Foxboro - I have a quality that is in some ways good or bad. I don’t forget about people easily. Our society teaches us the opposite: New job, new city we are supposed to move on. I have often heard if someone is in the rare view mirror they are supposed to stay there.
When I left the Pats beat in 2011, I pretended like I was confident that I had made the right decision to go to law school. The truth was I unsure to the point that I even asked Devin McCourty if I was doing the right thing.
One of the reasons I love players is they put things succinctly.
“You go to law school. You can always come back,” McCourty said.
When I saw him in training camp we joked about that. He was, of course, right.
When I last covered the team, there was one reporter I wanted to be friends with and admired a lot. The respect for Jeff Howe when he came on the beat was unmatched. He had a quiet demeanor, a sense of humor and a dignity that everyone respected. Instantly, people liked him. I had incorrectly made the assumption that you had to talk with people to get to know them. Jeff let people know him. When I found out Jeff was cancer free this past year, I had tears of joy.
When I was asked to return to the Pats beat this past year, it was a weird experience when I returned to the press room. It some ways it felt that I had never left. Some of the reporters like Howe, Mike Reiss, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart, and Erik Scalavino remained the same.
New faces to me like Doug Kyed, Mark Daniels and Ryan Hannable have become some of my best friends.
Doug and I regularly text each other and in at least one in five texts we tell each other we love each other. We compete for sure, but most of the time we spend joking about life stuff. I compliment him for his hair - telling him he should get a job on the television show Extra and he tells me I am a grinder. We argue occasionally. I call him a shin-kicker and he laughs. He tells me I should love Pro Football Focus more. Bottom line, we can debate (mostly we agree except on one player) but we never take it personally.
Daniels is about the most real person I know - except when it comes it to training camp. I noted on the second or third day of training camp there wasn’t much to write about. Daniels responded, “depends on how you look at it.” That has been his motto ever since - depends on how you look at it Daniels. I have joked with him about that ever since. Going two days without seeing him can be difficult because he is as loyal of a friend as you could ask for. He has a code of conduct that all his friends must live by. It might be longer than the Hammurabi Code. There will be a book someday called the Daniels Code - it involves never talking to him on an airplane, no phone calls accepted from his friends and the secrets to being a strong mixed martial arts fighter. He jokingly calls himself Mafia Mark, but he is a teddy bear who did MMA training his senior year of college.
When I received an exclusive interview with Tom Brady, he and Ryan Hannable gave me a suggestion that made the story better. Daniels likes to keep stories short and has no patience for extra words. Raised in Derry N.H., he was listed as a distinguished resident on the town’s Wikipedia page. Humble Daniels took it down. He is now referred to as the great Daniels, which should be his by-line in the Providence Journal.
Hannable is as decent person as you will find. He has the temperament of a veteran reporter - never gets too excited or upset. His advice on the podcast has made it much better. Without the column getting too long, many of the beat writers went out in Pittsburgh and it was a lot of fun. Phil Perry, the best looking man in New England, missed it to be with his family. Perry is a really good guy and reporter. Even Kyed secretly likes him. Though, they are natural rivals on the Pats beat for scoops and for best looking Pats beat reporter. Daniels is working his way into that category.
Andrew Callahan charts and looks up every statistic imaginable. Want to know how many times the Pats were in dime defense three weeks ago, Callahan knows. If a reporter knows and loves technical football more than Evan Lazar - I have not found evidence. His sidekick Alex Barth is a good man whose continued love of Drew Bledsoe is admirable.
Karen Guregian has always been like a second mother with her sage-like advice. Kevin Duffy don’t stop being the happiest best writer out there. Also, your report cards are well done. Duffy always admits when it is a slow news day. He was a great podcast guest and had a great story on Stevan Ridley several weeks ago. He is now called the Duffinator who is the James Develin of the Pats beat - unselfish and hard working.
Mike Giardi, Reiss, Ben Volin, Jim McBride, Chris Price, Levan Reid (we have debated every topic imaginable) and Nora Princiotti are enjoyable to work with. Giardi’s advice on the videos has made them a lot better. Nora was an amazing podcast guest.
So for those who are skeptical about the state of the press in 2018, there is your contrary evidence.