You know it’s a slow time of year when the most discussed Pats-related topics being discussed are their uniforms, what one of their players did (or did not) wear to a non-football event, and the cover to a video game.

 

As for the Patriots’ uniforms, we’ve been told for months that just because Nike takes over the contract to make the jerseys, there would be little or no changes; the teams determine that, not the apparel manufacturer. Perhaps the best thing about the unveiling finally being made is that it should finally put an end to those bogus internet rumors that were more resilient that Michael Myers and Freddy Kruger combined, about dramatic design changes such as the Pats new unis looking like Captain America that were somehow still surfacing this past week, nearly two years after being exposed as a hoax.

 

Rob Gronkowski attends a Playboy event, and it gets reported locally as well as on Fox, Yardbarker, The Big Lead and who knows where else. We’re already painfully aware of how the paparazzi stalk Tom Brady; if he isn’t already, will Gronk become there next target? For all those that years ago wished the Pats and their players were as well known and famous as teams like the Cowboys, you got your wish. Personally I wouldn’t wish that TMZ-ish scrutiny on my worst enemy, much less on any New England Patriots player. Myself, I liked it better when the team was more anonymous and their idea of doing something bold was to be introduced as a team rather than individually.

 

Then there is the question of which player will grace the cover of next year’s Madden video game. First of all nobody should actually want a player that they root for to have this ‘honor’ based on the “Madden Curse”. But what really gets me is how this is an entirely corporate-driven marketing strategy that has somehow managed to become  legitimate sports news, with nary a question from anybody as to how this has come to be! We all know espn sold their soul for the almighty dollar a long time ago, but how in the world do they get off in reporting on this “competition” in between actual sports scores and stories – and nobody calls them out for it? Worse yet the rest of the media falls in place and re-reports it, apparently out of fear that if they don’t report on something espn said then they’ll be looked upon as not being on top of things.

The reality is that EA Sports and espn signed a business deal back in 2005. This is all about money, and has nothing to do with sports, sports news, or sports analysis and opinion. Video games are fun, but this is not sports. All the other sites writing about it are just giving those two free publicity. Hats off to the two of them for a brilliant business strategy, but as a sports fan this absolutely does not belong on television, radio, or sports-related web sites; doing so pushes genuine sports stories off. Wake up people: we’re being conned and taken for fools. Worse yet, it’s a slippery slope; what’s next? Since this is working so well for both sides and nobody is calling them out for it, I guarantee our sports news will soon be filled with more marketing masquerading as sports stories. That is something that I don’t think any of us want to see happen.

 

Free agent center Dan Koppen will be visiting the Tennessee Titans. It is not really clear how Koppen might fit in with the Pats, with Dan Connolly being re-signed and then Robert Gallery being added to the roster. Of course that could change if Brian Waters (or to a lesser extent, Matt Light) decides to retire. In my opinion I don’t see him coming back, unless something happens where the Pats decide they need Connolly to play guard. The Titans are apparently not happy with the status quo at center. Even though starter Eugene Amano has three years remaining on his contract they have brought in Scott Wells, Chris Myers, and Jeff Saturday over the last three weeks – but each of them went on to sign with another team.

 

In case you missed it yesterday you can still hear this week’s 4th & 2 discussion. It’s a 90-minute podcast with a guest appearance from Jeff Capellini, who is a columnist and an editor for CBSNewyork.com and WFAN; he gives his thoughts on the off-season moves by the Jets while the rest of the crew focuses on the Pats and free agency.

 

Christopher Price of WEEI has an update on the status of each of the Patriots 17 unrestricted free agents at the start of free agency. The list includes teams visited by those that remain unsigned.

 

Jeff Howe from NESN writes that Londen Fletcher and Amobi Akoye remain possibilities for the Patriots’ defense, and 19 other thoughts. It’s a pretty good read on (as the title suggests) twenty different Pats-related subjects. I recommend it as it is a welcome respite from most of the other fluff that is permeating the airwaves and message boards right now. Howe also has a column on Janoris Jenkins, who has tons of talent but off-field issues could help him fall to the Patriots in the draft, and yesterday had a profile on how Alshon Jeffrey‘s immense talent, inconsistent dedication could cause Patriots to debate receiver’s draft value.

 

NE Patriots Draft comes through once again with a ton of draft-related columns. James Christensen has his Mock Draft 5.0, with the Pats trading up to snag DL Fletcher Cox; he also has the Pats drafting Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley, Boise State OLB Shea McClellin, LSU DB Ron Brooks, Arkansas WR Greg Childs, and South Dakota State OT Tom Compton.

In addition the site has new scouting reports on Ohio State WR DeVier Possey, LSU FS Brandon Taylor, Arkansas State LB Demario Davis, Illinois WR AJ Jenkins, Cincinnati DL Derek Wolfe, and Nevada ILB James-Michael Johnson, as well as an interview with DB Justin Bethel, a small school (Presbyterian College in SC) sleeper.

 

Wes Bunting from the National Football Post has his Mock Draft 6.0; in this version he has the Pats selecting Penn State DT Devon Still and Alabama SS Mark Barron in the first round.

 

Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports has an NFL Mock Draft as of 04/03/2012, and in it he pulls a bit of a surprise. With the 31st pick Kirwan has the Pats trading the selection to Baltimore in exchange for restricted free agent CB Lardarius Webb. He also has the Pats drafting UConn DT Kendall Reyes, Boise State OLB Shea McClellan, and South Carolina safety Antonio Allen.

 

In what has to be the most unique mock draft I have seen this off-season, this person has the Pats trading down six times, with the end result being 18 rookies on the Patriots 2012 53-man roster. I’m not sure what to say about that, so I’ll just leave that one alone.

 

 

 

Looking back in time April 4 has been a very historical day.

Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. It was a year to the day that he delivered his “Beyond VietNam” anti-war speech, saying that there was a common link between the peace and civil rights movements.

Blues legend Muddy Waters was born on April 4, 1913.

President William Henry Harrison died on April 4, 1841, after just 32 days in office. The man with the shortest tenure as president also holds the record for longest inaugural speech: one hour and 45 minutes. Ironically it was that speech that was his undoing; Harrison caught a cold on that bitterly cold day which led to pneumonia, and his death.

NATO was established on April 4, 1949.

On April 4, 1982 hockey great Wayne Gretzky finished the season with 212 points. Gretzk was the first, and still the only player to ever break the 200-point barrier in NHL history; number 99 went on to do it again three more times.

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio was born on April 4, 1963.

Former Patriots defensive tackle Chad Eaton was born on April 4, 1972.

The Akron, a dirigible which was the largest airship built in the US at that time, crashed in New Jersey. The crash killed 73 people, also making it the deadliest air disaster at that point in time.

Yamamoto Isoroku, Japan’s mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack, was born on April 4, 1884.

The Beatles’ Can’t Buy Me Love goes #1 on April 4, 1964, and stays there for the next five weeks. The group had twelve of Billboard’s top 100 songs that week, and remarkably they had each of the top five songs; the others being Twist and Shout, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, and Please Please Me.

Bill France, Jr., the man who took NASCAR mainstream, was born on April 4, 1933.

Glenn Miller recorded Moonlight Serenade on April 4, 1939.

Elvis Presley recorded Are You Lonesome Tonight on April 4, 1960.

Hugh Masekela (Grazing in the Grass) was born on April 4, 1939.

Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore was born on April 4, 1952.

CBS released the first album by The Clash on April 4, 1977.

Pink‘s first album Can’t Take Me Home was released on April 4, 2000.

Dance studio businessman Arthur Murray was born on April 4, 1895.

Television news anchorman John Cameron Swayze was born on April 4, 1906.

Actress Cloris Leachman was born on April 4, 1926

Proprietor of the Bates Motel, Anthony Perkins was born on April 4, 1932.

Record producer Clive Davis was also born on April 4, 1932.

Television’s Coach and Poltergeist star Craig T. Nelson was born on April 4, 1946.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. was born on April 4, 1965.

Nancy McKeon was born on April 4, 1966; she played the cute tough girl Jo on television’s The Facts of Life.

Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike was born as Michael Schwartz on April 4, 1970.

Magician David Blaine was born on April 4, 1973.

Actor Heath Ledger was born on April 4, 1979.

Kid sister Jaime Lynn Spears was born on April 4, 1991, which means she is of legal age today.

 

 

 

 

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EA Sports & espn blurring the lines of sports news & marketing; 'new' uniforms, and more, 5.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings