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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Super Bowl ring belonging to Patriots’ Spygate videographer up for auction 02.06.14 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Blues, 8 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Spurs at Nets, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Bulls at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Rhode Island at VCU, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UConn at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: LSU at Georgia, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Robert Morris at LIU Brooklyn, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Temple at SMU, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Penn State at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oregon at Arizona, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Murray State at Belmont, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: UTEP at East Carolina, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Tulsa at Louisiana Tech, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Santa Clara at BYU, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oregon State at Arizona State, 11 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The Super Bowl ring given to the former Patriots intern at the heart of the Spygate scandal is available via an online auction.

Matt Estrella was caught filming the signals of Jets coaches during a game on Sept. 9, 2007, after a tip from Jets coach Eric Mangini (a former Patriots assistant). The result was a $500,000 fine for Bill Belichick and another $250,000 penalty and forfeiture of a first-round draft pick for the team. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had the tapes destroyed after viewing them, leading conspiracy theorists to claim the Patriots were guilty of further violations.

Estrella, who continued to work in the team’s video department until 2009, sold the ring in May 2012 to an individual who later consigned it to Goldin Auctions. The ring commemorates the Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXIX victory over the Eagles on Feb. 6, 2005.

As of early Thursday morning, the high bid for the ring was $5,700. Bidding closes Friday night.

If you’re looking for a different piece of Boston-themed sports jewelry, the auction also features former Patriots fullback Sam Gash‘s 1996 AFC championship ring and late Red Sox broadcaster Ken Coleman‘s 1967 American League championship ring.

— The Lakers won Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers, 119-108, but only after employing a little-known NBA rule that allowed them to keep a fouled-out player in the game.

The Lakers started the night with eight available players but lost two to injuries and another to fouls, leaving them with five. When center Robert Sacre fouled out, coach Mike D’Antoni was allowed to keep him in, with the only penalty being a technical foul, because NBA rules dictate a team must have five players on the court.

“That was, by far, one of the strangest games I’ve ever seen,” D’Antoni said.

Said Sacre: “That was just crazy. When I got my sixth foul I was just like, ‘Oh, dang!’ Then I got to come back in, so I thought it was something special. I didn’t know what was going on.”

— The NFL announced Wednesday that CBS will air eight of its Thursday night games next season after awarding the network a one-year deal with a league option for 2015.

The first eight Thursday night games of the season will be shown on CBS, with the NFL Network simulcasting them. The NFL Network will show six more Thursday night games later in the season.

“We want to make Thursday night football as big as possible in the minds of the NFL fan,” NFL executive vice president for media Brian Rolapp said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 6, 1988, Larry Bird won the 3-point competition during All-Star Weekend in Chicago, famously holding his right index finger in the air before his final shot went through the net to clinch the victory. Which player did Bird beat for the title?

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Matt Estrella, Roger Goodell, Spygate
Top Boston Sports Stories of 2013, No. 2: Aaron Hernandez charged with murder 12.31.13 at 10:29 am ET
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Over the final days of the year, WEEI.com will count down the top 13 stories of 2013 in Boston sports. This is No. 2: Aaron Hernandez charged with murder. To see the previous entries, click here.

On Aug. 27, 2012, the Patriots rewarded tight end Aaron Hernandez, one of the team’€™s most promising players, with a lucrative contract extension. The deal would lock up Hernandez until 2018, paying him $40 million over five years.

“As soon as we started talking about contracts, I was emotional from that day on,” Hernandez said at a preseason gala hosted by the team just after the details of his contract were revealed.

“Honestly, it’s hard for me here [at the gala] to stay, keeping my mind off it, and it’s just, like I said, it’s surreal. Probably when I’m done with this conversation I’ll get some tears in my eyes. But it’s real, and it’s an honor.”

But less than one year later, the 23-year-old Hernandez was in a whale of legal trouble, and football and the monstrous contract he’€™d signed seemed immensely inconsequential. On June 26, Massachusetts State Police took Hernandez into custody on first-degree murder charges and five gun-related charges. Nearly two months later he was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semipro football player from Boston who hung around with Hernandez. There also reportedly are ongoing investigations into other shootings in Florida and Massachusetts as well as gun trafficking that have links to Hernandez.

New England acted swiftly, cutting the third-year tight end.

“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss,” the team said in a statement. “Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Boston Sports Stories of the Year 2013, Matt Light
Top Stories of 2012, No. 3: Tom Brady puts together MVP-caliber season 12.31.12 at 7:44 am ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 3: Tom Brady’s MVP-caliber season.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NHL lockout
No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year
No. 8: Bruins’ early playoff elimination
No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from Celtics
No. 6: Tim Thomas’ political controversy and sabbatical
No. 5: Celtics’ Eastern Conference finals loss to Heat
No. 4: Red Sox’ megatrade with Dodgers

Only four players in NFL history have won at least three MVP awards. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who on Sunday wrapped up a terrific regular season, has a chance to join that group.

Brady threw for 4,827 yards and 34 touchdowns this season while only being intercepted eight times. He led the Patriots to a 12-4 record and the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

In a 42-14 victory over the Texans on Dec. 10, Brady was hearing “MVP” chants from the Gillette Stadium crowd, and in his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan the next day he acknowledged it.

“I heard it. I’m very flattered to even be considered for something like that,” Brady said. “Honestly, the most important thing for me is winning games and enjoying it with my teammates. Everything that I do is dependent on them, on the group of guys that I play with, and the successful years we’ve had with our team has been all about team football. That’s what our team has been built on, and that’s what our team is about.”

Other top candidates for MVP include Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Peterson led the NFL in rushing yards (2,096 — just nine short of the NFL single-season record) and led the Vikings to a 10-6 record and their first playoff berth since 2009. Manning, who already has four MVPs, returned from a year off to pass for 37 touchdowns and lead the Broncos to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Adrian Peterson, Bill Belichick, Eric Dickerson
Top Stories of 2012, No. 9: Wes Welker franchised, phased out, back to form 12.25.12 at 3:04 pm ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our second entry in the countdown is No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year.

For five seasons in New England, Wes Welker seemingly could do no wrong, and it seemed unfathomable that the Patriots would not want to keep him in Foxboro for as long as possible.

Then came the drop in February’s Super Bowl loss — a difficult but catchable pass that went through Welker’s hands late in the fourth quarter. Instead of giving the Patriots a likely game-ending first down, it gave the Giants the opportunity for their game-winning drive. And suddenly Welker’s true value was being questioned by some. It didn’t help that the Patriots played hardball during contract negotiations in the offseason, electing to place the franchise tag on Welker and settle for a one-year contract rather than agree to a long-term deal.

The $9.5 million, one-year deal ensured that Welker would stay with the Patriots through the 2012 season. After that, who knows?

It certainly is possible that Welker could re-sign with the team after the season, but judging by his consistency and continued success, he might demand a larger contract next year, both in terms of money and years. For now, he is enjoying another tremendous season after professing happiness that he and the team were able to agree on a deal that kept him with a perennial Super Bowl contender.

“There are 9.5 million reasons why I wouldn’t miss any regular-season games,” Welker said during a May 14 appearance on Mut & Merloni, dismissing speculation that he would hold out for a long-term contract. “I don’t think there are any sort of hard feelings on my side or their side. I think we’re all looking forward to the 2012 season and hopefully do some big things there.”

Welker did not exactly do “big things” in the first couple of games this season, but he was not solely to blame. In the Patriots’ 34-13 victory over the Titans in Week 1, Welker’s playing time was limited and he had only three receptions for 14 yards while being targeted just five times (including a drop on third-and-8 in the first quarter). Speculation abounded that he was being phased out of the offense, either as punishment for asking for too much money or so fellow receivers such as Julian Edelman could get more of an opportunity.

Week 2 was better for Welker, as he finished with five catches for 95 yards, albeit in a 20-18 loss to the lowly Cardinals. Still, it was not the 10-catch, 100-plus-yard receiving performance New England fans were accustomed to seeing.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Brandon Lloyd
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: NFL players vote Jets’ Rex Ryan most overrated coach 11.06.12 at 7:45 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Raptors at Thunder, 8 p.m. (NBA Network)
College football: Ball State at Toledo, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
UEFA Champions League soccer: Manchester City vs. Ajax, 2:30 p.m. (FSC)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ The Sporting News conducted a midseason poll of 103 NFL players from 27 teams to determine the most overrated coach in the league. Much to Patriots fans’ delight, coming in at No. 1, named on 35 ballots, is Jets coach Rex Ryan. However, in second with 16 votes is Pats boss Bill Belichick. Andy Reid of the Eagles is third with nine votes.

Said an anonymous AFC offensive player of Ryan: “His coaching style is over the top. Some of the things he does in front of the cameras are way over the top. You put that with the New York media and he has a pretty big reputation, I guess. I don’€™t even know if you’€™d call him overrated anymore because it’€™s going to be a couple of years since he was in the AFC finals. He’€™s pretty funny, and he’€™s a pretty good coach. But not THAT good.”

The players also were asked which college coach they would most like to see in the NFL. Alabama’s Nick Saban, who was a flop with the Dolphins in 2005 and ’06, came in at No. 1 with 32 votes, followed by Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (16).

‘™¦ Chuck Pagano, on leave from the Colts while he battles leukemia, is winning that battle. Pagano’s physician on Monday said that the coach’s disease is in “complete remission.”

Pagano, who delivered an emotional locker room speech to his team after Sunday’s win over the Jets in his first return to Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium since his Sept. 26 diagnosis, is scheduled to start a second round of chemotherapy later this week.

“His [blood cell] count was great,” interim coach Bruce Arians told reporters after Pagano visited the team complex Monday. “He knows that this next [round] is going to be really tough and we’re praying for him, and he’s going to be fine.”

‘™¦ Jim Durham, who was ESPN Radio’s top play-by-play caller for NBA games, died Sunday at his home in suburban Houston at the age of 65. Durham, who had broadcast games for ESPN since 1996, called the Celtics‘ season-opening loss to the Heat last Tuesday.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Media Award winner last year, Durham called Bulls games on radio and television from 1973-91 among his other jobs.

“The voice of champions,” Michael Jordan texted to ESPN. “I will miss him.”

‘™¦ This being election day, Yahoo! Sports has a list of 10 athletes who could be president. Among the names: Drew Brees, Jeremy Roenick, Magic Johnson, Tim Tebow, Derek Jeter and Laila Ali.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 6, 1976, the Red Sox became the first team to sign a player who declared for free agency under baseball’s new contract rules. Which player signed a $1 million, four-year contract with the Sox?

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Chuck Pagano, Jim Durham, Rex Ryan
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees OF Nick Swisher ‘sensitive’ about home fans’ booing 10.15.12 at 7:52 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB playoffs: Cardinals at Giants, 8 p.m. (Fox)
NFL: Broncos at Chargers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI)
NBA preseason: Celtics at 76ers, 7 p.m. (CSNNE)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Perhaps Yankees fans finally are tiring of the team’s success. Or maybe they lack confidence in this year’s squad. For whatever reason, fans are not filling up Yankee Stadium for the playoffs, and the team appears to be trying to save face. According to a report in Yahoo! Sports, for Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers, all ushers in the stadium were told to move fans from the upper deck to the more expensive seats near the field.

“I don’t know what it’s about,” an unidentified usher told Yahoo! “I guess they want to make it look better on TV.”

Meanwhile, some of the fans who are showing up are turning on the players, and at least one Yankee is not happy about it. Outfielder Nick Swisher said the criticism he’s been hearing crosses the line.

‘€œA lot of people saying a lot of things I’€™ve never heard before,’€ Swisher said after Sunday night’s 3-0 loss in Game 2, in which the Bombers heard plenty of boos. ‘€œPrime example — I missed that ball in the lights [in Game 1] and next thing you know I’€™m the reason that [Derek] Jeter got hurt. It’€™s kind of frustrating. … They were saying [Jeter'€™s injury] was my fault.’€

Added Swisher: ‘€œIt hurts. Sometimes I’€™m a sensitive guy. Some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit, but hey, I’€™ve been lucky to be here for the last four years, and we’€™re not going to go out like this.

‘€œI’€™m one of those guys that you give me a hug and I’€™ll run through a brick wall for you. Right now it seems like there’€™s a lot of … I’€™m trying to find a way to word this the right way, it’€™s tough. It’€™s really tough. Because you want to go out there and you want to play for your city, you want to play for your team. Just right now, it’€™s just really tough.’€

‘™¦ In another case of fan violence involving San Francisco teams, a 27-year-old man was seriously wounded after being stabbed outside Candlestick Park prior to Sunday’s 49ers game.

According to police, all the individuals involved are Niners fans. The confrontation began when two men, ages 30 and 22, approached the victim and his five friends and initiated a verbal altercation. One of the men then stabbed the victim in the torso. The victim was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive.

Two suspects were arrested a short distance from where the attack occurred.

Last year, two people were shot in the Candlestick Park parking lot before a 49ers-Raiders game. And on MLB Opening Day 2011 in Los Angeles, a Giants fan was nearly beaten to death by two Dodgers fans.

‘™¦ Major League Baseball teams have been celebrating playoff series victories with champagne for ages, but it’s a tradition that commissioner Bud Selig wouldn’t mind seeing end. Selig was participating in an interview with The Los Angeles Times when he saw a television displaying the party in the clubhouse of the Giants, who had just defeated the Reds in the NLDS.

“This is something I am not happy about: spraying champagne all over,” Selig said. “I’m not a fan of that.”

Selig said the situation has been discussed with team owners, but he voiced concern about his ability to restrict the flow of alcohol.

“It is something I have talked to the clubs about and will continue to talk to the clubs about,” he said. “You want to have great celebrations, fine. But spraying each other with champagne is not that.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Oct. 15, 1986, the Red Sox beat the Angels, 8-1, in Game 7 of the ALCS, completing a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. Who was the game’s winning pitcher?

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Read More: Barry McGuire, Bill Belichick, bud selig, Nick Swisher
Jason Cole on D&C: Saints should look to Bill Belichick for advice to deal with bounty scandal 08.10.12 at 11:32 am ET
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Yahoo! Sports NFL writer Jason Cole joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning, and discussed how the Saints can take a leaf out of the Patriots’€™ book while they deal with the aftermath of their bounty scandal. To listen to the full interview visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

‘€œThe bottom line is that the Patriots had to deal with this in 2007 [with the Spygate scandal] and the Saints are about to deal with this all season ‘€“ probably worse because they lost their head coach ‘€“ because of the bounty scandal,’€ Cole said. ‘€œI think if I am Saints’€™ management I am looking at [Bill] Belichick and saying, ‘€˜What did you do? How did you talk to your players? What did the players say?’€™ I would really ask those questions. ‘€˜Do I make it a scene every week? Or do I wait until critical times during the season?’€™

‘€œOf course, the Patriots handled it all the way up until the last two-minute drive ‘€¦ I don’€™t expect the Saints to have that same type of success.’€

The Patriots, of course, did not have as severe of a penalty for their scandal as the Saints have. New Orleans will play this season without its head coach in Sean Payton, and interim head coach Joe Vitt will miss the first six weeks of the season due to suspension.

‘€œI think that it is a huge thing for them to lose their head coach because I think that Sean Payton is the kind of guy who has his finger on the pulse of the team ‘€“ not more than Belichick, or not quite as much ‘€“ but about as close as about any head coach,’€ Cole said. ‘€œIf you talk about a coach being worth, say, two wins a season and Belichick would be up around two and a half on average, Payton is right behind that at about two.’€

With the scandal as an obstacle for the Saints all season, it could become a rallying cry for the players who lost their head coach and linebacker Jonathan Vilma to the its sanctions.

‘€œI think they can [make it a rallying cry], but be careful. Don’€™t overdo it,’€ Cole said. ‘€œIn talking to Donte Stallworth, one of the things he talked about is that Belichick didn’€™t bring it up throughout the season. He brought it up once maybe earlier in the season and he brought it up once later in the season to keep guys going. He didn’€™t make it the theme every single week. Because eventually that dies down. You have to pick a time and place for it and not harp on it all the time.

‘€œTo me, they have got to be judicious in how much they lean on that to make sure that it’€™s an anchor point and not an excuse point. And there is a really delicate difference between the two.’€

Cole also touched upon the Tim Tebow experiment in New York, and gave his thoughts about whether or not it would completely fail or be a great success.

‘€œ[It is going to be an] unmitigated disaster,’€ Cole said. ‘€œI’€™ll go with the overwhelming feeling on this one. The Jets are just not going to have that kind of mental fortitude to get through one of Sanchez’€™s bad games or a streak of bad games and not put Tim in on first-and-10 situations. And if you put Tim in on first-and-10 situations, barring an injury to Sanchez, if you put him out there to challenge Sanchez the whole thing falls apart and destroys the locker room.

‘€œNow, if you are disciplined enough, and this is where a team like New England could get away with having Tim Tebow, but if you are disciplined to say that you are going to bring him in on a third-down situation which is still kind of idiotic because you have Brady and who wants to take your best player off the field? But just say you are disciplined enough like Bill Belichick to bring the guy in and use him once in a while in a specific situation, that has a chance to work. Discipline would not be a watch word with the New York Jets.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Dennis & Callahan, Jason Cole, Saints
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jets CB Darrelle Revis calls Bill Belichick ‘jerk’ 03.29.12 at 7:31 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Capitals at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN, NHL Network)
NBA: Mavericks at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Thunder at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: NIT final, Minnesota vs. Stanford, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Rays at Phillies, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Royals at Angels, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis stirred up the Jets-Patriots rivalry Wednesday, calling New England coach Bill Belichick a “jerk” during an appearance on ESPN.

Participating in a word-association game while sitting next to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, Revis paused after hearing Belichick’s name, and then replied, “Jerk.”

When asked to elaborate, he said it was for “some of the comments he says about the Jets.”

Said Gronkowski: “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. ‘€¦ I’m surprised.”

Gronkowski then was given the name “Rex Ryan,” and he said of the Jets coach: “Entertainer.”

Revis also took a shot at his own team. When given the term “locker room,” Revis responded: “Disarray right now.”

‘™¦ Knicks guard Jeremy Lin had lunch with the ESPN editor who wrote the offensive headline that got him fired last month. Anthony Federico told New York Newsday that the two spent some time together Tuesday at a Manhattan restaurant after a member of Lin’s family reached out to him.

“The fact that he took the time to meet with me in his insanely busy schedule ‘€¦ He’s just a wonderful, humble person,” Federico said. “He didn’t have to do that.. We talked more about matters of faith [and] reconciliation. We talked about our shared Christian values and what we’re both trying do with this situation. ‘€¦ We didn’t talk about the headline for more than three minutes.”

‘™¦ Nike filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York, accusing Reebok of using Tim Tebow‘s name on Jets apparel without permission. Nike replaces Reebok as the official supplier of NFL uniforms beginning Sunday, so Nike apparently wants the Canton-based retailer to step aside and let it capitalize on the demand for Tebow Jets apparel immediately.

The lawsuit claims Reebok misappropriated publicity rights, interfered with business relationships and failed to get Tebow’s permission before launching the new products.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 29 of which year did the Bruins beat the Rangers, 2-1, to complete a two-game sweep of the Stanley Cup finals and win their first championship?

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Read More: Anthony Federico, Bill Belichick, Darrelle Revis, Jeremy Lin
Top Stories of 2011, No. 5: Patriots’ playoff loss to Jets 12.27.11 at 12:00 pm ET
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For the final 10 days of 2011, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 5: The Patriots’ playoff loss to the Jets.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NBA lockout
No. 9: NFL lockout
No. 8: Celtics’ playoff loss to Heat
No. 7: Patriots’ acquisitions of Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco
No. 6: Jacoby Ellsbury’s MVP-caliber season

For the 2010-11 Patriots, the beginning of the postseason held a lot of promise. That’s because New England went a league-best 14-2 during the regular season, securing the No. 1 seed in the AFC in the process. For the Pats, it was Super Bowl or bust.

Leading the Patriots to their lofty standing was quarterback Tom Brady. He had perhaps the most efficient year of his career in 2010, passing for 36 touchdowns against just four interceptions, the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history. He also set an NFL record by recording 335 straight pass attempts without an interception. For his efforts, Brady was named NFL MVP for the second time of his career.

But in the way of the Patriots’ path to the Super Bowl was their brash AFC East rival, the Jets. New York had beaten the Colts in the first round of the playoffs and moved on to face the Patriots in the divisional round. It was as an enticing matchup as one could hope for in the second round of the postseason.

The teams split the season series. The Jets beat the Patriots, 28-14, in Week 2, in what was a mild early season upset. In Week 13, New England seemed set on revenge and defeated New York resoundingly, 45-3, in a Monday night game at Gillette Stadium. The embarrassing loss only strengthened the Jets’ resolve heading into their playoff rematch.

To no surprise, the week leading up to the game was almost as entertaining as the game itself, as the Jets fired shots at New England while the Patriots tried to remain composed, although they fired some subtle shots of their own.

It began on Monday, Jan. 10, when Jets coach Rex Ryan held a question-and-answer session with the media. He looked back to the 45-3 loss, saying he “was outcoached in that game.” Never one to hold back his true feelings, Ryan went on to say that the upcoming game was all about one thing.

“I recognize this week, this is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan,” he said. “There’€™s no question. It’€™s personal. This is about him against myself, and that’€™s what it’€™s going to come down to.”

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Read More: Antonio Cromartie, Bill Belichick, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Top Stories of 2011, No. 7: Patriots’ acquisitions of Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco 12.25.11 at 12:00 pm ET
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For the final 10 days of 2011, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 7: The Patriots’ acquisitions of Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NBA lockout
No. 9: NFL lockout
No. 8: Celtics’ playoff loss to Heat

It is hard to imagine that Patriots coach Bill Belichick, with his stern, no-nonsense demeanor, would ever consider acquiring players with past troubles and larger-than-life personalities. But as he proved in the past with running back Corey Dillon and wideout Randy Moss, players labeled as “troublemakers” could come to New England and be successful.

Still, it may have been a surprise to some when the Patriots traded for both defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco this past offseason. Both are talented players, but both had been involved in their fair share of controversy over the course of their respective careers.

Haynesworth was considered one of the top defensive linemen in the league during his time with the Titans, and was even named the Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, when he recorded 8.5 sacks. He was named to the Pro Bowl in both 2007 and 2008.

But Haynesworth’s ability to bullrush the quarterback was overshadowed by his temperament. In 2003, Haynesworth was involved in an incident at practice in which he allegedly kicked teammate Justin Hartwig in the chest and had to be restrained by teammates.

Then in 2006, Haynesworth infamously stomped on the helmet-less head of then-Cowboys center Andre Gurode in the middle of a game. Gurode required 30 stitches from the incident, while Haynesworth was apologetic after the game.

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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco, Top Stories of 2011