Gary Tanguay is a co-host of “Sports Tonight”. Gary covers all of New England sports, mostly notably the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins. Growing up in a small town in Maine, Gary has a strong passion for everything sports in Boston. Those who have seen his work on Comcast SportsNet and other networks know that he will always speak his mind.
I had the great pleasure to talk with Gary about Sports Tonight, all things Boston sports, movies, and fatherhood.
Art Eddy: First off the Patriots are just showing that they can keep winning no matter who they have supporting Tom Brady. For you what is the most impressive part of the Pats being 4-0?
Gary Tanguay: I think it was the offensive performance against Atlanta. Now Atlanta is not a good defense. We knew that going in. They were also hurt on defense, however this offense put up 30 points. People want to forget about the Aaron Hernandez thing. But the reality is that they put up 30 points on the road without (Rob) Gronkowski, Hernandez, (Danny) Amendola, and Shane Vereen. That is amazing.
If you take any other team and take away their four top offensive weapons that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen.
AE: Besides Brady, who else is the stepping up for the team in a big way?
GT: I think we overlook the relationship between Josh McDaniels and Brady. The offensive coordinator and that quarterback are like Frick and Frack. They are like Ricky and Lucy. They are Fred and Barney. I think that is why they work so well. I think that is why they have been able to overcome some of these things here. I think people don’t look to that enough.
I think it is the depth at running back. LeGarrette Blount and also (Brandon) Bolden have come on strong. Then (Bolden) was busted four games for PED’s and then he was hurt. I kind of forgot about him. Shane Vereen is awesome. He should be ready in a few weeks. If you have Gronk and Vereen that is kind of the equivalent of Jimmy Graham and (Darren) Sproles. Going into the playoffs? Look out mister. If those guys are healthy you really got something there.
AE: Looking to the future how far do you think the Pats can go this season?
GT: It depends on the defense. If the offense comes back and they are healthy you can think Super Bowl. You are going to have to keep up with Denver. Right now it seems that Denver and the Patriots are on a crash course for the AFC title game. That is the way I read it.
Cincinnati lost to Cleveland. Cincinnati was the fashionable pick at the beginning of the year. I have said this before on the show to Scott Zolak here we go. 15 years later it is still Brady and Manning. A hundred years from now it will still be Brady and Manning. It never changes.
In order for the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl it is the defense. The defense showed me something against Atlanta. Atlanta is not an elite team, but they were better than the three teams the Pats played before. It has been a long time since the defense got key stops. They got a great stop at the end of the Atlanta game. The Patriots in their glory years always gave up a ton of yards. Bill Belichick’s theory is that it is better to have the ball in front of you.
AE: Switching to baseball the Red Sox led by John Farrell made the biggest 180 between two seasons. How do you like the Sox chances to win the World Series?
GT: I think that they are the favorite. I still worry about Detroit. I worry about (Justin) Verlander pitching the game of his life. He hasn’t pitched well this year, but you always have to worry about guys like that. The (Tigers) got hitters. Their bullpen isn’t as good as the Red Sox bullpen though.
The thing of it is that depends on the health of (Miguel) Cabrera. The Red Sox bats have been good all year. Sometimes when you get into the playoffs and you run into a good pitcher and you run into a buzz saw and it could screw you up. I think the pitching will be there. I think the defense will be there. I wonder if the bats go cold because they have to face two or three good pitchers in a row. That is my concern.
AE: Let’s talk the Boston Celtics. The Brooklyn Nets have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. How tough will it be to see them in Nets uniforms?
GT: KG, who brought a championship here, it is not as hard. He started in Minnesota. KG is a great player. My God, it was such a privilege to see him play here. It was awesome. It was great.
To me, Pierce is one of those guys that as soon as the Nets uniform comes off, he comes home and we raise his number and have the Paul Pierce night. I saw Paul Pierce grow up. I know him. I like him. I saw him mature. He is a father of a couple of wonderful kids. He has a wonderful wife. The Pierce thing will be tough. I kind of look at it like Paul is just on loan to Brooklyn for a little bit.
There are so many guys that play sports for the money. Paul will be playing pickup basketball at the YMCA in Los Angeles when he is a 100. He is a gym rat and he loves to play ball. That guy just loves to play basketball. He will be 75 and be schooling the youngsters. Pierce is the guy that I have an emotional attachment to.
AE: Who are your top five all-time New England athletes?
GT: Oh my God. Wow. Some of them will be personal. First of all Bill Russell. He revolutionized the game defensively. He is the reason why the Celtics are the dynasty that they are. I know that (Michael) Jordan and LeBron (James) are going to be considered the greatest ever, but for me it is Russell. Just the things he did and how he dominated games especially on the defensive end.
My boyhood idol is John Havlicek. Always has been and always will be. First time I was at the (Boston) Garden and I was walking in and I saw him in the parking lot. He said to me, ‘Hi Gary.’ I was just like oh my God, John just said hi to me like I was his neighbor. I was trying to play it cool, but that was a great memory.
Another guy is who I work with right now and that is Troy Brown. Troy Brown is one my favorite Patriots because one day we were sitting in the office watching the NFL Network. He sees Devin Hester return a ball on a kickoff. Now Troy doesn’t say the word love a lot, but he says, ‘Man I would love to be out there and return the ball. I loved that.’ I told him that he was crazy. He had 11 guys trying to take his head off, but he just told me that he loved it.
(Tom) Brady is awesome. You have to put him in the top five. I don’t really know him personally, but you have to put Brady up there. Number five I would say is Cam Neely. He is great with the Bruins. Well you know what? Cam gets all the credit. Lyndon Byers baby! Nothing like LB. Give me Lyndon Byers. He is a friend of mine. Give me LB!
AE: I know you are a movie buff. What is your favorite movie of all time?
GT: Well I am going to break it down a little bit. For comedy if “Animal House” is on I got to watch it. It is such a rite of passage. My mother wouldn’t let me go. I had to talk her into it. It is a classic. There are so many great lines in that movie, which I will always love.
The best written movie that I have ever seen, where at every twist and turn I didn’t know what was going to happen next was “The Usual Suspects.” It was an outstanding cast with Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey was awesome, Chazz Palminteri, and Kevin Pollak. Sensational. Sensational.
The cheap guy movie that I can never turn off is “The Rock.” Nicholas Cage, Jerry Bruckheimer and (Sean) Connery. You know how it is going to end, but every time you wait to see if he is going to get the flare up. I love Connery in that. He is just tremendous.
Another great movie was “Nobody’s Fool” with Paul Newman. It was tremendous. It had Bruce Willis and Philip Seymour Hoffman had a small role in it. I come from a small town in Maine, so I love those small town stories. I could give you more, but those are at the top of the list.
AE: Tell me a bit about your family.
GT: I have the greatest family in the world. I have a wife, who is nine years younger than me, but is much more mature than me. She is smarter than me and she is awesome. My kids are awesome. I have an 11 year old in Harper and she is a doll. She just got her phone. She is texting and growing up on me. Then there is my son, Van, who is my athlete. He loves lacrosse. He loves basketball. Loves XBOX like every other kid. Then there is August, who is 25 months. She is like the boss. She has got this swagger. It must because she is the third child and it is survival of the fittest.
AE: What do your kids think about your job? Do they ever get to tag along?
GT: They like to come to work a lot. They love to run around a lot. Van likes to bring his NERF hoop here. Harper is old enough where she thinks it is sort of a pain. All the boys who follow sports ask her, ‘Is your dad Gary Tanguay?’ She gets so annoyed by that.
They don’t like that fact that I work at night. That is one problem with the job. You are always working when sports is on. Van always likes to come to work. Van got to play basketball with Rajon Rondo. They get great seats. They were on the sidelines for the Patriots game. So they really like it then. Harper is unimpressed, but Van likes it because he loves sports. I met my wife in TV and she is really not impressed because she knows what frauds we are. (Both laugh.)
AE: What are some core values that you want to instill in your children?
GT: Honesty. Do not lie. Kids will lie. They are going to lie, but you got to tell them that they can’t lie. Van will lie about something stupid. It would like if we ask him if he took a shower and he says, ‘Yes.’ Yet he is completely dry. Then two seconds later he will say, ‘No, I didn’t.’
Also bullying. I never want my children to make another kid feel bad. I think that they pretty much get that. I also don’t want them to be bullied. And manners. There should use please and thank you. I am not big on the whole mister and misses thing. I think that is the one thing that I am unorthodox on.
AE: Last thing I have to ask is where did the whole “regular guy” Twitter thing come from?
GT: Greg Dickerson started this thing when Harper was born. When she was born I wasn’t getting any sleep. When I would come into the television station and people would say hello to me I would grunt back to them. So they just started impersonating me. Greg said to an intern, ‘Please never talk to Mr. Tanguay and when he passes you never look him in the eye.’
This poor intern was running away from me. So this whole thing started where people would say that I had a mansion and exaggerating about me. They started doing this on TV. So people think I am this guy who has a staff and pompous. People started to think I had servants and stuff. One of the guys asked me if when I go to the grocery store I wear a blazer. I was like, ‘Are you high?’
I don’t get it. I get up with my kids early in the morning. I take them to school. I don’t shower until like three in the afternoon. When I get up I wear the same shirt as I wore to bed and go to the grocery store. So one day I just tweeted that I cleaned the bathroom with the hashtag regular guy. People were like you did not. You had your maid do it. So the next day I wrote, folded the laundry. Regular guy. So that was the whole story behind that. It was quite funny.