite suffering a high ankle sprain against the Ravens in the AFC championship game.
The credits on the song’s Youtube page identify the music as being from Timbaland, with the track executive produced by Timbaland and Wizz Dumb.
Timbaland has worked with the likes of Missy Elliot, Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Aaliyah and Genuine, among others in his career.