Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Doris Burke is one of the best

John Rooke
September 08, 2018 - 8:42 am

Thinking out loud…while wondering how many of the 17 QB’s who have started in Buffalo since Jim Kelly I can name…


  • Doris Burke is as likeable as they come.  As a broadcaster and person.  She’s real.  She’s genuine.  She knows the game, she does her homework.  It’s why she’s so incredibly popular with her fellow announcers at ABC/ESPN, and why fans and rappers (even Drake has admitted he has a crush) all love her. 


  • Doris received the Curt Gowdy Award for Electronic Media at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield this week, for making a “significant contribution to the game of basketball.”  She also makes a significant contribution to humanity every time you speak with her, because she will really listen to you.  We could use more people like her.


  • I’m fortunate to know a few Hall of Famers, but it’s cool to say that I know Doris, who graduated from Providence College in 1987.  My current college students get wide-eyed and say, “YOU know Doris Burke?”  Yup.  Gave her a start, too, when she sat in on Friar radio broadcasts more than 20 years ago.  I’d say she’s done pretty well for herself.  Congrats, DB.


  • Ex-Friar assistant coach and former Celtic Kevin Gamble has been on Keno Davis’ staff at Central Michigan since Davis left PC, and he’s now returning to the NBA.  Gamble is going to Toronto to become an advance scout for the Raptors, after coaching seven Chippewas’ players onto professional contracts during his CMU tenure.


  • Of note in the URI men’s basketball schedule released this week – 30 games (not the limit of 31), five of their first eight in the Atlantic-10 are on the road, and five opponents finished in the Top 50 of the RPI a year ago.  Even though it’s the NET that will count this year, it’s a slate that has some opportunity for the Rams to score nationally.


  • The Rams open against Bryant on Nov. 6th.  You’ve probably already got it marked down – but December 1st is the annual showdown with Providence, at the Dunk this year after Rhody snapped a 7-game losing streak to PC last year. 


  • The Friars’ complete schedule awaits finishing touches from the Big East office in New York before its’ release, but several sources have reported the conference season will begin on Dec. 29th.  Which means the Friars – again – could start on the road in league play, since Disney on Ice is at the Dunk on that date.  Or, start later than everyone else and wait on Mickey?


  • What have I always said about Mickey Mouse?  At times, he can be one mean rat.  Even on skates, apparently.


  • Villanova picked up a prized recruit this week in 6-5 Bryan Antoine, a 5-star shooting guard from New Jersey who is the highest-rated recruit to pick the defending national champs in 11 years.  Jay Wright has now reeled in at least one 5-star recruit and nine Top 100’s in four of his past five classes – and his program has won two national titles during this time.


  • Top 3 things in building a winning program?  Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting.  Ed Cooley has often said it.  And he’s always right.


  • The Friars are after a couple of big ones themselves for 2019.  Ever heard of 7-2 Serbian center Balsa Koprivica?  You will.  Best described to me as “Jack Sikma-like.”  That should make Joe Hassett giddy.  Upside for the kid is a potential NBA lottery pick.  Gonzaga is also apparently in the hunt here. 


  • Reportedly, 6-9 forward Akok Akok, a Top 25 national recruit, is visiting campus this weekend.  High times in Friartown.


  • Not for nuthin,’ but without a lot of fanfare the Friars held their 1st practice this week in their new basketball facility on campus, the Ruane Development Center.  Now’s the time to see if keeping up with the Joneses turns the Friars INTO the Joneses.


  • Best guess here is that many Friar fans still look back on Rick Pitino’s brief time as head coach here rather fondly.  And why not?  It was story-book stuff, taking an underdog team to a Final Four in 1987.  But I wonder, how do these fans feel about Pitino today, considering the controversy that has engulfed his life and career since that time?


  • Pitino’s new book was released this week, ostensibly as his “side of the story” in many of the details that got him fired from Louisville.  If you read it, I’d be interested to know how – if at all – it changes your opinion of him?


  • Ex-Maine assistant and former St. Raphael Academy and Rhode Island College star Antone Gray is the new assistant coach on Mike Martin’s staff at Brown.  Gray grew up in Providence, coached from 2014-18 for Bob Walsh in Orono, Maine and was a head coach at Juanita Sanchez for a season in Providence.


  • The Red Sox can’t beat good teams?  They’re 9-2 in their last 11 against teams currently holding a playoff spot, going into the Houston series.


  • Takes care of that narrative for now, doesn’t it?


  • Think Atlanta has a Boston-complex with that Sox comeback-for-the-ages against the Braves this week?  It ain’t SBLI, but that was a good one.


  • And that 37-year-old Brandon Phillips, who started slowly in Pawtucket this season after signing with the Sox, hit the two-run dinger with two outs in the 9th to win it?  In his home state?  C’mon.  Even Walt Disney is shaking his head at this storyline.


  • Is Phillips the greatest “0” to ever wear a Red Sox uniform?  How about the only “0?”


  • What we witnessed Wednesday of this week, with the Sox rallying from six runs down after six innings and with four regulars out of the lineup, tells me there is a horseshoe squarely up Boston’s backside.  So, just ride it out to pasture.


  • Major league teams were 487-0 this year with 6+ run leads after six innings, before that one. 


  • Ian Kinsler’s addition to the lineup, and in the infield, is akin to finding a lost piece to a puzzle.  He just fits.  Ironic that it was Dustin Pedroia who chased him away from Arizona State years ago.  Et tu, Ian?


  • J.D. Martinez, American League Player of the Month of August.  YAWN. This is getting habit-forming.


  • Tweet of the Week I, from @jcmccaffrey: “Overheard in the press box – ‘This is a really complete Red Sox team. There’s really nothing you can complain about.’ Red Sox Twitter – ‘hold my beer.’”


  • It was great to see ex-Hendricken and Boston College pitcher Mike King throwing against the Pawsox this week for Scranton.  And winning at McCoy Stadium, again.  6-1 at Triple A?  We told you here previously, Lil’ Rhody’s kids can play this game.


  • Tweet of the Week II, from @BWMcGair03: “Sign that greets you upon getting off Division St. exit in #Pawtucket #Pawsox – ‘Bye Bye Pawsox Bye Bye Gina!’”  As in incumbent RI Governor Gina Raimondo.  Guess we know how Pawtucket feels?


  • Whatever your thoughts are on Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign with exiled QB Colin Kaepernick, know this – Nike doesn’t do stupid. 


  • Too early to tell if the blowback from utilizing a modern-day pariah as a poster boy will work, but I did notice Nike’s stock edging upward this week.  So, there’s that. 


  • But the protest-burning of athletic wear?  That’s just dumb.  Here’s a thought – why not give it to, oh, I don’t know, homeless veterans who might use it instead?  Stupid is as stupid does.


  • Know this – it’s my belief Nike has taken a lot of needless and self-inflicted pressure off their business partner, the NFL, through this ad campaign.  These ads will continue, especially on NFL television broadcasts.


  • Tweet of the Week III, from @darrenrovell: “Love it or hate it, nothing Nike has ever done in the social media era has garnered the traction of what Colin Kaepernick has generated…”


  • The Tom vs. Time “Epilogue” hit Facebook this week, speaking of social media impressions.  What did we really learn?  Not much, except that TB12 says he still wants to play to age 45.  And – that family is more important to him than ever.  Which one wins out in the end, is the question.


  • Roster surprises for the Patriots?  That Brandon Bolden didn’t make it (signed by Miami).  Everything else I kinda saw coming, including a 15th straight year for an undrafted free agent to make the team – cornerback J.C. Jackson.


  • Preparing for the real games now, starting with Houston.  And the Texans may be one of the toughest teams all year to prep for, with a healthy Deshaun Watson on one side, and a healthy J.J. Watt on the other. 


  • Who starts at RB?  “Sweet Feet” James White is my pick, but don’t be surprised if Rex Burkhead gets his share of playing time.


  • Our buddy @Patscap says Stephon Gilmore has the largest weekly base salary on the Patriots roster this year, making $500K a week.  Including active roster bonuses, it’s Gronk at $573K and change.  Both figures pale in comparison to the NFL’s largest weekly paycheck, belonging to Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins - $1.324 million.  Per week.


  • Picked 11-5 for this team, this year.  What about you?  Nailed it with 13-3 last year.  Each year for the past five, the Patriots have either hit my number, or exceeded it.  Ol’ lucky is better than ol’ nuthin’.


  • Can’t help but chuckle a bit at the Steelers’ expense, with Le’Veon Bell continuing to hold out.  So much for team solidarity, and the season hasn’t started yet.  The linemen who block for him have openly questioned his commitment to the team?  Fellas, there ain’t no “I” in team.  And no “we” either.


  • Burt Reynolds’ passing at age 82 this week was a shock to the system.  He was one of those ageless-types who never seems to get older, even as the hair grew grayer.  From the original “The Longest Yard” to “Cannonball Run,” “Deliverance” and “Smokey and the Bandit,” Reynolds stood out for his good looks, his ‘good ol’ boy’ attitude, comedic wit and the ability to do most of his own stunts.


  • What a lot of folks don’t remember is that Reynolds was also once a pretty good football player at Florida State.  He was roommates with ESPN’s Lee Corso at FSU.  He was also Hollywood’s top grossing star from 1978 to 1982. 


  • My lady buddy Bobbie sez she’s got a friend as a teacher at a nearby college, who told her that an angel appeared at a recent faculty meeting.  The angel told the school Dean that in return for his unselfish and exemplary behavior, he was to be rewarded with his choice of infinite wealth, wisdom or beauty. 


  • Without hesitating, the Dean chose wisdom.  “Done!” the angel said, who then disappeared in a cloud of smoke.  All heads in the room turned toward the Dean, who had his head surrounded by a faint halo.  After a minute, someone whispered “say something.”  The Dean sighed, and said “I should’ve taken the money.”


  • Brown’s all-Ivy defensive end Dewey Jarvis made the Falcons’ roster, joining Pro-Bowlers Zak DeOssie and James Develin as three Bears’ alumni on NFL rosters.  The Three Bears.  Kind of a feel-good fairy tale story, isn’t it?


  • Brown athletics also has an 8-game fall TV package deal with NESN, which will include live coverage of men’s and women’s soccer, two football games (Penn and Columbia), and tape-delayed showings of “The Phil Estes Show” and two more football contests (Georgetown and Cornell).


  • How does URI football capitalize on the big opening “W” at Delaware?  By doing it again in the home opener Saturday against Albany – which will be streamed on Fox Sports Go.  Albany lost at Pittsburgh 33-7 last week, but the road team is 4-1 in this series.


  • Senior LB Justin Hogan was named as the CAA co-Defensive Player of the Week with six tackles and being part of two turnovers in the win over the Blue Hens. 


  • Bryant will try to build on its home opening win over New Haven with a road game at FCS 23rd ranked Stony Brook.  It’s the seventh time the Bulldogs are playing a nationally-ranked team since their move to DI, and they’re 2-4 in the previous six.


  • Last week we mentioned a couple of the ‘guarantee’ games in college football, where a weaker team or smaller school (FCS) faces a bigger (Power 5) opponent.   The biggest loser?  Power 5 (and Big 12 member) Kansas, which paid out half-a-million to Nicholls State.  And lost, 26-23.


  • 37-year-old Roger Federer l-l-lost in the US Open tennis quarterfinals, after winning the Australian Open.  Immediately, ticket prices tumbled – down by as much as two-thirds of their original value.  Never underestimate the power of personality.  And a name.


  • He’s a native New Yorker, but even Stephen A. Smith knows who’s Number One.  This week, the ESPN “First Take” co-host ranked the Top 5 sports cities in America, and (shockingly) picked Boston as Number One.  Philly was two, Houston was 3rd.  NY limped in at #4. 


  • Tweet of the Week IV, from @LeaKThompson: “Lorraine and Biff together at last! #Bttf #Toronto #biffsbistro #Tbt  Do yourself a favor, and find this Tweet.  You will thank me later.


  • A little birdie told me Joe Hassett won the club golf championship at Warwick Country Club this week.  I’m setting the over/under on the number of times he works that into our radio broadcasts this season at five-and-a-half.  Who wants a piece of this action?


  • Did you even know there have been 17 different QB’s to start for the Buffalo Bills since Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season – and 16 since Tom Brady began his Patriots’ career?  Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt, Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Drew Bledsoe, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm, E.J. Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel (who also started in NE in ’08), Tyrod Taylor and Nathan Peterman complete the list, as Peterman steps into the starter role this season.  Josh Allen is waiting in the wings, at #18.


  • Full disclosure – I got nine of them.  Jeff Tuel? 


  • Mike from Davie, Florida posted on Facebook this week, in response to my prediction of an 11-5 finish for the Patriots this season: “When was the last time the Patriots won only 11 games?  Only sounds funny.” 


  • Mike:  You’ve got to go back to 2009 to find the last time the Patriots won 11 games, or less, in a season.  That year, New England finished 10-6, still won the AFC East, but lost in the wild card to Baltimore 33-14.  In 2008, they finished exactly 11-5 as Matt Cassel replaced an injured Tom Brady – but the team missed the playoffs.  They’ve been in the postseason every year since.


  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, ...


Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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