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Patriots' Rallying Call: 'No Mosh'

THE NFL / WEEK 12 | IN THE SPOTLIGHT

November 17, 1997

Do you think this would have happened had Bill Parcells been the coach?

On Thursday night, the place to be in Boston was Paradise Club on Commonwealth Avenue. The place to be unless you were a member of the New England Patriots.

Drew Bledsoe was there. So were tackle Max Lane, a four-year veteran from Navy, and backup quarterback Scott Zolak, who completed one pass for five yards during the Patriots' run to the Super Bowl last season.

There are conflicting accounts as to what happened in Paradise, and the incident remains under investigation, but it started with the players huddled at the rear of the stage at the end of the show. Each allegedly took turns diving into a crowded mosh pit.

A 23-year-old Maynard, Mass., woman was injured during the stage-diving. Tameeka Messier remained in stable condition at a Boston-area hospital with a bruised back. She has probably heard from some prominent attorneys already.

Bledsoe's agent, Leigh Steinberg, told the Associated Press that the quarterback did dive from the stage and into the mosh pit. Bledsoe, 25, who is married, has a 3-week-old baby at home.

All this set the stage for Sunday's game in Tampa Bay, in which the Buccaneers dismantled the Patriots, 27-7. Bledsoe was replaced by Zolak for New England's final drive--a 10-play, 75-yard march that produced the Patriot touchdown with eight seconds left.

"The only thing I'll have to say about this is that Thursday night had absolutely nothing to do with the preparation for this game," said Bledsoe, who completed 21 of 29 passes for 117 yards, was sacked five times, threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. "It has nothing to do with our commitment to the team. It wasn't a distraction."

This will no doubt turn up the heat on Coach Pete Carroll, who was welcomed by most of the Patriot players--including Bledsoe--after being under the iron fist of Parcells.

"I have no idea where we are," Carroll said after the loss. "Right now we have no direction. We need to reevaluate all phases of the team. . . . We have to get back on track. Right now, we just have to do some soul searching and get ready for next week."

New England plays host to Miami next Sunday. Maybe they'll invite the Dolphins to the Paradise Club for pregame festivities.

RESTORE THE ROAR

Don't look now, but the Detroit Lions might be making their move in the NFC's Central Division just in time to add some intrigue to their Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears.

The Lions had struggled to a 4-6 record before Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, winners of six in a row--their longest win streak in 22 years.

But the Lions were not impressed and routed the Vikings, 38-15, at the Pontiac Silverdome.

"We were totally outplayed today," Minnesota Coach Dennis Green said.

Most embarrassing to the Vikings was their inability to stop a journeyman player who backs up Barry Sanders, the NFC's leading rusher.

"Touchdown" Tommy Vardell, the ninth overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Cleveland Browns, had scored only five touchdowns in his NFL career entering this season. He carried the ball only five times for the Lions on Sunday, but scored three touchdowns, living up to his nickname.

How did Vardell get such a moniker?

It was given to him by Green, who coached Vardell at Stanford when the fullback scored four touchdowns in a 1990 upset of top-ranked Notre Dame.

The Lions play host to Indianapolis on Sunday and then welcome the Bears to Pontiac for a Thanksgiving feast. If they win those two games, they will be 7-6 and in the hunt for a playoff berth entering the final three weeks of the season.

MONKEY BUSINESS

New York football fans were denied a chance to watch the end of Dallas' comeback victory against Washington because Fox affiliate WNYW chose to air a show featuring a monkey carrying a kitten.

The station showed "World's Funniest!" instead of the game and was the only Fox affiliate in the country not to pick up the national network feed at 4 p.m. The rest of the country showed "World's Funniest!" in its entirety after the game.

"It was a decision that our New York station made on Friday and they are the only one who chose not to go that route," Fox Sports spokesman Vince Wladika said.

WNYW General Manager Hillary Hendler was not immediately available for comment. WNYW is owned by Fox, but makes its own programming decisions.

Then again, maybe WNYW didn't want its viewers to see any coaching moves made by Cowboy owner Jerry Jones.

TIME TO BEAR DOWN

If the New York Jets needed a reminder of their nightmarish 1-15 season in 1996, they needed only to look across the line.

There they were, the once-feared Chicago Bears, reduced to being compared to the '96 Jets. Well, at least the sight of the Jets had to offer hope to the now 1-10 Bears.

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