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According to Carp

Rick Carpiniello's world of sports

Archive for January, 2008

“The biggest game of our lives”

January
31

Tom Brady was reflecting today about how he had to battle for a starting job that he didn’t get until his junior season at Michigan and how he arrived in New England as a fourth-string quarterback “eating nachos before the game.” 

Brady, who was glad that he doesn’t have to speak to the media again until after Sunday’s game, was asked if he thinks this is the biggest game of his life.”I think this is the biggest game of all our lives, to tell you the truth. My life, the entire team, the coaches. We’re going to be remembering this game for as long as we live, win or lose. We’re either going to have great memories of this experience or we’re going to look at it truly as a missed opportunity. Not too many teams in the history of the NFL — none as a matter of fact — have been 18-0 going into this game.”

He went on to praise the Giants as a team that gave the Patriots all they could handle four weeks ago.

When asked how he thinks he’ll play in the biggest game of his life, Brady responded “Great … I’m not looking for a mediocre performance. I want you to know that.”

Posted by Carp on Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
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What’s all the fuss about?

January
30

I keep thinking about how stupid it is, all this reaction and overreaction to Plaxico Burress answering a reporter who asked him for a prediction by saying “23-17.”

So he’s predicting a Giants win. It wasn’t a guarantee. It wasn’t anything other than an answer by a confident football player. But Burress should have known better, especially since only a day earlier he was admonishing a reporter because his paper had taken someting and “blown it out of proportion” and adding that his editor should be ashamed.

Burress, in that instance, was referring to the story last week when he said some of the Giants’ receivers do some things as well or better than some of the Patriots’ receivers, and the headlines blared that Burress claimed the Giants’ receivers to be better than the Pats’ receivers.

He also should have known that anything mumbled during Super Bowl week, a week completely bereft of news, is more than likely to be blown out of proportion because of the sheer number of reporters and news outlets here, and the dearth of anything worth reporting.

I wrote a column on this topic for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow.

Fire away with your responses.

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
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Is this the center of the world?

January
30

The Phoenix area has the Super Bowl, and you sure can’t mistake that around town, or out in Glendale and that stadium that looks like the Hindenburg.

It’s everywhere you look, just as every Super Bowl city, with posters stories high of Michael Strahan and Tom Brady, and NFL and SBXLII logos plastered everywhere.

But there’s more. Much more. The FBR Open, the most rowdy and fan-friendly tournament on the PGA Tour, is in town this weekend. Phil Mickelson speaks today. Tiger’s not here, because he gets millions to play elsewhere.

Then there’s politics. Arizona’s John McCain is coming off his big victory in Florida, is expected to get Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement when Rudy drops out, and all the candidates from both parties will be flying into the Phoenix area to prepare for Tuesday’s primary here.

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 9:20 am |
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Moss grows

January
29

Spent about an hour with Randy Moss at the zoo that is Media Day today at the stadium in Glendale.

A reporter friend from Boston told me that he’s been unbelievably different than advertised before he arrived, that in fact he’s the opposite, as if Bill Belichick is kneeling behind him pulling on the puppet strings. The guy has gulped the Kool-Aid.

After Moss did his whole thing — politely, graciously, patiently — and put the team ahead of himself at every opportunity, another guy in the newspaper business suggested that it wasn’t really Moss, but a pod programmed to spit out Belichick-isms in Patriotese.

I kept looking up at the nametag above the podium where he sat, to make sure it actually did say “Randy Moss.” It did.

He said, “excuse me” when he hiccupped. He apologized when he couldn’t hear a question. He took time and patience to listen to and answer several questions from a young boy, maybe 9 years old, sent out by a kids TV station. He even ignored some of his teammates who were trying to distract him in order to fully answer every question.

Although he did admit that the main reason he was there for the whole hour was that he got a letter from the NFL saying that he’d be fined a lot of money if he didn’t.

I’ll tell you this, the guy was convincing as heck. Humble.

I’m writing a column about him for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow.

Posted by Carp on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
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You get to go to the Super Bowl?

January
28

So I’m at a kids basketball game Sunday, and I had to leave at halftime because I had to get to La Guardia. And all the parents are telling me, “Oooh. You’re so lucky. You get to go to the Super Bowl.”

Yeah. So lucky. This is so glamorous.

Let’s see. It took 12 hours to get to Phoenix. Change and delay in Atlanta. Headwinds of 140 mph, according to the pilot, that made the Atlanta-Phoenix leg about an hour longer than scheduled. Get to come back a week from Monday on a flight that’s already booked, and we’ve been warned to arrive more than three hours before your flight because the security lines are going to be the size of the Great Wall of China. Arrived to an absolute downpour at about 12:30 a.m., which is 2:30 a.m. Eastern time, or half a day after I left.

Drove through a putrid city between the airport and downtown, with dreadful construction ongoing — nice timing, with the Super Bowl and the FBR Open both in town this week. Downtown Phoenix is like a military zone. All the roads around the hotel are blocked off by police trucks: “Why do you want to get to the Hyatt, sir?”
“Uh, because I’m staying there?”

Police crawling all over the hotel. Imagine the overtime they’re spending on this week. No interaction with the public. They’re not allowed near the hotels. So it’s a virtual ghost town except for those staying in the area … if they can get in.

The Hyatt is a dump. A $240 a night dump (special media rate negotiated by the NFL; most hotels are in the $400 range, especially on the coming weekend). That’s not steep enough, but they jacked up the parking around the hotel, they’re charging $12 (plus tax) a day for internet service, and a liter of water in the room is going for $5.25. Good thing it’s not my money.

I can only imagine how violated the actual fans feel, the way the NFL makes it impossible for them to get tickets (a) legitmately or (b) at anything less than 700 percent of their face value. That’s why they get a stadium packed with people who aren’t really fans.

Well, you say, at least there’s the weather? Yeah, it’s warm here. In the 60s. But it’s raining on and off, and supposed to do so all week. There are clouds. My hotel room window overlooks a brick wall and a parking lot and a skyscraper. The sun came out for a while this morning and yet I needed to have every light on in my room in order to see. Then I spent about $23 on breakfast that was probably worth $4.

Today I get to talk to the players. Of course, you have to drive about an hour each way to talk to the Giants. Most events you get herded around on buses, like cattle going to slaughter.

Tomorrow’s Media Day, the mother of all sporting event circuses. There will be clowns with media credentials, bimbos with media credentials, kids with media credentials, celebs with media credentials. And for those of us who actually have to do some work, these other idiots will get the athletes in a bad mood with their idiotic questions: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

So, yeah, I get to go to the Super Bowl. Whoopeee! Get a boxed lunch, too. Yee-hah!

Posted by Carp on Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
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No. 2 and No. 9

January
24

Wow! What a night at Madison Square Garden. The place sure hasn’t had enough nights like this lately.

Not only did they honor the great Brian Leetch, but to then allow Leetch to announce that they would retire Adam Graves’ number was just icing on the cake. I know there’s some debate about whether Graves was the caliber of player who should have his number retired. He’s not a Hall of Famer. But Graves, for many reasons, is the most beloved Ranger ever, a man of the fans, who was as responsible for that Cup as anybody else — remember he scored an eye-popping then-team record 52 goals that season.

“I’m the one guy (among the four, with Leetch, Mark Messier and Mike Richter) who probably depended more on those three guys than any of them depended on the other three guys,” Graves said. “Therefore I just feel really, really humbled right now.
“It really hasn’t sunk in. I had no idea. I don’t know if it looked that way. I know
I walk around in a fog on a regular basis, but I certainly was not expecting this. I had no idea. … quite honestly I was foggy. Brian came over and said ‘congratulations’ and the only thing I could think about was, ‘Go back. This is about you.’ It kind of really caught me off guard, and I was really humbled.”

Leetch’s ceremony was spectacular. He did a great job, better than I thought he might do, with his speech. I knew he was intelligent and articulate, but that can’t be an easy thing to do. Leetch handled it the way he handled his game.

Messier introduced him by asking the crowd to welcome “the greatest Ranger ever.

“Brian is forever going to be the benchmark of what it looks like to be a Ranger, for what it’s supposed to be like to be a Ranger. … for the next 100 years or more … they’re going to point to Brian Leetch and say, ‘That’s what we want as a New York Ranger.’â€?

This night meant a lot to Leetch.

“It’s kind of similar to the parade in ‘94, and that’s always kind of been my No. 1 moment from all my years of playing hockey and it had nothing to do with on-ice, goals or assists,� Leetch said. “It’s just the extra bonus or reward of winning a championship in New York City. This will be another one of those type of moments that is separate from a big victory or sharing things with your team, as you’re able to share this with such a large number of people.�

I wrote about some of my favorite Leetch memories for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow. As always, especially when I write about hockey, I’d love to hear what the Garden faithful think.

Posted by Carp on Thursday, January 24th, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
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No. 2 goes up tomorrow

January
23

Got to see Brian Leetch at a press conference today, and if the attendees at this thing were any indication, then tomorrow night’s 6:30 p.m. ceremony to retire Rangers No. 2 will be quite an event.

Just at the press conference were so many ex-Leetch teammates, including of course Mark Messier, Mike Richter and Adam Graves, but also Jeff Beukeboom, Stephane Matteau, Tie Domi, Jan Erixon, Darren Langdon, Brian Mullen, and probably a few I’m forgetting.

I wonder, though, if Glen Sather will go onto the ice for the ceremony. He has maintained a very low profile for several years now, and he’s the guy who traded Leetch to Toronto.

And Leetch made it clear that he still harbors bad feelings about the way he was dealt away, cutting short his chance to play his entire career in New York. Leetch said that after the first few lousy non-playoff years, he felt the next year would be better. By the time he realized it wasn’t getting better, he decided then that he wanted to be part of the solution, to be here to help restore pride in the team.

But he was traded away.

“Just the way that I left was the bitterness part,” Leetch said. “Just getting a call and being traded out of there. That hurt the most. And Glen had alluded to the fact that I should be in New York for my career. So that’s the one part that hurt, because there’s been many, many, much better players than me traded. I mean, we got Mark Messier because of a trade. Wayne Gretzky was on our team for those reasons, and I know that’s part of the game, so I have no qualms about being traded. Many times (it’s) the right thing to do for the organization and for the building of a team and bringing a team out of bad times. So, I was just disappointed in the way it went down. and that will never change, but it also doesn’t change the feelings I had about being a Ranger and what it meant to me.

“The truth is, yeah, it bothers me. It always will. It’s not like it changes the situation. It’s just the reality of it. Again, it doesn’t change what tomorrow night means and the players and the moments. And Tom Renney called me two years ago and expressed that he thought it would be a perfect fit. … It was up to me if I wanted to end my career in New York, and I just decided at that t ime that that was enough.”

Too bad it ended like that. But tonight Leetch gets a proper sendoff.

I wrote a column about Leetch’s special relationship with Mike Richter for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow. Josh Thomson has more on Leetch from the press conference. And tomorrow night we’ll be all over it, too.

I’d love to hear what you think.

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 10:47 pm |
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God meets Brady

January
23

Somebody just sent me this quarterbacks joke to celebrate the Super Bowl hype:

 Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Tom Brady go to heaven to visit God and watch the Celtics play a game. God decides who will sit next to him by asking the boys a question. God asks Peyton Manning first, “What do you believe?” Peyton thinks long And hard, looks God in the eye, and says, “I believe in hard work, and in staying true to family and friends. I believe in giving. I was lucky, but I always tried to do right by my fans.”

God can’t help but see the essential goodness of Manning, and offers him a seat to his left. Then God turns to Tony Romo and says, “What do you believe?” Tony says, “I believe passion, discipline, courage, and honor are the fundamentals of life. I too have been lucky, but win or lose I’ve always tried to be a true sportsman, both on and of f the field.”

God is greatly moved by Tony’s sincere eloquence, and he offers him a seat to his right.  Finally, God turns to Tom Brady and says, “And you, Tom, what do you believe?”

Tom replies, “I believe you’re in my seat.”

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
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Poor Tom Brady

January
22

I got a real kick out of seeing photos of Tom Brady walking with that soft walking cast on his foot yesterday, with that cheap-looking bouquet of flowers for his famous, fabulously wealthy girlfriend.

Anyway, it reminded me of something the Patriots and their nutty coach Bill Belichick do.

I don’t recall the exact details off the top of my head, but Belichick got wrist-slapped by the NFL for falsifying one of those mandated injury reports a couple of years ago. He left off somebody who was injured.

So ever since then, every single week, Brady has been listed as: Tom Brady (Right shoulder) Probable.

Keep an eye on it this week. It will be in the injury report. Maybe Belichick will list his bad foot, too.

Meanwhile, Brady on one foot (and one shoulder) has to be better than Philip Rivers on one leg. What the heck were Rivers and Norv Turner thinking about? The guy couldn’t play the position like that, and San Diego went down without a touchdown because of it, when a touchdown and another quarterback might have been able to take advantage of the vulnerable Pats.

Posted by Carp on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
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Never saw that before

January
20

The tarp is off and there is ice on the field, and there are a bunch of guys with brooms sweeping the ice out of the end zone.

I’ve never seen anybody sweep ice off grass with a broom before.

And I wonder if this means the field is going to be slippery, since the tarp and the heat coils under the turf most likely created moisture that surely has frozen, or will freeze, now that it’s exposed, regardless of the heat coils.

At any rate, the ice only appears to be on one side of the field at the moment, and mostly in the end zone … Hmmm. Maybe that’s the Bart Starr quarterback sneak end zone.

Posted by Carp on Sunday, January 20th, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
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About this blog
Rick Carpiniello is a sports columnist for The Journal News and LoHud.com. His blog will encompass the world of sports, from Pee Wees to the Super Bowl in a style that can be serious, sarcastic or even silly, and on which encourages feedback from its readers on any and all sports-related topics.
About the author
Rick CarpinielloRick Carpiniello For more than 20 years he covered the New York Rangers and the National Hockey League. Carpiniello has been writing columns on everything from local sports to the big leagues since 2002. READ MORE

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