Friday 4: Mac Jones, Pasta, Heroes, and an outrageous conspiracy theory

As we swing towards the weekend we’re beginning a new feature here on 210Sports, “Friday 4”, where every Friday I’ll post the four things I’m thinking about the last week and the upcoming weekend in sports and the world in general.

New England Patriots fans really need to open their eyes and stop blaming Mac Jones for the offensive failures the team had last season. Even his most ardent supporters aren’t going to say he had a good year, but the vast majority of the issues the Patriots had on offense were the result of one person: head coach Bill Belichick.

Officially, Matt Patricia is the “senior football advisor” and offensive line coach for the team, but he was the de facto offensive coordinator. It’s the first time in 18 years since Patricia was involved on the offensive side of the ball as a member of an NFL coaching staff, and the last time, in 2005 with the Patriots, he was an assistant offensive line coach. So not exactly a glowing résumé for a guy that’s supposed to be in charge of an NFL offense. His playcalling was atrocious, almost to the point of being comical.

Another defensive-minded coach, Joe Judge, was Jones’ quarterback coach. Judge had never worked on an NFL or NCAA staff as an offensive coach prior to this season, and yet somehow he was put in charge of helping Jones improve and become the star he was drafted to be.

The offensive line was terrible, the receiving group was sub-par, and outside of Rhamondre Stevenson, their running backs were ineffective. And neither Patricia nor Judge had the background or knowledge to fix those issues during the season.

No wonder Jones failed this season, he literally had no path to success.

It’s obvious Belichick and the Patriots know that coaching was the issue because for the first time in a long while they issued a press release talking about the problem, saying the team will begin interviewing for offensive coordinator candidates beginning next week.

The release also said Belichick has begun contract extension discussions with Jerod Mayo that would keep him with the team long-term. That would be a big plus considering Mayo’s high standing in the league as many teams look in his direction for filling defensive coordinator and head coaching vacancies.

So let’s give Jones a chance to succeed before we ship him out of town.

The Bruins absolutely need to sign David Pastrnak to a long-term contract extension. Owner Jeremy Jacobs is a well-known tightwad that has continually played hardball with whatever star has been on the roster, and with cronies Cam Neeley and Don Sweeney doing his bidding it seems unlikely that the Bruins will break the bank on any Pastrnak deal.

But they need to, or he’s gone after this season.

Pastrnak is at the end of a six-year $40-million dollar deal, which when it was signed seemed like a big contract but now in hindsight is one of the best values in the NHL. You can bet Pastrnak will want to make up for some of that money lost. There are currently 21 NHL players making $10 million or more a season, and you’d be hardpressed to rank Pastrnak lower than fifth on that list, which would put him in the $12 million a year neighborhood.

Never one to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, Jacobs and the Bruins front office will likely do what they always do: drag their feet and wait until it’s close to free agency starting, then claim they did their best when Pastrnak finds the deal he wants elsewhere. Since there’s no chance they’ll trade him before the deadline, that would mean the Bruins get absolutely nothing when their superstar walks away.

It’s only because they didn’t want to play elsewhere this season that the Bruins got Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci so cheaply, and the odds are long that both can be brought back for next season at any cost. They’ve got Brad Marchand under contract for two more seasons. Signing Pastrnak, even for the megabucks deal he going to demand and deserve, is the only move that makes sense for a team with no budding superstar on the horizon.

But when was the last time the Bruins did anything that made sense?

Jim Pizzutelli. Rachel Leahy. Denny Kellington. Spencer Hiett. Stephen Borchik.

Those names likely don’t mean much to most, but to the people whose lives they saved those names are literally the difference between life and death.

Each one of them is an athletic trainer, and each is responsible for saving someone’s life during the course of a game. Pizzutelli and Leahy both tended to skate cuts in the neck area, Kellington performed CPR on Bills safety Damar Hamlin, Hiett ran into the stands to tend to a fan who was in cardiac arrest, and Borchik performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator to stabilize a basketball player until EMTs could arrive.

All heroic acts and all would go on to say they were just doing their job.

These are just a few examples of an unfortunately long list of times when an athletic trainer needed to use all of their training to help save someone’s life. Most of the time they go unnoticed by fans until something unfortunate happens and they need to jump into action. Usually, it’s something that isn’t serious. Occasionally, it’s a big deal. On ultra-rare occasions, the trainer becomes the first in a long line of medical professionals fighting to keep their patients alive. And, in comparison to pro athletes, making chump change.

Think about that the next time you see an athletic trainer jumping into action.

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. Most are comical in the twisting and turning people have to do to believe them, and many can be debunked quite easily. Most just roll their eyes when someone says the moon landing was faked or that the earth is flat as both of those, and many like them, have reached the ludicrous stage. But every so often you hear one that on its face sounds comical, but after thinking about it sometimes it does make some sense that you’d arrive at such a conclusion.

This writer accidentally stumbled into one earlier, and it has me thinking that while there is pretty much no chance it’s true, the chances of it being completely false aren’t exactly zero. I guess that’s the best kind of conspiracy theory.

It started out when this blog posted about the Worcester Telegram not covering the Railers anymore. The next day Booster Club president Rich Lundin made a statement via Twitter echoing many of those same thoughts. Lo and behold, later that day an obviously cobbled-together story appeared on the Telegram website about a potential outdoor Railers game being hosted at Polar Park.

A few days later, a second story appeared about the Stanley Cup, and that’s where some folks took notice of something odd: it contained a mention of Polar Park that made no sense for its inclusion. They also noticed that the photo used was a fan wearing a Colorado Avalanche jersey because obviously finding someone in a Railers jersey at a Railers event must have been too hard.

The conspiracy theory says that when the WooSox decided to move to Worcester they were guaranteed a specific amount in sponsorship and that the higher-ups at the Worcester Telegram, much higher up the food chain than anyone working here, agreed to use the newspaper as a WooSox PR outlet in lieu of a financial commitment since the team knew they’d have a lot of negative comments to deal with once people saw what was going on in and around the ballpark.

You can take it a bit further. Sports teams often send media outlets press releases that are ready to be published. Some outlets use a quote or two and include it in a different, related story. But the Telegram doesn’t seem to do that with the WooSox. A quick search seems to show the Telegram has never published a PR notice submitted by the WooSox or Polar Park.

Now granted I didn’t look all that hard, but that’s what makes for a great conspiracy theory, right? Not really digging deep into the information to see if it debunks your idea.

But people have also noticed the number of WooSox stories in the Telegram in the baseball offseason makes no sense. If the idea is to just do fluff pieces, which seems to be what the powers that be over at the Telegram want, why isn’t there one a week about the Railers? That would seem to be a no-brainer, right? Stories about something happening right now.

Lots of people are convinced that Telegram has to have a certain amount of articles a month about the WooSox or mention Polar Park a minimum amount of times. The number of stories about the Railers that somehow manage to mention the WooSox or Polar Park does make that seem plausible. And one more thing: there’s a Telegram banner on the outfield wall at Polar Park. Where’s the Telegram ad on the ice at the DCU Center? Oh, yeah, there isn’t one.

As I said, there is pretty much no chance any of this is true, but the chances of it being completely false aren’t exactly zero.

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