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February 25, 2015 · 12:23 am

A Patriot on Parades

Must be nice

Must be nice

28 years old.  0 Parades.

I’m jealous of sign kid.

It dawned on me, after telling everyone in Ontario who would listen to me about this unique tradition that has been born in Boston, that I’ve never actually been to a parade.

I’ve only been in the greater Boston area for two of the nine; so it has largely been a matter of circumstance. But I’ve never actually experienced the sweaty, salty, sweet, cold taste of victory.


How did I blow it those other two times?  Well for Patriots I, I wasn’t allowed to miss school.  For Patriots II, I got there a little late.  I saw the aftermath.  Not a good feeling.

But since those first two, I’ve been gone.  Boulder for the next three – Sox Parades I and II, and Pats Parade III – though during that stretch I was lucky enough to see the Sox win it at Coors Field in 2007 and hadn’t yet fully grasped what I was missing at home.

Four to go.  Man there have been a lot of parades.

VI.. Hmmm.. Celtics? OK I was in the Commonwealth.  But working and living on the Cape. Had an awesome time watching the win at the Woodshed in Brewster.  Didn’t feel bad about missing that one.

VII.. Bruins.  What a Cup. Was in the Tampa Bay area. Saw two great games in person that run, both losses in Tampa, however. Didn’t need a parade though, got a champagne shower. Good enough.

VIII.. Sox III. In Australia.  Got to see the Ortiz ALCS grand slam in person.  An unforgettable night.

But ya. No Boston Strong Parade for me.  That one hurt.

Incidentally, I experienced the 2013 Marathon from Montgomery, Alabama. Talk about a tough 72 hours to be away from the greatest city on the planet.

So ya, missed all that.

And then Pats IV.  I missed this parade too.  And man did this one look awesome.

Gronk humping everything that moves.  Drinking and spiking everything that’s handed to him.  Edelman stripping. Ending up with the wrong tinder girls. Taking other girls right from the parade back to his hotel.  Giving others champagne.

Just complete public debauchery with impunity.

Gronk was wearing a 69 jersey for Christ’s sake.

These guys have transcended humanity.  They are literally above the law.  And the whole city shuts down and plows for them.  So cool.

Anyway, I got to experience this one – the win and the parade – from Canada.  And now I’ve got Parade FOMO.

So circumstance be damned.  I will be at Parade X.

Let’s just hope the Karma gods can forgive us for this last one.  Especially the Lynch and Sherman posters.  Didn’t need that.  Things definitely got a little out of hand.

But what’s done is done.  Boston is officially still the most decorated and spoiled sports city in the entire world.  The Patriots just wanted to make sure everyone in the galaxy knew what they were missing.  Boston wins harder than anyone else on the planet.  It looks like a blast.

The Patriots just threw the parade to end all parades.

Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be just that.

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An Apology



It was the fall of 1999. I was in 8th grade, playing my first season of football at Brown Middle School, and the day came to select our uniform numbers. I went in wanting 3, my dad’s number throughout his football career. Our other, returning quarterback, however, already wore the number three.

It was ok though, I had a pretty good backup plan. I asked for 10. I wanted to wear the number of my favorite quarterback, Tom Brady, captain of my favorite college football team, the Michigan Wolverines.

Jump ahead about 15 and a half years. Tom Brady has won three Super Bowls for my favorite pro football team, the New England Patriots. He has set records that may never be broken. He is, simply, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He has provided me with more thrills, more wins and more pure sports induced bliss than any single athlete in my lifetime.

And I go and call him a liar.

At a moment when my quarterback needed my support more than ever, I turned my back on him, questioned his integrity, and called into question the legitimacy of everything he and his Patriots teammates have accomplished over the past decade and a half.


Why did I do it?

Because I profess to be a “sports journalist”, and that’s what sports journalists were doing in the wake of one of his greatest wins, the 45-7 steamrolling of the Colts. With all the noise, I assumed, there had to be something foul afoot. And I had to join the conversation.

I temporarily forgot all the things I hate about sports journalism, and the media in general, in my effort to be one of “them”.

Shame on me.

I let my friends down, I let my team down and I let my New England sports family down.

However, with what I’ve learned in the week since I published that pitiful, wretched piece, two things have become clearer to me than ever.

One, my love for the Patriots is at an all time high.

Two, I would rather fail as a journalist than ever work for ESPN – the biggest bullshit factory on the planet. I simply hate what they stand for, and how they go about their business.

You have no idea how hard it is, as an aspiring sports media personality, to reconcile this hatred with a genuine love for getting behind a microphone, or on camera, and talking about sports.

I love what I do, but I hate the monster the industry has become.

What happened to reporting on actual sports?   What happened to X’s and O’s?

Today is the 11th day that we’ve had to talk about the perfect football game. The two best teams on the biggest stage. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Darelle Revis. Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman. Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll.

Match-ups on both sides of the ball that deserve a week’s worth of chatter. Will the Seahawks be able to keep the Patriots running game in check? Will the Patriots have an answer for Beastmode? Will Russell Wilson improve to 11-0 in the playoffs against the “best” QB’s of our time? How has he been so successful in his first 10 attempts? Show me highlights, show me stats, show me something other than Bill Belichick talking about finger puppets and Julian Edelman taking selfies! For the love of god, talk sports, not nonsense!

It’s all too bizarre.

I can’t take it anymore.

The past twelve days have been the greatest failure in the history of sports journalism. And if the public doesn’t take a stand, then I’m afraid that there’s really no hope that it will ever change.

Consider this, the message the media has sent to young people this week. If you are the best, you probably cheated. If you win, then you must be dishonest. And if you didn’t win, then the best use of your time is to do whatever you can to discredit those that have.

We live in a world full of people looking to make excuses, myself included, and it’s dragging us down.

The Patriots, meanwhile, have provided a lesson that everyone, especially young people, need to hear. They have provided a model for success that should be celebrated, preached and glorified. The Patriot Way is nothing to be ashamed of, and it is agonizingly simple.

If you work harder than everyone else, if you are better prepared, and if you make no excuses, then you can achieve greatness on a level that simply cannot be matched.

Why aren’t we talking about that?

Talk about a missed opportunity for the sports world to do some actual good.

While we should have spent Super Bowl week celebrating a simple mantra for success, we’ve been trying to make excuses for greatness.

But make no mistake, the story of the 2014 Patriots – and really the entire dynasty – is clear.   Greatness is attainable to everyone. All you have to do is throw away your excuses, be accountable for your actions, support your teammates, tune out all the noise, show up on time, and, simply, do your job.

I’m sorry that I lost sight of that for even a day. And I apologize, on behalf of the entire industry, if you have as well.

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A Soft, Sinking Feeling

super bowl vidLast Sunday night was to be my last night in New England for a while. What better way to spend it than by watching my favorite team do what it does best. Win.

It all went perfectly according to plan.

The Patriots didn’t just win, they won big. They turned in a playoff performance for the ages.

Unable to sleep and wanting more, I turned to the ‘Deep Throat’ of Patriots porn, the 2001 Super Bowl video. Yes a video, as in VHS. It’s easy to forget that the legend of Belichick and Brady was born all the way back before DVDs ruled the world.  But it was. That’s how long they’ve been this good.

As I melted into the couch, the familiar story played out as beautifully as it always does. Pats are supposed to be a last place team. Franchise QB goes down and they start 0-2. Scrawny kid from Michigan and the bottom of the depth chart steps in and things start changing. Big wins over the Colts and Chargers. Big wins over the Bills and Saints.

An offense led by the powerful running of Antowain Smith. The big plays of Troy Brown and David Patten. And Brady introducing the world to Brady.

I’m in heaven reliving this regular season, and then it’s time for the Snow Bowl.

A magical night that changed the football world forever. Storybook stuff. A wildest dream come true.

Follow that up with the win in Pittsburgh, and you can’t help but think that this is the greatest single season in the history of Patriots football (sorry 2007, but, ya know…). Bledsoe comes back to save the day, Troy Brown returns a punt. Big play after big play. It was an incredible win, and as I watch it unfold, 13 years later, I’m shaking with the anticipation of the big game in New Orleans.

Keep in mind I’ve seen this video dozens of times. It’s that good. The story is that amazing.

The bulbs flash, Vinatieri kicks it off, and suddenly, something unexpected happened within me.   I encountered a hitch in my joy.

The Patriots came to play, and it shows. They are beating the Rams up, chipping receivers at the line of scrimmage, blitzing at all the right times, and the looks on the faces of the Rams players tell a story of frustration and disbelief.   Their eyes seem to show a helpless feeling. It’s almost as if the Patriots knew what was coming.

And that’s when it hit me.

The Patriots might have known exactly what was coming.

Some have said and many still believe that they videotaped the Rams in the Superdome in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. I refuse to believe this actually happened, but, I will concede that at the very least somebody might have seen the walkthrough and talked about it.   They sure as hell looked like a team that was playing with an unfair advantage.

Not sure why, eight years after Spygate, it finally sunk in, but it did. Maybe there was something to all these allegations after all. Maybe BB was fined a half a million dollars for a reason.

And as I watched the befuddled Rams retreat to the locker room, my Patriots up 14-3 at the half, for the first time ever I felt bad for Kurt Warner and company.

I watched the Rams come back in the second half – almost all the way back – and I couldn’t help but wonder how the game would have turned out if Matt Walsh hadn’t been on the Patriots staff in 2001. I hated myself for thinking these thoughts, but I thought them all the same.

However, in the end, the Masshole in me prevailed and I relished the victory as always. I got choked up when Vinatieri made the kick. I grinned like an idiot when Mr. Kraft reminded me that we are all Patriots. And I went to bed on that oh so familiar Sunday night cloud of superiority that Patriots fans know better than anyone else.

I was ready to once again bury the truth of the trickery and deceit like I have for the past eight years. Ready to win the Super Bowl yet again. Because hey, if we win a fourth fair and square who cares if we cheated a little for the first one, right?


The next morning I was filling a glass of water, my car packed, about to say my goodbyes to New England for a few months.

“Have you heard some Indy media guys are accusing the Patriots of deflating their balls last night?” my dad asked. I hadn’t heard that, but I didn’t really think much of it. Those poor poor loser Colts, I thought. They must be looking for anything they can to justify that spanking.

Then I listened to Brady laughing off the allegations. That was all I needed to hear.

On to Seattle. Let the haters say whatever they want. This is will be the one that silences them all.

But it didn’t go away.

Deflategate became a word. And now it seems that that’s because it happened. Somehow, some way, the Patriots manipulated their footballs.

Brady must have known, as he sat there laughing, that the allegations that were 100% true.

The Patriots, it seems, found another way to push the limits of fair play. And they got busted. Again.

So now whenever I watch the 2001 Super Bowl video, I will feel just a little bit sorry for the Rams.

When I celebrate the fourth Super Bowl title 10 days from now, it won’t be perfect.

From now on, for the rest of my life, whenever I’m forced to defend the honor of my franchise, my coach and my quarterback – I will, but without the certainty that what I’m saying is just and true.

It will always be just a little bit off.

No one will ever be able to deny that this dynasty, in terms of wins and losses, is the greatest of all time. In any sport. But, at the same time, no one will ever be able to successfully argue that it was built on a foundation of integrity.

That, my friends, is a horrible, sobering thought. And one that we, as Patriots fans, all better come to grips with pretty soon.

We can rationalize and deny it all we want, but the facts are the facts.

As the greatest coach in NFL history has reminded us time and time again, sadly, it is what it is.

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Nipissing Lakers Season Opener

We’re doin’ it live tonight thanks to mixlr!  Here’s the link – http://mixlr.com/nipissing-lakers-hockey

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First Ever CDR – Twenty Boat Spiced Rum

So I’m finally giving this a shot.. Below is the pilot episode of a daily review show I’ve had had brewing in my mind for a while… The show is called Craig’s Daily Review.  In theory, every day I will review something.. Could be a book, a movie, an episode of a tv show, a meal, a bird noise, literally anything.. And hopefully it entertain/inform for a minute or two..  I promise that if/when more are made, they will all be shorter than this first one.



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A First Encounter with Hockey in Oz

Henke Rink. Up and down the ice they go.

On summer’s doorstep in Melbourne, Australia the Melbourne Ice Women’s professional hockey team practice – and you feel as if you’re anywhere but Australia.

Stick saves, hard shots, fast skating – the defending McKowen Cup champions are coming off an opening weekend sweep of the Brisbane Goannas.  After a punishing 8-1 win in the season opener, the Ice needed to rally late in game two for a narrow 4-3 victory.


Dotting the rinkside seats on this Tuesday night are various Melbourne hockey heads.  Some players themselves, others fans, others god only knows.   What they all have in common however is a pure and basic love for hockey that one does not expect to find in a country known for reefs, kangaroos and a unique brand of football with it’s own set of rules.

Yet here they are.  After work they gather together. Men and women who share an unmistakable accent, and a desire for a harder wrist shot.

The passion these souls have for the game is nothing short of remarkable.  They watch Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins games online via NHL Gamecenter. They spend thousands of dollars to play in recreational leagues so popular that the governing bodies have been forced to implement limits on their participation.  Men can only play in the summer OR winter season because there simply aren’t enough teams to allow them to play both.

Women on the other hand, are allowed to play in both seasons if they so desire in an effort to grow the game among the fairer sex.  But of course these girls are hockey girls, and there is nothing fairer about them.  They’d sit out one of the two seasons rather than see a more skilled male be denied a roster spot.

There may not be an indigenous hockey culture here yet. But goddamn these guys get it.

What a welcome surprise for a Bostonian who’s walkabout into the hockey culture of Oz came with doubts and a genuine lack of expectations – good or bad.

It’s the other side of the planet, but it’s the same game.  The same zamboni, the same rubber disk and the same blend of balance, skill, strength and attitude that you’d find in Detroit, Vancouver or Colorado.

What’s different is the pioneering nature of the skaters down here.  A self-described “addiction” drives these men and women to pour all of their free time and money into frozen water.   In a country that’s largely impervious to the language of hockey, these guys speak it fluently.

Nothing says hockey like a girl who’s forgotten her sports bra and laughs as she wears her expensive French lingerie to practice instead.  It just doesn’t get any more hockey than that.

And while the skating isn’t perfect and the shots don’t get lifted too far off the ice, the game is here.  It’s a crawling infant that drinks beer and eats steak.  And before long, it’ll be strutting around shitting on the floor and telling you to pick it up.

It’s hockey in Australia – in the summer.  And it’s bloody awesome to find.

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