Gronkowski’s Big Retirement Decision

28 Feb

It’s been a tough few weeks for New England Patriots fans between the team’s disappointing Super Bowl loss and the potential retirement of 5-time All-Pro Tight End Rob Gronkowski. Since stating his intention to consider all his options during the offseason, Gronkowski has not discouraged rumours of a move to the WWE or even Hollywood (The Fast & the Furious franchise anyone?) This may seem astounding given Gronkowski’s age (29 in May) but remember that Calvin Johnson and Arian Foster retired before reaching 30, citing health concerns and lack of motivation. Of course, they both played for mediocre teams but Gronkowski sounded deeply ambivalent about committing to play again which is bad news for the Patriots. So let’s delve more deeply into the issue by examining what he has to gain (or lose) from staying in the NFL.

Gronkowski had an excellent 2017 season with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and 8 TDs while staying relatively healthy. Travis Kelce had more receptions (83) and Jimmy Graham had more TDs (10) but no Tight End gets more attention from opposing teams than Gronkowski due to his size and ability to block. He’s able to dominate games, often catching 4 or 5 passes for huge gains on one drive, which means that he unsurprisingly ranked #1 amongst Tight End in yards per game (77.4). Gronkowski also holds numerous records, the most impressive of which include most career post-season receiving TDs by a Tight End (12) and most seasons of 1,000 yards receiving by a TE (4). Let’s not forget his monster 2011 season, one of few where he played in all 16 games, when he caught 17(!) TDs and gained 1,327 yards. Based on these numbers alone, Gronkowski is a lock for the Hall of Fame which is incredible given the amount of games he’s missed over the years.

Ah yes, the injuries! There have been so many that it would take several paragraphs to detail all 8 surgeries but in short they include a broken forearm, fractured vertebra, torn ACLs, severely bruised chest and, of course, concussions. The brutal hit Gronkowski took from the Jaguars’ Barry Church in the AFC Championship game would make anyone consider a chance of career but apparently he was already worried about the cumulative toll of these injuries prior to the season. The NFL has very little incentive to publicize the mounting evidence toward severe brain damage risked from multiple hits to the head but players are beginning to wise up to the devastating impact of diseases such as CTE later in life. Even a guy who is 6’6” and 245 lbs is vulnerable to concussions and the nature of the Tight End position means that players catch balls in the middle of the field, making them susceptible to jarring hits from Linebackers or Safeties looking to cause turnovers.

Along with multiple records, Gronkowski also has monetary security as he is currently (and justifiably) the highest paid TE in the NFL with a $10.25M salary in 2017. Apparently he hasn’t touched any of this money preferring to live off his many endorsement deals (lucky him!) so the idea that this retirement talk might be leverage for a new contract seems unlikely. So, if neither money or a place among the best Tight Ends to ever play is not an issue then what is the argument for continuing? The only one I would put forth is the chance to play for another Super Bowl ring. Gronkowsi has two already but he only played in one of these games (against the Seahawks) so I wonder whether that bothers him enough to try again. Of course, with all the reported internal strife within the Patriots organization, Gronkowski may see the writing on the wall even with Brady still competing at a ridiculously high level for his age.

In the end, I don’t see enough incentive for Gronkowski to continue, especially given recent reports that he was unhappy during the season. Why risk further injury when more exciting (and less dangerous) career options present themselves? The WWE in particular would have a lot to gain by offering Gronkowski a sizeable contract and he could have fun again knowing that his place in NFL history is secure.

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots

Image taken from NBC Sports


Will Pat Shurmur save Big Blue?

20 Feb

With the Super Bowl behind us, it’s now time to focus on the big changes happening during the NFL off-season. As a Giants fan, I suffered through a dismal 3-13 season in which the team missed the play-offs for the 5th time in 6 seasons. The offense in particular was horrendous putting up only 15.4 points per game on average, ranking them 31st (!) in the league. Eli Manning had a subpar year at QB with 19 TDs and 13 INTs but realistically how much was he to blame between injuries to the WR corps (4 in one game vs. the Chargers), a non-existent running game (ranked 26th in rushing yards) and the poor decisions made by their former Head Coach Ben McAdoo? When McAdoo idiotically benched 2-time Super Bowl winner Manning late in the season to save his job, it looked like the end of the QB’s career with the Giants.

With the hiring of Pat Shurmur, the Vikings’ former offensive coordinator, the Giants may have extended an olive branch to Manning. Around the NFL, Shurmur is known as an excellent communicator and something of a Quarterback whisperer, working his magic on the likes of Donovan McNabb, Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum. During his time as either QB coach or offensive coordinator of the Eagles, Rams and Vikings, Shurmur molded the system to suit the QB’s strengths. Vikings players have said that he is receptive to player feedback and is willing to make changes, two traits which McAdoo sorely lacked during his tenure as Head Coach. Manning, 37, is at the tail end of his career, with Davis Webb as the potential successor, but it looks increasingly likely that the former will be under Center come training camp, a tremendous turnaround from the infamous benching episode. Of course, Shurmur’s one stint as Head Coach ended badly, when he compiled a 9-23 record for Cleveland before being fired but somehow the Browns don’t really count!

During the organizational housecleaning, Mara also fired GM Jerry Reese and replaced him with Dave Gettleman, previously the Panthers’ GM. For the Shurmur hire to work, Gettleman has to address the following three problem areas: Running Back, Linebacker, and the Offensive Line.  During their impressive 13-3 season, the Vikings running game ranked a solid 7th in the League (Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for 1300+ yards) which allowed Keenum to run play action and complete short passes. To this end, the Vikings were the best in the NFL at converting third downs whereas the Giants, with a below average group of running backs, ranked 30th. Manning was constantly forcing throws to receivers who were usually well covered since opposing teams didn’t fear the run, leading to many third and long situations. McKinnon happens to be a free agent this off-season so hopefully the Giants will develop a strong enough running game to take some pressure off Manning.

The second problem area is the Defense, or more specifically, the Linebacker position. The Giants ranked an inexcusable 31st in total yards allowed partly due to numerous locker room issues which resulted in either fines or suspensions to Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Assuming Shurmur can patch things up, the Giants must acquire, either via free agency or draft pick, a solid Linebacker. The Giants of yore prided themselves on this position (LT, Harry Carson) but poor tackling meant opposing teams piled up huge chunks of yardage on the ground. Shurmur, and his QB Keenum, benefited from the Vikings top-ranked Defense (276 yards allowed/game on average vs. 373 yards for the Giants) so he had better hope that the unit regains its focus. One possible name bandied about is Anthony Hitchens from the Cowboys which would have the added benefit of weakening an NFC East rival.

Finally, the Offensive Line was an absolute mess (Manning was sacked 8 times in the first 2 games of 2017!) and has been for several seasons. For whatever reason, Reese never addressed the problem so with injuries to both Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, the Giants had no chance. Ereck Flowers hasn’t played up to his potential but apparently they’re stuck with his contract so Gettleman must look to free agents like the Patriots’ Nate Solder to fill in the gaps.

My verdict is cautious optimism: so long as the above needs are addressed and Shurmur maintains control of the locker room, the Giants could be a competitive team although I wouldn’t expect a quick turnaround like the Jaguars experienced recently. A good start to the season would, at the very least, put the team’s disastrous handling of Manning’s benching firmly in the rear view mirror.

Pat Shurmur at his introductory press conference with the New York Giants. Image taken from


Resting NBA Players: Fair or Foul?

18 Mar

It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted but I’ve got a strong opinion about resting NBA players to gear up for the post-season. Obviously, this strategy isn’t new as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been sitting out starters like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili for years now and with 5 NBA titles since 1998-99, who can argue? Sure, former Commissioner David Stern fined the team $250k in 2012 for sending starters back to San Antonio to rest but he had to act as the Spurs were playing a nationally televised game against LeBron James and the Heat. The Spurs have yet to miss the playoffs since Duncan’s arrival which combined with their historically high 61% winning percentage (surpassing even the Lakers) make it easy to give Popovich a pass on this issue.

The problem for the NBA, however, is that this is becoming a league-wide trend for both top teams (Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks) as well as terrible ones like the Denver Nuggets who recently “rested” 3 of their starters (are they exhausted from losing 42 games and counting?) This must concern Commissioner Adam Silver regardless of whether the reason is for a deep post-season run or to gain a better draft position and he needs to take a firm stance. The Warriors recently sat 4 of their starters against the Nuggets in Denver which is completely inexcusable as it was the only game fans there could see players like Steph Curry or Klay Thompson live. Plus, Thompson is 25 years old with 3 seasons of experience so why exactly is he so tired?

I recently saw an interview with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban who, in response to a question related to this topic, asserted that fans buy tickets for the “experience”. That’s not entirely true as fans really come to see the stars play since the NBA is a star-based league, especially in comparison to other sports which have many more players per team. In fact, the league’s ad campaign revolves around instantly recognizable players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook. When a coach sits several players at once, the fans’ experience, to use Cuban’s terminology, is greatly diminished. If I had paid face value for the Warriors-Nuggets game referenced above, I would have been furious. Silver’s job as Commissioner is to maintain the league’s best interests which, if this trend continues, is in danger.

The most obvious solution is to reduce the number of games played (both pre-season and regular season) but since this would negatively impact the NBA’s (not to mention the sponsors’) revenue stream, I don’t see this happening any time soon. Realistically, Silver should put out some guidelines about when and how often teams can rest their players. For instance, one starter can sit out a game but others have to play at least some minutes and effectively immediately, no team with a losing record can EVER rest players! If teams ignore the terms, then the league must consider fines. I understand that coaches don’t want to be told how to manage their team but as the practice gets more widespread, it’s the fans who suffer most.

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors


March Madness Predictions

19 Mar

You would think I’d learn! Every year I fill out one of these brackets and, without fail, the vast majority of my picks go up in flames by the second round. I must admit that I don’t follow college basketball too closely for several reasons, the most practical of which is that I live in London and so don’t see many games live. I do know – or at least I have a hunch – about the following facts:

1) The Big 10 is by far the best conference in college basketball so I feel reasonably comfortable picking 3 of their teams (Michigan, Indiana and Ohio St) to make the Final Four. I know the Big 10 hasn’t won a title since Michigan State’s 2000 run but don’t you think they’re due?

2) Despite my pronouncement about the supremacy of the Big 10, I still believe Duke will win the tourney. They’ve had their bumps along the way this season, mostly due to star player Ryan Kelly’s injury, but he’s back and unless you’re UNLV from back in the day, it’s always better to have some adversity before the big dance. Their big test will be Louisville but sorry Rick Pitino, your team is going to lose to Coach K yet again (here’s hoping this game is as good as the famous Duke-Kentucky buzzer beater)!

3) I’ve completely ignored Gonzaga because a) I had to google the school to find out it’s in Washington and b) they play in something called the West Coast Conference. I don’t care they’re a #1 seed, Gonzaga has zero track record in this tourney.

4) My bracket will most likely blow up when the upset I’ve failed to predict inevitably happens so when that occurs, forget this post ever happened!



Ridiculous Sports Quote of the Day

16 Mar

“It’s disappointing, sure, but I just couldn’t have been prouder of a group of guys than this group here.” – Joe Torre

As a disclaimer I highly respect Torre who skippered the Yankees, my favorite baseball team, to several World  Series wins but – sorry Joe-  USA’s ouster from the World Baseball Classic was disastrous. Baseball is supposedly our national pastime yet the USA has managed to go 10-10 in all-time Classic play and couldn’t even make it out of the second round this year. I understand that Torre has a responsibility to protect his players from criticism, something he regularly did with the Yankees, but Team USA management must realize that other countries take this tournament far more seriously than we do. All you have to do is watch the celebration after Puerto Rico knocked the USA out. To do the manager proud, they should cajole / coerce / bribe the best American starting pitchers to participate because while Dickey and Vogelsong are good, they’re not Verlander, Price or Hamels. If the Latin American and Asian countries put out their A teams, why won’t the USA? Obviously, there’s always concern about injuries from both team and player but given the Domincan Republic has 10 All-Stars on their roster, including fearsome hitters Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Beltre, there’s no way we can ever compete. The question then becomes: what’s the point of even playing?


Westward Ho!

15 Mar

The two teams vying for the Super Bowl next season will hail from west of the Mississippi. There – I said it! For the first time in recent memory, Vegas is now favoring the 49ers and Seahawks to play for the NFC conference title and while the Patriots will always be a threat in the AFC as long as Belichick and Brady remain together, the Broncos are my pick in that conference. The common theme among these three teams is that each have made significant moves either through Free Agency or trades to bolster already-formidable rosters. Furthermore, and most importantly in this offense-driven era, all have QBs coming off tremendous years although Kaepernick needs to prove he can duplicate his success over a full season.

I’ve already documented the Wes Welker signing ( which gives Peyton Manning another target along with Demaryius Thomas and Erik Decker. In addition to Welker, Elway has aggressively gone out and signed right guard Louis Vasquez, right cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. The only remaining piece is agreeing to terms with defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who along with Von Miller, anchored the Broncos’ excellent defense (3rd in the league in both pass and rush yards allowed). The Broncos easily won the AFC West last season as the division has been consistently weak; however, this may change with the recent hiring of Andy Reid by the Chiefs and the merciful firing of Norv Turner in San Diego. I still think the Broncos will prevail though and challenge New England for the AFC title.

The 49ers and Seahawks didn’t even wait until Free Agency to improve their receiving corps which isn’t altogether surprising given their coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll respectively, have a rivalry (some say hatred) that dates back to their Stanford-USC days. Seattle got the upper hand by acquiring dynamic wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Vikings for a first round draft pick. At only 24 years old, Harvin will make Seattle’s read option offense dangerous for a long time. Plus, he now has the scrambling, playmaking QB in Russell Wilson that he so sorely lacked in Minnesota (Christian Ponder apparently didn’t do it for Harvin).  Oh, and he returned a Viking franchise record 5 punts for TDs so the special teams got better too! The Seahawks already have the great RB Marshawn Lynch who rushed for over 1,590 yards and a defense that ranked first in points allowed. Assuming Chris Clemons returns from his injury quickly, playing Seattle will be a very difficult task.

Not to be outdone, the 49ers traded an astonishingly low sixth round pick for veteran Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin, taking advantage perhaps of Baltimore’s reduced cap space (Joe Flacco’s astronomical contract isn’t doing them any favors). Boldin has had 4 1,000+ yards seasons in his 10 year career as well as a monster playoff run with 16 catches for 276 yards and 3 TDs. Clearly, he will help the 49ers but at 32 years old, this trade didn’t make the splash that Harvin’s did. Plus Randy Moss won’t be around as the second receiver so the 49ers will rely heavily on Boldin and Mario Manningham. On the defensive side, rumors abound that former Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will soon sign with San Francisco for a reduced amount considering his recent swoon. If Asomugha can return to his earlier form with the Raiders though, that would count as a major coup for the 49ers.

The NFC West is a two team race between the 49ers and Seahawks and I predict the latter will get the upper hand. So that’s Seahawks vs. Broncos in the next Super Bowl which, ironically enough, will be played on the East Coast (my hometown MetLife Stadium). My friends at Fantasy Furnace ( tell me that pre-season begins in 143 days so let the countdown begin!


Welker Goes Over to the Dark Side

14 Mar

I know I haven’t posted in awhile (too many distractions to list) but I couldn’t let Wes Welker’s signing with the Broncos go by without comment. I despise the Patriots but even I have to sympathize with their fans because by not matching the relatively frugal 2 year, $12 million offer sheet from the Broncos, the Patriots have essentially decided that Welker was simply an easily expendable product of Belichick’s “system”. Instead, management went out and signed Rams WR Danny Amendola for – get this – 5 years, $31 million (with $10 million guaranteed). The Patriots have a history of being unsentimental when it comes to cutting popular veteran players but Welker is still in his prime. I’m sure this is not what Brady had in mind when he signed a contract worth much less than his market value in order to free up cap space.

Let’s look at this a bit more closely. Welker’s numbers are absolutely astounding as he’s averaged (!) 112 catches over his 6 seasons with the Patriots. Despite a slow start last season, he still led the team with 118 catches for 1,354 yards and 6 TDs. Part of the reason for this of course is that the Patriots have had their fair share of injury problems offensively with both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez missing several games. Here’s where the Patriots really undervalued Welker: he’s a workhorse who has been able to stay healthy and produce big numbers consistently. Amendola has good stats but he has also missed large chunks of playing time, including almost the entire 2011 season, due to injury. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching years of NFL games, oft-injured players do not magically heal once they change teams.

Clearly, production wasn’t the reason the Patriots let him walk so basically we’ve come down to this: Welker and Belichick can’t stand each other. While the media had fun with Welker’s comment that it was nice to stick it in Belichick’s face after a big game early last season (one outlet actually wondered if Belichick would cut him out of spite), the feud has largely been swept under the rug because of the Patriot’s regular season dominance. I’ve seen enough of Welker to know that his personality is a bit out there so there’s no doubt he’s been storing all the slights, including of course the Patriots’ reluctance to re-sign him, in the back of his mind. Belichick, for his part, can’t stand when players speak out of turn as he’s all about the “team mentality” and spent most of last season freezing Welker out like a petulant child.

In the end though, Welker gets the last laugh as he signs with the Patriots’ nemesis, Peyton Manning, who is totally laughing right now. The Broncos receiving corps is downright loaded as Welker joins Demaryius Thomas and Erik Decker to complement their strong defense (leaving aside last season’s playoff game against the Ravens). While some critics point out, somewhat justifiably, that Welker’s success is mostly due to Brady, Manning is not exactly a downgrade at QB! Plus, Welker has all the motivation he needs to have another outstanding season.

I can’t wait to see how this all plays out – how many more days until training camp again?


Parcells’ Hall of Fame exclusion

11 Feb

I’m completely in denial that the NFL season is over so I decided to continue the Giants-Patriots theme by lamenting Bill Parcells’ Canton snub. Parcells’ proteges are of course Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick who have a combined 5 Super Bowl wins as head coaches between them so his coaching legacy alone should push him over the edge. As anyone who followed the Giants during his tenure knows, Parcells was never a warm and fuzzy guy. However, he resurrected the franchise, winning 2 titles along the way – one with a back-up QB – and gaining the reputation as the best motivator in the NFL (a little known fact is that the Gatorade shower after a big win originated when a Giants player wanted to get revenge on Parcells for being so hard on him in practice.) Just ask the Bears or Colts how difficult it is to win, let alone go deep into the playoffs, without their starting QB!

With the passage of time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the disappointing end of his career as a Dolphins executive along with his “journeyman” travels hurt his HOF chances. However, Parcells is also the only coach in NFL history to take four different teams to the playoffs (Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys). Aside from his success with the G-men, Parcells’s legacy includes an AFC Championship (Patriots), AFC title game (Jets) after the team had gone 1-15 the previous year and making the Cowboys relevant again (with Romo underachieving even back then).   So, Parcells didn’t simply wander aimlessly from team to team but had a big part in laying the groundwork for future success.

I’m disappointed that the 44 HOF voters – whoever they are as the process is shrouded in as much secrecy as when a new Pope is elected – couldn’t see what seemingly everyone else in the industry does: Parcells deserves to be elected. I only hope they come to their senses at the next vote!

Parcells and LT - love that old school Giants sweater!


My Super Bowl thoughts

9 Feb

It’s been almost a week since the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI and I’m still a bit shell-shocked (in a good way) at the result. Not because I thought New York couldn’t win despite being underdogs – a role they seem to relish – but rather how the game unfolded. In a testament to just how strange I found the Super Bowl, I wasn’t even surprised at the sight of Tom Coughlin hugging rapper Flava Flav (seriously, who let him onto the field?) afterwards. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

– Let’s start with the fact that the two week build-up to the big game is overkill. I understand why the NFL does this but even I as a huge Giants fan was sick of having every angle dissected over and over. There were definitely inspirational stories such as Giants LB Mark Herzlich who beat cancer and the Patriots dedicating their season to owner Robert Kraft’s late wife Myra. However, the game is almost anti-climatic after every NFL analyst, former player and/or intern is asked for their prediction.  

– The Giants have been recipients of some dubious officiating during their playoff run, most notably in the Packers game. I still can’t believe Bill Leavy (the same official who admitted blowing calls in the 2006 Super Bowl by the way) didn’t overturn the ruling on the field that Greg Jennings was down by contact when video evidence clearly showed he lost the ball before hitting the ground.  So you could understand my surprise that the refs had the guts to call a safety on the Golden Boy, Tom Brady, on the Patriots’ first offensive possession no less. That, not necessarily the Wes Welker drop,  influenced the end of the game.

– A related note is that I’m still shocked by how sloppily the Patriots started the game. Despite having one of the worst defenses in the league and less offensive weapons than normal, New England got to the Super Bowl by overachieving e.g. being well prepared. Not only was Brady at fault for that safety but the Patriots were called for 12 men on the field negating a critical fumble recovery. Karma, by the way, played a huge role in this game as the Giants managed to recover all their fumbles which almost never happens!

– The first half went by faster than any other game in recent memory which is astounding for the Super Bowl, a game that typically drags. Perhaps that was due to Tom Brady’s efficiency in bringing the Patriots down the field for a TD, completing a Super Bowl record 16 consecutive passes.

– The half time show, which despite being better than average, was still disappointing as Madonna simply lip-synced her way through her greatest hits. British rapper M.I.A. flipped America the bird which got some people riled up but really who cares! I was more taken by how uncomfortable she looked doing the dance moves.

– The second half went almost entirely the Patriots’ way until of course they were trying to ice the game. Despite being up at the time, 17-15, it felt like New England was the more nervous team. You could almost feel the air deflating from their team when Brady and Welker failed to connect for a critical first down. Who’s at fault? Most analysts seem to blame Welker and while he certainly should’ve made the catch, I’m sure Brady would also like to have thrown the ball better.

– This set up Manning’s late game heroics and the strangest TD in Super Bowl history. Bradshaw went into the End Zone like my 5 year old daughter would have, butt first and off balance.  Belichick absolutely made the right call by letting the Giants score but the defense let Bradshaw off the hook for not going down sooner. Although for a running back accustomed to fighting for every yard, the parting of the Red Seas must’ve seemed like a dream come true at the time. It must be noted that Manning looked cool as ice – he takes over for Elway as the QB who I’d want at the end of a big game in a two minute drill. Plus, that Manningam play will go down in Super Bowl lore as one of the best throws ever.

– Here’s where the safety becomes critical as the Patriots now were forced to drive the length of the field for a TD rather than simply get to field goal range. By this point, that was asking too much of Brady because I think the Justin Tuck sack affected his shoulder more than was reported. Despite the hurt, he did manage to execute a perfect Hail Mary at the end of regulation which – thankfully- fell short of Gronkowski’s reach. Notice how I haven’t really spoken of The Gronk? That’s because his ankle made him a non-factor although he managed to move around just fine during the after party (just saying Patriots fans!) 

– After the game, talk of Belichick and Brady’s diminished legacy almost overshadowed Manning’s clutch performance (again) which made him Super Bowl MVP. For the record, that tandem will still go down as one of the best of all time. In a “what have you done for me lately” world, they’re being judged for losing the last two Super Bowls. That doesn’t take away from the first three people! As for Manning, it should be a capital offense now to ask whether he’s an elite QB.

– Finally, my favorite post-Super Bowl story is Gisele’s foul mouthed tirade against the hecklers who dared say that Manning owns her husband (which he does by the way). I don’t have a problem with Gisele defending Brady but she probably shouldn’t have criticized his teammates. This will most certainly garner her Yoko One status in Boston which I’m not sad about as this is the same woman who said that childbirth was a relaxing experience!

Will the Giants repeat next season? Probably not as it’s incredibly difficult to do but boy did I enjoy the ride!!

Rob Tringali for


My (small) connection to Bill Belichick

24 Jan

As a New York Giants fan who basked in the glory of their last Super Bowl win against the Patriots which ended the latter’s quest for a record-setting 19-0 season, it’s hard for me to admit any affinity towards Bill Belichick. There’s Spy Gate where the Patriots organization was accused of filming opposing teams’ practice, Belichick’s notoriously less-than-rosy demeanor, and his ridiculous bitterness towards former assistant Eric Mangini. The last particularly gets to me because Mangini (’94) is, like yours truly (’97), a graduate of Wesleyan University.  My years there provided many fond memories but rooting for Wesleyan’s athletic teams doesn’t have the same cache as say being at Michigan’s 100,000+ seat football stadium for a game against Ohio State. As a Division III school, Wesleyan is more known for its academic prowess but despite the odds, Belichick(’84) and Mangini both managed to be successful in the NFL (not to mention that Jed Hoyer ’96  is currently the Cubs’ GM). There’s a great article originally published in 2004 by the New York Times when the Patriots were in the midst of their mini dynasty about how important Belichick’s economics degree was to him, even in his current profession (read here: PRO FOOTBALL; For Belichick, An Economy Of Thought – New York Times) However, I still can’t shake how poorly he treated his understudy simply for being hired as the New York Jets head coach. Didn’t OC Bill O’Brien just leave the Patriots – during the playoffs no less – to lead Penn St? I’m naturally drawn to the underdog story of a Wesleyan graduate becoming one of the greatest coaches in NFL history (I will never deny that) but his actions have put me off so much that I have no split interests whatsoever. Go Giants!!

Wesleyan Athletics