The Patriots had a successful outing with their Alumni Squad on the field. In reporting on the game, two of B/R’s journalist, Terry Robinson and Glenn Card, would like to present the player highlights.
As a lead-in, we checked in with the Oakland Raiders organization. It appears that Al Davis is protesting the game, as he has not been able to recruit alumni players to participate in this game.
It seems that all the players that were contacted stipulated that they would only consider playing if Al Davis were to step down as President. One player who requested to remain anonymous stated, “It’s pretty much unanimous, Al needs to step away from the organization if he wants our support.”
There were a couple of injuries during pregame warm-ups. Terry Glenn incurred a hamstring pull. He was heard saying, “I felt something go pop."
Irving Fryar, who was running some toe-drag drills while holding a kitchen knife in one hand and his pregnant wife in the other, went down in a heap of severed tendons and missed the game entirely.
“I’m outta here,” he said with a scowl. “I wanted to play this game in Miami, anyway.”
There was a short delay to the beginning of the game as the Patriots needed to refill the oxygen tanks after the team ran out from the tunnel to the side lines. It seems the replacement players needed to gas up before they took the field.
Hall of Famer Mike “Luxury” Haynes, the nine-time Pro Bowl corner, was lured away from his job as the NFL's Vice President of Player and Employee Development long enough to strap on the pads and play the entire game. He dazzled the fans with a touchdown-saving pick late in the fourth quarter.
Haynes also ran back a punt for seven yards in the first half and almost took it to the end zone before running out of gas at the 40-yard line.
Following a 27-yard “bomb” to Stanley “Steamer” Morgan, quarterback Steve Grogan was forced to exit after tearing cartilage on a 20-minute scramble in the backfield that yielded three yards. Several plays later, Sam “Bam” Cunningham finally punched it into the end zone.
Three-time Pro Bowler Raymond Clayborn, who started at the other corner, was delighted to be reunited with some of his former teammates. Clayborn had two picks in the game, one for a first-quarter touchdown.
“Maybe now we can get some love,” he said after the game.
Roland James took time off from his youth services work to provide more help in the defensive backfield, taking his familiar place at safety. He recovered a fumble deep in Patriots territory in the third quarter and later returned a punt for a touchdown.
Linebacker Steve Nelson, a regular on the Patriots All-Access television show, Boston’s WEEI radio, and New England Cable News, and his former cohort Don Blackmon combined for three sacks, and two pass deflections.
Blackmon later blocked a FG that was recovered by Julius Adams. It took officials 15 minutes to extricate the ball from Adams’ considerable girth.
We did catch up to Drew Bledsoe as he stalked the sidelines, toting the clipboard. He was mumbling something about getting his chance to play in the fourth quarter. He never did make it out onto the field.
Troy Brown ended up playing on offense as wide receiver, on defense as DB, and on special teams. He fielded punts and kickoffs. He was also seen on the sidelines refilling the Gatorade bottles when he wasn’t driving the injury cart.
Curtis Martin was a no-show; it seems the NY Jets hired him out of retirement to steal him away from the Pats once again. Cory Dillion did show up and did a great job running between the tackles as he gained 63 yards on 14 carries. Dillion also had two receptions for another 14 yards.
The Patriots utilized a multitude of personnel changes throughout the game for this win in Oakland. It wasn’t as much a plan to confuse the Raiders, as it was the shuffling in of fresh bodies.
After the game, we asked Coach Belichick if he planned to utilize the replacement players through the rest of the season. He responded with his usual vagueness, saying, “I’ve got to review the game tape”.
The First Annual Patriots Alumni Game was dedicated to the memories of Darryl Stingley (1951-2007) and Pro Bowler Leon Gray (1951-2001).
The game ball was, of course, awarded to the infamous John “Twelfth Man of the Field” Deere. Ron Meyer had no comment.