My Drew Bledsoe Appreciation

April 12, 2007

The news that Drew Bledsoe is retiring from the NFL has put me into nostalgia mode. I was a 12-year-old Patriots fan back when Drew was drafted #1 overall in 1993, and I saw him bring the Patriots back to respectability in the years that followed, culminating in the Super Bowl appearance in early 1997 against Green Bay (I was a sophomore in high school by then). Sure, Drew was a statue standing in the pocket, he was easy to ridicule, and he was the source of plenty of aggravation to me over the years, but I will always remember that he gave his all and was a class act. Despite his limitations, Drew had a gun of an arm and was a big part of the Pats’ success in the 1990s, obviously.

What I will remember most about Drew is how gracefully he handled the Patriots’ 2001 championship season, a tough year for him that began with a serious injury in the Jets game in September (a Mo Lewis hit nearly killed Drew in that first game after 9/11) and that saw him lose his starting job to some unknown named Tom Brady. Drew could’ve caused a big scene about it and torn the team apart. He was a good soldier though, even responding to media inquiries with “next question” responses on the very day that Belichick announced that Brady was keeping the starting job over the now-healthy Bledsoe, who was visibly seething. That must have been a devastating time for Drew personally. Here he was, the franchise quarterback with the $100-million dollar contract, and his life had changed dramatically and suddenly. Still, he didn’t poison the locker room as the team came together for the playoff run.

Bledsoe with 2001 AFC trophy

The script couldn’t have been written any better for the AFC Championship Game that year in Pittsburgh. With Tom Brady knocked out of the contest with an ankle injury, Drew Bledsoe sprinted off the bench to throw a rousing TD to David Patten and give the Pats a 14-3 lead in the second quarter. It was a beautiful scene with Bledsoe, who had dutifully accepted his role, able to contribute one last time. The next week, Drew told Brady to “just sling it” before the game-winning drive in the Super Bowl against the Rams. Brady did that, leading the team to its first-ever NFL championship and one of the biggest upsets in the history of the big game.

Bledsoe was happy and reflective after the Super Bowl. He must have known he was moving on, and on draft day in April 2002, the team traded him to Buffalo for a second-round pick. It was sad to see Bledsoe the last few years bouncing around the league, getting replaced in the starting role by two other young hot shots. He always remained classy, even with the dented pride of a one-time franchise QB reduced to a backup role.

Cheers to Drew Bledsoe for giving as much as I could expect from a pro athlete.

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A Farewell to Trav

March 21, 2007

Bob Travaglini has resigned as president of the Massachusetts State Senate, and he is being replaced by Senator Therese Murray, the first female leader of either chamber of the state legislature.

Murray banner

While some might choose to put more emphasis in Murray’s more liberal politics, especially the implications for future gay marriage challenges, Howie Carr keeps in mind what’s truly important: mocking Trav on his way out and Murray on her way up.

Trav was putting out the word yesterday he is thinking of going into the influence-peddling business with Tom Kiley, the lawyer for such ethical titans as Billy Bulger and Paul Kujawski. Mark me down as skeptical. I mean, if you told me Kiley was thinking about opening a safehouse, I’d say, that sounds about right. But a lobbying firm – no way. 

Opening your own business sounds a lot like work, something Trav has managed to avoid almost totally for 55 years now. 

So the king is dead, long live the queen, Sen. Therese Murray of Plymouth. She’s quite charming, a graduate of the Bulger Finishing School. Wanna another stick-a gum, sailor? I’m not saying she’s rough around the edges, but how many people have to go on record in their local newspaper as denying they were ever on welfare?

What’s she like? Imagine if Leona Helmsley were from Dorchester. 

Howie Carr, on the other hand, is a perfect gentleman.


Is Southie’s St. Patrick’s Breakfast an Anachronism?

March 19, 2007

Adrian Walker makes the argument in the Boston Globe:

Two of the oddest and least funny monologues were performed by Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral and Attorney General Martha Coakley. Their attempts to mine comedy from being women in politics didn’t work, to put it mildly.

Their failures were telling. The breakfast is, by design, a throwback: It harkens to a pre-busing Southie and a pre-diversity Boston, a world run by colorful and crafty Irish pols and their constituents. That is an idealized rewrite of history, but it’s enough to make some eyes misty.

The problem is that this nostalgia can’t be reconciled with real life. It is a fantasy that has little room for black governors or female attorneys general, or outsiders of any kind, really. Coakley, a tough and accomplished woman, adopted the persona of a silly broad to please the crowd. They pretended to think it was funny.

For something that is supposed to be a celebration, the breakfast has become a showcase for tension. No amount of warbling seemed to make the unease go away, and no wonder. The breakfast celebrates a past that most of us don’t long to return to.

I read the whole column and I don’t understand the criticism. If Walker didn’t find the jokes funny, then fine. But why is it unrealistic to expect black and female elected officials to be able to participate in a light-hearted event like this one? They should be just as capable of cracking jokes as the “colorful and crafty Irish pols.”

Walker’s unease at the event may stem from the perception that Irish Americans, especially those from South Boston, are racist and sexist. That’s a perception that’s attacked by another Globe columnist today.

As a side not to all of this, Walker is black and I am Irish American.


Attacking Deval Patrick’s Wife

March 13, 2007

Showing all of the tact that led to Kerry Healey’s thrashing at the polls in November, Massachusetts Republican blogs have had some rather crass things to say about the revelation that Deval Patrick’s wife is suffering from depression after his bumpy start as governor.

The Mass GOP blog insists on referring to Diane Patrick as “Kitty”–a reference to former Bay State first lady Kitty Dukakis, who also suffered from depression–and ask in the post title, “Diane Kitty Patrick suffering from Depression. Or is she?” Meanwhile, the Deval Patrick Watch, apparently a spin off of the right-leaning Hub Politics, chimes in with a post entitled “A Sympathy Ploy?

Keep it up, guys, and you will manage to maintain a miniscule Republican presence in Massachusetts regardless of any dumb things Deval Patrick does while in office.


Deval Patrick’s Depressingly Poor Start

March 12, 2007

I found this amusing:

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is ranked in the top spot of a yet-to-be-published ranking of the nation’s governors.

That list must have been compiled prior to Patrick’s meltdown over the last two months since taking office. All the stuff about his fancy car and office furnishings, while insignificant, demonstrated a troubling inability to avoid the type of stories that make the people who write the Boston Herald’s headlines froth at the mouth. He followed that up with the revelation of an incredibly foolish phone call to Bob Rubin on behalf of Ameriquest last week. How did Patrick manage to get himself elected so handily in November when he has such bad PR judgment? It’s amazing that his poor decision-making didn’t catch up to him during the campaign and that we’re only seeing it now.

Things only got worse for Patrick this weekend with the announcement that his wife is being treated for exhaustion and depression and that he will be working a flexible schedule for a few weeks. I wish Ms. Patrick and the family all the best, of course, but I also am curious about the illness.

First, do you think the Ameriquest story is what pushed Patrick’s wife over the edge, necessitating medical attention? It was a colossal error by the governor, and I admit that I was somewhat taken aback when I first heard about the story–it must have been very hard for his wife to learn about it, I imagine. Perhaps a memoir of the Patrick administration will hold some clues because no one is saying anything about her condition right now.

Second, does the sympathy from his wife’s illness buy Patrick time to recover from his various recent missteps? For example, I doubt the press will go after the governor quite so hard on the Ameriquest story for a little while because of the family troubles. I saw nothing in the Globe about Ameriquest today, and the front page article quoted Senate minority leader Richard Tisei as saying, “I think most legislators and the public at large will definitely give him the benefit of the doubt and the leeway that he needs right now.” That doesn’t sound like Massachusetts Republicans are going to be calling for an investigation any time soon.