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Of Meriweather, Chara, Perkins and more

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  March 11, 2011 07:48 AM

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With regard to Brandon Meriweather's guilt or innocence, let's reserve judgment. Sports are sports, life is life, and fair is fair. But the one question we should all ask at a time of duress is obvious:

What could I have done differently to avoid this?

In the case of Meriweather, maybe that means being smarter about where he goes, what he does, whom he consorts with. His future in New England may depend on it. Meriweather was a somewhat controversial selection for the Pats in 2007 due to his involvement in the infamous Miami-Florida International brawl, and he has been linked with guns before. Now he has is being accused, perhaps frivolously, of involvement a shooting that took place weeks ago in Orlando.

For those of us who grew up in this area, this is not something to which we can easily understand or relate. You didn't grow up in the same world that Meriweather did. And yet, Meriweather has a great deal at stake as a two-time Pro Bowler, and there comes a point where all boys must become men by simply making better decisions.

In the interim, let's be careful about what we assume based solely on reputation. We have learned this lesson before. In 1997, a Cleveland-area man named Scott Byrd accused Mo Vaughn of punching him in the face during an altercation at a strip club. Vaughn was there, to be sure, but he was never found to have thrown the punch. By that point, Vaughn's reputation as something of a playboy was well established, and it wasn't much longer before Mo flipped his car on the way home from the Foxy Lady.

Vaughn was lucky to have survived that episode. Regardless of what happens legally, Meriweather was fortunate to have survived this one. What the Patriots' safety needs to learn now is that life off the field in professional sports has very different rules than life on it.

In cases like this, Brandon, it's advisable to lead with your head.

More on Chara

As for Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty, we can agree to disagree as it pertains to Chara's hit. Some of us believe Chara knew precisely where he was on the ice when he leveraged Pacioretty toward the turnbuckle on Tuesday. Some of us do not. Few of us believe that Chara did so with any intent to cause injury, particularly to Pacioretty's head.

But is this really a case where legal authorities in Montreal need to conduct an investigation to either appease the masses of examine whether criminal charges should be brought against the Bruins' Bunyanesque defenseman?

At this rate, can it be long before Interpol is involved?

Obviously, criminal investigations in sports, particularly hockey, are not unprecedented. Marty McSorley, Todd Bertuzzi, Dave Forbes and Jose Offerman all faced legal ramifications for things that took place on the ice or on the field. All were warranted. In three of those instances, the transgressor clearly used a stick or bat as a weapon. In the other, he clearly used his fist and delivered a punch. Any suggestion that Chara's hit on Pacioretty enters the same realm is utterly asinine.

And are Canadiens fans serious with those 9-1-1 calls?

As for Pacioretty, he knew where the turnbuckle was, too. He has a spottier reputation than Chara. Given the tactless manner in which he heaved allegations at Chara on Wednesday, Pacioretty only fueled the fire over this entire episode, acting with far more recklessness than, say, the Bruins did after Matt Cooke's far more egregious hit on Marc Savard roughly a year ago.

Some of us still believe Chara should have earned some sort of suspension for his hit on Pacioretty. But the Canadiens, their owner and their fans are hardly handling this matter with dignity or grace, which is not making things any better.

Celtics needed Perk
If you watched the Celtics' loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, you came to an obvious conclusion: the Celtics missed Kendrick Perkins in that game. Despite coach Doc Rivers' assertions that the defeat had nothing to do with last month's surprising deal, the Celtics were lacking in those two areas where Perkins served them: energy and interior defense.

Whether this flaw is chronic or potentially fatal is an entirely different matter, but the facts on Wednesday were difficult to ignore. The Clippers had six dunks or layups in the first quarter, when the game was effectively decided. They had nine in the first half. Rivers and his players clearly have a great deal of work to do between now and the playoffs, particularly given the seemingly never-ending succession of injuries.

In four of their last five games - and against weak competition - the Celtics have allowed 100 points or more.

But like Rivers said, at least they're not crying about it.

Talking point
Finally, purely for the sake of discussion, here's a question that will be explored at greater depth in coming weeks:

If you had to decide today, would you take Mark Teixeira for the next six years or Adrian Gonzalez for the next seven?


Tony's Top 5

Favorite blog entries

The final chapter on Teixeira and How Red Sox pitchers work the strike zone Jan. 7, 2009 and July 17, 2009. Some actual reporting – an obsession with Mark Teixeira and the art of pitching.
For 2011 Red Sox, there was plenty of blame to go around Oct. 1, 2011. The disgraceful collapse of the Red Sox stoked the fire in all of us.
Behind Garnett and James, Celtics and Heat are digging in June 4, 2012. Improbably, the Celtics pushed the Heat to the limit.
Thrill is back for Patriots Jan. 30, 2012. Another Super Bowl has even Bill Belichick musing.
You’ve got to believe June 15, 2011. On the morning of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, we all had reason to believe.
Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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