Patriots O’Brien tries to stay focused on big game

INDIANAPOLIS – Plotting how to keep Tom Brady out of the clutches of the Giants’ fearsome pass rushers will occupy most of Bill O’Brien’s waking hours this week, and who knows how many of his dreams.

But it’s not his only worry.

The Patriots offensive co-ordinator will succeed the late Joe Paterno as coach at Penn State after the Super Bowl and has been forced to do most of his recruiting by long distance and count on his newly assembled staff back in State College, Pa., to lock up the prospects. Wednesday is signing day, when schools announce their prized recruits.

“I already have a pretty good idea of who they’re going to be,” O’Brien said Tuesday, fielding questions about both his jobs — somewhat reluctantly — at Super Bowl media day.

“But right now, it’s really more about the Patriots and making sure we’re ready for today’s practice, tomorrow’s meetings and Sunday’s game. So it’s day-to-day. .. Last week was about Coach Paterno. It was about his memory and what he meant to Penn State and to college football. So it was an emotional time for me, being in the coaching profession.”

O’Brien kept trying to put off questions about his next job, saying what a formidable challenge he faced in the few days left at his current one. And his jaw nearly hit the stadium floor when a just-arrived reporter yelled out, “What does it feel like to be facing the toughest job in the country come Monday?”

Instead, O’Brien rolled his eyes, smiled patiently and began, “Like I said a million times …”


BUDDING JOURNALISTS: Teenagers Luke Gentile and Kyle Crawford could have futures in journalism after their performances at Super Bowl media day.

Carmel Middle School journalism teacher Ramona Rice took Gentile, a 7th grader, and Crawford, an 8th grader, to Tuesday’s media day so they could report for the school newspaper, “The Outlook.” The youngsters from the Indianapolis suburb were right in the middle of the action. Gentile questioned Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick while Crawford took photos.

Language Arts teacher Alvin Anthony came up with the idea to take students, but he didn’t expect anything to come of it.

Rice took it and ran with it.

“I popped by and said, ‘We should go to media day,'” Anthony said of a conversation with Rice. “I don’t know what strings she pulled, but she made magic happen.”

The magic didn’t stop when they acquired the passes. In one case, Gentile asked Brady what advice he would give a young athlete. Now, Gentile is hooked.

“I’d like to do it more often,” he said. “It’s given me a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Gentile said he wasn’t nervous. Rice figured that would be the case.

“He’s tenacious,” Rice said. “He gets in front of people, and he asks the tough questions. He has definitely set himself apart today as far as getting in the front row and asking great questions.”

Crawford earned respect from his mentor for getting a bit physical with the photographers.

“Kyle was great too, getting right in there with the photographers, not being afraid to kind of nudge, get people out of the way to get the story,” Rice said.


WELKER’S ‘STACHE: Forget about the amazingly precise routes he runs and the diving catches he makes. So what if he breaks free for long touchdowns after grabbing acrobatic receptions? If you want to know the secret to the success of Wes Welker and the New England Patriots, it may be right under your nose.

Or his.

His good-luck moustache.

“Somebody on Twitter told me, ‘you know, every time you’ve gone with the moustache we haven’t lost a game,’ ” Welker said Tuesday, “And so I was like, ‘you know what, you’re right. Time for a playoff ‘stache.’ So this has kind of been the deal and it’s gotten us to this point so we got to keep on rocking it.”

Welker said he sported a moustache for about a month during the 2007 season. The Patriots were 18-0 before their quest for a perfect season ended with a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

Now the teams are back in the championship game.

“So,” Welker said of his moustache, “here it is.”


CHEF CONNOLLY: New England Patriots centre Dan Connolly never has to worry about getting a good meal, especially when his brother is around.

Connolly’s brother is renowned chef Patrick Connolly. A James Beard award winner for his work at Boston’s Radius, Patrick recently left Bobo in Manhattan’s West Village to become the executive chef at The Kitchen NYC.

“I spent a lot of time after school raiding the cabinets and trying to find something to eat and he developed his cooking,” Dan Connolly said.

The youngest of three brothers, Dan Connolly quips that Patrick and Christopher, the other brother who is a professional cyclist, used to constantly beat him up to make him tough and ready for the NFL.

“When he visits, he is always willing to cook,” Dan Connolly said. “He actually used to be in Boston and when he was there, every week I was there I would end up getting a 12-course chef’s tastings.”

And if the Patriots beat the Giants on Sunday, he’ll be expecting another 12-course meal.


NO ROCK AND ROLL PART II: To celebrate their touchdowns at home, the Patriots have been playing a cover version of the song “Rock and Roll Part II.” Don’t expect to hear it Sunday at the Super Bowl.

The NFL controls the music played during the game, according to league spokesman Brian McCarthy, and that song, written and recorded by Gary Glitter in 1972, won’t be heard at the game.

In 2006, the league advised its teams not to use the Glitter version after the artist whose real name is Paul Gadd was jailed in 2006 for molesting two girls in Vietnam. Gadd has been listed as a sex offender since 1999 in Britain.

Some teams also have used a version of the song by other artists at their games.


AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner, AP Sports Writers Howard Ulman and Tom Canavan contributed to this report.

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