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New York Times apologizes for misleading Patriots White House photos

04.20.17 at 12:01 pm ET
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The Patriots gave Donald Trump an honorary jersey Wednesday. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots gave Donald Trump an honorary jersey Wednesday. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The New York Times is falling on the sword for tweeting a misleading pair of photographs comparing attendance from the Patriots’ last two White House visits.

On Tuesday, the Twitter account for New York Times Sports shared a picture from the Patriots’ trip in 2015, when President Barack Obama was in office. Below it, the Times posted a snapshot from Wednesday’s event with Donald Trump, which far fewer players appeared to attend.

The Patriots corrected the Times on Twitter, pointing out staff members were standing on the stairs surrounding Obama in 2015. This year, they were seated on the White House lawn, hence the smaller crowd on stage. Thirty-four players took the trip to Washington D.C.

In a statement issued to Yahoo’s Colin Campbell, the New York Times’ sports editor Jason Stallman admits the tweet was a mistake.

Trump, who seemingly never misses an opportunity to heckle the Times, took a shot at the Gray Lady as well.

Read More: Donald Trump, New England Patriots, New York Times,

Michele McPhee on K&C: Aaron Hernandez may have killed Odin Lloyd after Lloyd used gay slur

04.20.17 at 11:25 am ET
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Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell Wednesday. (Pool photo by Keith Bedford)

Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell Wednesday. (Pool photo by Keith Bedford)

Boston-based investigative journalist Michele McPhee says Aaron Hernandez may have killed Odin Lloyd in June 2013 after Lloyd used a gay slur to describe the deceased ex-NFL star.

In an interview on Kirk & Callahan Thursday, McPhee said Hernandez carried on an intimate relationship with a male high school friend from Connecticut. She says investigators believe Lloyd’s knowledge of the romance could have motivated Hernandez to murder.

“There was a relationship with somebody from his high school years,” she said. “That may have provided –– and this was one of the investigative theories in the beginning –– because they got information from Ernest Wallace that perhaps –– and remember, Ernest Wallace was the guy who ditched the gun –– they had information from him that one of the motives is Odin Lloyd used a derogatory term for gay people in front of Aaron Hernandez and that Odin Lloyd had knowledge because of this relationship he had with the man in Connecticut.”

Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell Wednesday after an apparent suicide attempt, five days after his acquittal in a double murder. While there was some speculation recently resurfaced rumors about his possible homosexuality led Hernandez to kill himself, McPhee says she doubts it.

“I would like to think in 2017 the guilt of having been accused of killing three people and convicted of killing his close friend would weigh heavier than his sexual orientation,” she said. “The only reason that’s even relevant at all is as a motive for the Odin Lloyd crime.”

McPhee went on to explain she’s not the only reporter with knowledge about Hernandez’s sexual orientation.

“You know what infuriates me about the people who are now criticizing that information?,” she asked. “This information is available to any reporter who wants to do the work. There are records, there are phone calls, there are letters. This is common knowledge.”

Given that Hernandez’s behavior suggests he was prone to spontaneous violent outbursts, McPhee says it’s not a stretch to believe he killed Lloyd over a slur. Prosecutors still haven’t attached a clear motive to the shooting four years later.

“You saw how he flies off the handle,” McPhee said. “Those poor guys in Boston who he allegedly killed, they bumped into him and spilled a drink and he shot them. You think if somebody made reference to him having a dual sexual orientation, you think that wouldn’t provoke him?”

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: NFL players react to death of Aaron Hernandez; Serena Williams announces pregnancy

04.20.17 at 8:43 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: Boston at Toronto, 12:37 p.m. (NESN)
MLB: Cleveland at Minnesota, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Washington at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: 10:30 p.m. Seattle at Oakland, 10:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Cleveland at Indiana, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Toronto at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: San Antonio at Memphis, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Columbus at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL: NY Rangers at Montreal, 7 p.m. (USA)
NHL: Chicago at Nashville, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: San Jose at Edmonton, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in prison Wednesday morning and some NFL players reacted to the news on social media.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Serena Williams,

Robert Kraft is far from only NFL owner who supports Donald Trump

04.19.17 at 4:18 pm ET
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Robert Kraft lavished praise on Donald Trump at the Patriots' White House ceremony. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Robert Kraft lavished praise on Donald Trump at the Patriots’ White House ceremony. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

At the Patriots’ White House ceremony Wednesday, Donald Trump commended Robert Kraft for building an “extraordinary organization.” In return, Kraft praised Trump for his “mental toughness,” comparing his improbable election victory to the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl comeback.

It was a wet kiss between two billionaires.

Over the last two years, a lot has been written about the Patriots’ ties to Trump. He frequently mentioned them on the campaign trial, and has tweeted out his support for the team over the years as well.

Belichick’s friendship with the President was on display Wednesday, too, when Trump recounted the story behind the infamous endorsement letter. Apparently, Belichick didn’t just give Trump permission to read the message at a campaign rally. He sent him a second note, complete with fawning superlatives.

“You know what he did? He toned it way up,” Trump explained. “He made that the greatest letter.”

On top of it all, newly disclosed FEC filings show Kraft’s firm donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund. These two are practically attached at the hip.

While that may be true, it’s important to remember other NFL owners financially backed Trump as well. Perhaps none are closer to him than Woody Johnson, who was vice chairman of Trump’s victory committee and was chosen to serve as Ambassador to the U.K. Johnson also gave $1 million to the inauguration.

In total, eight NFL owners collectively donated millions of dollars to Trump’s inaugural efforts. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Texans owner Bob McNair and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan all chipped in $1 million. Rams head honcho Stan Kroenke and Buccaneers co-owner Ed Glazer supported the fund as well.

Despite riding a populist message to the White House, Trump has surrounded himself with the wealthiest cabinet in U.S. history. It’s not surprising that Kraft and Trump, two of the richest people in the country, have been friends for decades. Billionaires tend to pal around together.

Belichick is far from the only coach who’s a Trump backer, too. Rex Ryan and Mike Ditka both campaigned with him.

With Tom Brady absent, and conspicuously not mentioned, Trump dedicated ample time to praising Kraft and Belichick. But if another NFL team were there, especially if it was owned by one of Trump’s other big backers, a similar scene probably would’ve unfolded.

But since the Patriots were at the White House, Kraft was singled out. Remember, though, he’s far from the only Trump supporting owner in the NFL –– even if the commentary makes him sound like it.

Read More: Donald Trump, Robert Kraft,

Frequent Kirk & Callahan caller ‘Rabbit’ suggests Aaron Hernandez committed suicide due to homosexuality rumors

04.19.17 at 12:45 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell Wednesday morning after an apparent suicide attempt. (Pool photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)

Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell Wednesday morning after an apparent suicide attempt. (Pool photo/Keith Bedford)

The timing of Aaron Hernandez’s apparent suicide Wednesday morning was curious, considering he was acquitted on double murder charges five days ago. But a longtime caller to Kirk & Callahan, and ex-con, says Hernandez took his own life because of recently resurfaced rumors about his sexuality.

In an interview on K&C Monday, Boston journalist Michelle McPhee said Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd because he caught the former Patriots tight end in a “compromising position,” presumably with another man. “Rabbit,” who calls WEEI under an alias, told K&C he spoke with Hernandez about the accusation Tuesday.

“As a gang member, the one thing they don’t take lightly is homosexuality. It’s not allowed,” he said. “You have to be terminated. He knew it was going to be non-stop trouble for him.”

“Rabbit” claims he’s spoken with Hernandez “dozens of times” over the last four years. He said the ex-NFL star seemed incensed when they spoke, but not suicidal.

“[Hernandez] just was trying to explain to me to tell everybody that it was not true. It was 100 percent not true,” he explained. “And that people are out to get him, and that people weren’t happy with him. First of all, everybody loved him [in prison]. So I was telling him, ‘You don’t have to worry about these things. Nothing is going to happen to you.’ He’s like, ‘No, no, you don’t understand.’

Prosecutors still haven’t attached a clear motive to the Lloyd shooting, four years after it occurred. During the investigation, law enforcement officials said Hernandez was likely stewing over incidents at a night club.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Ben Volin: ‘We feel sadness for [Aaron] Hernandez.’ No, we don’t

04.19.17 at 10:25 am ET
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Boston GlobePatriots coach Bill Belichick said it best last week when asked by CNBC to play word association with Aaron Hernandez. “Tragedy.”

Hernandez’s life took one final sad, tragic turn early Wednesday morning when he committed suicide in his cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley. 

… But that his life ended so swiftly, and took such a sharp, dramatic turn, is nothing short of heartbreaking. We feel sadness today for the family of Lloyd, who was shot in a North Attleborough industrial lot at just 28 years old.

We feel sadness for the families of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were gunned down by someone in Hernandez’s vehicle in 2012.

Hernandez was found not guilty, likely because his friend, Alexander Bradley, was not a credible witness. The families of the victims sat in court day after day, month after month, hoping for justice, only to find that the state of Massachusetts didn’t have enough corroborating evidence to convict anyone for the murders.

And now, after all that, they see Hernandez take his own life. We feel sadness for his fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, who sat by Hernandez day after day, year after year, in his two murder trials.

We feel sadness for his daughter, Avielle Janelle Jenkins, who was only seven months old when her father was hauled away in June 2013, and will turn five years old this November. She will grow up without a father and without his NFL millions, and will eventually learn about the terrible things he did.

We feel sadness for Hernandez’s mother, Terri, and brother, D.J., who watched as Aaron’s life spiraled downward. It started with the death of his father, Dennis, in 2006, long before Hernandez turned into a murderer.

And we feel sadness for Hernandez, a smart kid who made several bad decisions. Hernandez literally had the world at his fingertips. He was an All-American tight end at Florida, and a national champion. He was one of the youngest players ever to enter the NFL, getting drafted by the Patriots in 2010 when he was still just 20 years old.

Yes, there are parts of the Aaron Hernandez saga that are sad. It is sad that Hernandez had amazing talent as a football player and threw it all away. It is sad that he couldn’t hold back from murdering people and be a father to his daughter and husband to his fiance/wife and a successful tight end in the NFL. It is sad that the families of the people he killed and might have killed lost those people.

But it is not sad that Aaron Hernandez is dead.

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Wide range of initial reactions on social media to death of Aaron Hernandez

04.19.17 at 8:40 am ET
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Good morning. Here is your Wednesday 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.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Boston at Toronto, 7:07 p.m. (NESN)
MLB: Cleveland at Minnesota, 8:10 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Atlanta at Washington, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Oklahoma City at Houston, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Portland at Golden State, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Washington at Toronto, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Ottawa at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (NESN, USA)
NHL: Minnesota at St. Louis, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Anaheim at Calgary, 10 p.m. (USA)

AROUND THE WEB: 

— After the shocking news broke that Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his prison cell early Wednesday morning, the initial reactions on Twitter ranged from satisfaction, to shock, to even sadness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Patriots fans continue to stiff ESPN, showing fractured relationship may never recover

04.18.17 at 3:55 pm ET
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Patriots fans continue to stick it to ESPN on social media. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Patriots fans continue to stick it to ESPN on social media. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

It’s been more than two years since the start of Deflategate. But many Patriots fans still aren’t letting ESPN live down its erroneous reporting.

There have been at least three cases in recent months of Patriots fans refusing to give ESPN permission to show either their tweets or photographs on television. Perhaps the most notable example happened Monday, when a Twitter user who posted a picture during the Boston Marathon told ESPN it couldn’t feature his work.

“After the witch hunt ESPN led against Tom Brady,?” he wrote. “Absolutely the f*** not. In fact, block me right now. Go f*** yourselves.”

This trend started in September 2016, when the person who videotaped a suspended Tom Brady throwing passes at Milton Academy told ESPN to shove it when the network asked to use his recording. In January, the Patriots fan who snapped a picture of Bill Belichick sleeping on a ferry on his way back from Nantucket expressed similar sentiments to the assignment desk.

While ESPN didn’t start Deflategate, its inaccurate reporting turned the saga into a major national story. On Jan. 21, 2015, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were two PSI below the legal air pressure threshold. The following day, Deflategate led all three national evening newscasts.

As it turns out, none of the Patriots’ balls were two PSI below the limit. Even though those numbers were released when Ted Wells’ report was published in May 2015, Mortensen didn’t delete his tweet until that August. The corresponding article remained unedited as well.

There were other instances in which ESPN appeared to do the league’s bidding. On the same day commissioner Roger Goodell announced he was upholding Brady’s four-game ban, “First Take”co-host Stephen A. Smith said the Patriots quarterback “destroyed his phone” during the investigation. But once the transcript of Brady’s appeal hearing was released, it was revealed that Smith’s report left out two important details: Brady says he regularly cycles through cell phones for privacy purposes, and he offered to obtain printouts of all relevant text messages for the league. Goodell denied the request.

Oh, and there was crying Mark Brunell, too. Who could forget that?

Despite the Patriots’ incredible on-field success –– two Super Bowls in three years –– it’s apparent New England isn’t going to forget about ESPN’s role in propagating Deflategate any time soon. The rash of ESPN personalities who also keep insinuating Boston is a racist city, such as Bomani Jones and Dan Le Batard, probably aren’t helping matters, either.

Thanks to all of ESPN’s rights agreements, it’s unlikely Boston sports fans would be able to successfully boycott the network. But it’s clear that everlasting damage has been done to the relationship between the WorldWide Leader and one of the most premier sports markets in the country. For a company that’s bleeding revenue and subscribers, it’s a troubling reality to confront, especially because it’s self-inflicted.

 

Read More: Deflategate, ESPN, New England Patriots,

Ray Rice to appear in NFL’s social responsibility video

04.18.17 at 3:02 pm ET
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Baltimore SunAfter becoming the face of the NFL’s domestic-violence problem in 2014, Ray Rice remains persona non grata in the league, unable to get a tryout even after three Pro Bowl seasons with the Ravens.

But it’s that fall from grace that perhaps makes him a perfect face for the NFL’s social responsibility education. Rice told USA Today that he has taped an interview for what will be a two- to three-minute “video conversation” in the social responsibility program to be presented to teams this May.

“I just think there’s so much more to learn from my situation,” Rice told USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. “My story is a real story. Part of life’s journey is just being able to tell my story now. A lot of men think, ‘It can’t happen to me.’ Well, I had a clean slate and it all came down to a terrible split-second decision. I want these guys to learn from it. I want them to be better for it. I want them to be better men.”

The NFL program, now in its fourth year — it was devised in the wake of Rice’s and other players’ scandals — also includes a discussion with former Ravens wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Torrey Smith (Maryland), who grew up in violent households.

This is disgusting. “It can’t happen to me?” Nothing happened to him, he happened to Janay Rice. He is in no way a victim of anything. The only thing that happened to him is he got caught.

This comment alone proves Ray Rice has learning NOTHING from punching his then-fiance in the face. It kind of sounds like the message he wants to send is if you do this, make sure you don’t get caught. Because there’s nothing really to learn from this situation except Rice has violence issues and is a scumbag. And most importantly, the main takeaway is don’t hit women. It’s pretty simple.

Adidas sends out email congratulating customers on ‘surviving Boston Marathon’

04.18.17 at 1:39 pm ET
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Adidas got noticed for all of the wrong reasons Tuesday.

The athletic gear company sent out a poorly worded post-Boston Marathon email to its subscribers, congratulating them on “surviving” the race. Given the events of four years ago, there probably are better phrases to use if you want to goad runners into buying a new pair of sneakers for the summer.

While the intent was almost certainly not malicious, it’s amazing the email subject line was presumably able to make it past numerous consultants and marketing managers. This doesn’t rise to the levels of Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial, in which she cheerfully hands the soft drink to officers in riot gear while they’re overseeing a protest against police brutality, but it’s a #brand fail.

Expect an apology to be forthcoming.

UPDATE: And here it is:

“We are incredibly sorry. Clearly, there was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday,” Adidas said in a statement Tuesday. “We deeply apologize for our mistake. The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspirational sporting events in the world. Every year we’re reminded of the hope and resiliency of the running community at this event.” 

Read More: adidas, Boston Marathon,