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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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Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death

05.15.15 at 3:30 pm ET
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Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death by a federal jury, which announced its decision Friday afternoon at Moakley Courthouse in Boston.

The jury deliberated for about 14 1/2 hours before reaching its decision. A death sentence requires a unanimous vote. The jury agreed to the death penalty on six counts.

Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty last month of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carried the possibility of the death penalty. His defense team did not challenge the fact that he participated in the 2013 attacks at the finish line but claimed that the most of the blame lies with with his older brother, Tamerlan, who died after a shootout with police in Watertown.

The verdict will automatically be appealed.

Tsarnaev entered the courtroom just after 3 p.m. and, according to reports from those in the room, showed no emotion, which is consistent with how he behaved throughout the trial. The only time he appeared to show emotion during the trial was during testimony from an aunt, who tearfully recalled his boyhood.

Tsarnaev scratched the back of his head after the death sentence was read, and he remained without a display of emotion.

Among those in the courtroom when the verdict was read was Bill and Denise Richard, parents of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old who was the youngest of the three bombing fatalities. The Richards said they preferred Tsarnaev be sentenced to life in prison.

The parents of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer shot to death by the Tsarnaev brothers, also were present.

Read More: Boston Marathon bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,

Jury reaches verdict in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev penalty phase

05.15.15 at 2:50 pm ET
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The jury has reached a verdict in the penalty phase of the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It was to be announced Friday afternoon, some time after 3 p.m.

The jury deliberated for about 14 1/2 hours before reaching the verdict.

Tsarnaev was found guilty of participating in the 2013 attacks at the finish line along with his older brother, Tamerlan, who died after a shootout with police in Watertown.

MORE TO COME

Read More: Boston Marathon bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jets coach Todd Bowles says Deflategate ‘none of my business’

05.15.15 at 7:52 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: Red Sox at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Tigers at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Hawks at Wizards, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Draft combine, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Todd Bowles

Todd Bowles

— By most accounts, the Jets have had a tremendous offseason, nabbing Darrelle Revis from the Patriots, drafting highly regarded defensive lineman Leonard Williams to add to their already impressive defense, and avoiding Rex Ryan-like controversy with new coach Todd Bowles.

With Tom Brady receiving a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate, the Jets’ chances to contend in the AFC East might have gotten even better. However, Bowles isn’t buying it.

“It’s the offseason,” he said Thursday at linebacker David Harris‘ charity golf tournament. “Nobody wins a title in May. You get to the season, you play, and you go from there.”

Unlike his predecessor, Bowles appears unwilling to add to the Patriots-Jets rivalry, saying he was not wishing for a Brady suspension.

“I wasn’t hoping at all,” he said. “It’s none of my business. We play everybody in the division twice. That’s well documented. Whether they’re healthy, hurt or suspended, we’ve got to play who is put on the field.”

Harris, like Brady a Michigan alumnus, said the Deflategate suspension was a surprise.

“He’s one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game,” Harris said. “I didn’t think it would happen.”

— All of this weekend’s soccer matches in Argentina were suspended after Emanuel Ortega passed away Thursday, 10 days after suffering a head injury in a match.

Ortega, who played for San Martin de Burzaco, was competing in a fourth-division match against Juventud Unida when he was pushed by an opposing player near the end line while chasing after a ball, lost his balance and fell into a pole holding up a fence.

Emergency surgery on his double skull fracture was unable to save his life.

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Read More: Deflategate, Eugene Melnyk, Todd Bowles,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez takes high road after ex-Yankees teammate Jorge Posada says he doesn’t belong in Hall

05.14.15 at 8:14 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: Red Sox at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Twins at Tigers, 1:08 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Bulls, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Rockets at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Draft combine, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, Canada vs. Belarus, 9 a.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, Sweden vs. Russia, 11:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, Finland vs. Czech Republic, 11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, making the rounds to promote his new autobiography, said players who use performance-enhancing drugs — including former teammates Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemensshould not be allowed in the Hall of Fame.

Appearing on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday, Posada stated “No,” when asked about A-Rod and Clemens.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he added. “I really don’t. I think the guys that need to be in the Hall of Fame need to be a player that played with no controversy.”

Rodriguez, apprised of Posada’s comments before the Yankees‘ game against the Rays, said he considers Posada a friend and had nothing but good things to say about him.

“Jorge’s always worn his heart on his sleeve and that’s fine,” Rodriguez said. “He was a great teammate and a great player for a long time. What I remember the most is sharing and winning a championship in ’09.”

Posada finished third in the voting for the 2003 American League MVP award. It was won by Rodriguez, who later admitted to cheating.

“I was almost there,” Posada said of that honor. “You know what could’ve happened if . . . you know, it’s tough. It’s really tough.”

A-Rod said he had no interested in discussing the past.

“2003 is a long time ago,” he said. “All my energy is focused on 2015.”

— Indians pitcher Corey Kluber began Wednesday night with an 0-5 record. He ended by flirting with history.

Kluber struck out 18 Cardinals — the most K’s by an American League pitcher since then-Red Sox ace Roger Clemens in 1998 — and pitched 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball in Cleveland’s 2-0 win. He was relieved after the eighth inning despite having a shot to break the major league record for strikeouts (20, by Clemens and Kerry Wood).

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Bill Guthridge, Corey Kluber, Jorge Posada

Brain analysis of late NHL player Steve Montador shows signs of CTE

05.13.15 at 10:41 am ET
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Steve Montador

Steve Montador

An autopsy revealed that former NHL blueliner Steve Montador had a degenerative brain disease before he died Feb. 15 at the age of 35 of an undisclosed cause. The disease, according to the researchers who examined his brain, is related to repeated blows to the head.

Montador, who had a brief stint with the Bruins during the 2008-09 season, had multiple concussions throughout his career and had been exhibiting signs of a possible brain disorder, including depression, memory problems and erratic behavior. He had arranged for his brain to be donated to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre when he died, and when it was, the Centre’s Canadian Sports Concussion Project  found that Montador’s brain had “deposits of an abnormal protein that is a marker for [chronic traumatic encephalopathy],” Dr. Charles Tator said Tuesday.

Montador’s family plans to sue the NHL. William Gibbs, a Chicago attorney, said the findings in the analysis made the family more confident of the fact that Montador’s brain had been “decaying due to the head hits he endured during his NHL career.”

“It’s bittersweet,” Paul Montador, Steve’s father, told the Chicago Tribune. “I’ve lost a son, on the one hand. And that can’t be changed. But … it brings some small sense of explanation as to why these things were happening to him — and that he had no control over them.”

Paul added that Steve’s concussions “had significant impact in terms of memory loss, thinking, decision-making — all kinds of things that were difficult for him near the end of his life” and that he would forget things within minutes. Paul also said that Steve was aware of what was happening and “he realized it. He was trying to relate it to the concussions or depression or whatever was causing those things.”

In a statement, the NHL said the league’s “thoughts, condolences and prayers remain with Steve’s family and friends.”

The league also said that it doesn’t “agree that the reports and allegations made [Tuesday] establish any link between Steve’s death and his NHL career.”

Sixteen other athletes’ brains were analyzed by the Sports Concussion Project, and about half displayed signs of CTE or the presence of another neurodegenerative disease.

Read More: NHL, Steve Montador,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Jets fans take shot at Tom Brady on New Jersey billboards

05.13.15 at 7:54 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: Red Sox at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Diamondbacks, 3:40 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mets at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Wizards at Hawks, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Grizzlies at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLS: Orlando City at DC United, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Juventus at Real Madrid, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

NY Daily News 5-13-15– Jets fans are used to buying billboards asking their owner to overhaul the front office, but this week they turned their attention to the Patriots and Tom Brady, in the wake of New England being punished by the league for deflating footballs prior to the AFC championship game.

Twelve electronic billboards in New Jersey made fun of the Pats‘ Deflategate problems, reading: #TomShady in big letters, with J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS! below. The writing is in white letters on a green background — Jets colors.

“Jets fans are very opinionated,” said Outfront Media communications director Carly Zipp, who explained that a group of anonymous Jets fans reached out to her Monday to buy the ad space. “Because billboards are something that is seen by everyone, they knew the power of message and they wanted to get it out.”

Zipp said the messages went up Tuesday morning and will be up for the rest of the week.

The group of Jets fans who paid for the billboards last fall demanding owner Woody Johnson to fire general manager John Idzik (which he did) said it was not behind the Brady billboards.

— Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden spoke candidly about Jameis Winston, acknowledging the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was “an embarrassment” to the school for his off-field issues.

“I think it’s a consensus among Florida State fans and boosters that he was an embarrassment in a lot of ways to the university,” Bowden said on The Paul Finebaum Show. “He won a lot of ball games, probably one of the best football players that ever attended Florida State, but he hurt himself off the field. The good news is he’s young enough to get over that. He just can’t make those junior high school decisions that he made when he was in college.”

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Read More: Bobby Bowden, Floyd Mayweather, Jameis Winston, Tom Brady

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Orioles get enthusiastic welcome back to Baltimore

05.12.15 at 8:03 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: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mets at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Bulls at Cavaliers, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Clippers at Rockets, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Canadiens at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, United States vs. Slovakia, 10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Barcelona at Bayern Munich, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The Orioles returned to Baltimore on Monday night, hitting three home runs in a 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays in a game that was played before an enthusiastic crowd of 20,468 that was happy to have baseball back in its troubled city.

“It felt great. It felt good to be back, having some pride,” pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez said after recording a season-high nine strikeouts in seven innings of work. “All of the people that came to the game tonight, they were into the game since the first pitch. So that definitely motivated us to play.”

The players wore white jerseys with “Baltimore” on the front instead of the usual “Orioles” to show their pride for the city, and the fans demonstrated their support as well.

“It did seem different, especially at the beginning of the game because they were more into it than they usually are,” infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce said. “I think they were just glad that baseball’s back. You could definitely tell.”

The Orioles last played at home on April 29, hosting the White Sox in a Wednesday afternoon game that was played before no fans due to the unrest in Baltimore following the death of a young black man in police custody. The O’s moved the ensuing weekend series against the Rays from Baltimore to Tampa Bay and have been on the road since.

Monday’s game started a stretch in which they will play 17 of their next 20 games at home.

“It just feels like we’ve been away the entire first month-and-a-half of the season,” first baseman Chris Davis said. “It’s just good to get back home and have our fans behind us.”

Added reliever Zach Britton: “It was nice to hear somebody rotting for you, and not against you, for once.”

— The Lightning will attempt to close out the Canadiens in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Tuesday night, but they’ll do it without veteran winger Ryan Callahan, who had emergency surgery Monday night to remove his appendix.

According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, Callahan reported feeling discomfort late in the day and went to Tampa General Hospital for testing. It was determined that he had acute appendicitis, requiring the removal of his appendix.

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Read More: Chris Christie, Ryan Callahan,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Capitals star Alex Ovechkin guarantees Game 7 win over Rangers

05.11.15 at 8:10 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:
MLB: Red Sox at Athletics, 10:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Braves at Reds, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Hawks at Wizards, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Warriors at Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: Premier League, Arsenal at Swansea City, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Despite Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Rangers that evened their Eastern Conference semifinal series at 3-3, the Capitals expressed confidence heading into Wednesday’s Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.

“We’re going to come back and win this series,” said Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who has not scored in the past four games. “We’re going to play our game and we’re going to come back and we’re going to play Montreal or Tampa.”

Washington had a 3-1 series lead and had won five straight at home before Sunday’s loss. History does not favor the Capitals, as in the four previous series they have led 3-1 but lost the next two games, they lost Game 7 all four times.

The Rangers, on the other hand, have won nine consecutive home playoff games when facing elimination — all with Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Lundqvist became the 18th goalie in NHL history with 50 playoff victories Sunday, making 42 saves — although he allowed two third-period goals as the Caps battled back to make it a one-goal game.

“The game turned from them not having any life at all to them just being all over us,” Lundqvist said. “We found a way.”

Boston College product Chris Kreider — who tied Game 5 with less than two minutes remaining — scored twice Sunday for New York. His first tally came 40 seconds into the game, and he scored again with less than a second remaining in the first period.

Pedro Martinez has been getting a lot of publicity for his new autobiography, but his former Yankees rival Jorge Posada also has a new book out, and it’s getting some attention in New York for Posada’s criticism of how his tenure there ended.

After a decade as the team’s starting catcher, Posada was demoted to designated hitter in 2011.

“I’ll put this as plainly as I can,” Posada writes in “The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes.” “When you take me out from behind the plate, you’re taking away my heart and passion. … I knew that my role with the club was changing, but I don’t think that anyone making those decisions knew how much the things being done hurt me.”

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Read More: Alex Ovechkin, Jorge Posada, Josh Hamilton,

Thinking Out Loud: Tom Brady needs to come clean

05.08.15 at 3:46 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering if I can find at least three things more worth my money than buying the Mayweather-Pacquiao PPV fraud.

— No matter your stance, TB12 needs to come clean. Whatever that story may be. His legacy, his clean-cut image, even his career in the afterlife of pro football is on the line here. No, he’ll never want for money, or a job. But Tom Brady is about legacy, about winning. He’s about protecting his image. The only way he protects what he’s worked so hard to earn is by telling the absolute truth about his role with Deflategate. Sports society is always ready to forgive.

— Brady also would be best served by the truth because it actually might end the “witch hunt” against him, his teammates and the organization, for now. There is no incontrovertible, conclusive evidence of deflating footballs. “More probable than not?” It is what it is.

— Not for nuthin,’ but Patriots fans should be thanking the NFL, Roger Goodell, Ted Wells and everyone screaming “cheaters!” toward New England right now. Talk about a chip the size of a boulder on their shoulders before the season even starts? Regardless of the improvement the defense will need to make, this team — this offense — will s-t-e-a-m-r-o-l-l over some people next season. Led by a motivated QB with something to prove to himself and the rest of the world. Make bank on it.

— On the “cheating” issue: It’s a pound of air pressure, people. I have a good friend who is a national radio talk show host this week attempt to compare Deflategate to Bountygate with the New Orleans Saints. So now air pressure is akin to purposely injuring people, taking them out of games and perhaps ending careers? Look, it’s a rules violation. But it’s like getting caught for doing 75 mph in a 65 mph zone and you sit there on the side of the highway while cars scream past you and the police doing 80-plus.

— This is gamesmanship. Nothing more. It’s about gaining whatever advantage you can, more so for a personal psychological advantage than anything else. Brady’s alleged reluctance to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation is understandable. The investigation itself? Can’t argue that it wasn’t some hard work put in over 103 days, but it wasn’t proper, either. Too much conflict of interest with investigators already having the NFL as a client for this to be truly independent. And Mr. Wells? Just the facts, please. Your opinions are rife throughout the 243-page document. How is that “independent”?

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