Bob Halloran’s Birthday Brain Aneurysm  

On July 22, 2016, Bob Halloran was one day away from celebrating his 53rd birthday. Each year he celebrates his birthday by completing the number of pushups that matched his age.  

Halloran decided to push himself to do 63 pushups that day. He recalls getting to 10 or 11 pushups when he felt a “pop” behind his right eye. He recalls not feeling any pain in the immediate aftermath but noticed a headache developing the next day. He assumed it was just a migraine and continued going to work as a Sports Anchor/Reporter at WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston. 

“I come from a family of nurses and I said to him, ‘You should go to the doctor, that could have been an aneurysm,’” said Eileen Curran, Bob Halloran’s wife. “Bob said he felt fine.” 

The headache became increasingly worse as time went on and eventually caused him to stay up all night. This led him to schedule a doctor’s appointment on July 28.  

Before he could arrive at the appointment, Halloran drove to the first day of New England Patriots’ training camp to film a news package for WCVB-TV Channel 5. After completing the midday live report and package for the evening newscast, he hopped in the car to head to his appointment. 

Unfortunately, Halloran never made it to his appointment. He pulled off Route 138 in Canton, Massachusetts to stop at a Dunkin Donuts for an egg sandwich and coffee. As he pulled out of the parking lot, he started to pass out and eventually drove off the road into a large bush. He is unsure how long he was unconscious, but when he regained consciousness, he was surrounded by EMTs and an unknown bystander who had brought him an ice-cold bottle of water. 

“I’m an idiot who doesn’t know anything about aneurysms and when I had this really bad headache, which I don’t get headaches, I should have listened to my body and not waited five or six days to respond,” said Halloran. “I should have been to the hospital much more quickly and maybe that would have had even better results for me. Or I just got really lucky that, even though I wasn’t smart and proactive, things worked out.” 

Halloran was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton in Milton, Massachusetts. A CAT scan confirmed that Halloran had suffered a brain aneurysm. Dr. John Mahoney, recommended that Halloran should be transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. 

“The thing that kept going through my head while driving to the hospital was – he was conscious — that’s a good sign and I need to get him into Boston, as Milton Hospital is a community hospital,” said Curran. 

Dr. Mahoney recommended Beth Israel because Dr. Chris Ogilvy,  the Director, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Brain Aneurysm Institute was one of the “top doctors” in the world. Dr. Ogilvy concluded that the initial “pop” behind Halloran’s right eye, was a small tear instead of a complete rupture of the aneurysm. The complete rupture happened on July 28.  

His wife recalls the first two and half weeks in hospital being “grueling” as Halloran was in the ICU, where doctors inserted a pump into his head to drain liquid that was building up inside of his brain.  

“He doesn’t remember a lot of his time in ICU, which actually is a blessing, because I wouldn’t want him to remember that horrible pain,” said Curran. 
 

On November 1, Halloran returned to WCVB-TV Channel 5 after 13 weeks recovering. In an exclusive interview EMass Sports, Bob Halloran explains his motivation for returning and what he learned from his time in the hospital. 

“This could happen to anyone so I would say to everyone – if you have a horrible, excruciatingly painful headache – go see your doctor,” said Curran. “If your doctor says it’s stress or a migraine, go see someone else. You need to get a CT scan – it could save your life.” 

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 1 in 50 people have an unruptured brain aneurysm. In addition, Halloran wanted to remind everyone that 50% of cases with ruptured aneurysms are fatal. 

“People who suddenly have a headache like they never had before should recognize this is a serious issue and get to a hospital as quickly as possible,” said Halloran. 

Bob Halloran Recalls Patriots’ Nail Biters vs. Panthers

Since 2003, the Carolina Panthers have defeated the New England Patriots in three of their five matchups (including the postseason).

Three of those contests were won in the final seconds, with all three being won by four points or less. WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston Sports Anchor/Reporter Bob Halloran ranked his three most memorable nail-biting contests between the two teams and how he reacted to each game’s memorable finish ahead of today’s matchup.

#3: 2017 Week 4 at New England

New England started their defense of their Super Bowl 51 title, by surrendering 95 points in the first three weeks posting a 2-1 record in that time span. They would fall behind 30-16 early in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady led back-to-back touchdown drives on their final two possessions leaving just over three minutes on the clock. The game was tied 30-30.

Unfortunately, Tom Brady would never see the ball again, as Cam Newton led the Panthers on a 10 play, 46-yard drive into Graham Gano’s field goal range. Gano nailed a 48-yard field goal as time expired to complete Carolina’s 33-30 victory in Foxboro. Newton finished with 360 total yards and four touchdowns (one rushing). Receivers Devin Funchess and Calvin Benjamin finished with 11 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’d say the offense was equally to blame for getting the Patriots into a 14-point hole,” said Halloran. “They were able to climb out of it with a touchdown, followed by a Panther three-and-out possession, and then another touchdown by the Patriots tied the game at 30-30 with 3:09 to go. That’s plenty of time for any NFL team to move the ball into field goal range. The Panthers did convert two third downs on their final drive, so the Patriots had their chances to stop them, but failed.”

New England’s defense would allow 20 or more points just twice in during the rest of the regular season and would defeat the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars at home in the playoffs before facing the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52. They would surrender 538 yards of offense against backup quarterback Nick Foles, losing 41-33 in the process.

#2:  2013 Week 11 at Carolina

The play that stands out from this contest is the non-call on the pass interference against tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone as time expired. As the announcers pointed out, there was a lot of contact with Gronkowski by middle linebacker Luke Kuechly in the end zone and a flag was originally thrown, making it appear as if a pass interference penalty would be enforced. Unfortunately, it was picked up and the game was over. Instead of getting a free play at the one-yard line, safety Robert Lester’s interception stood as called.

“The ball was obviously in the air, and Kuechly bearhugged Gronk to keep him from stopping and going to get the ball,” said Halloran. “A better throw would have made it a more obvious call because I think the refs could make the case that it wasn’t a catchable ball, but I don’t agree with that assessment.” 

This was Cam Newton’s first matchup against Tom Brady and he led the Panthers on a 13 play, 83-yard drive, before firing a 25-yard touchdown to Ted Ginn Jr. with 59 seconds left in the game. He finished the contest with 271 total yards and three touchdowns. Tom Brady threw for 296 yards but finished with just one touchdown and an interception.

The Patriots would win six of their last seven games, before falling to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship.

#1: Super Bowl 38

“If I’m ranking these games, the Super Bowl has to be number one simply because it’s the Super Bowl,” said Halloran. “It’s striking that a guy like Jake Delhomme, with an otherwise uneventful career, could go toe to toe with Tom Brady and hold his own pretty well.”

The game began with the first 10 possessions ending with a combined nine punts, a fumble, missed field goal, and a blocked field goal. The Patriots scored touchdowns on the final two possessions and held a 14-10 lead at halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter on both sides, the fourth quarter would turn into a shootout that featured a combined 37 points in six drives. Antowain Smith, DeShaun Foster, Muhsin Muhammad, Mike Vrabel, and Ricky Proehl all scored touchdowns knotting the game at 29 apiece with 1:08 left on the clock. However, this was not Tom Brady’s first time leading a game-winning drive in the Super Bowl.

In Super Bowl 36, he led a nine-play, 53-yard drive to set up kicker Adam Vinatieri for a 48-yard game-winning kick to earn the franchise’s first Super Bowl as time expired. Against the Panthers, he only needed to go a distance of 37 yards on six plays, thanks to a kickoff out of bounds by Panthers’ kicker John Kasay. 

Brady’s longest play of the drive set up was a 17-yard strike to receiver Deion Branch that set up Vinatieri for a 41-yard kick. After having two missed kicks earlier, with one sailing wide right and the other being blocked, Vinatieri split the uprights right down the middle on his final kick to hand his team a 32-29 victory.

Tom Brady earned his second Super Bowl MVP honors finishing a then Super Bowl record 32 completions for 354 yards and three touchdowns. Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme finished with 323 yards and three touchdowns. 

Delhomme would finish his 11-year career with a 56-40 record, 126 touchdowns, and 101 interceptions. Conversely, Tom Brady enters week nine of this season with a 236-71 record, 606 touchdowns, and 196 interceptions on route to winning a record-setting seven Super Bowls and five Super Bowl MVPs.

2001 New England Patriots Reincarnated? 

The New England Patriots (4-4) have underperformed this season with a 4-4 record, just two seasons after Tom Brady left in free agency to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 24 games since Brady’s departure, the Patriots are 11-13, while the Buccaneers won Super Bowl 55 and have won 21 of 28 games (including the postseason) with Brady under center. 

However, WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston Sports Anchor/Reporter Bob Halloran believes that this year’s New England Patriots can replicate their 2001 campaign based on close contests against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2), Dallas Cowboys (6-1), and Los Angeles Chargers (5-3). Against the Buccaneers and Cowboys, New England combined for 668 yards on offense. Unfortunately, they lost both games in the final possessions thanks to a missed 56-yard field goal in Tom Brady’s homecoming in week four, and Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb breaking loose for a 35-yard game-winning score in overtime in week six.  

Their ability to go toe to toe with the best teams in the NFL with a rookie quarterback and a rebuilt receiving corps prompted Halloran to recall the following quote from Hall of Fame Cornerback Ty Law after their 2001 regular-season matchup against the St. Louis Rams: 

“We can look at this game and learn from it, but I think we can also look at this game and say we can play with anybody.” 

The Rams would win that game 24-17, behind quarterback Kurt Warner’s 401 yards and three touchdowns. New England’s defense did force two interceptions to keep the game close and those interceptions would repeat themselves when the two teams met again 10 weeks later in Super Bowl 36.  

This would mark the last defeat that season for the Patriots, as they rode a nine-game winning streak into Super Bowl. According to ESPN, they entered as 14-point underdogs. Three Rams’ turnovers resulted in all 17 first-half points for New England, including a 47-yard pick-6 by Ty Law in the second quarter. 

Trailing 17-3 entering the fourth quarter, St. Louis would rally for two touchdowns by Kurt Warner and Ricky Proehl, leaving 1:21 left on the clock and no timeouts for Tom Brady to work with. Brady led a nine-play, 53-yard drive to set up kicker Adam Vinatieri for a 48-yard field goal. He drilled the kick right down the middle as time expired to capture the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. 

Fast-forwarding to week eight this season, the Patriots had yet to defeat a team with a winning record. Their only wins were against the New York Jets (twice) and Houston Texans, who have won two games all season.  

Ahead of their matchup road matchup against the Chargers, Halloran stated: 

“They’ve won both their road games this year, albeit against subpar competition, but it shows they’re not intimidated by hostile environments or adversely affected by travel and fatigue. Also, the Chargers appear to be a bit of a paper tiger. They’re 4-2, but their point differential is a minus-2.” 

Bill Belichick’s defense held quarterback Justin Herbert to a 51% completion rate and 10 points in the second half, after falling trailing 14-13 at halftime. Patriots’ safety Adrian Phillips delivered the game’s turning point, by returning a 26-yard pick-6 with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter to hand his team a lead they would not relinquish. 

Offensively, New England relied on kicker Nick Folk, who finished with four field goals and running back Damien Harris added his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. Harris finished the contest with a team-high 23 rushes for 80 yards. New England finished with 141 yards on the ground against the league’s 32nd ranked run defense in yards per game, according to NFL Network. 

“Moving forward, they’ll have opportunities to prove that they are a very good team,” said Halloran. “Nothing is for certain, but as they play out the schedule, I’m curious to see how much they improve, especially when it comes to finding ways to win games late, which they didn’t do against the Buccaneers and Cowboys. Doing it against the Chargers isn’t quite enough to elevate my confidence to a very high degree, but I think again that it was a quality win, and we’ll see where the Patriots go from here.” 

Over the next five weeks, the Patriots will face two teams in the thick of the race for the playoffs: the Tennessee Titans (6-2), and Buffalo Bills (5-2). Halloran is particularly interested in seeing how the Patriots bounce back against the Buffalo Bills, who have won five of their last six games and outscored their opponents 178-86 during that stretch. 

“They’ve still got a chance to beat the (Buffalo) Bills for the AFC East title,” said Halloran. “Beating the Bills will be paramount for making that happen. Someone else said 9 wins will get a team into the playoffs this year. That seems likely based on all the parity I see, especially in the AFC. So, the Patriots have to win six of their final 10 games. Not easy, but certainly a possibility. If this team ultimately replicates or approximates what the 2001 Patriots did, it’ll have to start revealing itself with winning football.” 

The Patriots head back on the road next week to face the Carolina Panthers (4-4). The game will kick off at 1 p.m. from Bank of America Stadium. 

Catch Bob Halloran on WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston weeknights at 6 p.m. For more information about Halloran’s thoughts on the Patriots dynasty, purchase his book called Count the Rings!: Inside Boston’s Wicked Awesome Reign as the City of Champions. 

New England Sports teams have won 11 championships since Bob Halloran joined WCVB-TV Channel 5 in 2003. Photo by Mike Cole.

“He’s creative, funny, and witty, all while delivering the important details in every story,” said WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston Sports Producer Samantha D’Orsi. “Working with Bob is a breeze. As his producer, I can always count on him to turn content efficiently and on time. He comes to work ready to go and has a backup plan for every story idea. He’s always where he needs to be, when he needs to be there – and believe me that’s half the battle in this industry.”