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Thinking Out Loud: Still trying to figure out how Patriots won Super Bowl LI

02.10.17 at 2:19 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering what happened to Tom Brady’s jersey.

— After several days of careful contemplation, I still find myself at a loss for words when it comes to finding a reasonable explanation for the Patriots’ comeback in Super Bowl LI. How about “One for the Ages?”

— Since an overtime game had never happened in 50 previous Super Bowls, since no team had ever come from more than 10 points down in a game like that – I’d say Sunday in Houston qualifies as one for the ages. You?

— Let’s see. I’ve been accused of being a homer for “my Patriots” this week, and also called out for being overly critical, based on my now-four decades’ worth of observations of the team and franchise, and having actually worked for the franchise longer than the Kraft’s have owned it. Hmm. Maybe it’s possible I’ve finally figured out how this is supposed to work?

— New York radio gadfly Chris “Mad Dog” Russo told Kirk & Callahan on WEEI last week that America is sick of the Patriots? Then America is sick. But we knew that already, amiright?

— James White’s performance Sunday was definitely MVP-worthy, and I certainly understand the sentiment for giving him the award. But one question – who threw him the 14 passes he caught in the game? Just sayin’.

— TB12 did give him the truck he won for taking the MVP trophy, ICYMI. So there is that. Not that either guy really needed it, but it’s the thought that counts.

— Thought it was appropriate that the Patriots’ Boston-centric parade ended with a rally at Providence’s Dunkin Donuts Center. Actually, kudos to the Governor for getting Rhody into the celebratory mix. All too often, some Massholes forget Roe Dyelanders love and support New England’s teams, too.

— I got the feeling, after reading and hearing about the local “celebrations” around campus at PC and URI, that both were cases of “monkeys see, monkeys do.” Everyone else acts a fool after winning championships, so why can’t we?

— I’m no expert in pop culture or music, but I thought Lady Gaga pretty much killed it at halftime. She is a bonafide entertainer, pure and simple, whether you like her music or not. She is this generations’ Madonna, for lack of a better equivalent.

— Guess the haters might be hating for a while longer. The Patriots have plenty of room under the salary cap to re-design or re-tool, if they need to do so. Sure, there are tough roster decisions to make. But New England has more than enough cap space to stay at the top – more than their fellow AFC East brethren have, combined.

— No wonder the Patriots are the early favorites to land in Super Bowl LII same time, next year. Start saving up for another trip.

— Sad to say I learned this week that Patriots Nation lost a friend. Steve in Killeen, aka Steven Robertson of Killeen, Texas, was a regular poster and caller/contributor to Patriots.com programming, but several of his acquaintances wondered why he had been quiet for the past two months.

— Steve passed away in early November after a battle with cancer, and leaves behind two boys. His mother established a GoFundme page to help with expenses – www.gofundme.com/mc-steve-robertson-funeral-expenses

— Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan didn’t take long to cash in on the Falcons’ success, taking over the head coaching job in San Francisco on Monday. After having Matt Ryan drop back to pass on 3rd and one in the 4th quarter, when a run and subsequent field goal kick would have handed them the trophy, good luck with that thought process Niners.

— TB12 was vilified for not going to the White House a couple of years ago, and now guys like Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty and LeGarrette Blount are praised for potentially taking a similar stand? What about Tim Thomas a few years ago? C’mon now. Is this what is known as talking out of both sides of the mouth? Walking down both sides of the aisle?

— A little respect. Find out what it means to me. A. Little. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Sing it, just like Aretha. You know you want to.

— Here’s how we fix this problem – no more politics in sports. No more White House visits, no more grandstanding by politicians simply wanting to look favorable to a voting public by hosting teams and champions on the lawn.

— It would probably also help if the POTUS was a bit less polarizing, but hey, we voted him in. You can change your minds in four years, if you wish. That’s the way the system works.

— So let me get this straight. The Bruins, in their infinite wisdom, decide to fire Claude Julien – the winningest coach in franchise history – on the Patriots’ Parade Day? Is this arrogance, ignorance or sheer stupidity?

— I actually feel a bit sorry for former Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who now steps into the breach of this moronic behavior. But I don’t blame him. If you get the shot, you take it, especially if it’s your second go-round (he formerly coached the Washington Caps). He has also coached several of the younger players on the roster, so familiarity – if you’re going with this youth movement – could conceivably help this team going forward.

— But the press conference to announce the move came at precisely the same time as the Patriots’ rally began. An all-time thoughtless, even classless move. Which says something considering long-time Bruins’ front office attitudes.

— They couldn’t have waited one day? It’s their right to hire and fire whomever they please, of course. Philosophical differences? Perhaps. But what does it say when the winningest coach in the team’s history doesn’t have a currently competitive roster?

— Here’s the real problem with the move, and the timing of it – they either tried to sweep the decision under the rug where few would notice, or didn’t give a damn about another pro franchise in town celebrating success. Which was it? And which was dumber?

— What happened to the Boston/New England teams pulling together? Pulling for each other? And what happened to accountability? Don Sweeney was at the press conference, but no Cam Neely. Neely’s long-standing goodwill from his playing days is dissipating. Safe to say 2011 might as well be a hundred years ago.

— All together now – “stupid is as stupid does.”

— Oh, but I saw a number in the Globe this week that three of the past 10 Stanley Cup champs actually had mid-year coaching changes. So you’re telling me, there’s a chance? About as much of a chance as a Berkley, Massachusetts snowball has of survival in Renmark, Australia – where my friend Shannon lives. It was 114 degrees there this week, give or take.

— Stealing a great line from my friend Scott MacKay at Rhode Island NPR, who posted this week – “snow days were better when I was a kid.” Amen. Although where I was a kid, in Texas, we didn’t have snow days there like we have here, either.

— Didn’t Bill Belichick lead a cheer at the parade this week? “No Days Off! No Days Off!” Well? Sorry, but I’m trying to follow the man’s directive. YOU tell him you didn’t work or go to school.

— With six games remaining in the Big East regular season, it’s evident the Friars have a major flaw that they may not have enough time to correct this year. This team has great difficulty finishing games. Play calling and the execution of those plays are fine. Finishing, or not being able to finish plays at the end, shows immaturity. This PC team still has a lot of growing to do.

— In games decided by five points or less – or in overtime – Providence was 10-2 last year with seasoned players that reached the NCAA tournament. This year, in a similar situation, the Friars are only 3-4, with six games remaining. The ability to close, or lack thereof, is evident.

— At Seton Hall Wednesday, the Friars had enough talent to win the game, but missed an extraordinary 11 layups along the way to a 72-70 overtime loss. 11 layups? Haven’t seen 11 layups missed in a single game since I played on a really bad McLean Junior High School team in Fort Worth, Texas in 7th grade. In 1971.

— Don’t know if you heard or not, but travel has been troublesome for at least two Big East teams this year. Butler had charter flight problems earlier this season and the team was forced to make an emergency landing when their cabin lost pressure. Georgetown travelled by bus this week to Villanova, and the bus crashed with an SUV, causing the car to rollover on the highway.

— The Washington Post reported at least one Hoya player, guard Tre Campbell, couldn’t play against the Wildcats because of injuries sustained in the crash. No one was hurt seriously, however, and several Hoya players managed to rescue a passenger in the SUV hit by the bus. Who said sports can’t build character?

— The story this week of the Saint Louis basketball team being left behind by their bus driver at St. Bonaventure Wednesday night takes the gold medal, however. After losing to the Bonnies, the Billikens’ driver was nowhere to be found after the game, stranding the team in Olean, NY. As it turns out, the female driver was 40 miles away, getting hammered, where she was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated. Perhaps it’s just as well no Billiken got on that bus?

— It will be cool to be a fly on the wall at the Omni in Providence Saturday night, as the Friars Forever Tradition continues. Basketball greats Otis Thorpe, the late Bruce “Soup” Campbell and ESPN’s Doris Burke will be honored, along with hockey big-timers Lou Lamoriello, Ron Wilson and Cammi Granato.

— Not for nuthin’, but it’s a little hard to believe a school with less than 4000 undergrads produced that kind of talent, isn’t it? In Lamoriello’s case, he coached it and administrated over it, too. Qualifies as a WHOA in my book.

— Speaking of PC Hockey – the Friars continue on a roll. 11th ranked Providence won its season-high 8th straight game this week, winning at UConn 4-1. Beating the Huskies also gives the Friars a 7-0-1 record in their last eight games on the road – and winning on the road is the ultimate sign of a good team.

— With an overall younger team than the past couple of seasons – and the Friars are only two years removed from winning the national championship – this PC team knows how to keep leads when they get one, unlike their basketball brethren. Providence is 10-1-2 this season when they have a lead after the first period.

— And what in the Wide, Wide World of Jim Calhoun is going on here? The hockey Friars have outscored the hockey Huskies 21-4 over the past four games – all wins – between the two teams, with another meeting Friday night at Schneider Arena.

— If URI is to make something of its high expectations this season, Friday night’s showdown with Atlantic-10 top dog Dayton would be a good place to start.

— A Top 20 win over Cincinnati early in the season is still helpful, but if you can’t win at home against your conference kin, that November big moment is all but rendered moot come March.

— The Rams did earn their first season sweep over UMass since 2003 with a win over the Minutemen last Tuesday. Four straight wins overall has URI just one game out of first place behind VCU and Dayton, and tied with Richmond for third with six games left after this weekend.

— Perhaps the Rams have learned how to play without point guard Jarvis Garrett? Freshman Jeff Dowtin has picked up quite a bit of the slack, winning a couple of A-10 Rookie of the Week honors, and forward Kuran Iverson has been a near double-double machine in conference play. Garrett has missed seven straight games with an illness.

— As I sat at home and listened to thunder snow this week, how many days again until the Red Sox open spring training? Pitchers and catchers report Monday the 13th – with the first workout on Valentines’ Day. Now, THAT’S sweet news.

— Still don’t think Boston has enough bop in the bats as spring training gets started. Can any of those pitchers hit?

— I actually saw Pablo Sandoval and the word “svelte” mentioned in the same sentence this week. Ok, so he’s lost weight. Good for him. I’d be concerned with his ability to hit the ball melting away with all that fat, however. Call me skeptical, I guess.

— Speaking of eating, my buddy Bernie sez his 4-year-old nephew Johnnie was at the big folks’ table last week, and immediately began eating as he was served. Bernie told Johnnie that it wasn’t polite to dig in until after the prayer had been said. Little Johnnie said he didn’t have to. “Uncle Bernie, that’s only at our house. This is Grandma’s house, and she knows how to cook.”

— Having a hard time looking at the NBA standings. The Celtics in first place? Sorry. I don’t see any “D” in the word “championship.”

— So, Tom Brady’s stolen jersey? Did the culprit actually think he or she could sell it? Or is this simply going up on a wall somewhere? The Houston police and the vaunted Texas Rangers remain on the case, and no, that’s not the baseball team. Although the baseball team, with a little time on its hands, did use Twitter this week to say “we’re on it.” Clever.

— TB12’s jersey has been estimated by some collectors to be worth upwards of $1 million. Really? In that case, someone better call Cordell Walker – aka Chuck Norris – and put him on the case. You remember – Walker, Texas Ranger?

— Mathew from Boston (@Marbies3762) tweeted this week: “Where do you sit when you’re at the Pats games? I’ve been going for years and I can never figure out where you are.” Mathew: That’s because I’ve actually been faking it all these years. I don’t go to the games, at all. Instead, I sit at home in a plush studio, with a big screen TV and surround sound, plenty of food, drink and warmth at hand, and pipe the calls in through the use of a special system that allows me call the games from long distance. Or, I’m at the 40-yard line behind the visitors’ bench at Gillette Stadium. Whichever you prefer to believe is ok with me.

— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to john.rooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke …

— Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.