TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 33 days until Patriots training camp

We’ll kick this morning off with an article on former Patriots Fan of the year and legendary fan Randy Pierce, who will be making a trek up Mount Washington on July 4th.  Known as “Zip” to all of us who are lucky enough to be his friend, the amazing part of this story is the fact that he’s blind and will be making the trip up the mountain with the help of his guide dog Quinn. 

For any regulars at the stadium over the last 10-years, he was the man behind the banner that used to be seen on the field that said, “#54 Full-Tilt, Full Time” in honor of former linebacker Tedy Bruschi.  He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and he continues to be an inspiration to anyone who’s ever been told they can’t do something.  It’s a story you need to read, and there’s also a great video available if you’d rather watch the report as it originally aired on WBZ.

Meanwhile, new PatsFans.com columnist Mike Saver looks at the Patriots struggles inside the Red Zone, and the players who should make them better inside the 20 this season.  Saver highlights some of the new tight ends, who if they live up to the hype could be much needed replacements over the departed Chris Baker and Ben Watson.

Last season, a lack of a valid option at tight end greatly contributed to New England’s red zone struggles. Ben Watson and Chris Baker failed to put up notable numbers in ’09, catching only 7 touchdowns between the two of them.

The Republican has an article on former Patriot John Andreoli, who recently hosted a youth football camp called “Football For You” at Springfield College.  The free clinic is sponsored by the New England Patriots Alumni Club, the team’s charitable foundation, the Springfield Public Schools, The Hanover Insurance Group and Papa Gino’s.  There were quite  a few former players on hand, with a couple of names fans may recognize in Vernon Crawford and Ed Ellis.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com looks at the Patriots lack of commitment to a running game, and wonders if that will be an area that they’ll put more of an effort into this season.

Mike Reiss has an interesting interview with former Patriot Doug Flutie, who is a huge Red Sox fan, but doesn’t actively follow the team he started and finished his career with.  He told Reiss that these days he “loosely follows the Patriots”.

“I live for the Red Sox. I thoroughly enjoy them. For whatever reason, baseball has been a lot more fun for me in recent years. I loosely follow the Patriots and I root for them. I loosely follow the Celtics and then it gets to playoff time and I don’t miss a game. Same with the Bruins. I’m not the diehard fan anymore. I’m a diehard fan when it comes to going to the high school games and watching my nephews play.”

To us the release of runningback Pat Paschall was just another guy who we knew nothing about being sent on his way.  Locally where he played college football, there’s a quick link that also has more of an explanation as to why he was let go relating to some “issue” the Patriots apparently saw in the spring that may have influenced their decision. 

Patriots.com has an article on ”Debate Friday” where Paul Perillo and Erik Scalavino talk about whether or not Tom Brady will retire as a New England Patriot.  They’re not talking about him playing a few more years, potentially going to another team, and then coming back.  They’re talking about him only ever playing in a Patriots uniform.  Count me in as one who believes he’ll be staying in Foxboro until he decides it’s time to hang it up.

Cam Martin of ESPN’s Page 2 looks at the spme of the best Sports cities, and ranks Boston against other cities such as San Francisco, Detroit, Denver, and more.

I swear, these articles are like a car accident.  You don’t want to stop and look, but you just can’t help it.  Star Magazine reports that Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen are all done with diapers, as their little man is now potty trained.  Try as you may to fight the urge, I know you’ll click the link just like I did.   So be sure to go tell all your friends about the epic event you were fortunate enough to read here this morning. 

Finally, the guys from PatsCast have Episode 8 available for download this morning.  So be sure to add it to your Ipod before you head out to mow your lawns.  It’s definitely another great show you won’t want to miss.

OTHER NFL NEWS:

ESPN has an article on former QB Matt Cassel and looks at the fact he’s under pressure to perform this season.   They point out the fact he experienced a lot of drops by his receivers, along with the fact that he was sacked more than just two other QB’s in the league last year.

“While he was often under siege behind a poor line, Cassel didn’t show the timing and ability to unload the football on time. He struggled under pressure and must improve this area of his game. He also fumbled too much. Cassel is clearly at his best in the shotgun out of the spread, but he must improve under center in order for this offense to become more well rounded and balanced.”

I think it’s so incredibly ridiculous that Brett Favre continues to be a drama queen every single offseason regarding his future.  To put his team in the position of potentially not really knowing whether or not he’s going to call it a career (although his antics have lead to him returning 99% of the time) is just selfish, not to mention that I just find it hard to believe he can’t see how foolish he makes himself look.  Go ahead and read the ridiculous comments he continues to make in claming that he has “no clue” regarding his plans this season.  He’s definitely got no clue…just not for the reasons he’s trying to get us to believe.

”Hell, I want to know,” Favre told the Biloxi Sun-Herald regarding his future. “But I am not going to press it. If I do not play, it does not cost the Vikings a dime. They keep the $13 million. I know they have confidence in the players they have. They had a chance to draft [Jimmy] Clausen in the first round, but they didn’t want one.”

Give Favre some credit.  At least he’s giving these interviews with a small town newspaper, which grabs them some traffic and page views.   Thanks to him I had a chance to read some of the articles in that paper, including the impact the oil spill is having in that region.  It’s been devastating to the fisherman and causing events like the Billfish Classic to be cancelled due to the spill.  That’s an event that’s been going on for 14-years that won’t happen this year because of it.  It’s just sad.

Michael Vick may not have been there when it happened, but I’d have to believe that his NFL future may be in jeapordy after a shooting occurred following his 30th Birthday party.  He was already given another chance by commissioner Roger Goodell to stay out of trouble, so should this investigation lead to any involvement – one would believe more trouble is in store for the quarterback.

My first memory of former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell was when I froze my you-know-what off at Foxboro Stadium watching him battle against Drew Bledsoe in the AFC Championship game back in 1997.  So here he is years later coming off of a Super Bowl Championship season as a back-up with the New Orleans Saints, and he’s filing for bankruptcy.  I’ll never understand how guys who make so many millions end up with nothing to show for it.  It’s sad – he’s a good guy, is married with four children and has been involved with working to help critically ill children.  I just don’t get how something like that happens.

We’ll end on this note.  Say a prayer for New York Giants rookie Chad Jones, who was involved in a horrific car accident that had him in “guarded condition” after he underwent surgery to save one of his legs.   The good news is according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the surgery was successful and he has a “lengthy rehab” ahead of him.

 ”I don’t see that based on the type of athlete that Chad is that anything would prevent Chad from walking. And from running,” his agent, Rocky Arceneaux told the newspaper.

Considering the horrific images that can be seen in this video, it appears that Jones narrowly escaped what could have been a much worse fate.  Hopefully his recovery goes well and he becomes a great story in 2011.

That’s it for this morning.  Hope everyone has a good day and we’ll have more for you tomorrow.