This is the time of year that football reporters have the best chance to step away and recharge before the start of training camp in late July. There are no more organized team activities to cover, no minicamps, and most of the coaches are on vacation themselves.
This year has been a little different with the Patriots, mainly because of Aaron Hernandez being charged with murder and five weapons counts. Hernandez is no longer a Patriot but the story lingers. For example, ABC's "Nightline" was in town last week and word is that they are devoting a good portion of an upcoming show to Hernandez (possibly as early as tonight).
Still, there was a chance to break away in recent weeks, and upon returning, there were a few thoughts that came to mind as it pertains to this space:
1. Covering Hernandez, but not at the expense of anything else. This was some of the feedback that was in the email inbox, with some asking why there is so much Hernandez coverage when he's no longer a member of the team. The feeling here is that it's going to be a balance in the weeks to come. It is a big story, and one of the main areas that will be spotlighted is how the Patriots adjust offensively. Specific to the Hernandez case, the plan is to pay close attention to make sure coverage doesn't come at the expense of anything else.
2. Hat tip to Field and Mike. It's tough to get where you want to go without a solid team, and here's a hat tip to teammates Field Yates and Mike Rodak for keeping things going in this space at a time when it takes a little extra effort and thought to do so. Field stepped in with the quick-hit thoughts the last two Sunday mornings, and Mike's "Bubble Watch" in which he features one player per day has become a staple for us at this time of year. The three of us will continue to focus on this in the weeks to come, as rookies report for training camp July 21 and veterans on July 25, with the first open practice on July 26.
3. Revisiting goals. Thinking back to when ESPNBoston.com was created in September of 2009, goals for the blog were relayed. It's always good to revisit them before starting another football season, our fifth at the site. I'm open to any feedback (share thoughts in the comments section).
4. Tweet-ups already in the works. If you're planning on traveling to any of the early-season road games this year, tweet-ups are already in the works for Buffalo, Atlanta and Cincinnati. Those usually take place in the late afternoon/early evening on Saturday. Just a chance to get together and chat some Patriots football.
5. Not much compares to covering sports in Boston. They haven't all been feel-good stories, but it seemed like Boston has been at the center of sports news in recent weeks. Just another reminder of how sports is such a big part of the culture here. If you're covering a team, you want to write for people who care, where it means something. Interesting times with all of Boston's major professional teams and I'm excited about what's ahead in this space with the Patriots.