We’re at University of Phoenix Stadium

Hey all … we’re here at the University of Phoenix Stadium (in section 403–the auxiliary press area–a pretty good seat, actually), reday to blog our way through today’s Super Bowl XLII. A few pregame thoughts:

•This is an absolutely beautiful stadium with some tremendous sitelines. I’ve been lucky enough to be in a lot of other NFL stadiums, and this place might just take the cake. It’s awesome.
•For those of you interested, they’ve really done a good job taking care of the media. We’re loaded up with all sorts of fun stuff, included a seat cushion, a free program and a free lunch. I’m sitting next to a good friend of my, Russ Charpentier of the Cape Cod Times. On the other side of me is someone from Siam Sports Syndicate from Thailand.
•On the field, there’s a colossal NFL symbol at midfield, as well as two Super Bowl XLII logos at each 25-yard line. On the Patriots sideline, there’s a huge logo–likewise on the Giants side. There are two huge banners on the far side of the field, one with Tom Brady, the other with Michael Strahan.
•We’ll have more to come soon.

Robert Kraft on Tippett’s induction

The Patriots have just released a statement from Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft on Andre Tippett’s selection for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I couldn’t be happier for Andre and his family. He was a dominant defender who wreaked havoc on opposing offenses throughout his Patriots career. I was a huge fan of his during his playing career for his work on the field and have become an even bigger fan of his since his retirement for his work off of it. I think all of New England was rooting for Andre when we left Boston earlier this week, knowing that it could be a very special week for a very special person. Today’s selection for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame validates what New England Patriots fans have known for a long time — that Andre Tippett was quite simply one of the greatest players in NFL history.”

Statement from Patriots on taping story

The Patriots have just issued a statement regarding a story in the Boston Herald that alleged they videotaped the Rams walkthrough the day 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.”

Patriots add Thomas to active roster

The Patriots announced this afternoon that they have signed Santonio Thomas to their active roster. Here’s the full text of the release:

The New England Patriots signed defensive lineman Santonio Thomas to their active roster today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Thomas played in four games for the Patriots earlier this season and has been a member of the team’s practice squad since Oct. 29.

Thomas, 26, is in his first NFL season after spending much of the 2005 and 2006 seasons on the Patriots practice squad. He was signed to the active roster on Sept. 8, 2007 and has played in four games this season while being listed among the day-of-game inactives three times. Thomas made his NFL debut on Sept. 9, 2007 in the Patriots’ season-opening victory over the New York Jets. He has recorded five tackles (3 solo) this season. He was released from the active roster on Oct. 26 and re-signed to the practice squad on Oct. 29.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound defensive lineman was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami on April 30, 2005. He was released following New England’s 2005 training camp and was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 21, 2005. He remained on the practice squad for the remainder of the 2005 regular season and was signed to the active roster on Jan. 6, 2006. He was listed as a day-of-game inactive for both of the Patriots’ playoff games following the 2005 season. In 2006, Thomas was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 3 and remained there for the entire regular season and playoffs.

Quote from Tippett

The Patriots have just issued a press release regarding Andre Tippett’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It includes this quote from the linebacker: “This is by far the proudest moment of my professional football career. I will be joining the greats of the game and I am deeply honored. This recognition does not only belong to me, but also to my family, the Patriots organization, my teammates and especially the fans.”

Tippett fourth Patriot to get to HOF

Andre Tippett became the fourth former Patriot to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, winning induction along with Fred Dean, Darrell Green, Art Monk, Emmitt Thomas and Gary Zimmerman.

In his second consecutive year as a finalist for enshrinement, Tippett joins offensive lineman John Hannah, cornerback Mike Haynes and linebacker Nick Buoniconti as former New England players in Canton. However, Tippett and Hannah are the only two who played their entire career in Foxborough, and the two of them played a sizable role in creating a foundation for the franchise to enjoy the success they’re enjoying today.

While Hannah was one of the best in the history of the game at his position, Tippett was part of a group of linebackers throughout the 1980s who helped change the game, a group that included pass-rushing demons like Lawrence Taylor. But while LT drew the lion’s share of headline, Tippett was a tenacious pass rusher in his own right, finishing his career with 100 sacks, good enough to still rank No. 1 in the history of the franchise.

The five-time Pro Bowler — a member of the NFL’s 1980s all-decade team — was at his best in 1984 and 1985, when he recorded the highest two-season sack total by a linebacker in NFL history, totaling 35.0 sacks during the two seasons. His 18.5 sacks in 1984 are the third most by any linebacker in a single season, while his 16.5 sacks in 1985 are tied for the fifth most by any linebacker in NFL history.

Currently, Tippett works with the team as their executive director of community affairs.

We’ll have quotes from Tippett soon.

Tippett gets Hall call

It has just been announced that former Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett has been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tippett joins a group that includes Fred Dean, Darrell Green, Art Monk, Emmitt Thomas and Gary Zimmerman. More details to follow.

First player arrested during Super Bowl week

The winner is … Giants defensive end Adrian Awasom, who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving by Arizona state police early Friday. Hey, it’s no Eugene Robinson moment, but it’s still newsworthy.

The ESPN guys weight in with their picks

ESPN on-air personalities offered their predictions for Super Bowl XLII. Of the 30 ESPN picks, 25 chose the New England Patriots, while just five selected the New York Giants as the anticipated winner of this year’s Super Bowl game in Arizona. Here’s a rundown of who picked who and why:

PICKING NEW ENGLAND
Raul Allegre, ESPN Deportes NFL analyst and former New York Giants kicker
Patriots 31-21. I just don’t see the Giants defense being able to stop the Patriots offense. Nobody is better at controlling time of possession than the Patriots and their arsenal is just too tough.

Russell Baxter, NFL research coordinator
Patriots 38-19. Thirty eight has been the Patriots’ magic number all year and 19 would be fitting since this would give them an undefeated 19-0 record.

Skip Bayless, First Take and 1st and 10 commentator
Patriots 38-17. Plaxico Burress lost this game for the Giants before it was played by saying the Giants receivers may be better than New England’s and by predicting the Giants would win by scoring 23 points and holding Tom Brady’s offense to a mere 17. Big mistake.

Ray Buchanan, 1st and 10 analyst
Patriots 28-24. Eli being hot will keep this game close, and I don’t think the Patriots defense will be able to slow down the Giants offense.

Colin Cowherd, host of ESPN Radio’s The Herd
Patriots 31-17. It’ll be close early but then the Patriots will do something in the 3rd quarter to pull away — whether it’s creating a turnover or converting on a big third down play. Tom Brady will be named the game MVP.

Jay Crawford, First Take and 1st and 10 co-host
Patriots 38-21. Not going to stop the Patriots offense. The difference in the game is that New England has been there, done that, while the Giants are taking video of everything like it’s a trip to Disney.

Hank Goldberg, Correspondent
Patriots 30-27. They always win by three points. Just look at their last three Super Bowls.

Mike Golic, NFL Live analyst and co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning
Patriots 31-24. Their versatility will be the key. They always find a way to get it done and they will again this time.

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com Page 2 writer and 1st and 10 commentator
Patriots 38-31. Tom Brady goes to quarterback immortal.

Gary Horton, ESPN Scouts Inc. Insider
Patriots 31-20. With two weeks to prepare for Bill Belichick – and with field conditions being perfect – as much as I respect the Giants, they can’t keep up with the Patriots. Tom Brady will find 4-5 match-ups that he will exploit.

Tom Jackson, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst
Patriots 31-21. Hard to imagine the most prolific offense in NFL history coming all this way and not winning. There is also something to be said for the Patriots’ experience, being in this position before and winning three times.

Ron Jaworski, Monday Night Football and NFL Matchup analyst
Patriots 41-21. The key will be the Patriots three down linemen — Seymour, Wilfork and Warren — who will be able to collapse on Eli, forcing him backward which is not his strength.

Keyshawn Johnson, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst
Patriots 35-17. New England has had two weeks to prepare for this game, and the lights might be too bright for Eli.

Erik Kuselias, ESPN Radio host
Patriots 34-20. This game was over when Brady took off the boot and squeezed into a cleat…too much offense.

Steve Levy, SportsCenter anchor
Patriots 34-21. The Giants won their Super Bowl in Green Bay.

Chris Mortensen, NFL Insider
Patriots 41-31. Perfect climate, perfect game, perfect season for Tom Brady.

Sal Paolantonio, Correspondent
Patriots 31-24. Giants defense still won’t have an answer for Tom Brady.

Sean Salisbury, ESPN NFL Live analyst
Patriots 34-17. The weather is not a factor and on a fast track and with all those weapons, I don’t think the Patriots can be beat.

Mark Schlereth, ESPN NFL Live and NFL PrimeTime analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion
Patriots 31-27. The Patriots do the best job in the NFL adjusting. They are chameleon-like in who they are and what they do. They can totally reinvent themselves during the course of a ballgame on the offense and defensive sides of the ball.

Stuart Scott, SportsCenter anchor
Patriots 34-20. The Giants will play them tough for a half, but the Patriots passing game is built for a dry, fast field.

Emmitt Smith, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion
Patriots 35-24. The bye week hurt the Giants by taking away their momentum. Belichick is a genius at breaking down tape and he had a second week to prepare.

Mike Tirico, Monday Night Football play by play commentator
Patriots 32-23. Too much offense, too much experience, too much to deny the perfect ending.

Marcellus Wiley, NFL Live analyst
Patriots 38-23. They have had a perfect season. Why bet against them now?

Trey Wingo, NFL Live and NFL PrimeTime host
Patriots 41-27. No weather problems, perfect fast track. They are going to unleash the full arsenal. I can’t see the Giants stopping the Patriots, If the Giants don’t score 30, they will get blown out.

Steve Young, Monday Night Countdown analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion
Patriots 42-10. Eli Manning is not a Hall of Fame quarterback yet. Brady will get the upper hand.

PICKING NEW YORK
Lomas Brown, 1st and 10 analyst
Giants 27-24. Giants win the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.

Mike Ditka, Sunday NFL Countdown analyst
Giants 31-28. I haven’t picked the Patriots all year, so why should I start now?

Mike Greenberg, co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning and SportsCenter anchor
Giants 24-23. Just a little magic the Giants have working now. Call it a funny feeling.

Merril Hoge, NFL Live and NFL PrimeTime analyst
Giants 31-30. The Giants’ defensive scheme matches well with Brady and the Patriots because they attack the quarterback and challenge the wide receivers.

Shaun King, NFL Live analyst
Giants 34-26. Confidence.

Some stories of note that are worth passing along

Here are a few links to some of the stories I’ve done this week for Metro from here in Arizona: The Patriots have a chance to make history on Sunday — here’s a look at what’s at stake. I also argue that the battle of Super Bowl XLII will be won up front when the New England offensive line battles the New York defensive line. And what’s does the future hold for Tedy Bruschi? And how about Randy Moss?

We’ll have more updates from Phoenix later today.

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