September 28, 2016

Dan Pires, Valued Member of the Working Press, at 52

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

I didn’t know Dan Pires.

So it must be a measure of the man he was that I find myself oddly heartbroken here tonight, as I read through the tributes generously offered by many of his colleagues and friends in the wake of his sudden passing earlier today.

The New Bedford Standard Times first broke the sad news to its readers, and offered a guest book where those who were touched by his friendship could share their thoughts. Tom Curran, Bert Breer, Chris Gasper, Dave Heuschkel, Chris Price, Doug Flynn, Alan Segal, Michael Parente, Paul Perillo and Mark Farinella are just some of those from the Pats beat past and present who pay their respects.

Even still, they are vastly outnumbered by the mournful chorus of less familar names who – tellingly – seemed to know Dan as a dear friend and neighbor first, and a reporter second.

My friend Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch followed with a brief post on the news, and I challenge you to read through Shalise Manza Young’s thoughtful reflections in the comments section (as well as those of Ian Clark) without finding a lump in your throat.

Speaking of BSMW, I can’t help but think of Jon Couture, Dan’s colleague at the paper, who I’ve had the pleasure of (virtually) chatting with from time to time. Jon’s a thoroughly decent and heartfelt guy, and I know this dispiriting news has struck him hard today.

Elsewhere on the Internet, Ian Logue of PatsFans.com also spread the word to members of his message board, as did the gang at PatriotsPlanet.com. It may say something about Dan that he often passed the time on fan forums, sharing his insight and enthusiasm for the team we all love. In an era when many of his colleagues seem to view the Internet with fear and loathing, Pires evidently embraced it, and tonight, many message boarders have dropped the usual cynicism and abject irreverence (and I mean that in the best possible way) to simply reflect on the loss of a man they came to consider as a friend.

It’s my hope that his wife and two children take some comfort in what appears to be a fundamental truth of his life; that their beloved husband and father was loved and respected and valued by so many.

A Job Well Done

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

I’m not going to claim to be a real basketball fan, so I’ll try to temper the yahoo-ism a bit here, as being ‘that guy’ seems awfully unbecoming.

But God almighty were the Celtics great in their run to the team’s 17th world championship.

Let’s just say that as a result of some unsavory stuff awhile back, involving the team and the sport that we happen to most closely follow, the wife and I are trying to reconnect with what is to be a ‘sports fan’ – namely, watching games and enjoying them, cynics and critics and clowns be damned. Yelling for a great play, or a shrewd coaching move, and ignoring the shit-stirring bystander dying to be noticed. We want to dwell inside the white lines, not the story lines.

So with it being playoff basketball and everything, we found ourselves watching as each series progressed, and while the intricacies of the game were lost on us, we certainly recognized familiar sights; like the menacing defense that chokes the air from even the most formidable scorers. The clutch offense that sometimes puts its biggest points on the board only through the sheer force of the individual and collective will of its players. The coaching staff with the hearts and minds of their team on a string.

Anyway, it was all terrific and I can’t help but reflect on the core group of fans that never left the team, even when good fortune did. I’ve come across a few in my Internet travels, and I’m thinking of all the times they noodled the ever-loving hell out of a meager Celtics roster that couldn’t win half its games. Today they have the champ – and a repeat – to discuss. That’s sports justice.

What’s even greater is that for a long time, more than twenty years, the once proud Celtics have largely played third fiddle to the more recently accomplished, and trendy, Red Sox and Pats. People almost forgot that it was the Celtics who first treated Boston to the unique thrill of repeated ultimate victory, and for that reason alone I’m glad they’re the toast of the town again today.

By that same token, of the six NFL, MLB and NBA championships won by local teams this decade, only one has been secured in Boston, and it was done by the Celtics this past Tuesday night. There’s something fitting about that too.

Best of all, the whole thing was about the games on the court. Yeah, I know David Stern and the officials took over there for a minute, as did the unkempt sensitivities of Kobe Bryant and his fellow Lakers, but for the most part, it was about Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and the seemingly endless parade of role players who each brought fits of brilliance at the most opportune times. It was about a team doing all the big and all the little things, just like it’s supposed to be done, all the while bearing every bit the confidence and determination and execution a champion’s carriage requires.

Honestly, in light of recent events, and despite the abundance of riches bestowed upon us, it’s hard for we gridiron-oriented folks not to be a little bit envious of the Celtics and their fans this week. After all, for one brief shining moment……Camelot. Those moments are indeed rare, despite all recent evidence to the contrary.

Still, for all of us who love sports, and love Boston, and love everything those two things have come to represent in our lives, that envy dissipates quickly, replaced by an admiration and appreciation for a job well done.

All Hail The Champs

Celts banner

June Thoughts on Pats

We’ve officially hit “the dead zone” time of year when it comes to NFL and Patriots news. The spring rookie camp, passing camps and even mandatory mini-camp have all come and gone, and now, all there is to do is wait until the end of next month when training camp officially begins.

This year, the offseason programs seem to have flown a little under the radar, as the Boston Celtics have made their run to the NBA finals. In the past, the mini-camp seemed to be a much bigger event, but this year, the coverage seemed to be a big lighter, especially from the Boston Herald.

It is probably a good thing for both sides that the Herald sent only the capable Karen Guregian to write about camp, and hopefully by the time training camp starts we can just get down to football coverage and not focus too much on all the other stuff. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure.

As for the camps themselves, in reading the coverage such as it was, there seemed to be a few storylines floating out there that were consistent among all the reporters.

The Linebackers

Tedy Bruschi was a focus of camp, and he’s got some new, younger mates to work with on the inside. Both Victor Hobson and rookie Jerod Mayo figure to play quite a bit next to Bruschi on the inside. Both got a lot of attention in camp, and will be scrutinized closely in camp. Junior Seau remains unsigned, but in reading the tea leaves of Bill Belichick’s comments, it sure seems that if he is healthy enough come training camp that Seau might get another call from the team. If he does, hopefully there will be enough depth and talent that his role as well as that of Bruschi can be reduced and they can avoid some of the wear and tear of the long season.

The Secondary

Flocks and flocks of cornerbacks were on display at the practice field, many of them new faces. One old face that wasn’t on the field was Ellis Hobbs, who continues his recovery from a pair of offseason surgeries. It’s not known whether he will be ready for the start of camp. New secondary coach Dom Capers will have plenty of warm bodies to teach, and it will be interesting to see who emerges as the starters on opening day. Free agent safety signee Tank Williams opened some eyes with his work in the camp, with Mike Reiss putting forth the opinion that Williams might have a large role for the Patriots this coming season. Williams even got some work at linebacker in the camp, showing his versatility.

Tom Brady

Other than an appearance on WEEI a few weeks back, we hadn’t really seen or heard too much from the Patriots quarterback since the Super Bowl. He said his ankle was fine, though he still can’t jump – a joke that some fool writer apparently took seriously and put out a story across the wire reporting that Brady was still slowed by the injury. Brady is looking forward to getting some rest in the upcoming weeks, and being fully charged to start the new season next month. He also talked about his happiness at the fact the Randy Moss has a new deal with the Patriots, ensuring that his favorite target remains in place.

It’s a New Season

That was a theme echoed by several in the course of camp, with the obvious effort to put the disappointment of the Super Bowl behind them and start afresh. It’s something they’re going to have to do as the comparisons are going to start right away, and will probably increase if the team gets off to a fast start once again. The principle figures on the team, from Bill Belichick to Brady to Matt Light to Richard Seymour all talked about the importance of leaving last season in past.

Nick Kaczur

The Patriots’ offensive lineman didn’t speak to the media, but his presence on the field was noticed and carefully scrutinized following the news that he had been involved in a drug bust and then a sting operation this spring. He will continue to be watched closely.

We’re gearing up for the new season as well, and once training camp starts, we hope to break in some new faces here at Patriots Daily and provide some new columns and features as we continue our efforts to provide you a daily destination for information and analysis of your New England Patriots.

Oxy-Dirty

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

The Boston Globe is reporting in its Wednesday editions that Patriots starting right offensive tackle Nick Kaczur has turned federal informant in a drug sting after being arrested with the prescription painkiller Oxycontin in late April.

Globe reporters John R. Ellement and Shelley Murphy have the sorry details.

Kaczur, in the best season of his three year career, started 15 games for the AFC champs last fall. According to the Globe, he has since told investigators that he began purchasing the pills in November, as the Patriots moved towards the playoffs and their now infamous Super Bowl loss.

Earlier this week, the Patriots signed right tackle Oliver Ross, veteran of 53 NFL starts, to a free agent deal. It would be hard to believe that signing is unrelated to this morning’s news.  

Kaczur is the third Patriots player to run afoul of the law for drug possession since the New York Giants upset the undefeated Pats in early February. Safety Willie Andrews and veteran runner Kevin Faulk were detained for marijuana possession before the end of that month, though Faulk denied the pot was his and later passed a drug test that helped him avoid the NFL’s substance abuse program. Lest we forget, the season began with the suspension of veteran Rodney Harrison after he was collared for purchasing performance enhancing drugs by mail.

Ignoring an ESPN-fueled, made-for-television cluster-controversy may well be adviseable, even necessary, for Patriots fans, but denying or diminishing these events are not. Surely these players are human beings as well, subject to the same foibles as us all. Surely each one must be viewed as an individual first, accountable for their own actions.

But for the third time in four months, the New England Patriots have had a player arrested for drugs.

We can’t ignore that.