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Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

05.22.15 at 2:45 pm ET
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Michael Sam

Michael Sam

Defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL, signed a contract Friday with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

According to Alouettes general manager Jim Popp, Sam’s sexuality was not considered an issue.

“Michael Sam is a very good football player, and that’s the reason we signed him,” Popp said. “He’s an outstanding pass rusher.”

Sam issued a statement professing his excitement to get back on the football field.

“I cannot wait to put on the pads, get back on the field and work hard each and every day with my teammates to bring a Grey Cup to the great fans here in Montreal,” Sam said in a statement.

Sam was drafted by the Rams in the seventh round of last year’s draft before being cut and joining the Cowboys’ practice squad. He was released by Dallas in October. Sam appeared at this year’s veteran combine but did not sign with a team.

In his last year at Missouri in 2013, Sam won SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge congratulated both Sam and the Alouettes on the signing.

“Congratulations to the Montreal Alouettes on the signing of Michael Sam,” Orridge said in a statement. “Our players come to us from different places, different walks of life and ultimately they take different paths to get to our fields. Today is another indication of how open and progressive the CFL is — consistent with our rich and storied history of great football tradition.”

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Lakers GM: Kobe Bryant says next season will be his last with team

05.22.15 at 2:36 pm ET
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Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday that Kobe Bryant has told him next season will be Bryant’s last with the Lakers.

“He has indicated to me that this is it,” Kupchak said in an interview on SiriusXM, via ESPN.com.

Bryant’s contract runs through the 2015-16 season, during which he is scheduled to make a league-high $25 million. He will be 37 at the start of next season, and missed much of this season with a shoulder injury that allowed him to play only 35 games.

“I think it is clear,” Kupchak said. “He’s on the last year of his deal. There have been no discussions [about playing beyond next season]. He hasn’t indicated that he wants to continue to play.”

Kupchak said he expects a full recovery from Bryant, but does not expect there to be any discussions with Bryant about playing for the Lakers beyond next season. Whether Bryant receives a farewell tour from the Lakers and league is up to Bryant, Kupchak said.

“It’s kind of up to the player, if they want to do something like that,” Kupchak said. “And it also may take away some options a year from now and put a player in an awkward position, but he will be recognized appropriately with great gratitude when it is time.”

Bryant is a five-time NBA champion and the league’s third all-time leading scorer with 32,428 points.

Read More: kobe bryant, Mitch Kupchak,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca new head of Boston 2024 Olympic bid

05.22.15 at 8:07 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Angels at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rangers at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Hawks, 8:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Rays, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Stephen Pagliuca

Stephen Pagliuca

Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca is the new chairman of the group looking to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston.

Pagliuca replaces John Fish, the construction magnate who helped the group land the United States Olympic Committee bid in January. However, support in Boston has dipped since the initial excitement, with some questionable leadership decisions creating mistrust among local residents, many of whom are wary of the expense.

Pagliuca, who had been a vice chairman of the bid, expressed confidence that the Games would be a positive experience for the city.

“I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Massachusetts and for Boston,” Pagliuca said. “It’s a pretty exciting project. I haven’t seen many projects that are that impactful for cities.”

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino and Boston advertising executive Jack Connors were added as senior advisers, and Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby was named a vice chairman.

“Today’s announcement adds to an already impressive team at Boston 2024 and showcases the incredible support the bid enjoys from Boston’s business, civic, educational and political leadership,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to working closely with Mayor Walsh, Steve Pagliuca and everyone committed to this bid to successfully finish what we’ve started, and bring the Games to the U.S.”

The USOC initially showed support for Boston but recently indicated it could switch gears and back one of the cites that finished behind Boston (likely Los Angeles) when it submits a formal bid to the International Olympic Committee in September.

Other cities expected to vie for the 2024 Games include Rome; Paris; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary.

— Two of the Patriots’ AFC rivals received bad news Thursday, as key defensive players deal with off-field issues.

Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was suspended for the season opener for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. It’s related to his arrest May 5 in Alabama, when the 25-year-old was found in possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.

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Read More: Antonio Smith, Marcell Dareus, Ray Rice, Steve Pagliuca

Grand Prix of Boston coming next year

05.22.15 at 12:20 am ET
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Boston will have its first Indy Car race next Labor Day weekend.

The news was announced at an event Thursday evening at the Westin Boston Waterfront. City officials including Boston Director of Tourism, Sports and Entertainment Ken Brissette were joined by leaders of Grand Prix of Boston, with local comedian Dave Russo serving as the event’s MC.

“We’€™re very thrilled that we’€™re going to be bringing this exciting world-class event,” Grand Prix of Boston CEO Mark Pellone said to those on hand for the announcement.

The Grand Prix of Boston will take place Sept. 2-5, 2016, in Boston’€™s Seaport District.

“€œNext year, the world will be watching us here in Boston,”€ Brissette said. “€œGrand Prix is an iconic sports event tied to the host city’€™s identity. Our hope is to make this an annual event.”

The race route begins on South Boston Bypass Road and ends on D Street.

course

Boston will join St. Petersburg, Florida; Long Beach, California; and Detroit as cities with street racing in the Verizon Indy Car Series. In a video shown prior to speeches from those on hand, IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that construction for the event would be “minimally disruptive” for inhabitants of the Seaport District.

The one major change that the group promised was on the tourism front, as Brissette noted that Labor Day is typically not a particularly strong time for tourism in the area. He noted that the event hopes to bring in 250,000 people.

“The economic impact will be huge,” Brissette said, noting the success that Houston, Indianapolis and Toronto have had.

Added Brissette: “It’€™s about time Boston gets on the map as well.”

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Nationals star Bryce Harper lashes out at ump after another ejection

05.21.15 at 8:12 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Rangers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Orioles, 12:35 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Giants, 3:45 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Padres, 9:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Rockets at Warriors, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Bryce Harper was ejected for the second time in just over a week, and the young Nationals star is not happy with how umpire Marvin Hudson handled the situation.

After a low strike call, Harper and Hudson exchanged words in the third inning of Washington’s 3-2 victory over the Yankees before Harper and manager Matt Williams were sent home early.

“I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight. Plain and simple. Plain and simple. I mean, I really don’t think they did. Especially when we’re playing the Yankees,” Harper said.

“The Yankees are a good team, we’re a good team and we’re rolling. And, I mean, the way I’m hitting, I don’t want to get tossed. I don’t think I really did anything bad to get tossed. But maybe he just had a bad morning. Maybe he didn’t get his coffee.”

Hudson warned the Washington dugout and then appeared to tell Harper to get back in the batter’s box before ejecting him.

“I think the whole thing was me not getting into the box. I really do,” Harper said. “I didn’t look at him one time and show him up.”

Hudson denied that was the case.

“Had nothing to do with the box,” Hudson said. “He didn’t like the pitch, and I let him have his say, going and coming. The dugout didn’t like it, and one thing led to another and I had to run him. I had to eject him.”

The game ended with another protested call, as Alex Rodriguez — who earlier in the day posed for pictures with politicians on Capitol Hill — watched a fastball go by and was called out on strikes.

“I didn’t think it was a strike,” Rodriguez said, “but I’m not the ump.

— The Jets have received rave reviews for their rebuilding efforts, but at the end of the day, they still have Geno Smith starting at quarterback. That much was confirmed Wednesday by new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

“Right now, Geno’s the starter,” Gailey told reporters Wednesday. “Unless something happens — an injury, or something like that, that you don’t foresee — that’s how we anticipate it going.”

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Read More: Bryce Harper, Chan Gailey, Geno Smith, Steph Curry

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury heads to DL after spraining knee

05.20.15 at 8:04 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Rangers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Hawks, 8:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLS: Revolution at Sporting Kansas City, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Premier League, Arsenal vs. Sunderland, 2:40 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— It’s been a surprisingly successful season for the Yankees, who were not expected to do much but are tied for first place in the American League East at 22-18. However, they’ve lost six of their last seven games, and after Tuesday’s extra-inning loss to the Nationals (video below), leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Ellsbury, who leads the team with a .327 batting average, sprained his right knee while batting in the fourth inning. He remained in the game to draw a walk and advance to second on a ground out, but that’s when manager Joe Girardi went out for a visit with the team trainer.

Recounted Girardi: “I said, ‘Are you in a lot of pain?’ He said, ‘No, not really.’ I said, ‘Can you run?’ He said, ‘Let me see, let me get through this inning and let me see.’ When he got in the dugout, we just said, ‘That’€™s it.’ ”

The Yankees are calling up former first-round draft pick Slade Heathcott to replace the oft-injured Ellsbury, who managed to play 149 games in 2014, his first season in the Bronx after leaving the Red Sox as a free agent.

“It’s not what you want,” Girardi said. “If we are going to lose him for some time, somebody’s got to step up. That’s the bottom line. It’s part of the game.”

— Coming off the worst season in franchise history — with the league’s second-worst record — the Knicks continue to have bad luck. New York dropped to the fourth position in the 2015 NBA draft at the draft lottery Tuesday night.

The Timberwolves, owners of the league’s worst record, will pick first, followed by the Lakers and 76ers. The Knicks, who won two games in the final week of the season to allow Minnesota to finish with a worse record, had a 19.9 percent chance of getting the top pick.

“I was disappointed because we obviously wanted to get No. 1,” said general manager Steve Mills, who represented the team at the lottery. “But it was not a total disappointment because we knew we were going to get a good player wherever we ended up in our range in this draft. We feel really good about four. We feel good that at this draft we could have gotten a good player anywhere from one to five. We went into this optimistic and we remain the same way.”

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Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, John Calipari, NBA Draft Lottery,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Warren Sapp avoids jail time with plea deal, diversion programs

05.19.15 at 7:59 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Rangers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Ducks, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Rockets at Warriors, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Draft lottery, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, who was arrested at a Phoenix hotel the morning after the Super Bowl after fighting with two prostitutes, will avoid jail time if he follows the terms of his plea agreement with city prosecutors.

Sapp, 42, pleaded guilty in April to one count of solicitation and one count of assault. On Monday a judge dismissed the solicitation charge as Sapp completed the city’s Prostitution Solicitation Diversion Program. He has until next April 24 to complete the Positive Alternatives Diversion Program — a form of anger management — to have the assault charge dropped.

Sapp also must pay restitution worth more than $1,300 to two escorts, whom he allegedly attacked after arguing about money. The women had minor injuries.

Sapp’s attorney called the plea deal “very reasonable” and added that his client is “ready to move on.”

Sapp was fired from his job as an analyst with NFL Network, and he also lost an endorsement deal with Bud Light.

— A man in Florida picked the wrong time to rob a bank — while an MMA fighter was making a deposit.

Michael Jon Neubecker allegedly passed a note to a teller demanding cash, and then walked out the door of Grow Financial Credit Union in Largo, Florida, on Friday.

MMA middleweight Eric Haritakis, who goes by the nickname “the Ginger Ninja,” heard the teller shout that she had been robbed, so he ran after the suspect. He caught the man, subdued him, then borrowed some tape from a UPS store to tie up the man’s hands before walking him back to the bank.

“I was just amazed at how down to earth he was,” UPS clerk Kristin Drexler said of Haritakis. “He was just so nonchalant about the fact that he just chased down a bank robber.”

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Read More: Dave Hakstol, Warren Sapp,

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile on D&C: ‘You have to put trust in our [judicial] system’

05.18.15 at 10:17 am ET
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Marc Fucarile (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Marc Fucarile questions the sanity of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense team. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show on Monday morning to discuss the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentencing. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Fucarile was on D&C on April 28 discussing the possibility of the death penalty for Tsarnaev, saying that it would be a tough decision for the jury to make. About 2 1/2 weeks later, the jury made it.

On Friday, Tsarnaev was given the death penalty for six of the 17 capital counts for which he was on trial. People understandably have conflicting opinions about the decision, but Fucarile said that the jurors had a choice to make, and based on how the United States justice system is formatted, they made the right one.

“A few people have made comments to me and I’ve discussed it with them, regarding the death penalty or life and one of the comments that stuck with me was what do you actually have to do in this country to get the death penalty,” he said. “So with that being said, I think they made the right decision. Unfortunately for myself and other survivors, this nightmare’s going to continue, unfortunately, with the appeals and all that, but I think it was the right decision. If you do A, B and C, it equals D, and that’s what you get.”

Some survivors had voiced their opinions against the death penalty prior to the sentencing stage, so when the punishment came down, people were happy “for the most part,” according to Fucarile. He said that it’s the kind of thing you have to let the jury do and trust that it makes the right decision.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Fucarile said. “Like I said, there’s always been pros and cons regarding both options for [Tsarnaev], so I think we all kind of feel leave it in the jury’s decision. That’s their job, that’s our system and you have to put trust in our system. … There isn’t one system that’s perfect. I feel that they looked at the evidence and they made a choice and a decision that they had to make. I’m sure none of them wanted to make that decision, or be in a position to make that decision, but like I said, one plus one always equals two, so if you do this act and you do that act, this is the penalty for it, and I think that’s what we have to stand by in our country and put trust in that.”

Added Fucarile: “That jury, my heart goes out to them. They made a tough decision, and to deal with that, and they witnessed it too, just like I witnessed it, and that’s the thing about the marathon, anybody could relate to what this kid did, and it could have been anybody’s family.”

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Read More: Boston Marathon, Boston Marathon bombing, Marc Fucarile,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Robert Kraft defends Tom Brady’s integrity, calls NFL’s handling of Deflategate ‘very disturbing’

05.18.15 at 7:43 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Premier League, Chelsea at West Bromwich, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

— Robert Kraft has let his actions speak for him since the Deflategate punishment was announced — allowing his legal team to release a counter to the NFL’s Wells Report — but over the weekend he spoke candidly with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and expressed his frustration with the league’s handling of the matter.

“This whole thing has been very disturbing,” Kraft said. “But when you work for something your whole life … I just get really worked up. To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair. The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair. If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us … inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That’s the thing that really bothers me.

“If they want to penalize us because there’s an aroma around this? That’s what this feels like. If you don’t have the so-called smoking gun, it really is frustrating. And they don’t have it. This thing never should have risen to this level.”

Kraft avoided commenting on if the team will attempt to go to court to fight the punishment, he would not say why he suspended locker room attendants John Jastremski and Jim McNally if they did nothing wrong, and he said of the current status of his previously close relationship with Roger Goodell, “You’ll have to ask him.”

He did, however, reveal that Tom Brady — who has remained quiet publicly — has insisted he did not break any rules.

“Yes,” Kraft said when asked if Brady told him he was innocent. “Because we had the discussion — if you did it, let’s just deal with it and take our hit and move on. I’ve known Tommy for 16 years, almost half his life. He’s a man, and he’s always been honest with me, and I trust him. I believed what he told me. He has never lied to me, and I have found no hard or conclusive evidence to the contrary.”

Added Kraft: “Footballs have never been measured at halftime of any other game in NFL history. They have no idea how much footballs go down in cold weather or expand in warm weather. There is just no evidence that tampering with the footballs every happened.”

— The Marlins parted ways with manager Mike Redmond after Sunday’s game, in which they were almost no-hit by Braves pitcher Shelby Miller before losing 6-0.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who left his seat near home plate in the fourth inning, decided to make the move with the team at 16-22 despite significant upgrades made in the offseason. Reports Monday morning indicated general manager Dan Jennings will move to the dugout to replace Redmond.

Redmond was 155-207 in two-plus seasons. Bench coach Rob Leary also was fired.

“We’re just looking for a new voice,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.

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Read More: Deflategate, Isiah Thomas, Jeffrey Loria, Mike Redmond

Thinking Out Loud: Tom Brady didn’t cheat

05.15.15 at 4:44 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Matt Palazzi?

— I was asked this question — point blank, right from Jump Street — this week during an appearance on a Pittsburgh radio station: Did Tom Brady cheat? The honest response took me about 10 seconds to deliver, because I simply hadn’t considered the question. I didn’t want to. It’s really hard to fathom, but would we be where we are — and would the Patriots be where they are — if he hadn’t remained silent? That was my response. It fell over like a lead balloon.

— Now that I’ve considered the notion — no, it’s not cheating. It was his preference. The question is: Is his preference for a softer ball within legal limits for ball pressure set forth in the NFL rulebook? This is where the whole thing comes off the track. Is Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers cheating for admitting he tells his equipment guys to “go over” what is allowed just to see if anyone deflates his footballs? And is the NFL punishing him for this?

— The truth is, we don’t know the entire, real truth. Hopefully, that comes to light at some point, as I mentioned in this space last week. Based on the punishment for the alleged crime(s), cheating or “circumventing the rulebook” were equated with and even elevated above assault and battery in the eyes of the NFL this week. Two wrongs don’t make it right, of course. But to make an example out of Brady and the Patriots over actions that were deemed “more probable than not,” without absolute proof offered, and because you screwed up other punishment opportunities for actual crimes that were committed — shows pro football needs big-time change from within. Starting at the top.

— I am doubtful of that sort of change occurring. Certainly, Roger Goodell has lost a key ally in Robert Kraft, but it would take three-fourths of NFL ownership to kick him out of office. Quite possibly, there are 31 other owners happy to see the Patriots squirming right now. Mr. Kraft, however, can make things very uncomfortable for Goodell and the league, and the reprisal has already begun. The Patriots won’t take this Machiavellian treatment without a fight. Would you if you were in this position?

— Goodell serving as the arbiter in Brady’s appeal isn’t the best result, but it isn’t a bad one, either. Both parties know reps, legacies and maybe jobs (Goodell’s) are on the line. A compromise will be reached, or federal court will be the next stop. The NFL does not want that to happen — it will lose. It has already lost enough credibility when it comes to adjudicating its rank and file. As for the team portion of the penalties, battle lines are being drawn; the million dollar fine probably sticks, but there should be/will be an effort to recoup at least the first-round draft pick next year.

— As for the Patriots’ rebuttal (website) to the Wells Report, I have no real words. A little giggling, perhaps, but no real words are flowing forth. How about, “Whoa?” Or, “Say what?” And I’m SMH.

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