The Sports pages

The Curse of Drew Bledsoe

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made news at this weekend’s NFL draft by not doing something awful. “A shocking trend continues,” the Dallas Morning News’ Tim Cowlishaw writes. “Another logical, sound football decision has been made at Valley Ranch, which means one of two things: Either Jerry Jones has become ‘a football guy’ or the rest of us are all just starting to think like Jerry.”

The Oakland Raiders pulled off a strange feat: Their draft drew high marks from ESPN pundits Mel Kiper and Len Pasquarelli, but flopped with the writers back home. The Oakland Tribune’s Bill Soliday writes, “Wasn’t this draft supposed to provide instant gratification?” The San Francisco Chronicle’s David Bush says, “The Raiders were supposed to be in search of defensive tackles and drafted not a one.”

The Denver Broncos’ draft haul—which, inexplicably, included a running back—sparked no such debate. “Nothing the Broncos did on draft day is likely to make a difference soon or ever,” the Rocky Mountain News’ Bernie Lincicome writes. “With a recent draft history like scar tissue, it was wise to apply the primary rule of the medical profession—first, do no harm.”

Is Drew Bledsoe the next Babe Ruth? During the draft, the New England Patriots dealt Drew Bledsoe to division rival Buffalo. The Pats think the bludgeoning Bledsoe took in New England—100 sacks in his last two years as a starter—eroded his skills and that second-year man Tom Brady is the logical starter. But the Boston Globe’s Ron Borges counters, “In Brady’s first five games as an NFL starter he threw seven touchdowns, four interceptions, and was sacked 10 times. In the next four starts he threw nine touchdowns, three interceptions, and was sacked 16 times. In his third set of four starts he threw one touchdown, three interceptions, and was sacked 14 times. And in his final four starts of the year (three of them playoff games that his team won), he threw two touchdowns, three interceptions, and was sacked six times.” In other words, as the sacks piled up and the competition got stiffer, Brady’s performance tailed off.

In other Hub news, the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy proclaims Sunday a great day in Boston sports history, the kind “your grandparents and parents have been talking about all these years.” Let’s see, the Celtics and Bruins won first-round playoff games, the Pats traded Bledsoe and drafted unknown persons in the  seventh round, the Sox swept the Royals—not exactly Pudge Fisk hitting a 12th-inning homer, is it?

Why the NBA playoffs are so boring: The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick notes that the last 41 seconds of Saturday’s Indiana Pacers-New Jersey Nets game took 12 minutes to complete. “We’ve seen these kinds of endings countless times. Timeouts, back-to-back timeouts before the ball is even in-bounded, clock-stopping fouls, TV commercials followed by five seconds of game-clock time, followed by commercials. … Let’s install a simple new rule: One declared time out per team in the last three or four minutes of regulation. … The teams best prepared to work without individual tutoring after every whistle—the better coached teams as it relates to practice sessions and the smarter, pay-attention players—would have an advantage.”

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