By: Bob George/
December 10, 2003

Mock draft: Patriots get defensive
Rob Gronkowski puts out video to talk about his decision-making process
Patriots getting a good read on Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
Filling the Patriots' needs: No. 2 Linebackers
Rob Gronkowski says he'll be back with Patriots

Let's hear it for the new kid on the block. Wonder what kind of rookie initiation Brooks Barnard got as he joined the Patriots. Bobby Orr got "the shave" when he first became a Bruin. Some 20 years ago, two Michigan hockey players nearly froze to death after getting an intense freshman hazing. New members in the Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity get thrown in the trunk of a car and are then taken on a 30-mile joy ride. And then there's the famous "Thank you sir, may I have another!" jazz. Barnard earned his Patriot stripes early, with some nice, albeit unspectacular, punting in Sunday's snowy affair at Gillette Stadium. Normally, kickers draw the opening boot and not punters, but since the Patriots scored a late safety, let's let Barnard lead off this week with a free kick. (Yes, we know that it's Miami that had to punt, it's just that this way's more lyrical, you might say.)

Arrogant ones, those Dolphin Faithful. One Miami writer called Sunday's loss "insulting".

Sigh. And we thought the mentally challenged fans resided in either Oakland or Pittsburgh.

Speak of the devils. Oakland at Pittsburgh '03: The Immaculate Abomination.

Our thanks to Clinton Portis, who not only perhaps helped the Patriots to a one seed, but also did a great job of exposing the Chief defense.

Now, let's please not have to face Portis in the postseason, even at Gillette.

Another team to fear wears purple and hails from Maryland.

Hard to believe that the visiting team this weekend was the AFC runner-up a mere seven years ago.

And the Patriots will treat the Jaguars as if it was still 1996.

As much as you might have thought Antowain Smith helped the Patriots on Sunday, he actually hurt them more with his meager average per carry.

The Falcons need Michael Vick like humans need air and water.

Sunday's game lacked only one ingredient: a snow angel from Lonie Paxton.

If Tennessee couldn't take Indianapolis at home, then you can call that division race over.

Geek of the week: Now this was a lulu. Ryan Young got called for a false start, then tried to stand up to his head coach who proceeded to chew him out on the sideline. As his coach, Bill Parcells, is given to say, "Dumb players do dumb things!"

Honk if you can spell Adewale Ogunleye.

Next head coach of the Giants? Don't bet against Romeo Crennel.

With all there is to love about the Patriots, complaining about the snow at Gillette Stadium sounds more like whining than anything else.

Larry Centers is back. If the Patriots don't run the table, it will be because Charlie Weis has still not gotten over his fixation over this guy as a rusher instead of a receiver.

It's really amazing. Weis brain cramped by running Centers on a draw against Washington, and the Patriots haven't lost since.

Remember that the third tiebreaker is common games, not conference record. That is why Kansas City has not clinched the AFC West yet.

While we're on that subject, curses be to that sportswriter who brought up those horrid scenarios if the Colts should barge into the top seed picture by tying the Patriots and Chiefs.

That 1996 AFC title game seems eons ago.

Jimmy Smith. Marc Brunell. Tony Brackens. Only Jags still left.

Not counting Wayne Weaver.

If nothing else, the Patriots have still never lost to Jacksonville in the regular season.

Back to school: A great big hi, hello and thank you to the Kansas State Wildcats, who made the BCS look more dumber and less valid than ever.

By the way, watch Police Academy and see how they define "BCS".

Curtis Martin once had a crummy agent, Gus Sunseri. He fired him, and Sox fans may wish that Nomar Garciaparra would do the same to Arn Tellem.

Except that a week after Martin took on a new agent, the Jets lowered the boom with that convoluted, and now illegal, offer.

Back to Nomie. What gives with this putting him ahead of the Patriots in the sports headlines? Whose opinion is it that Boston is a baseball town, the fans or the media?

The Rams found a better offensive weapon than Torry Holt. His name is Aeneas Williams.

Another Sunday of the cold stuff would suit New England just fine. For the second week in a row, their opponents hang their hats -- make that helmets -- in Florida.

Anyone still think Dallas is the real deal?

Ironic fact number 643: The franchise at the other end of the spectrum from the Patriots, the Washington Redskins, amazingly was the last team to beat the Patriots.

Too bad that Tom Coughlin isn't still coach of the Jaguars. If it makes it any better, Dom Capers also isn't with the Panthers. Both men took second-year franchises to within one game of the Super Bowl in the same year.

That's amazing, folks.

Even more amazing when you consider that Capers' current team, now in its second year, is nowhere near what Carolina was in 1996.

Remember him: Charlie Bauman, a linebacker for Clemson, would have no other claim to fame in football other than being the reason for the sudden end to the coaching career of Ohio State's Woody Hayes. In the 1978 Gator Bowl, Bauman made an interception, and Hayes subsequently punched him out on the sideline. Let's hope that the Gator Bowl means more to the people of Jacksonville than this one ignoble moment.

Did Dan Reeves really deserve what he got on Wednesday? No wonder the last name of the Falcon owner is "Blank".

The rest of this season basically comes down to this.

Win one game: Two seed if the Colts lose once more.

Win two games: Two seed, for sure.

Win three games: The road to Houston leads through Foxborough.

Win six games: Tell Bob Kraft to learn some new dance steps.