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Jason Whitlock on Kirk & Callahan: Being a journalist at ESPN ‘put me on the outs’

01.31.17 at 12:01 pm ET
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Few sports media personalities are more well-versed on the issues of race and politics than Fox Sports 1’s Jason Whitlock. He opined on both of those topics, including whether his unconventional views put him at odds with ESPN management, in an interview with Kirk & Callahan Tuesday

At Super Bowl opening night, Tom Brady was inundated with questions about his friendship with Donald Trump. Though Whitlock said he doesn’t align with Trump politically, he doesn’t think Brady is obligated to explain his relationship with the President.

“Let’s say if it goes beyond friendship. Let’s say Brady’s political views are in line with Trump’s. I don’t think he should have to apologize for that, either,” he said. “I’m from middle America. I grew up in Indianapolis, I made my bones as a journalist in Kansas City. In middle America, it’s just, if you really understand middle America, Trump’s just not that polarizing. If you understand how Obama got into office: promising dramatic change, promising to upset the establishment. He didn’t deliver on that, he did not upset the establishment. So many people who voted for Barack Obama, who wanted the establishment upset said, “OK, Barack wouldn’t do it. Let’s go with a non-politican. Let’s go with a billionaire who will upset the establishment.”

On the topic of race, Whitlock said he doesn’t share the viewpoint that Boston is more bigoted than other cities in the country.

“What about Baltimore? I’m not trying to be adversarial or contrarian. But go look at the murder rate,” he said. “It’s a black-controlled city. They have some issues with the African-American population in Baltimore in a city that’s run by African-Americans. So I think that poverty and dealing with people is very complicated and a lot of people of all colors make mistakes. So I think it’s a weak way of evaluating any city, just, “Oh, they’re racist so you can just eliminate that city. The same issues that black people may face in Boston, they face in Baltimore.”

Whitlock, who prides himself on bucking conventional wisdom, said his viewpoint didn’t match up with ESPN’s mission. After a short-lived return, he left ESPN to join FS1 in October 2015.

“I don’t think I was ever in the middle. My history as a journalist is I’m always going to play it down the middle, I’m always going to be objective,” he said. “I’m always going to be a journalist –– or try to be a journalist in a journalistic job. That put me on the outs –– they have a political point of view. They have a group within ESPN, I think it’s called “Pulse,” it’s very politically active. It’s a group of special-interests groups within ESPN employees that go around [and] police thought to some degree. I don’t like to have my thoughts policed. I like to say what I think.”

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Tom Brady’s bond with his father is deeply humanizing

01.31.17 at 10:37 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts to a question about his father during Super Bowl LI media day. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts to a question about his father during Super Bowl LI media day. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

On the whole, Tom Brady is no longer a relatable person. He’s married to a supermodel and eats things like quinoa with wilted greens. But his bond with his father transcends fame. It’s the most humanizing thing about him.

At Super Bowl opening night, Brady spent a lot of his time deflecting questions about his friendship with President Donald Trump. During one exchange, he claimed to be ignorant of everything going on in the world –– outside of the Patriots’ upcoming Super Bowl matchup with the Falcons.

“What’s going on in the world? I haven’t paid much attention. I’m just a positive person,” he said.

While it’s understandable if Brady wants to turn the topic away from Trump, his response there isn’t believable. Moments like those make it seem as if he’s a cyborg, programmed to turn away questions with a friendly, yet distant smile.

Then a young boy asked Brady who his hero is. The four-time Super Bowl champion struggled to hold back tears, appearing to morph back into that sixth-round draft pick from San Mateo, Calif.

“Who’s my hero? That’s a great question,” Brady said. “Well, I think my dad is my hero because he’s someone that I look up to every day.”

As the tears welled up in his eyes, Brady repeated himself.

“My dad.”

Tom Brady Sr. made headlines last week, when he lambasted Roger Goodell in a TV interview over his handling of the Deflategate scandal.

“When it happens to your son, it’s a whole different context,” he said. “Or your daughter or any one of your kids. And I think any parent kind of understands that. They’d rather take the slings and arrows in the heart than have their kids take it. For what the league did to [Tom] and what Roger Goodell constantly lied about is beyond reprehensible, as far as I’m concerned.”

Though Brady never publicly admonished Roger Goodell or the NFL during the Deflategate saga, his father went on the offensive. In 2015, he even called into a Bay Area radio show to defend his son’s honor.

On Kirk & Callahan Monday, Brady Jr. joked he was banning Brady Sr. from talking to the media. But Brady’s emotional tribute to his father at media night shows how much his dad’s defense means to him. As much as he tries to downplay Deflategate, it must still eat at him. It would eat at anybody.

If Brady won’t admit it himself, his father will speak for him.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Dan Le Batard criticizes ESPN colleague Sage Steele for airport Instagram post; LeBron James goes on Charles Barkley rant, calls him a ‘hater’

01.31.17 at 10:04 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Tuesday 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.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Boston at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Charlotte at Portland, 10 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Creighton at Butler, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: George Washington at URI, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Iowa at Rutgers, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Maryland at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Boston College, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Temple at Tulane, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Dayton at Fordham, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Georgetown at DePaul, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Georgia at Kentucky, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Vanderbilt at Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: West Virginia at Iowa State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wisconsin at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Wyoming at San Diego State, 11 p.m. (CBSSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— ESPN’s Dan Le Batard went after his colleague Sage Steele on Tuesday after Steele complained on Instagram after protests against Donald Trump’s immigration ban delayed her travel to Houston for the Super Bowl.

“The genie is out of the bottle on this because we all have our own Twitter accounts and all have our own social media,” Le Batard said on his show. “This is what ESPN is trying to prevent because once one person does it, it opens the floodgates for the rest of us because, of course, I, as the son of exiles, look at this and I’m like what the hell are you talking about [that] your travel plans were affected? What are you talking about? The height of privilege. But you can’t give this a voice and then muzzle the rest of us. You can’t give Sage Steele this voice and muzzle the son of exiles.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bart Hubbuch confirms New York Post fired him for tweet comparing Donald Trump to Pearl Harbor, 9/11

01.31.17 at 12:47 am ET
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Former New York Post NFL writer Bart Hubbuch announced Monday night he was fired for his tweet on Jan. 20 comparing Donald Trump’s inauguration to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. That tweet, which Hubbuch even pinned to his profile, has since been deleted, along with the tweet he sent out apologizing for the initial tweet. 

When Hubbuch changed his Twitter bio from “NFL writer/columnist for the New York Post” to “Veteran sportswriter” on Saturday, speculation grew that he had been fired.

WEEI’s own Kirk Minihane confirmed this on Saturday:  

Tom Brady shows his game face in latest Instagram post

01.30.17 at 6:51 pm ET
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Houston Bound #Letsgooooo

A photo posted by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Tom Brady showed he’s ready to go in this picture from the Patriots’ Super Bowl send-off rally on Monday at Gillette as the team departed for Houston.

If I’m a Falcon, I’m scared.

But Brady isn’t the only one here showing extreme emotion. Look at Belichick. That’s a smile. Tone it down a little, Bill.

 

Watch Rob Gronkowski’s Super Bowl ad for Tide

01.30.17 at 6:03 pm ET
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Thanks to a herniated disc, Rob Gronkowski will be inactive when the Patriots take on the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. But he’ll still be featured during the telecast.

Gronkowski stars alongside actor Jeffrey Tambor in an ad for the stain remover, Tide. The commercial, which runs 37 seconds, features Gronk as an inept dry-cleaner who cuts the sleeves off Tambor’s shirt to remove a stain rather than use laundry detergent. It’s … moderately amusing.

According to Variety, Fox is charging companies between $5 million and $5.5 million for a 30-second spot in this year’s Super Bowl. Last year, the average 30-second ad was sold for $5 million.

NFL ratings may have decreased this season, but the prices for Super Bowl commercials only continue to increase. For Tide’s sake, hopefully Gronk can help out their bottom line more than he helped the Patriots this season.

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Poll says 53 percent of Americans are rooting for Falcons over Patriots in Super Bowl

01.30.17 at 3:55 pm ET
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In these polarized times, Americans still agree on one thing: hating the Patriots.

According to Public Policy Polling, 53 percent of football fans want the Falcons to win the Super Bowl on Sunday, whereas just 27 percent are pulling for the Patriots. This number shouldn’t be a surprise, considering PPP also finds the Pats are the most disliked team in the NFL.

Despite the Patriots’ ties to President Donald Trump, political ideology didn’t appear to play a factor in the polling. The majority of Republicans (58 percent) and Democrats (54 percent) want to see New England lose Sunday.

Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady also finds himself as the least popular quarterback in the NFL. But he also enjoys his share of support. PPP finds 22 percent of football fans say Brady is their favorite QB, making him the most popular in the sport. He edges out Aaron Rodgers, who garnered 16 percent of the vote. (The Falcons’ Matt Ryan came in seventh with seven percent.)

Ever since the Deflategate scandal, the amount of venom spewed against the Patriots has only increased. The majority of football fans in the country already felt Bill Belichick was a cheater. The discovery that Brady played with illegally deflated footballs, even without hard evidence that shows any wrongdoing, only reinforces the stereotype. It takes more than just winning to create this kind of vitriol.

Though the Patriots are widely detested, they remain respected. The poll says 52 percent of respondents think they’ll win Sunday, compared to just 36 percent who believe the Falcons will be victorious. In this case, hate doesn’t override sanity.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Super Bowl poll,

God bless everyone who attended the Patriots rally

01.30.17 at 1:47 pm ET
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According to announcer John Rooke, fans starting lining up as early as 3:30 a.m.

According to announcer John Rooke, fans starting lining up as early as 3:30 a.m. Monday. (WEEI.com photo)

They came by the thousands, donning Tom Brady jerseys and Patriots knit hats. Adults took the day off from work, and in some cases, pulled their kids out of school. Some of them even arrived before dawn.

It’s easy to make fun of the folks who attended the send-off rally at Patriot Place’s NRG Plaza Monday. While you were sitting through another interminable commute, they were standing out in the freezing cold, watching highlight videos on the jumbotron and cheering for Brady. On the fifth Monday in January, they decided to play hooky so they could do something they enjoy.

Crazy, right?

“Alright, now to all you fans, you are the greatest fans in the world,” owner Robert Kraft said when he addressed the massive crowd. “Twenty-three years ago, we bought the team and you lined up on Route One and you sold out every game we’ve ever played here. We think back, we were talking in the locker room back to the game we played Pittsburgh, that stadium has never been louder. We thank you for that. Since you fans have lined up with us, since 1994, we’ve played 23 home playoff games and you have been an asset in helping us win 20 of them. Thank you.”

Claire Catenucci-Cloutier is one of those fans who Kraft was thanking. She spends her spare time –– OK, almost all of her time –– managing a Facebook page called “Patriots Nation.” Each day, she posts pump up pictures and videos, reaching an audience of more than 4,000 members. After throwing a Patriots-themed wedding in 2006, it seemed like the next logical step to take her fandom.

“Let’s just say I’ll be real depressed next Tuesday,” she says. “They’ll be nothing to do.”

Mark Wilcon says he feels similarly. He’s part of a different Facebook group, Patriots Gang United, which boasts more than 22,000 members. As an apparent act of solidarity, he joins Catenucci-Cloutier’s group.

“They say that everybody hates us,” he says to her. “But look at all of the people here.”

Some who attended the rally engaged in more than hero worship. Mendel Levin, from Central Massachusetts Chabat, was blessing fans with impromptu “bar mitzvahs.” His community center promotes the concept of being a “Proud Jewish Patriot,” complete with shirts that feature “Pat Patriot” in a yarmulke. They were created in order to help students from Clark University Chabad stand out at a retreat in New York. But now, they serve as a rallying cry. Levin’s uncle, Rabbi Mendel Fogelman, says Kraft owns a shirt, and loves it.

“We’re proud to be Jewish,” Levin says. “We’re not afraid, we’re not embarrassed. We’re living it and are proud to be it.”

Levin (center-left) was blessing his fellow Patriots fans.

Mendel Levin (center-left) was blessing his fellow Patriots fans. (WEEI.com photo)

When people say sports teams are public trusts, the scene at Patriot Place Monday is probably what they have in mind. For several hours on a frigid Monday morning, thousands of people from all walks of life got together to worship the holy trinity: Belichick, Brady and Kraft.

Around these parts, few activities bring people closer together.

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The Ted Cruz-Deadspin situation is out of control

01.30.17 at 9:43 am ET
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Awful AnnouncingDeadspin has probably had better weeks, especially on social media. But the Twittersphere has taken some fiendish delight in being upstaged by Senator Ted Cruz earlier this week. While Deadspin likely thought that would go away after responding to Cruz as could be expected, people have not let this spat simply fade away. The fervor with which Twitter has gone after Deadspin has been surprising, but also extremely entertaining.

Editor Tim Marchman was typically defiant against the backlash, asserting that those leaving tweet-by attacks didn’t have the courage to send him a personal email or perhaps even contest him physically.

 

Someone who can definitely do some pushups and spent plenty of time in the UFC octagon is recently retired MMA fighter Tim Kennedy. We don’t know if Kennedy sent an email to Marchman, but he certainly responded on Twitter.

This joke is STILL going on? Even today, every single time Deadspin tweets something, people are tweeting back to them about Ted Cruz.

Cruz’ joke (which wasn’t even his, it was an intern’s) was funny but it wasn’t THAT funny and people are acting like it was the most savage move they’ve ever seen.

It was a little funny at first but when an MMA fighter gets involved, that’s when you stop. It’s gone far enough.

When I saw this Deadspin tweet about the 49ers hiring John Lynch Monday morning, my first thought was someone will reply saying he looks like Ted Cruz.

AND SOMEONE DID!


And someone even did this:

If you’re sitting in front of your computer waiting for Deadspin to tweet something so you can tweet back “Tedspin” just know you’re not doing anything constructive. Deadspin is over it, the world is over it. Let it go. 

Monday’s Morning Mashup: 49ers hire former Patriot John Lynch as new GM; Sports world reacts to Donald Trump’s immigration ban

01.30.17 at 8:28 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Monday 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.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Detroit at Boston, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA:  Memphis at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Boston University at Lehigh, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Duke at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: South Carolina State at Howard, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Alabama State at Prairie View A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: SIUE at Belmont, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
Women’s college basketball: Tennessee at South Carolina, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Women’s college basketball: Michigan State at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The 49ers have hired retired NFL safety John Lynch as the team’s general manager.

Lynch retired in 2008 and was a nine-time Pro Bowler. He spent 11 seasons with the Buccaneers, four with the Broncos and one with the Patriots. Since his retirement, he has served as an analyst for NFL broadcasts on Fox.

Lynch has no experience as an NFL executive but will replace Trent Baalke, who was recently fired by the 49ers.

In 2015, Lynch said he was convinced to sign with the Patriots in 2008 after Bill Belichick called him every day trying to recruit him.  Read the rest of this entry »

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