The combination of this being the weekend, nearly three weeks removed from the start of free agency and the draft still nearly four weeks away there’s a definite lull in Pats-related news. Pro Days are just about finished so next up will be pre-draft visits to fuel football discussions. The only problem with that is that they don’t necessarily mean a whole lot; in many cases we don’t find out that a team visited with a player until after the fact, and in other cases (e.g., Vernon Gholston) they can just be a complete smokescreen.

 

I just went back and breezed through my copy of the Patriots 2011 Media Guide last week, and even though it is out of date at this point it’s an absolute treasure, with a wealth of information for sports geeks like myself. If you’re a diehard Pats fan I highly recommend getting the next issue once it becomes available.

 

Karen Guregian writes that should Matt Light retire, Nate Solder hopes to earn role as Tom Brady‘s blindside protector and Shalise Manza Young similarly writes that Solder ready to step in if Light steps away. I suppose it makes sense based on where he grew up, but I never knew Solder’s childhood sports hero was not a football player, but a skier. SMY also adds that Patriots’ Nate Solder wants to improve skills, and Miss Karen writes Pats’ Nate Solder set to tackle big role. Solder comes across as a guy that is quite humble, and dedicated to improving his game.

 

I’m curious to see what will happen with center Dan Koppen. Even though he is coming off an injury it happened very early last year; frankly I thought he would have been a better choice for Green Bay than Jeff Saturday, who will turn 37 before the season starts. My guess is that the Boston College alumnus, who will be 33 in September, has more than enough money put away to live comfortably for the rest of his life; he probably figures it’s not worth it to continue playing at a vet minimum rate. As far as coming back to Foxboro goes, I doubt it will happen. Connolly is the starter now and Koppen is strictly a center; with only 46 roster spots available on game day Bill Belichick prefers backups that can play multiple positions.

 

The contributors to WEEI’s It Is What It Is blog have recent profiles on several potential Patriots: Texas LB Keenan Robinson; Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu; Georgia CB Brandon Boykin; Montana CB Trumaine Johnson; and USC DE Nick Perry. If you haven’t heard it yet there’s also a good podcast with Christopher Price and Jerry Thornton looking at the offseason moves by the Pats and other NFL teams.

 

Since the draft is approaching that means it’s time for the semi-annual bashfest of the Patriots draft history under Belichick (training camp roster cuts is the other prime time for this scrutiny). Make no mistake, the Pats have had several choices they would surely like to take a mulligan on, especially between 2006-2009.

But how does anyone reach a meaningful conclusion regarding drafting prowess when there is no point of reference whatsoever? What is the standard for a ‘good pick’ or a ‘bust’? What are the proper expectations in terms of number of elite players, starters, and role players per draft year? Absent of that how do you know what is a good or a bad draft class?

One other part that always leave me shaking my head is the way many cite the percentage of draft busts. Aside from the points above, why a focus on percentage rather than cumulative numbers? If a team trades all its draft picks for one player like Mike Ditka did with the Saints thirteen years ago, does that mean they had a perfect draft? If a team trades down for additional picks then an expected side effect should be more players that don’t make the team than had they stayed put; why the surprise when that happens? The goal is not a success percentage; the goal is a larger total number of productive players. I’ll take the larger number and lower percentage every year, thank you.

 

It kills me to write this, but I begrudgingly acknowledge that Bill Polian and Eric Mangini are the two best football analysts on television right now.

 

I had never really been a fan of her work, but Suzy Kolber is much improved in front of the camera. For a long time it seemed like she was just trying too hard and not being herself as the on-location reporter, seemingly being instructed to use the corporate-approved delivery of being overly hyper, always smiling ear to ear, and making every small tidbit sound like earth-shattering news by putting profound emphasis (not exhaling while emphasizing a word, as if squeezing a biscuit after three days of constipation to make a point) on at least one word every sentence. Maybe she got a new guaranteed contract; maybe she said she’d bolt if the suits didn’t let her be herself, I don’t know. But the four-letter network has her moderating roundtables and she’s a natural; much more at ease while delivering useful information at just the right moment, without stepping on the other analyst’s toes.

Now the next step is to let her take over a show like NFL Live full time, and move Trey Wingo elsewhere. To me Wingo and his forced attempt to be humorous would be a much better fit for one of their fluff weekly daytime shows like Around The Horn.

 

On the subject of suits, who still wears them? Almost all of Corporate America went business casual a long time ago; about the only places suit and ties are still worn are in a courtroom, at a wedding, a funeral, or by a television reporter. Why is that? On one hand I applaud the NFL32 show for having their hosts take off their ties, but it still looks way too forced and contrived.

 

Credit Where Credit Is Due Department: We miss Miguel and his salary cap updates at PatsCap.com; hopefully all is well with him. There is however another excellent source for that information: a guy by the name of Jason has put together cap information on all the AFC East teams at NYJetsCap.com. In addition he has thorough articles like this one which details the 2012 rookie pool projections. If you need up-to-date information on the team’s salary cap and player contracts, this is a great resource.

 

 

 

 

 

On April 1, 1621 the Pilgrims agreed to a peace treaty with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags. The accord had a clever enforcement that is similar to what is still utilized today by NATO: if a Wampanoag broke the peace, he would be sent to Plymouth for punishment; if a colonist broke the law, he would likewise be sent to the Wampanoags.

 

Founder of the German Empire Otto Von Bismarck was born on April 1, 1815.

 

The first official major league baseball game takes place on April 1, 1876 as Boston beats Philadelphia 6-5.

 

Abraham Maslov, the psychologist who designed the hierarchy of basic human needs, was born on April 1, 1908.

 

Michigan football head coach Bo Schembechler was born on April 1, 1929.

 


Actress and singer Debbie Reynolds was born on April 1, 1932.

 

Love Story and The Getaway actress Ali McGraw was born on April 1, 1938. What, she's 74?!

 


Phil Margo, singer for one-hit wonders The Tokens (Lion Sleeps Tonight) was born on April 1, 1942.

 


Legendary reggae singer Jimmy Cliff was born on April 1, 1948.

 

On April 1, 1963 ABC aired the premier episode of General Hospital, and NBC televised the premiere episode of its own medical-themed soap opera, The Doctors. General Hospital has won ten Emmy Awards for Best Daytime Drama and is still on today, making it the longest-running television series of all-time. The Doctors, which featured notable actors Ellen Burstyn, Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner and Armand Assante among others ran for nearly 30 years before being canceled.

 

On April 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed legislation that banned cigarette advertisements on television and radio. At that point in time tobacco was the single largest product advertised on television. The previous year Congress signed the Cigarette Smoking Act which required the warning label “Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health” on tobacco products after much public pressure as a result of an alarming report by the Surgeon General linking cigarette smoking to low birth weight, along with previous reports connecting cigarette smoking to higher incidences of cancer and heart disease.

 

Political talk show host Rachel Maddow was born April 1, 1973.

 


On the day before his own 45th birthday Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father, on April 1, 1984. The singer had resurrected his career and won a Grammy with the song Sexual Healing just a year earlier, but had moved back into his parents home after struggling with debt, depression, and cocaine abuse. His father reportedly was a hard drinking, cross dressing preacher who brutally enforced a strict moral code; the son ironically now found himself under the roof of the same man who caused his demons. The singer’s brother Frankie lived next door; it’s a mystery to me as to why he didn’t move in there instead. In his memoirs Frankie wrote that he held Marvin in his arms in his final minutes and Marvin said “I got what I wanted….I couldn’t do it myself, so I made him do it.”

 

Major league baseball players go on their first ever strike on April 1, 1972

 


Wayne Gretzky breaks Bobby Orr‘s NHL record with his 103rd assist on April 1, 1980

 


The late Sean Taylor was born April 1, 1983

 

On April 1, 1985 Villanova defeated heavily favored Georgetown 66-64 for the men’s college basketball championship. To this day it is considered one of the biggest upsets in all of sports history.

 

Players go on strike for the first time in the 75-year history of the NHL on April 1, 1992

 

 

 

 

 

 

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