Archive for January, 2009

Reese conference call…

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Here is the transcript from today’s conference call with Patriots Sr. football advisor Floyd Reese.

(Big props to the fine folks in the Patriots media relations department)

FR: Let me start off by saying, first of all, thank all you ladies and gentlemen for coming. It’€™s going to be a pleasure to visit with you. I think the second thing is, if you look at professional sports franchises over the last 10 or 12 years and you say ‘€˜name the top five,’€™ the New England Patriots are going to be there someplace. If you look at ownership of organizations and franchises and you say ‘€˜okay, name the top five owners,’€™ Mr. Kraft and his family are going to be in there someplace. And if you look at the top coaches in any sport, Bill Belichick will be someplace near the top. I just want to say it’€™s a real honor and privilege for me to be a part of it.

Q: Can you start off by letting us know, kind of giving us an idea of the time line, how this started to come about?

FR: It actually started I guess maybe a week or 10 days ago. Bill [Belichick] called. I was in Connecticut-Bristol- and was on my way home and Bill wanted to see if we could get together and maybe visit. I spent some time with Bill and it escalated from there and finally [we] agreed to a contract and terms yesterday.

Q: Advisors come in different forms. Is this the type of role where you’€™ll relocate and work in the office up in New England every day?


FR:
Yes. I will be moving to New England. I’€™m going to head up there Thursday morning. Of course, this time of year is very busy. My family will relocate as soon as we can sell and buy, which is not an easy ordeal at this time, but we’€™ll figure something out and we will be moving to Foxborough and living in the area.

Q: In terms of the contract itself, you mentioned you came to terms yesterday. Is this a long-term arrangement? Is it a one-year arrangement?

FR: You know, I would rather not talk about the contract, but I will say this: our plan is to be there for more than one year, yes.

Q: How do you define your role as a special advisor? What do you see it involving?

FR: Again, I think this is a very unique situation in a couple of dimensions. First of all, I have literally done just about everything there is to do in the NFL. I started as strength coach and coached for whatever it was, 15 or 16 years. [I] got into management [and] I have handled drafts, I’€™ve handled personnel, I’€™ve handled college, pros, equipment, video. I’€™ve done all those things. I think the important thing here and the thing to keep in mind is it’€™s different from a lot of situations. This organization doesn’€™t need a lot of fixing. They are in pretty good shape, so I think my objective is to come in and do whatever I can do to help Mr. Kraft and Bill [Belichick] win another world championship.

Q: How would you characterize your relationship with Bill [Belichick]? I know it goes back a long way.

FR: It does go back a long way and over the years I would say that we remained in touch. You know, calls, particularly during the season. Maybe at trade time [we] would talk and at draft time [we] would talk and of course if [we] played each other we would talk. We didn’€™t get on the phone once a week and chat, but have always been, I think, close from the standpoint that I have tremendous respect for Bill [Belichick] and what he has done with the New England Patriots and Mr. Kraft. I mean, it’€™s just incredible the streak they have going. So I think from that standpoint you always, when you’€™re around Bill you’€™re always lucky enough to get a little nugget of information that might help you do something better. (more…)

Jolly good sales…

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The opening line of the NFL press release read, “They’re going fast.”

Indeed.

The first 70,000 tickets for the NFL game between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium this October 25 have been sold — including 20,000 tickets in the first seven minutes of sales — the NFL announced today.

After selling out the initial allocation of 70,000 seats, a limited number of additional tickets have been made available to the general public at www.ticketmaster.co.uk through this Sunday’€™s Super Bowl.

‘€œWe have been delighted with the way fans have gotten behind the game, especially considering today’€™s challenging economic climate,’€ said Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK, in the release.  ‘€œThe response is indicative of the must-see nature of our game and the place it has cemented in the UK sports calendar.  Now that people who signed up for our registry of interest have had an opportunity to buy, we are releasing some tickets for general sale.” (more…)

Forging ahead…

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Remember when we pondered a couple of weeks ago how the Patriots would adjust to all the changes going on in Foxborough.

Well, we got part of our answer on Tuesday when the team announced a couple of moves to take the place of the departed Scott Pioli, who is now working his first general manager’s gig in Kansas City.

The Patriots did the expected and promoted Nick Caserio to Director of Player Personnel. The bigger move, at least in terms of name recognition was the hiring of veteran football guru, Floyd Reese, as a senior football advisor. He is also one of Bill Belichick’s best friends in the business.

‘€œFloyd and I go back a long way, practically to the beginning for both of us,’€ Belichick said in a team release. ‘€œHe has handled as much as one person can possibly handle in this league and to a certain extent, so has Nick. In Nick and Floyd, we have two outstanding men who each bring a wealth of knowledge and flexibility to this organization. I look forward to joining with both of them and working toward the common goal of our team’s improvement and success.’€

Reese participated in a conference call with New England media on Tuesday afternoon.

This is also one of those hires where the term senior applies. Reese has as much football knowledge and experience as anyone in the game and has been around the NFL since 1975, when both he and Belichick broke in with the Detroit Lions. (see chart below).

‘€œWe consider ourselves fortunate to have the opportunity to add someone with Floyd Reese’€™s NFL experience and expertise to our staff,’€ said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. ‘€œFloyd will be a tremendous asset serving Coach Belichick in an advisory role.

According to the team press release, Reese, whose 30-plus years of NFL experience have included a wide range of responsibilities in football operations, will be involved with various football-related assignments, including contracts.

Caserio will manage the daily operations of the personnel department, continuing to work closely with Belichick on all personnel matters. (more…)

CBS scores Pats

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

It’s been a rough couple of months at Black Rock, otherwise known as CBS. Big cutbacks and staff reductions have hit hard nationally and locally at WBZ Radio and TV.

Well, here’s a big lift for those at Channel 4 and their sister station TV-38. The Patriots and Kraft Productions announced on Wednesday that WBZ-TV and TV-38 will be the exclusive local home of Patriots TV coverage starting next season. The shows include Patriots All Access, all non-network preseason games and a new Sunday morning program, ‘Totally Patriots’ aimed at kids.

And it turns out that CBS Scene at Gillette Stadium was just the first step in building a dynamic relationship between the two major entities which now reaches into broadcast.

As for the broadcasting partnership, the details can be found in the news release made by the Patriots.

‘€œPatriots All Access,’€ winner of the 2007 New England Emmy Award for Best Sports Series, will air on WBZ-TV Fridays at 7 p.m. and on TV38 Sundays at 9 a.m.  The program features exclusive, behind-the-scenes access and in-depth weekly stories on Patriots players and personnel.  The show features weekly sit-downs with Head Coach Bill Belichick including the popular “Belestrator” segment where the coach breaks down upcoming opponents.

‘€œTotally Patriots,’€ a weekly youth-oriented football show, will air on TV38 Sundays at 10 a.m.  ‘€œTotally Patriots’€ gives the next generation of Patriots fans unprecedented access to their favorite players, enabling them to ask questions in a relaxed, informal setting. The program also includes football tips from Patriots players as well as the opportunity to win college scholarships by writing weekly essays about the Patriots.

‘€œWe are thrilled to be able to expand our existing partnership with The Kraft Sports Group,’€ said Ed Piette, President and General Manager of WBZ-TV and TV38.  ‘€œThis new programming agreement compliments our award-winning CBS coverage of the New England Patriots and the entire AFC.’€

‘€œWe are happy to expand on what has been a successful, long-term working partnership with WBZ-TV and TV38,’€ said Murray Kohl, Patriots vice president of sales. ‘€œThere is an incredible demand for Patriots content and WBZ will lead the market with an impressive  lineup of Patriots programming. It’€™s a great complement to the many regular season Patriots games broadcast by CBS and available on WBZ-TV.’€

Here’€™s the full slate of Patriots programming on WBZ-TV and TV38 during the
2009 season:

‘€œPatriots All Access’€ Regular Season    WBZ-TV ‘€“ Friday, 7 – 8 p.m. TV38 ‘€“ Sunday, 9 – 10 a.m.
‘€œPatriots All Access’€ Pre Season and Playoffs  WBZ-TV ‘€“ Friday, 7 – 7:30 p.m. TV38 ‘€“ Sunday, 9 – 9:30 a.m.

‘€œTotally Patriots’€ TV38 ‘€“ Sunday, 10 ‘€“ 10:30 a.m.

‘€œNew England Patriots 5th Quarter Presented by New England Ford Dealers and Sovereign Bank’€ Immediately following all New England Patriots games.  Station and time TBD depending on network and/or competitive programming.

‘€œNew England Ford Patriots Game Day’€ WBZ-TV –  Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – Noon

‘€œPatriots This Week’€ TV38 ‘€“ Saturday, 10 – 10:30 p.m.

Pre-season Patriots games Games TBD

Regular Season Patriots games TBD

‘€œNew England Ford Dealers Sports Final’€ WBZ-TV ‘€“ Sunday, 11:30 p.m. – Midnight all year long

Boston’€™s WBZ-TV and TV38 are part of CBS Television Stations, a division of CBS Corporation.

Change is at hand…

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

On the day we as a country inaugurated our 44th president, a leader who believes change will be the foundation of stronger, more prosperous country, it seems appropriate to apply that theme to the NFL and ask which teams made the biggest changes and which ones figure to move toward a more prosperous and victorious future.

Of course, the local angle is woven through many of the moves, starting with the departure of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vice President of Personnel Scott Pioli.

So, without further delay, we present the following teams and the changes they have made for your opinion and feedback. We want to know which teams are moving forward, stuck on the treadmill of mediocrity or just trying to figure it all out.

New England Patriots: The Bill Belichick coaching tree continues to sprout branches throughout the NFL. Josh McDaniels is in with the Broncos. Scott Pioli is the new personnel Chief in K.C. Brad Seely is McDaniels new assistant head coach/special teams coach in Cleveland for Eric Mangini. Dom Capers is on his way to Green Bay as the new defensive coordinator. Could Romeo Crennel be returning to replace Capers? Is hot assistant Bill O’Brien the likely successor to McDaniels? How will Nick Caserio fill Pioli’s shoes?

New York Jets: They fired Eric Mangini after his team nose-dived to a 1-4 finish over the final five games to somehow miss the playoffs. They interviewed former Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, costing Jags his job. They met with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuoulo before settling on Baltimore defensive guru Rex Ryan.

Cleveland Browns: They fired GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel on the final weekend of the season. They actually finished behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. They appeared ready to bring in both Pioli and McDaniels in a package deal. But Pioli reportedly made demands of owner Randy Lerner that were next-to-impossible to meet. McDaniels met with Lerner but was overtaken in the end by Mangini, who came out of nowhere to ‘blow away’ the Browns owner, getting hired before a new GM was even in place.

Kansas City Chiefs: Chairman Clark Hunt, looking to make a splash with new blood, eventually won the Pioli sweepstakes, hiring the Patriots personnel veep away from Foxboro after a decade and giving him full control. Pioli is in the process of deciding whether or not to keep Herm Edwards in charge on the sidelines.

Denver Broncos: This team mirrored the Jets in the nose-dive department, producing the same end result. Pat Bowlen made a painful but what he thought necessary decision to fire Mike Shanahan after two Super Bowl titles and a reign of success over parts of two decades in Denver. They replaced him with McDaniels, who will now not only have HUGE shoes to fill but a young and talented QB in Jay Cutler on his roster. McDaniels has the brains to coach. Does he have the strength to lead men? We’ll find out soon enough. And does Shanahan wind up in someplace like Dallas, if Jerry Jones can ever figure out what to do with T.O. first?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Boy, this seems like a trend. Head south in the final month of the season and cost your Super Bowl-caliber coach a job. The whole football nation and Jon Gruden watched in stunned amazement when the Bucs coughed up a coyote-sized hairball in a season-ending home loss to Oakland. The Bucs decided enough was enough with Chucky and hired Raheem Morris to take his place. Just a week earlier had been promoted to defensive coordinator.

St. Louis Rams: Say this much, the Rams were NEVER in danger of falling out of the playoff picture this season. They were NEVER in one to begin with. That meant the end of the Jim Haslett era and the beginning of the Steve Spagnuoulo era in the Gateway City. Spagnuolo got credit for rebuilding the Giants D in New York. He certainly has a Giant-sized task in front of him in his first head coaching gig.

Seattle Seahawks: Jim Mora, Jr. gets his second shot at running an NFL team on the sidelines as he takes over for Mike Holmgren in the Pacific Northwest. Like the Rams, the only way to go is up after a 4-12 season in Mike Holmgrem’s swan song season.

Who were the winners?

Who were the losers?

Which teams are still a work-in-progress?

We want to know. Just Email Trags

Pioli principles…

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Scott Pioli was finally introduced Wednesday as the new general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. One thing is for sure, he’s got plenty of work to do to improve a team that finished 2008 with a 2-14 mark. They will pick third in the NFL Draft, behind only the winless Detroit Lions and the 2-14 St. Louis Rams. There’s already tons of speculation that he will fire Herm Edwards and bring buddy Kirk Ferentz up from Iowa City and make him the man in charge on the sidelines.

He tried to douse those flames of firing speculation at his news conference.

“I have a lot of respect for Herm,” he said. “I had a chance to visit with Herm today. Contrary to reports that were out there, we’re going to spend some time talking about Herm. I’m actually looking forward to it.”

Then there’s the little matter of who will be in charge on the field, at least when the offense takes the field. Again, more speculation has surfaced, and rightfully so, that the Chiefs and Patriots could swing a deal that would send Matt Cassel to Kansas City.

Back to Edwards. He is 15-34 in three years with the Chiefs and has one year left on a four-year, $12 million contract.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Herm on a professional level and a personal level,” Pioli said. “This entire thing is going to be a process.”

Edwards has won just two of his last 25 games on the sidelines and is just 6-26 in their last two years, the worst span in team history. Carl Peterson resigned after 20 years as president, CEO and general manager on Dec. 15.

Chiefs board chairman Clark Hunt has said he liked Edwards and thought he might be the best man to continue the organization’s rebuilding project.

“I told Scott that coming into this situation here I have an open mind and I think he also has an open mind,” Hunt said.

Pioli arrived in Kansas City and addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon, his first full day on the job.


Good luck, Scott…

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick wished Scott Pioli the best of luck as the new general manager of Kansas City and thanked him for his decade of service to the Patriots. In that time, the Patriots Vice President of Personnel helped build the foundation that produced six AFC East division titles, four AFC championships, an undefeated regular season in 2007 and three Super Bowl titles.

Statement from owner Robert Kraft: ‘€œScott Pioli was an integral part of the many championships the New England Patriots have celebrated this decade and I would like to thank him for his countless contributions throughout the past nine seasons. Scott is a great evaluator of talent. He is thorough in his evaluations, extremely organized and has done a tremendous job mining all possible resources to help Coach Belichick and his staff field the players needed to win consistently. He has played an important role in building a championship tradition with players that I am proud to call Patriots. On behalf of the entire Patriots organization, I wish Scott continued success in his new role and offer best wishes to his wonderful wife Dallas, and their beautiful daughter Mia. I think Clark Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs have made a very wise hire.’€

Statement from head coach Bill Belichick: “To sum up in words everything Scott Pioli has meant to this organization and to me personally would be difficult, if not impossible. From the day I met him, he has demonstrated a passion for football and respect for the game that is second to none.  It has been extremely gratifying for me to follow Scott’s career ascension from the bottom of the totem pole in Cleveland to his place as a pillar of championship teams in New England.  Now with the opportunity to steer his own ship and a vision of building a winner, there is no more capable, hardworking, loyal, team-oriented person than Scott Pioli.”

“On a personal level, the Belichick-Pioli bond runs far deeper than our workplace, as we and our families have shared countless memories away from football.  Working side by side with one of my best friends for almost two decades is special enough in itself.  But to help each other achieve success beyond our dreams is a blessing and something I will always remember and appreciate.”