The Media Column: Boston Globe whiffs on flimsy hit piece about lack of Patriots buzz

Alex Reimer
January 31, 2019 - 1:32 pm
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The Boston Globe says there’s a lack of buzz surrounding this Patriots Super Bowl run, because the Public Garden’s duckling statues are not decked in Patriots regalia and an owner of a sports apparel stand in South Station says he hasn’t sold many “Beat LA” shirts over the last few days. 

Oh, and the operator of a posh dog boutique in the Back Bay says sales of dog-themed Patriots gear are down 60-percent compared to last year.

Cancel the Super Bowl and bring on pitchers and catchers. Clearly, the Patriots are irrelevant. 

Those three flimsy anecdotes serve as some of the evidence cited in Dugan Arnett’s Boston Globe piece about Boston’s apparent indifference to the Patriots’ ninth Super Bowl trip. “In success-soaked Boston, has all the winning dimmed the excitement?,” Arnett asks. 

To answer this profound question, Arnett does not consult television ratings, official merchandise sales or other tangible measurements that can help determine a team’s popularity.  Instead, he interviews three random fans who think we are taking the Patriots’ success for granted. Arnett found two of these folks, Samanta Aylward and Danielle Laurion, through an apparent Twitter search expedition. 

Talk about looking for evidence to support a preconceived notion. (And one of them, Aylward, actually says she’s more excited about this year’s Super Bowl.) 

This is not the first time Arnett’s sourcing has come into question regarding negative pre-Super Bowl Patriots hit pieces. Two years ago, the Globe staffer wrote a piece about how the Patriots’ affiliation with Donald Trump has harmed their public standing in liberal Massachusetts.

In it, he quotes two of his Facebook friends, Chuck Daly and Haji Shearer. Unsurprisingly, they say they find it more difficult to support the Patriots with Trump in the Oval Office, backing up his thesis.

There are several shaky anecdotes in Arnett’s latest piece that wouldn’t have made it past my 10th-grade English teacher, yet somehow made it through the Globe’s editing process. For starters, Arnett says the Patriots’ banner was hung “half-heartedly” from City Hall, without offering any explanation about what that means. Did the guy who hung up the banner say he was disinterested? Is the banner not at full mast? How can a banner be hung “half-heartedly,” anyway?

Arnett did not immediately respond to an interview request.

The four supposed industry experts quoted in the article –– the South Station stand owner, dog boutique store owner, ticket search engine founder, the manager of The Fours sports bar –– are all loosely connected to the Patriots at best, and in most cases, not at all. Esquire political writer and former sports scribe Charlie Pierce is quoted, too, saying “Patriots fans don’t care anymore.” The line is lifted from an NPR interview conducted Jan. 25, in which Pierce glibly attempts to explain the low ticket resale prices for this year’s Super Bowl.

“It’s got the ticket resale industry all aflutter,” he said. “The fallen ticket prices being attributed, by some people, to the fact the Patriots have just been there too much, and that Patriots fans don’t care anymore.”

While ticket resale prices may be lower, the average price of Super Bowl tickets is actually up this year compared to 2018, even though the Patriots will be playing for the third straight year. The average ticket price on StubHub this season is $2,557, per Sporting News. It was $2,500 for the last three years.

After the championship games, ticket purchasers from New England rose to 31-percent. The number of ticket buyers in Los Angeles increased to 16-percent, or in other words, nearly half.

It’s almost as if ticket resale prices aren’t a definitive way to measure buzz. 

Arnett acknowledges reality for a fleeting moment, mentioning the 35,000 fans who attended the Super Bowl send-off rally at Gillette Stadium Sunday morning. He does not, however, bring up the fact that Patriots ratings were up four-percent this year. They were the highest they’ve been since 2015. 

And while “Beat LA” shirt sales may be down at South Station stands, Brady’s jersey was the best-selling in the NFL this season –– ahead of sexy newcomers such as Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff. 

All of that tangible evidence shows the Patriots are just as popular as they’ve been, or at least, there isn’t a noticeable decrease in their popularity. The Globe’s case is weak. 

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NFL keeps giving Barstool exactly what it wants: Barstool Sports should fire its PR firm. The NFL is giving it all of the positive publicity it needs.

Once again, the league kicked Barstool founder Dave Portnoy out of Media Night. Predictably, he’s turned this slight into hours of content, including interviews on Fox News and TMZ. 

Despite being valued at $100 million and corporate-owned, Barstool maintains its outsider cred, thanks to incidents like this. Portnoy can have his cake and eat it, too. Roger Goodell’s pettiness is one of the best things that's ever happened to him.

The “other” NFL analysts sound off on Romo: It would only be natural for other veteran NFL analysts to feel slighted by all of the praise directed towards Tony Romo. But if they do feel dissed, they don’t show it. Romo is universally praised by his peers, including two longtime analysts who spent their weeks on Radio Row, Steve Mariucci and Brian Billick.

Our intrepid Rob Bradford tracked them down for me this week and asked them about their impressions of Romo. Both say they’re impressed, though you can detect some apparent bitterness in Billick’s commentary. 

Mariucci:
Q: “Are you surprised about Romo’s early success in the booth?”

A: “Yes and no. I know Romo personally –– good guy, smart guy. But man alive, is he good in the booth. He’s really good. His best game might’ve been the Kansas City game. And it’s not just predicting that the ball is going to Gronk and some of those things. He just gives you good insight from a quarterback standpoint, which is enjoyable to listen to. I really like him a lot.”

Billick:
Q: “Are you impressed with Romo’s work?”

A: “Tony is right about one-third of the time. I’m surprised he’s even right that much. It’s great. I love it. He’s got great energy.

“He’s very natural, very comfortable. He knows the game. He’s a good listen. People seem to like it when you’re getting out ahead of the curve, even if you’re wrong two-thirds of the time.”

Pittsburgh TV producer gets fired for funny Brady joke: This year’s example of Super Bowl week overreaction centers around Pittsburgh TV producer Michael Telek, who was fired for putting “Known Cheater” under Tom Brady’s name in a chyron on his now-former station, KDKA. 

In a phone interview with WEEI.com, Telek said no superiors viewed the chyron before it aired, because they were short on staff. He says he never could've imagined getting fired for the stunt. 

But surprisingly, Telek says his dismissal has led to a bevy of job offers, both in the TV news industry and outside of it. “My friends were all worried about me, because I just bought this house, and I was like, ‘I got money for a couple of months. I’ll be cool,’” he said. “I just thought, ‘Worst case scenario, I’ll work at the mall or go work with one of my friends. But instead, this has blown up into this major opportunity.”

In addition, Telek is supporting a GoFundMe page to raise money for charity in Brady’s name. It’s raised $2,050 as of Thursday afternoon.

“I’m doing this charity now and trying to turn this into something good,” he said. 

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