The NFL announced this year’s 32 compensatory picks and as expected the Patriots did no receive any. I’m not sure if it is a shift in strategy or just a coincidence but the Patriots have gone from a team that used to stockpile comp picks (three in 2005, two in 2006, four in 2007, three in 2009 and four in 2010) to having none for the second straight year. Perhaps Bill Belichick no longer thinks it is worth considering compensatory picks when acquiring a player (a player that is signed that was cut does not count in the formula, nor does a free agent signed after June 1) – or perhaps he never took it into consideration. I’m guessing he doesn’t like the one rule about comp picks that I never did understand: that you can’t trade them. That just never made sense to me.

The Pats have been awarded 26 compensatory picks since the NFL instituted the practice in 1994, which ranks as the 7th most in the league. On the other end of the spectrum are the New Jersey Jets, who have just nine during that time, which is tied with Denver for the least of any non-expansion (Texans, Browns) team. Of those nine compensatory picks almost half – four – were awarded this year. As if the play of Shaun Ellis was not disappointing enough to Pats fans (especially when you consider he was paid $4 million), we get one final kick in the butt from that move: the Jets also picked up a 6th round draft pick due to their “loss” of Ellis.

Why did that happen? The compensatory pick formula is a bigger secret than Colonel Sanders’ recipe, but the major factors are (a) the net number of free agents lost to other teams minus the number of new free agents signed, and (b) the amount of money those free agents signed for; Ellis and Brandon Marshall both had $4 million salaries in 2011.


Happy 78th Birthday to Gino Capelletti, who led the AFL in scoring five times; why is he not in the Hall of Fame?


Remember how so many people – writers from the Denver Post and fans of the Broncos in particular – were crying foul when the Patriots hired Josh McDaniels to replace Bill O’Brien a couple of months ago? The NFL Competition Committee looked into the matter and came to this conclusion:

Competition committee chairman Rich McKay said Monday that the situation — a fired or released assistant coach being hired by another team before the season was over — was discussed by the committee, but no rules change is coming.

“We didn’t think there was a rule change necessary with respect to that situation,” McKay said.

So I went over to the Denver Post to get a look at their reaction to this decision. Guess what? There is no mention of the decision to be found there. Surprise, surprise … I guess from the look of things there they’re too busy working on a dozen more Tim Tebow columns.


Happy 64th birthday to Steven Tyler


The Patriots signed former Cowboys fullback Tony Fiammetta and then released 30-year old incumbent FB Lousaka Polite. WEEI‘s Christopher Price writes that the sudden interest in the fullback position – the Pats previously signed Spencer Larsen and Eric Kettani to the position – may be with the idea that Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen would be more effective with a lead blocker in front of them. The Patriots finished the last half of 2011 with five running backs on the roster (Ridley, Vereen, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk); they could go with four running backs plus a fullback  (or even three running backs and two fullbacks) in 2012 and not take a roster spot away from another position.


Happy 45th birthday to Pete Sheppard.


Nick Underhill at has a unique and thought-provoking slant on the Jets acquisition of Tim Tebow. Nick likes the move due to on-field reasons, but makes some very solid points as to why the Jets are already making all the wrong moves with their handling of Tim Tebow. I know many are already tired of hearing about the subject but I thought it was well worth reading.


Happy Birthday to Teddy Pendergrass, who turned 62 Monday.


New Orleans head coach Sean Payton has spoken with Bill Parcells about becoming the Saints head coach for 2012 while Payton serves his one year suspension. I’m curious; why is Payton doing this; isn’t that a job for general manager Mickey Loomis or owner Tom Benson? Is Payton concerned about job security if defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo or offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. performed well as interim head coach in his absence? What about the Rooney Rule?

One other thing: why is Roger Goodell implicitly endorsing communication between Payton and the Saints by saying that it would be impossible to monitor? I distinctly recall Goodell telling all 32 teams in 2007 that NFL security could come in to team’s offices without any prior notice to insure they were in compliance with league rules;  the simple threat of doing the same, to check e-mail and telephone records would be enough to insure the Saints have no contact with Payton or Loomis once they begin to serve their suspensions.


Former Raiders and Chiefs running back Marcus Allen turns 52


Dan Flaherty of Boston Sports Then and Now has a nice epitaph for Mel Parnell, who died six days ago at the age of 89. Parnell was probably the best left-handed pitcher in Boston Red Sox history, but that was before my time; my memory of him is as a ten-year old kid listening to him do the Sox radio broadcasts with Ken Coleman during the Impossible Dream year of 1967; RIP.

RIP also to boxing icon Bert Sugar. It’s hard to imagine now but when I was a young kid in the sixties boxing was every bit as big as football. Big time fights happened every few months and there were plenty of fighters to pique everybody’s interest; not just Ali and Frazier, but great boxers like Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers, George Foreman, Ron Lyle; the list goes on and on. Sugar had a unique style that brought these guys to life in the pre-internet, pre-cable days.


Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe has Chris Simms hired as a coaching assistant. In 2006 Simms nearly lost his life due when he ruptured his spleen and lost five pints of blood in the third game of the season against Carolina. Bill Belichick was reportedly set to sign Simms in 2008 but wanted to wait until after the first week of games, as delaying the transaction to that point would make the contract non-guaranteed. Tom Brady went down with a knee injury in that first game and the Pats were on the verge of signing him, but decided instead that it would be more beneficial if Matt Cassel was not looking over his shoulder with a veteran quarterback backing him up. Simms also has a connection with Josh McDaniels, who he played for in Denver; his father, Phil Simms was the quarterback for the Giants when Belichick was a coach there.


Actress Keira Knightley turns 27 on Monday


Happy birthday also to Jennifer Grey (52), Vickie Lawrence (63), Dianna Ross (68), Erica Jong (70), Sandra Day O’Connor (82), Kenny Chesney (44), Curtis Sliwa (58), Bob Woodward (69), James Caan (73), Alan Arkin (78), Tennessee Williams (1911) and Robert Frost (1874).



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