logo 916by Scott Benson

So, what do we talk about this morning?

You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who wants to “move beyond this and talk about the games,” but it will be awhile before we’re able to truly move beyond Camera-gate.

I mean, at times this week’s controversy made the Michael Vick scandal seem like a minor skermish. Look, Bill Belichick effed up, in grand style. He may never remove the asterisk that has now been affixed – whether it’s fair or not, whether we like it or not – to his historic career. The team he coaches may never escape the dark skepticism that now surrounds its own historic achievements. 

That kind of thing doesn’t blow over in a few days, not even for the San Diego Chargers.

The definitive account of this regrettable affair won’t be rendered unto history in a matter of hours, days, weeks or months. The battle over who will write that history will take at least that long. The bloodthirsty vultures who have leapt on the troubling weakness of their adversary – while cynically concealing their own perverse demons – will insist on it.

All I can say is that I hope when the dust settles, Michael Silver’s Friday column for Yahoo Sports stands atop the pile of otherwise worthless rubble that Belichick’s rivals will undoubtedly create.

Silver is brutal on Belichick, a view I’m inclined to accept. Mostly because for the first time, a national columnist has also turned a critical eye towards the men who so hypocritically accused him, and gives context to the disgace that enveloped the coach and his team this week. Silver painstakingly chronicles the deteriorating relationship between Belichick and Eric Mangini, which ended for sure when Mangini exposed tactics he once gladly exploited to advance his own career. Silver’s blistering indictment of both sides has to be the most balanced – and as a result, perhaps the most truthful – account filed by any writer anywhere this week.

Silver closes by setting a fair and reasonable bar to measure the future actions of the men most responsible for this debacle. We can only hope that Belichick has already considered and adopted the action plan that Silver lays out, or that he soon will. To do otherwise would truly tarnish his legacy.

Let’s move on to the morning papers.

And right on cue to substantiate the above thesis comes the slimy, slithering bottomfeeders at the Boston Herald, led by an executive team so skilled and learned that the 160 year old tabloid is now being forced – free of charge – into the hands of harassed subway commuters, by hawkers charged with the daily disposal of their bosses’ malfeasance.

First, let’s start with the Herald staff that had at least enough integrity to affix a by-line to their work this morning.

John Tomase asks if the Pats will once again respond to adversity with a convincing win. John also adds five things to look for tonight. Karen Guregian chips in with the daily notebook, which looks at Laurence Maroney, who was part of a Patriots ground game that was held to 51 yards the last time New England met the Chargers.

Though it’s not credited to him (just a vague “Herald Staff”), I supsect Tomase is also the author of a look at why the Patriots have become the most hated team in the NFL. Reasonable question. Guess what – it’s Bill Belichick’s fault, for not playing grab ass around the pool at league meetings. Oh, yeah, there were three world championships too, but I’m sure that if they had been more polite about it, the Pats would now be considered a national treasure by rival teams and fans. John’s entitled to his opinion here, but one thing I’d suggest is that he may consider looking a little more skeptically at Colts coach Tony Dungy before dutifully reprinting every word uttered by the self-righteous prick whose Quiet Strength is so profound that he can’t shut the eff up about it.

Still, I like Tomase, and suspecting that he was the author I read every word of this piece. Which is how I stumbled on the link to a column attributed – again – “the Herald Staff”.

I had to look twice at the link – entitled “Goodell’s discipline didn’t go far enough” – because I hadn’t noticed it when I began the day by scanning the Herald on-line sports page. Before opening the link, I checked again. Nope, nothing. I went to the front page, thinking it may have originated there – nothing. Just one link at the bottom at the bottom of the other uncredited story.

What is the Herald – and the author of this piece – hiding? Weren’t they just insisting the other day that Bill Belichick stand up and face their music? Wouldn’t someone demanding accountability from everone else at least want to put their name on something they wrote? What are they hiding?

Well, here’s just a sample.

“Belichick’s gold has been tarnished. Is this why he was so good? Probably not. But it’s fun to consider, because he’s a jerk.”

A football coach that orders the videotaping of another football coach is a jerk. Gee, thanks Herald. I’d be morally and ethically lost without your steady judgment, which doesn’t have anything to do with who gives you access and who doesn’t.  Now that I know that the football coach is a jerk, maybe you can help me with another moral question I’ve been wrestling with –  what do I call a guy that mocks black schoolchildren as gorillas, and gets wealthy by doing it?

What do I call a guy that drops even a pretense of reporting honesty in his desperate quest to have every camera and microphone trained on him, instead of the games he is paid to cover?

And while you’re at it, what do I call a guy that takes chickenshit cheap shots at people without at least putting their name behind it?

NOTE (9:45 am): Since posting this about 45 minutes ago, I’ve learned that the above article is another of the Herald’s charming ‘behind enemy lines’ reprints they like to run on game days. The guest author is apparently Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union Tribune. Now that I’ve made that clear, notice that I’m not changing anything I posted at 9 o’clock. I’m  pretty secure with it just the same. The Herald can now go back to hiding behind “oh, it was just a problem with our on-line edition” without admitting they were more than happy that Canepa saved them the trouble of writing this piece of shit themselves.

Jessica Heslam finishes up our Herald coverage with a look at the media firestorm surrounding Belichick and the Pats, which concludes with Jack Gringold, associate director of communications at Northeastern, hoping that editors have moved past gratuitous, unattributed attacks on the Patriots coach to focus on the contest. If Jessica is being ironic here, I think I’m in love with her.

Maybe Mr. Gingold ought to pick up a copy of this morning’s Globe, if he’s looking for coverage of tonight’s game.

Christopher Gaspar leads off with a story on tonight’s grudge match in Foxboro. Bob Hohler looks at new Charger coach Norv Turner, who’s following a popular players coach in San Diego, trying to install some much needed maturity in his team. Jim McBride likes the Pats in his weekly scouting report. Gaspar and Mike Reiss combine on a Patriots notebook, which looks at Wareham High (and U of Maine) product Stephen Cooper, a new starter in the middle of the Chargers defense. The Globe duo also notes that the New York Jets, currently tied for last in the AFC East, entertained former Patriots punter Josh Miller this week. Their interest in the punter, of course, is completely sincere.

Reiss has his weekly league notes, where he talks with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren about the proposal to wire defensive players with the same communications equipment used by their offensive counterparts. Did you know about the wrinkle in the current proposal that says if you lose your wired player to injury or ejection, you can’t wire anybody else? So one team would have the benefit of the equipment while the other will not. Would you have wanted the Patriots to vote for this?

Reiss also has words of wisdom from the beatific Dungy, winner by 31 points in last week’s season opener with the Saints. Guess what? Tony’s not happy with the officiating. Not enough offensive holding calls against his opponent. Quiet Strength indeed.

At the ProJo, Shalise Manza Young says that Bill Belichick knows just what he’s going to get from Norv Turner, and that may spell bad news for San Diego. Shalise likes the Pats today, and says special teams and coaching will give them the edge. Is she being nice to Bill Belichick while surrounded on all sides by spiteful dickheads who wouldn’t think of it? Awwww. I’m kind of involved with Jessica Heslam at the moment, SMY, but let me get your number just in case.

Shalise also spends a few minutes up close with the oft-forgotten Jabar Gaffney. 

Jim Donaldson wonders why anybody would question AJ Smith on his decision to replace Marty Schottenheimer with Turner, when he’s been right about some pretty big decisions before.

In the Hartford Courant, David Heuschkel looks at two closely matched rivals.

Lastly, the Hub bids adieu to Albert Breer, who wraps up his time in New England this week before heading for the Big D and a high-profile gig covering America’s Team. His profile of future coach Mike Vrabel this morning is typical of his studious and thorough approach, which will be missed even more now that we’ve soiled our hands with today’s disgraceful Boston Herald.

On to the game.