CNNSI.com NFL Playoffs 2001 NFL Playoffs 2001


 

X factor

Head coach will not be a distraction for these Patriots

Posted: Tuesday January 29, 2002 10:40 AM

 
Storylines
Flags and Flattery
Direct Snaps
Dumbest Thing ...
The Bottom Line
By B. Duane Cross, CNNSI.com

OK, let's get this out of the way: In two previous Super Bowl appearances, the New England Patriots are 0-fer and have been outscored 81-31.

Now, some perspective.

The 1985 Pats faced the Chicago Bears, arguably the best defense of all time. The 1996 Pats faced the Green Bay Packers, No. 1 in offense and defense that season. The 2001 Pats now face the self-proclaimed "Greatest Show on Turf," the St. Louis Rams.

Blowout? Don't bet on it.

What gives these Patriots an edge over their franchise predecessors? Actually, a few things: solid defense, offense, special teams and the X factor -- head coach Bill Belichick. (OK, Cleveland, we heard that collective groan.)

Offensively, take your pick. Tom Brady or Drew Bledsoe -- both can beat you. Defensively, the Patriots showed their hand on draft day as Belichick opted for Richard Seymour in the first round. As for special teams, Larry Izzo was the team's first free agent signing under Belichick. So Larry Izzo isn't a Hall of Fame name. Just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers how important special teams play is.

In short, these Patriots don't do a lot of things in spectacular fashion. They just do a lot of things very well.

And then there is Belichick himself. After the fiasco that was The Tuna in 1997, the Patriots will not deal with the off-the-field controversy of whether the head coach will return next season. Belichick wants to be in New England, and will fly home with the team win or lose.

Media Day
While Ringling Bros. may be the most well-known, the circus surrounding this day is like none other. Every year, the same questions. Well, except for that one: "So, Doug Williams, how long have you been a black quarterback?"
Bourbon Street
There may be no better place in the world to have a good time. Good eats, ample drinks, but be wary of the street bettors' line: "Betcha I can tell you where you got them shoes in 10 letters or less." Answer: On your feet.
Car troubles
Reps from 31 local limousine services met Monday with a national competitor that holds the NFL contract. Locals maintain the out-of-state limo drivers haven't met New Orleans licensing or drug-testing requirements.
Did You Know
Here's a first: With this Super Bowl, Greater Boston and St. Louis have now met in the title round of all four major sports. For the record, Boston holds a 4-3 edge -- MLB: Cardinals 2-0; NBA: Celtics 3-1; NHL: Bruins 1-0.
Flag -- Gennifer Flowers
Her new nightclub in the French Quarter is a barroom that was once the location of a restaurant staffed entirely by Asian transvestites and, before that, a brothel. ... We can't make this stuff up.
Flattery -- American ingenuity
After the Super Bowl was moved to Feb. 3, New Orleans event planners have transformed swank corporate bashes into more modest Sept. 11 fund-raisers and have asked entertainers to donate their services.
Flag -- Cam craziness
Proving nothing is off limits in the Big Easy, readily available on the Internet is BourboCam, KaraokeCam and BeadCam -- live and with sound! Angled from a balcony, use your imagination on the latter.
Flattery -- Bob Kraft
Inviting the family of late Patriots QB coach Dick Rehbein to serve as honorary captain for the AFC Championship Game was classy. To steal a line from the NFL marketing campaign: That is what it's all about.
Rams offensive lineman Frank Garcia was the Arizona heavyweight wrestling champion during his junior and senior years at Maryvale High School in Phoenix. He also was the school's chess champion.
Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi participated in the 1999 Pro Football Team Arm Wrestling Championships at Las Vegas with then-Packers teammate Jim Kitts. They finished fifth out of 16 teams.
The full name of Rams wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim (pronounced Oz-Za-HERE Ha-KEEM) stands for "the appearance of a high, wise counselor" in Arabic. He even has a Website: www.awesomeaz.com.
Patriots defensive back Lawyer Milloy was drafted three times ... twice -- by major league baseball teams: Cleveland and Detroit. He was a pitching prospect and lettered three seasons at the University of Washington.
"I've always believed that sport is the greatest entertainment that there is. It's the last unscripted drama, and the guy in the white hat doesn't always get to kiss the horse."
-- David Hill, chairman and CEO of FOX Sports
It has been estimated that 14,500 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn are eaten on Super Bowl Sunday.

 
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