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February 2, 2008
Photos: Fans in Arizona have fun on Super Bowl's eve
Journal photos / Gretchen Ertl
Mike Lorti, right, calls the play-by-play of a Patriots Super Bowl victory in a mock broadcast as his brother Aaron Lorti, left, looks on at the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park outside the University of Phoenix Stadium. The brothers are originally from Somerset and are now living in Glendale.
Stephen Edelson came from his home in New York City without tickets but with a sign.
Travis Laprairie, left, and Jeff Farr, both of Calgary, Canada, take a photo of The University of Phoenix Stadium.
Brandy Bobolas, originally of Portsmouth, N.H., now living in Tucson, Ariz., showed her allegiance while walking around the NFL Experience.
A football fan hugs the Vince Lombardi trophy, crafted by Tiffany, on display at the NFL Experience.
Matt Kouba, of Chicago, poses for a friend in front of a series of panels depicting the New York Giants.
Several thousand people waited on line to buy tickets for the NFL Experience.
A young football fan plays catch while waiting to get into 17th annual NFL Experience.
"Go Patriots" is written in the sky.
Syd Davy, a Vikings fan from Winnipeg, Canada, shows off one of his many tattoos.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 8:35 PM | Permalink
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Patriots' Saturday pool report
This was submitted by Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times:
The atmosphere was more family picnic than Super Bowl preparation for New England on Saturday as the Patriots enjoyed a brief stop at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The team did not have a walk-through, as promised, instead spending a fun hour with family, interrupted only by a brief team photograph session.
``This is what we usually do,’’ said coach Bill Belichick, who patiently posed for photographs with players and their families dressed in his signature grey sweatshirt with cut down sleeves along with a white visor. ``The first year was a little different because of the short week. It was just a one-week Super Bowl. The last three, it’s been good. It gives the families a fun day.’’
Belichick said every player was present and accounted for on Saturday. He was asked for a final thought on the game.
``We’re playing a good team,’’ he said. ``We’re as ready as we’re going to be. It’s time to go play.’’
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 7:38 PM | Permalink
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Coventry native emerges as figure in Spygate
A Coventry native has emerged as another figure in the scandal that won’t go away.
One day after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spent a good portion of his annual State of The Game press conference defending the league’s actions regarding Spygate — the controversy that resulted in both the Patriots organization and coach Bill Belichick being fined, and the team being stripped of a first-round draft choice, for illegally videotaping New York Jets defensive coaches as they signaled to players — ESPN.com yesterday quoted Matt Walsh, a Rhode Islander from Coventry who now works as a golf pro in Hawaii, as hinting he has more information about the Pats’ taping practices.
ESPN.com reported that Walsh worked for the organization from 1996 until January, 2003, when he was fired.
“If I had a reason to want to go public, or tell a story, I could have done it before it even broke,’’ Walsh, who started as a public-relations intern and also worked as a video assistant prior to becoming a team scout, told ESPN.com. “I could have said everything rather than having [Jets coach Eric] Mangini be the one to bring it out.
“If they’re doing a thorough investigation — they didn’t contact me. So draw your own conclusions. Maybe they felt they didn’t need to. Maybe the league feels they got satisfactory answers from everything the Patriots sent them.’’
Earlier in the week, Walsh, citing confidentiality agreements with the Patriots, told The New York Times he could not tell or show anything related to the Patriots unless his lawyer crafted an agreement. Asked Friday by the Times if he possessed a tape incriminating the Patriots, he said, “I’ve never given a comment to anyone saying I had a tape or I’d give a tape to anyone.”
Walsh declined to make any material available to ESPN and wanted the news organization to pay his legal fees related to his involvement in the story, as well as to an indemnity that would cover any damages found against him in court. ESPN refused.
ESPN.com’s report came on the heels of a Boston Herald story yesterday, citing a source close to the team, that said the Patriots videotaped the St. Louis Rams’ last walkthrough before they played in the 2002 Super Bowl. The Herald story was denied by both the team and the NFL.
“The suggestion that the New England Patriots recorded the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI is absolutely false,’’ said Stacey James, the Patriots’ vice-president of media relations. “Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said: “We were aware of the rumor months ago and looked into it. There was no evidence of it on the tapes or in the notes produced by the Patriots, and the Patriots told us it was not true.”
Rams spokesman Rick Smith, reading a statement from team president John Shaw, said, “At this point, we have no comment.”
New England did not have a walkthrough yesterday; the Pats also had decided against having a Saturday walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. The Giants held one at the Arizona Cardinals’ practice facility. A walkthrough is done without pads or helmets, giving teams a chance to practice their formations.
All of which followed Goodell’s grilling by the media about Spygate on Friday, which in itself was prompted by remarks from Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who wanted the NFL to explain why it destroyed evidence of the scandal. Goodell defended his decision, saying “there was no purpose for them [not to be disposed of].” He said one of the tapes was leaked to FOX and making sure there were no more leaks “was one of my concerns.’’
Goodell also said he didn’t think the Patriots used such tapes to win previous titles.
“There was no indication that it benefited them in any of the Super Bowl victories,” he said.
Specter, contacted after the press conference, said Goodell’s response “didn’t make any sense at all’’ and added the matter could put the league’s antitrust exemption — a limited exemption involving the league’s right to pool its television revenue and distribute it equally to all teams — at risk.
“Their antitrust exemption has been on my mind for a long time,” he said.
When asked about mounting criticism, from both the media and the general public, that Congress has far more important matters to concern itself with, Specter responded: “I do believe that it is a matter of importance. It’s not going to displace the stimulus package or the Iraq war, but I think the integrity of football is very important, and I think the National Football League has a special duty to the American people — and further the Congress — because they have an antitrust exemption.”
Walsh, 31, is now an assistant golf pro on Maui. He is married to Colleen Kennedy, who grew up in Johnston and West Greenwich, and they have an 8-month-old son. ESPN.com’s story said Walsh fears that his family still in the area “could be in harm’s way if he damages the Patriots with any information he might disclose.’’
He told ESPN.com he still owns Patriots season tickets.
Posted by Art Martone at 7:31 PM | Permalink
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Pats statement: Taping allegations "absolutely false"
The New England Patriots have released a statement denying today's report that the team video taped the St. Louis Rams' final walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI:
"The suggestion that the New England Patriots recorded the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 is absolutely false. Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue."
The idea that the Patriots had taped St. Louis' walkthrough had been floated before; allegedly, then-team employee Matt Walsh stayed behind at the Superdome after the Patriots took their team photo on Feb. 2, 2002, and filmed the Rams walkthrough. He then boarded the media shuttle with other news reporters. Walsh is now an assistant golf pro in Hawaii.
New England pulled one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history with its 20-17 win over the Rams.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 6:52 PM | Permalink
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Santonio Thomas signed to active roster
The Patriots have signed practice squad defensive lineman Santonio Thomas to the 53-man roster for tomorrow's Super Bowl against the Giants.
New England had an open spot on the active roster after placing special teamer Mel Mitchell on injured reserve Jan. 24.
Thomas played four regular-season games with New England this year before being released and re-signed to the practice squad on Oct. 29. He is a 6-foot-4, 305-pound Miami product the team signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 6:35 PM | Permalink
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Andre Tippett named to Pro Football Hall of Fame (updated)
It was announced moments ago that former Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett has been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tippett is the fourth player with Patriots ties to make the Hall of Fame. The others are guard John Hannah (he and Tippett are the only Hall of Famers to play their entire careers in New England), cornerback Mike Haynes and linebacker Nick Buoniconti.
Also voted in were two former Redskins, wide receiver Art Monk and cornerback Darrell Green; Chargers and 49ers defensive end Fred Dean; Vikings and Broncos tackle Gary Zimmerman and Chiefs cornerback Emmitt Thomas. Thomas was a senior committee choice.
Green made it in his first year of eligibility. The other first-year nominee, receiver Cris Carter, was not elected.
Inductions will be at the Pro Football Hall of Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 2.
“I looked forward to the day we are going to Canton,” Green said, breaking up with emotion.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome was Paul Tagliabue not getting enough support for the second straight year. In his 17 years as commissioner, the NFL experienced no labor stoppages, while its revenues from TV contracts skyrocketed. There also were expansions to Jacksonville, Charlotte, Cleveland and Houston under his watch, and several teams moved into new stadiums, many of them built with public funds.
Also failiing to get in were Redskins guard Russ Grimm, Bills receiver Andre Reed, Raiders punter Ray Guy, Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar, Bears defensive end Richard Dent, Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, Vikings guard Randall McDaniel, and Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas.
Senior committee nominee Marshall Goldberg was not elected, either.
More to come . . .
-- STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
Posted by Art Martone at 4:37 PM | Permalink
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Tippett Hall bound
It has just been announced that Andre Tippett has been voted as a member the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
We'll have more shortly.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 4:36 PM | Permalink
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Print out the official NFL Super Bowl flipcard
What's a flipcard, you ask?
It's the one-sheet piece of cardboard that lists the depth charts of the two teams, with numerical rosters, on one side, and a more detailed roster (also listed numerically) on the other. It's distributed weekly in every NFL pressbox, and this is the one media members will receive tomorrow in Glendale, Ariz.
Unfortunately, we can't deliver it to you in one sheet; you'll have to print out two pages. But click here and print out a .PDF version of the card. Don't forget to set the viewer at 100 percent to see it correctly.
Posted by Art Martone at 12:03 PM | Permalink
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