Today’s poll on the home page of PatsFans.com: Which player is most likely to be on the Patriots week one roster? Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, Donté Stallworth, Anthony Gonzalez, Julian Edelman and Tiquan Underwood are the response options. Currently Edelman is in the lead, showing there is value to being versatile and effective on special teams.

 

A fond farewell and best wishes to the Boston Herald‘s Ian Rapoport, who wrote his last column for the paper today and will begin working with the NFL Network and NFL.com out of the Dallas area beginning on Sunday. Nobody broke Pats news faster than Rapoport, and his constant updates were greatly appreciated by die hard Pats fans everywhere. Perhaps most importantly he allowed us to move on from the lingering stench when for some unknown reason the Herald allowed John Tomase Benedict Arnold to not only remain employed, but to continue to cover the Patriots for sixteen months after his infamous bogus story was published. After boycotting the Herald for nearly two years, reading the Rap Sheet blog also re-introduced me to the wonderful longer, feature stories that his colleague Karen Guregian wrote. Best wishes to Ian on his new gig.

 

If you would like to meet a couple of Patriots players as well as several other Boston area sports legends, this weekend is your chance at the Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington. Autographs will cost you money but usually at events like these you can still go up and shake hands and chat for a little bit even if buying memorabilia is not your thing. Patrick Chung will be there Friday and Saturday, and Brandon Spikes will be on hand Sunday.

 

Happy 67th birthday to musical great Eric Clapton. 67? Yeesh, I feel old.

 

From a February podcast Bill Simmons speaks with the NFL Network‘s Mike Lombardi about the Patriots offense. Mike Reiss of espnBoston revisits that today, and speculates that the Patriots offense could change somewhat in 2012 with fewer short passes, more longer passes, and more committment to the running game, as evidenced by the addition of a third tight end and two fullbacks. The original interview is an interesting hour-long podcast which, as Reiss noted in his column, I skipped over in the aftermath of the final game of the 2011 season.

 

In another podcast well worth listening to, check out Christopher Price and Jerry Thornton on WEEI‘s latest It Is What It Is Cast: Looking at the offseason moves by the Pats and other NFL teams. The two talk about what the acquisition of Brandon Lloyd means for the Patriots’ passing game and where New England stands on both sides of the ball. They also give their take on the busy NFL offseason, including Peyton Manning to the Broncos, Tim Tebow to the Jets and what’s going to happen to the Saints because of the recent bounty scandal among other things in this 41-minute episode.

Who needs commercial-filled sports talk radio when gems like these are available?

 

Defensive lineman Kyle Love was honored in his Georgia hometown, where North Clayton High School retired his jersey and it was declared Kyle Love Day in Clayton County.

Former North Clayton counselor Erica Clark gets a hug from Kyle Love, who had his No. 72 jersey retired on Wednesday.

From politicians to educators and former coaches, just about everyone had a story to tell about former North Clayton High standout Kyle Love as the school officially retired his No. 72 jersey on Wednesday.

Before the packed stands in the school’s new auxiliary gym, many shared stories about the current New England Patriot nose tackle, who received several proclamations in honor of “Kyle Love Day”.

“I can’t think of a better person to have his jersey retired,” said former North Clayton principal Clarence Burnough. “Kyle was an overall good kid.”

 

When I first read the headline I groaned and rolled my eyes: Wes Welker stars in Depends commercial. But once you get past that initial visual and desire to fire his marketing agent, it’s actually a very good story. Welker, along with the Packers’ Clay Matthews and the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware are doing this to bring awareness to prostate cancer and raise funds for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research. My father successfully went through this not that long ago, and its not a joking matter. Far too many people, whether it be someone well known like Frank Zappa or someone in your own neighborhood die far too young from this treatable disease.

 


Bill Belichick and just about every other NFL coach attended Alabama’s Pro Day to get a good look at blue chip prospects such as RB Trent Richardson, OLB Courtney Upshaw, S Mark Barron and LB Dont’a Hightower. Reporters asked Tide coach Nick Saban if he took his friend Bill Belichick out for a night on the town; his honest response elicited a good deal of laughter from the group, which you can see near the end of the four-minute video above.

“You don’t know Belichick very well. What you do when he comes to town is you go in the meeting room and you order the stuff in and you eat while the film’s going. So, that’s what we did.”

 

CSNNE‘s Tom Curran also has a report that Belichick attends Alabama pro day, noting that “after a modest final season with Alabama in 2009 (Brandon Deaderick) has turned into a key player for the Patriots.”

Running back Trent Richardson, safety Mark Barron and linebacker Courtney Upshaw are the biggest names ‘Bama has coming out this year, but their defense was so good, there’s little doubt the Patriots will mine their roster at some point for talent next month.

One intriguing player for the Patriots is Barron. New England is wafer thin at safety and Barron is seen as the best at his position. He’s coming off bilateral hernia surgery (good name for a band; not a good way to spend a day) and said he ran a 4.51 30 and that was about “80 to 90 percent.”

After watching Alabama’s defense and the Patriots defense the last couple of years, I would be overjoyed if the Pats were able to draft a couple of players from their D next month.

 

Steve Sanchez of the Taunton Daily Gazette writes about how Patriots offensive lineman Donald Thomas speaks to THS students at The Hall in Foxboro; there is also this video from the event. Nice to see Pats players performing a public service in the community.

“If I did not do well in high school and make sure my grades were straight, I would not be talking to you guys right now,” Thomas said to the students. “Keep striving in whatever you believe in but remember education plays a huge role, setting you guys up for the future.”

 

Another branch of the Belichick coaching tree? Paul Perillo from Patriots Football Weekly points out that Belichick will be coaching on the sidelines of Gillette Stadium tomorrow. In this case it is a new coach Belichick at Gillette: the Patriots coach’s daughter, Amanda Belichick, will be at the stadium on Saturday as she leads the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team in action against Northwestern.

 

With free agency slowing down, how about some thoughts on the draft? Doug Kyed from NE Patriots Draft doesn’t hold back his distaste for Todd McShay’s latest mock draft from the Pats perspective in his NEPD Mailbag; check out what he thinks about Chandler Jones (not much), Nick Perry, Kendall Reyes, Devon Still, Peter Konz, Brandon Taylor, Courtney Upshaw, and Luke Kuechly as far as how they may (or may not) fit in with the Pats, as well as the possibility of trading for Matt Forte and the Pats trading down in the draft.

 


Ravi Shankar’s daughter Norah Jones turns 33 today

 


Canadian singer Celine Dion turns 44 today

 


M.C. Hammer turns 50 today

 

Paul Reiser, Helen Hunt's love interest in the sitcom Mad About You and Sigourney Weaver's swarmy nemesis in Aliens turns 55

 


Robbie Coltrane turns 62; before becoming known as Rubeus Hagrid with the Harry Potter franchise Coltrane was a comedian

 

Actor Warren Beatty turns 75 today

 

Ralph LaCock, better known as Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall, became a preacher; he turns 82 today

 

John Astin, aka the Addams Family's Gomez, also turns 82 today

 

Singer, songwriter and actor Frankie Laine (1913-2007) was born on this day 99 years ago

 

Legendary painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was born 159 years ago today

 

 

 

 

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