Monday, June 25, 2018

Jonét Nichelle Visits Section 36!

Photo Credit: Robert Hare Photography
Section 36 Patriots has its first visitor! I'm sure you're aware of all the MAO titleholders who have visited with Section 36 to discuss the Red Sox. But, it made much more sense to post this visit here. Jonét Nichelle is the current Miss Litchfield County (CT). She is also in her rookie season as a member of the New England Patriots Cheerleaders! I’m so excited that she was willing to take the time out of her schedule to talk about those topics, and a few more. I'm sure you'll love reading everything she had to say!

So, let’s see what happens when Jonét Nichelle visits Section 36!

Why did you decide to try out for the New England Patriots Cheerleaders team?
I’ve always been part of a team. I began dancing at the age of two and at the age of five, I was competing at dance competitions. By middle school I  became a student athlete and continued running track on the collegiate level as well. As my track and field career was coming to an end, my mom and I began researching other routes for me to take and we came across the New England Patriots Cheerleaders Auditions. It was from that simple google search that I became determined to earn a spot on the team.

How did it feel the first time you all got together as a team?
During bootcamp, I  had the pleasure of become extremely close with just about each and every young lady vying for a spot on the squad; so much so it already felt like we were already on the team! The first time we were all together (vets and rookies) I felt beyond welcomed – as if every woman in that room was more than a teammate.      

What are you most looking forward to about your rookie season?
There’s honestly so much to look forward to.  Just putting on the uniform is an exciting feeling! I’m especially excited to travel to St. Maarten for our calendar trip and video shoot this July. 

What is your personal fitness routine? 
I  am a personal trainer and as my mom calls me, “a gym rat”.  I always begin, or try to incorporate, some sort of cardio into my workouts. Lately I have a newfound interest in the stair master. 
Photo Credit: Catherine Fiehn Photography

You were crowned Miss Litchfield County earlier this year. How did you celebrate winning that title?
I  won my title back in January. It was a last minute decision to compete, so when I  actually won I couldn't believe it. I  didn’t invite many people. Just my mom, godfather and best friend attended. After the pageant, we went to a diner and had a huge feast and discussed my goals and plans to prepare for Miss Connecticut. 

What has surprised you about your time as Miss Litchfield County?
I  can’t say anything has really surprised me during my reign, however I always love to watch a little girl’s face light up with I let her try on my crown and sash!  

How did you select your platform?
My platform is something that is extremely near and dear to my heart; something that I plan to continue to develop and work on even after my “crown days” are over. My platform is “This is Her, She Is ME - finding the strength to walk away” came about after I was fortunate enough to leave a domestic violence relationship. Through my recovery period, I  became more open to sharing my story and trying to help other victims while volunteering with different programs. I  believe your platform should be something you're very passionate about and for me I  wanted to use my voice to reach a bigger audience and help those going through something similar to myself find the proper resources. 

What’s the best part about performing your talent on stage?
My talent for Miss Connecticut was a tap dance to “Don Quixote,
Photo Credit: Dwight Darian
Man Of La Mancha”. I loved my costume but I  think the best part of my talent was getting into character. I’ve performed this dance before,but this year I  really got into character. To me, the song is about overcoming obstacles and conquering the day. When I put my tap shoes on and put the rose in my hair, I  became “Don”, a strong woman who has no fears. 

How did the Miss Connecticut competition compare to NEPC tryouts?
I  went in to Miss Connecticut and NEPC tryouts with the same mindset. I  was going to give my blood, sweat, and tears, but also keep in mind that if the journey is meant for me, it will not pass me up. While there was only one crown at the end of the week and only 34 spots on the team, I  learned so much about myself during Miss CT week as I did during tryouts with the Patriots. I  learned that I was more than capable to achieve every dream I have. 


That is a great lesson to learn!

As always, I want to give huge thanks to Jonét for doing this interview. As I mentioned, she was the first NEPC to visit Section 36, and I'm flattered that she agreed. I also want to thank her for providing so many amazing pictures to accompany the interview. They went along perfectly with the interview.

As Jonét continues her time as Miss Litchfield County, I encourage you to follow her on the official Miss Litchfield County Facebook page. 

And, as the Patriots start the 2018 season, be sure to check out the New England Patriots Cheerleaders website, and Jonét's own NEPC bio page, and follow her as she cheers on the best team in football!

Thanks again Jonét!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Patriot Pride - by Troy Brown with Mike Reiss

Troy Brown needs no introduction. The Patriot Hall of Famer is pretty much the blueprint for the ideal Patriot. On over-achieving
late round draft pick. He played well at all phases of the game, whatever the coach needed from him. he was a star receiver. He played on special teams. He even played on defense when the team needed him to. His story covers the end of the pre-Brady years, and the beginning of the Patriots dynasty. It was an interesting period for the team, and Brown looked to cover it from the inside.

This was a good book, but a bit more limited than I was hoping for. There was some great insight into his early years. Growing up, and moving on to college. You can see the formations of the player he would come. The Patriots years, though, felt more like a retelling of newspaper reports than any real behind the scenes information. I heard myself saying "Oh yeah, I remember that" more than I said "oh really". It's the sort of book I would expect from a reporter, or someone outside the team. A collection of the Patriots records over the years, and the game by game retelling. It still made for a fun read, but I expected more from an autobiography. If Mike Reiss had written this on his own, I feel like I would have enjoyed it more because my expectations would have been different. But, you should feel free to give it a try and see if you feel the same way. You will still enjoy the book.

Rating: 3 quarters.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Luck Nicolette!

If you're a loyal fan of Section 36, you probably remember Miss Rhode Island Nicolette Peloquin's visit. It was so much fun, and one of the most popular visits so far.

You also know that Nicolette has generously provided Section 36 with some incredible pictures. One of my favorites is this one, taken by fellow visitor Kelsey Garcia.

You also know that a Section 36 t-shirt looks absolutely amazing on her!

Why am I telling you all this? Because right now, Nicolette has the chance to earn the right to wear an outfit that will look even better on her than this shirt does.

Last weekend, Nicolette made it through final auditions to be a New England Patriots Cheerleader! She is currently going through boot camp as a last hurdle in order to make the team! 

We couldn't be prouder of Nicolette and wish her luck as she tries to fulfill her dream! Hopefully she'll remember Section 36 after she hits it big!

Good luck Nicolette!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Brady vs. Manning: The Untold Story of the Rivalry That Transformed the NFL, by Gary Myers

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two of the best quarterbacks to
ever play the game. But, they reached the top of their profession by following different paths. One destined to greatness through a first round draft choice. The other almost forgotten, starting from the bottom of the draft. But, as much as they are different, there is so much the same about them. This book explores both sets of qualities to show that greatness can be found anywhere.

The book certainly does that. It's the couple things that it doesn't do that are really the problem. I'm not sure the author was aware of the title when he was writing the book. The "vs" part never really shows up. It's just a collection of facts about both of them, presented in themed chapters. Which actually brings up the other problem, the organization. It's not really there. It seems like the author interviewed a bunch of people, got a bunch of great stories, and then had to figure out how to make that into a book. So, there wasn't a chronological order to the facts. Or, a numerical order. The stories weren't told in the process of recounting one of there many match-ups. They were just sort of told. As such, there was a bunch of jumping around, and even some retelling of stories that fit into more than one grouping. So, while many of the stories were interesting, and new to me, I found it difficult to follow. Overall, that didn't completely take away from the amount of information provided. I just wish it was formatted better. What did you think?

Rating: 3 Quarters.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Yes. Let Him Catch It

Following yet another comeback, leading to yet another AFC championship, against yet another team ready to hand the Patriots the victory, much of the discussion had focused on just how the Jaguars gave the game away.

The obvious stat to look at is the one-sided penalty totals. While the Patriots only committed one penalty on the day, the Jags had to deal with several crushing flags. A delay of game, a couple defensive pass interference, and a drive extending personal foul for a helmet to helmet hit.

That last one seems to draw the most discussion. Some people are saying it's just another example of people trying to take football out of football by removing the big hits. Some claim that it shouldn't have been a penalty because the defender tried to lead with his shoulder. Others, including Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman, had a complaint along the lines of "what do you want them to do? Can't hit the knees. Can't hit the head. What's a defender supposed to do? Just let the guy catch the ball?'

Yes. That's exactly what he's supposed to do.

Well, I suppose that first he's supposed to be in the proper position so that he can knock the ball away without making contact with the receiver. (Like Stephon Gilmore did at the end of the game.) Or, in such great position that the quarterback doesn't dare throw it in the first place. But, yes. Other than those two options, if you can't stop him legally, you need to let the receiver catch the ball. Then just wrap him up with a good clean tackle. Malcolm Butler is pretty experienced with this. If you can't defend the pass, tackle the runner.

But, being unable to properly defend the pass isn't an excuse to commit a penalty. 

It reminds me of the baseball pitchers who think it's OK to put a substance on the ball if it's just to get a better grip. After all, without a better grip it's harder to control their curveball. If they can't control it, that's a safety issue for the hitter. So, they use a little pine tar. But, you know what else would make it safer for the hitters? Not throwing a curveball you can't control. Your inability to do something doesn't make it OK to cheat.

Just like your inability to cover Gronk doesn't make it OK to commit a penalty.

So don't tell me, "What can I do? I have to hit his knees or his head." That's garbage. Instead of flying out of control trying to jar the ball loose, pull up, and make a clean tackle. The fact that you suck isn't my problem.

Just because something is hard doesn't mean you don't have to do it. The rules are the rules. Does this make it easier to complete a pass? Yes. Sorry. Does this mean you have to learn how to wrap a guy up and actually tackle him, as opposed to trying to knock him over? Yes. Sorry. Does this mean someone like Gronk might require a double team? Yes. Sorry.

It doesn't mean you're allowed to commit a penalty.

Monday, December 18, 2017

That’s How You Know the NFL Isn’t a Real Sports League

The Patriots defeated the Steelers last night to regain the #1 seed in the AFC. They accomplished this, in part, because of the proper application of NFL rules.

Yeah, I know. That sentence seems weird to me too. I’d like to think that most victories are because of the proper application of league rules. But, I digress. Because, you know exactly what I’m talking about. After the Patriots took a three-point lead with about a minute left in the game, the defense had a bit of a brain cramp. They allowed a slant play to gain almost 70 yards, giving the Steelers first and goal at the ten yard line. Then, on the next play they allowed Jesse James to stand wide open at the goal line. Then things got weird.

James got the ball, spun to the ground, lunged for the goal line and stuck the ball into the end zone. There, the ball wobbled a bit as it hit the ground. After a long review to confirm the score, everyone began to realize that maybe people didn’t think it was a completed catch. And, lo and behold, that was what the call was. The old “catch-not a catch” rule reared its ugly head. It was ruled that since James was going to the ground, he needed to complete the catch before lunging for the goal. He didn’t. Incomplete.

Two plays later another QB tried a goal line slant against the Patriots, and was picked off to snatch defeat from the arms of victory.

This isn’t the first time that this rule has affected a play, or a game. It’s one of the reasons that when asked about his catch in the Super Bowl, Julian Edelman said he thought he caught it, but nobody really knows what a “catch” is these days. But, even though it initially causes some confusion, most impartial observers agree that they have been properly applying a bad rule.

It’s the sort of bad rule that having instant replay forces you into sometimes. Where suddenly you have to define something like “a catch” not in terms of looking at it and just knowing he caught it. No, you need a frame by frame definition. Can the ball move at all? By how much? How many milliseconds before the knee goes down? I think most everyone seeing it at full speed knew it was a catch, but in slow motion knew it wasn’t. That’s sort of an annoying rule.

Like I said, though, it’s a byproduct of instant replay. Major League Baseball had a similar issue when they first allowed replay review. They had to define things like “a catch” Was it when the ball entered the glove? When it hit the back of the glove? Did the glove have to fold in around the ball? What frame of video showed the catch? They also had trouble with the “transfer” rule. When did a player drop a ball when trying to throw it as opposed to trying to catch it? MLB really botched the first attempt at the transfer rule. Basically the way they wrote it, throwing the ball back to the infield constituted not catching it.

But, because MLB is a competitive sports league, they looked at changing the rule so it made sense. Having seen it in action, they knew examples of what they wanted the rule to look like and changed the wording to match. It was so important to them that they made the amazing decision to change the wording mid season. So now a catch that looked like a catch was ruled a catch. 

So what has the NFL done about their catch rule? Absolutely nothing. 

Because they don't care. They're not a competitive sports league. Every year they become more like WWE. They're basically the live version of fantasy football. It's just something for people to watch and bet on. 

Because a competitive league doesn't suspend its best player for no reason. It doesn't take away draft picks if a team is doing well. It doesn't pick one team to be a villain just to help ratings. And, they certainly don't allow something as crucial as catching the football to be ruled so awkwardly. 

When do you do all those things? When you just want viewers. When you need something for people to talk about. When you need a Kylo Ren for every Rey. When you want controversy to rule the water cooler in the morning. Any controversy. 

So the NFL is thrilled this morning. They don't care that one of their best teams lost because of a screwed up rule. They don't care that it threw the balance of power in the AFC from one team to another. They don't care that one team basically grabbed a folding chair to smack the other team with. They just care that EVERYONE is talking about it today. 

The WWE should be so lucky. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Is That More Like It?

It's amazing how things can change. Before the season opener, many fans (not just me) were actually hinting that this patriots team might just flirt with 19-0. Even after losing Edelman, they were just too loaded.

Then they went out and laid an egg.

My goodness, everyone did a 180. This team was overrated! We ignored their flaws! They're just not good anymore!

Now, it's possible that the team was overrated. After all, hard to underrate a team when you're predicting it to go 19-0. But, in theory, the loss to the Chiefs should have been shocking. It's the sort of thing that happens. Teams sometime just don'r match up well, especially early in the season. There's a reason Patriots teams seem to get better as the season goes on. Because they do. As the team gels and everyone learns their job, it's easier for them to do their job. So, Kansas City was the right team at the right time. At least from their perspective. 

But, give the Patriots coaching staff that much game film to work with, and they came up with some new plans. New ways to make their limited personnel work for them.

Then they went out and crushed the Saints.

So, which is the real Patriots? Of course, they both are. The Pats have excelled lately at changing their entire approach depending on the game. One week they'll air it out for 500 yards. The next, run the ball almost exclusively. It's what's so fascinating about this dynasty. You never know what you're going to see.

Other than lots of wins.

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