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Tom Brady takes another turn towards the bizarre with speaking gig at self-help guru Tony Robbins’ ‘wealth summit’

04.28.17 at 2:53 pm ET
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Tom Brady is appearing at a pricey "wealth seminar" with Tony Robbins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady is appearing at a pricey “wealth seminar” with Tony Robbins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

It might be time to start worrying about Tom Brady.

The five-time Super Bowl champion is slated to speak at Tony Robbins’ “Wealth Summit” in Boston June 8. For those unfamiliar with Robbins’ work, he’s a self-help expert who’s perhaps best known for encouraging his followers to walk on burning coal. Tickets to attend the extravaganza cost between $149 and $2,495.

In defense of Brady, he’s not the only person who will be appearing on stage with Robbins at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. His teammate and devotee Julian Edelman will be right by his side, along with celebrity chef Bethenny Frankel and CNBC host Marcus Lemonis.

Now, there are two possible reasons why Brady is aligning himself with Robbins. Neither is particularly comforting:

TB12 is a true believer

Brady’s history suggests he might be inclined to buy Robbins’ apparent quackery. The Patriots quarterback is business partners with his fitness guru, Alex Guerrero, who was once a pitchman for a fraudulent cancer cure. Boston Magazine published an expose on Guerrero in 2015, revealing his history of nefarious business practices.  In 2012, the FTC ordered Guerrero to shut down the production of Neurosafe, a phony panacea for concussions and head trauma. Brady endorsed the product.

Brady’s weirdo plant-based diet has also been eviscerated by health professionals. Mike Roussell, who has a Ph.D. in nutrition, went as far as to call Brady’s diet “absurd” in an op-ed for Men’s Health, saying it’s “full of buzzwords, not science.”

Robbins, who earns an estimated $30 million annually, is a fixture in socially elite circles. Known as the “CEO Whisperer,” some of the country’s most successful business executives and politicians follow aspects of his self-improvement program. He was asked to advise Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings and hangs with billionaires like Virgin’s Richard Branson and casino tycoon Steve Wynn.

But all of this elbow rubbing with heads of state and business moguls doesn’t legitimize Robbins’ practices. Remember, the Church of Scientology attracts a wide collection of celebrities and movie stars. Rich people who are isolated from society sometimes adopt cockamamie belief systems. Brady is a prime example of that.

Brady is there to peddle his products

In case you haven’t heard, Brady is marketing an array of luxury items: $200 nutritional manuals, $100 recovery sleepwear and $78 “revolting vegan kibble,” to quote Deadspin. Folks who can spend thousands of dollars to hear Robbins speak would appear to be his perfect customer base.

These are Brady’s people now, and it shouldn’t be surprising. That can happen when you have a career net worth of $180 million and marry a supermodel who’s has even more money than that.

When Brady retires, it’s apparent he’ll exist on a level far removed from the everyday world. If he’s not a believer in Robbins now, he may soon become one.

 

Read More: Tom Brady,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: NFL executive calls out fans booing Roger Goodell; Linda Cohn says politics hurting ESPN viewership

04.28.17 at 9:29 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB:
NY Mets at Washington, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Chicago Cubs at Boston, 7:10 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Washington at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Boston at Chicago, 8 p.m. (CSN, ESPN)
NBA: LA Clippers at Utah, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL: NFL Draft, 7 p.m. (ESPN, NFL Network)
NFL: NFL Draft, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Nashville at St. Louis, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Edmonton at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Per tradition, fans at the NFL draft in Philadelphia Thursday rained boos down on Roger Goodell every time he took the podium to announce a pick.

Goodell responded to the boos with a smile but Greg Aiello, the league’s senior vice president of public relations, fired off a tweet bashing the fans for their behavior.

“If those 70,000+ great fans in Philly like the Draft being there, they should cheer Roger Goodell. He’s the reason the Draft is on the road,” Aiello tweeted.

And fans swiftly responded:

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ESPN’s new rumored left-leaning lineup likely won’t bring lost viewers back

04.27.17 at 5:14 pm ET
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ESPN is in the midst of  massive layoffs. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN is in the midst of massive layoffs. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN’s broken business model is the driving force behind this week’s massive layoffs. The WorldWide Leader has lost 10 million subscribers over the last five years and is paying exorbitant rights fees to broadcast the NFL and NBA. Rising costs combined with declining revenue isn’t a sustainable business plan.

That harsh reality makes it appear as if ESPN’s plight was inevitable. Cable subscriptions are way down in the era of cord-cutting, meaning all networks are drawing from a smaller audience pool. There’s fewer eyeballs to go around.

Despite those troubling trends, ESPN is still available in more than 88 million households (as of December 2016). Even though its parent company, Disney, ordered executives to trim payroll, ESPN possesses more resources than most other media conglomerates. They have the tools to turn it around.

But their lackluster programming is preventing them from doing so.

Given the vast number of reporters who have been canned, it’s apparent ESPN is moving further away from news and veering more towards opinion. While that may cause haughty media critics to bemoan the direction of the industry on Twitter, it’s the right call. In today’s world, where information and highlights can be accessed instantaneously on social media feeds, there’s less of a thirst for news-based programming. Comcast SportsNet New England went through a similar overhaul earlier this year, in which it downsized its news department and expanded its nightly debate shows.

The problem with ESPN is, their studio shows don’t offer much in terms of disagreement or provocation. Outside of “First Take,” which now features Max Kellerman doing a poor man’s Skip Bayless impersonation alongside Stephen A. Smith, few of its programs showcase hosts with varying viewpoints. The exception is “Pardon the Interruption,” but ratings for the iconic program are down by more than 10 percent in comparison to last year.

On a recent edition of Sports Illustrated’s media podcast with Richard Deitsch, James Andrew Miller, who authored “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” predicted the network’s new weekday lineup. It is as follows:

6:00-7:00 a.m.: Re-airing of west coast “SportsCenter” with Neil Everett and Stan Verett

7:00-10:00 a.m.: Mike Greenberg’s new morning variety show

10:00-12:00 p.m.: “First Take”

12:00-1:00 p.m.: New show with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre

1:00-6:00 p.m.: Afternoon programming, including Dan Le Batard’s “Highly Questionable,” “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption”

6:00-7:00 p.m.: “SC6″ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith

Evenings: Live sporting events

11:00 p.m.: “SportsCenter”

Midnight: “SportsCenter” with Scott Van Pelt

The rumored Greenberg morning show seems especially problematic. Given all of the options for morning TV, including partisan cable news programs drawing record numbers in the Trump era, it’s difficult to find a constituency for Greenberg’s inoffensive style. The networks –– CBS, ABC and NBC –– already have the market cornered on breezy morning talk. It seems unlikely the milquetoast anchor would be able to offer anything different.

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Read More: ESPN,

Steve Buckley: Bill Simmons tried to out me

04.27.17 at 12:57 pm ET
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Steve Buckley announced he was gay in 2011. (Photo provided)

Steve Buckley announced he was gay in 2011. (Photo provided)

The Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley announced he was gay in a column seven years ago. But he says Bill Simmons tried to out him a decade earlier.

During the debut episode of WEEI’s latest podcast, “Two Outs with Steve Buckley and Alex Reimer,” the longtime sports scribe describes his coming out process. While Buckley wasn’t publicly out until 2011, he says he didn’t make much of an effort to hide his sexuality when around friends and some co-workers.

Simmons, who was writing for the defunct AOL Digital Cities in the late 1990s and early 2000s, often wrote acerbic commentary about Boston sports media members. During that time period, Buckley says Simmons made several thinly veiled references to his sexuality on his blog. Most of Simmons’ work for Digital Cities, including the articles in question, have been expunged.

“I’ve never really talked about this before, but Bill, during that period, made several references to my sexual orientation,” Buckley said. “‘Oh, he’s the most popular sports writer in Provincetown’ –– ‘wink’ ‘wink.'”

Buckley says the barbs “devastated” him and caused some angst. He was planning on coming out in 2003, but then his mother passed away, causing him to push the announcement back. When he penned his column eight years later, Buckley says he decided to not hold any grudges.

“I made a decision when I came out –– ‘Blood is a big expense,’ to use a line from the Godfather,” he said. “I wasn’t going to go carrying baggage for the rest of my life. If I saw Bill right now, I would talk to him about it. … I wanted to prevent the next Bill Simmons from trying to out me. So I dealt with it, and I moved on.”

When Buckley did come out, Simmons recorded a podcast with LZ Granderson, an openly gay sportswriter for ESPN. In it, Simmons seemed unimpressed with the nature of Buckley’s announcement.

“In 2011, is it too little to come out and write a column that says, ‘I’m gay?,'” he asked.

After the column was published, Buckley says he read some criticism from members of the LGBTQ community who felt he was exploiting the work of activists who participated in the Stonewall Riots and other seminal moments in LGBTQ history. He explains the standard-bearers of the gay rights movement laid the groundwork for him to come out.

“Someone wrote a letter to the editor in a paper that someone sent me,” Buckley said. “The basic message was, there were people back in the 60’s and 70’s and the Stonewall Riots, fighting the good fight, the AIDS quote and all of that, and they did all of the heavy lifting and then I just kind of swooped in and took advantage of all of that. Those were the real heroes. To which I say, ‘absolutely.’ But here’s why they miss the point: All of those noble people, beginning with the people who fought the police at Stonewall back in ’69, why did they do it? They did it so I could come out. They did it for me.”

Read More: Alex Reimer, Bill Simmons, Steve Buckley,

Pro golfer deletes creepy tweet to teenage female fan

04.27.17 at 12:10 pm ET
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 NY Post Sports — Grayson Murray’s open book policy on social media took a decidedly creepy turn Wednesday night.

The 23-year-old golfer and part-time model chaser, after admitting he “had a couple drinks,” fired off an inappropriate tweet to a young female fan after she posed the age-old question, “Why does everyone hate on @GraysonMurray?”

“Idk but I hate the fact you are in high school. You are pretty,” Murray replied in the since-deleted tweet, which had been captured.

The fan in question, a Dallas-based high schooler who had recently shared photos from her prom, responded to Murray’s remarks with, “Well thanks!”

Murray returned to Twitter on Thursday morning, switching the subject matter from personal to professional.

I cringed out loud when I saw this it’s so skeevy.

But I also laughed out loud. It’s quite a ballsy move and it’s kind of funny that he tweeted this as a quote tweet and not a reply where it’s at least a little more private. 

At least Murray did answer this girl’s question of why everyone hates on him. Certainly clears that up.

Here’s the first tweet he sent after he deleted the tweet in question: 

Way to subtly pivot to tweeting like a professional person and expect us to forget you just hit on a high-schooler. While this technique is frequently used, it is rarely effective. Screenshots are forever, as they say, so Murray’s clever attempt to distract us by tweeting about golf has failed.

ESPN appears to be scaling back its MLB coverage –– big time

04.27.17 at 11:37 am ET
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Karl Ravech (right) is reportedly going to see his role at ESPN significantly reduced. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Karl Ravech (right) is reportedly going to see his role at ESPN significantly reduced. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN gutted its MLB coverage Wednesday, laying off several prominent reporters and analysts. As a result, the WorldWide Leader is now looking towards the outside in an effort to beef up its baseball programming.

In a press release, ESPN announced it’s partnering with MLB Network to air “Intentional Talk,” the slap-and-tickle fest hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar. The program will run from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on ESPN2 beginning next week.

The collaboration between ESPN and MLB Network isn’t a surprise, given Disney’s 33 percent stake in MLB Advanced Media. It appears as if ESPN is dramatically cutting down on its original MLB studio programming, with “Baseball Tonight” mainstays such as Dallas Braden, Doug Glanville and Raul Ibanez receiving their walking papers Wednesday. The Hollywood Reporter says “Baseball Tonight” host Karl Ravech is going to see his role significantly reduced.

While ESPN pays MLB $700 million annually to broadcast games, it’s apparent baseball coverage is no longer a priority in Bristol. That’s likely a reflection on MLB’s lessened national standing. “Sunday Night Baseball,” once a marquee property, continues to see its ratings flounder in comparison to the network’s other major telecasts.

MLB will still be covered more prominently than the NHL –– ESPN canned three hockey reporters this week –– but the gap is closing.

Read More: ESPN, MLB,

Jemele Hill to Kirk Minihane: Meet me ‘face to face’

04.27.17 at 10:02 am ET
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None of the several dozen employees who ESPN canned Wednesday expressed animosity towards the WorldWide Leader on their way out the door.

Kirk Minihane did it for them.

While watching “SC:6″ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, Minihane offered up a less than flattering take about the show.

Despite receiving ample promotion, Smith and Hill have been unable to gain a steady audience for their new venture. As of last month, ratings for the 6:00 p.m. edition of “SportsCenter” were down 12 percent from 2016 –– on par with “Pardon the Interruption.”

The reaction to the program has been harsh as well. Yahoo finance writer Daniel Roberts tweeted this week roughly 50 percent of the 3,000 comments he received on a story about ESPN’s layoffs were people pleading with the company to cancel “SC:6.”

Hill, though, isn’t taking the criticism sitting down. After declining an invitation to join “Kirk & Callahan,” she said she wants to meet Minihane “face to face.”

If that confrontation aired on “SC:6″ one night, perhaps the show would finally draw a rating.

Read More: ESPN, Jemele Hill, Kirk Minihane,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Caitlyn Jenner says she knew O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson; Twitter reactions to ESPN layoffs

04.27.17 at 8:52 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Seattle at Detroit, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Houston at Cleveland, 6 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: NY Yankees at Boston, 7:10 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Toronto at Milwaukee, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: San Antonio at Memphis, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NFL Draft, 8 p.m. (ESPN, NFL Network)
NHL: NY Rangers at Ottawa, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Washington, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— In an appearance on Andy Cohen’s Sirius XM channel, Radio Andy, on Wednesday, Caitlyn Jenner said she is sure O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994.

“I knew he did it,” Jenner told Cohen.“There was three people at the crime scene: DNA evidence, three people at the crime scene. Pick a murderer. How hard is that?”

Nicole Simpson was a close friend of Kris Jenner, whose late husband Robert Kardashian was an attorney for O.J. in the murder trial. Jenner said even though Kardashian believed Simpson to be innocent, “Kris was on my side.”

“After the whole thing was over Robert just said to me, ‘I would have been OK if they got him in the first trial.’ That’s the only thing he ever said and that’s about the closest he’ll ever come, [while] never saying he actually did it,” Jenner said.

She said after the first trial, “[Kardashian] was now the guy who helped [Simpson] get away with murder and he was destroyed by everybody. And I felt terribly sorry for him.”

Jenner also said Kris “pretty much knew. We were just obviously very disappointed with the verdict.”

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Read More: Caitlyn Jenner, ESPN,

Colin Cowherd: ESPN layoffs will ‘happen annually’ over next decade

04.26.17 at 5:06 pm ET
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Colin Cowherd says he expects ESPN to continue to cut costs.  (Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Cowherd says he expects ESPN to continue to cut costs. (Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Cowherd says he isn’t surprised about the massive layoffs at ESPN. In fact, he predicts they will continue for the next several years.

In an interview Wednesday on CBS Radio in Cleveland, the former ESPN yapper said the WorldWide Leader is forking over too much money for rights agreements. The network is now paying $3.3 billion annually to broadcast the NFL and NBA.

“This is not going to end today. They have really cost-prohibitive contracts, combined with cord-cutting,” Cowherd said. “I said this [last year] when they cut 350 people, I said it the next day, it’s awful, and it will happen annually for the next decade.”

ESPN signed a whopping nine-year contract with the NBA worth $1.4 billion annually that kicked in at the start of this season. The network inked a $15 billion rights deal with the NFL, despite an increasingly lackluster Monday night schedule. In addition to “Monday Night Football,” ESPN receives access to game highlights and broadcasts one postseason contest per season.

Given the prevalence of cord-cutting, the strategy of overextending for TV contracts doesn’t appear to be a sustainable business model.

“At Fox, we pay $1.1 billion for the NFL,” Cowherd said. “You have the 1:oo window and the 4:00 window, wild card games, NFC Championship, and two of the next four Super Bowls. We make a lot of money on the NFL … ESPN pays $1.9 billion, gets a bunch of highlights, no Super Bowls, and one increasingly irrelevant Monday Night Football game. We have a great NFL contract, they have a really marginalized NFL contract.”

Cowherd is one of several big name ESPN personalities who’s left Bristol in recent years. The longtime talk radio host signed with Fox Sports in 2015 for a contract that pays him more than $6 million annually. Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Skip Bayless are also no longer with ESPN. The WorldWide Leader was reportedly prepared to offer Bayless a deal worth roughly $4 million per year, but Fox Sports topped them.

Since ESPN is hemorrhaging subscribers –– its lost at least 12 million households over the last five years –– it will likely keep looking to cut costs. The WorldWide Leader can seemingly no longer afford to pay exorbitant rights fees and keep its newsroom intact.

Read More: Colin Cowherd, ESPN,

ESPN lays off three NHL reporters, appears prepared to virtually ignore hockey all together

04.26.17 at 3:58 pm ET
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ESPN is cutting virtually all of its NHL coverage. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

ESPN is cutting most of its NHL coverage. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Hockey diehards often lambast ESPN for skimping on NHL coverage. But now it looks like the WorldWide Leader is preparing to ignore the sport all together.

As expected, ESPN underwent mass layoffs Wednesday, cutting dozens of high-profile employees so it can trim tens of millions of dollars from its payroll. The network’s relatively minuscule NHL department was hit hard, with three respected reporters receiving their walking papers.

NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun, columnist Scott Burnside and Boston-based reporter Joe McDonald have all announced they were laid off. The status of anchor John Buccigross, who plays a significant role in the network’s Stanley Cup Playoff coverage, remains uncertain. The Hollywood Reporter said earlier Wednesday he was let go, but walked the story back. Buccigross’ contract expires July 1 and hasn’t been renewed.

“Whatever happens, I’m very optimistic about the future of ESPN and about my future,” Buccigross told Sporting News last month. “We both will be fine. I’m not the anchor for gossip. I go into work with my head down, work with our producers to put a compelling 60 minutes together, and walk out the door and drive to my rural Connecticut home singing Jason Isbell songs. I get home, eat 10 pieces of American cheese and then read until I fall asleep.”

Given Barry Melrose was the only NHL analyst to receive significant television time, the coverage on “SportsCenter” and other studio shows likely won’t be much different. But the NHL’s limited exposure on ESPN’s digital properties will probably be further minimized.

Since ESPN doesn’t own NHL rights, this decision isn’t surprising. Like every other TV network, ESPN is interested in promoting its own programming.

Read More: ESPN, NHL,