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ESPN still ignores apparent double-standard that resulted in Curt Schilling’s firing

02.14.17 at 4:12 pm ET
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Curt Schilling was dismissed from ESPN last March. (David Manning/USA TODAY Sports)

Curt Schilling was dismissed from ESPN last March. (David Manning/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN public editor Jim Brady published a column this week about the company’s policy when it comes to social media use and political discourse. He addresses a wide swath of controversies, including a recent string of comments from ESPN hosts who have insinuated Boston is a racist city. But he fails to mention Curt Schilling, who was fired from the network last year after sharing an anti-transgender post on Facebook.

The omission is significant, and it’s not just because Schilling is the most high-profile employee who’s ever been terminated for his behavior on social media. It also provides a glimpse into the apparent double-standard that exists at ESPN when it comes to who’s allowed to speak out, and who must stay silent.

In his piece, Brady says the WorldWide Leader should let its personalities express themselves with few restrictions.

“Barring something truly beyond the pale, it’s unlikely any ESPN personality would be terminated over a single comment or social media post,” he writes. “And, in a world where patience for opposing viewpoints seems to be evaporating, I think that’s a good position for the company to take.”

When asked why Schilling wasn’t included in the article, Brady said on Twitter it’s because he was a multiple time offender, having served a suspension in 2015 for comparing radical Muslim jihadism to Nazism. That’s fair, but several of his colleagues habitually make inflammatory statements, only to see their profiles rise.

Jemele Hill, who co-hosts the highly promoted “SC6″ with Michael Smith, was reprimanded in 2008 for saying rooting for the Celtics is akin to calling Adolf Hitler a victim.  Last summer, in the wake of the Orlando Massacre, she admonished Americans who condemn homophobia in Islamic cultures, because gay people face discrimination in the U.S. as well. While that may appear to be a nuanced take on the issue of LGBTQ rights, it’s mindless and insulting.  In at least 10 majority Muslim nations in the Middle East and Africa, homosexuality is punishable by death. It’s difficult to see how that equates to the U.S., where same-sex marriage is legal and federal contractors are barred from discriminating against LGBTQ workers.

While gay rights in the U.S. can still be expanded, and are in danger of being rolled back during Donald Trump’s administration, the comparison Hill made is invalid. Or, at the least, it’s not any less nonsensical than comparing Islamic jihadism to Nazism.

But Hill is now one of the most visible hosts on ESPN, free to label Boston as the “gold-standard of racism” during a recent podcast with NBA analyst Amin Elhassan. In that same episode, Elhassan called Boston the most bigoted city in the country north of the Mason-Dixon line.

It seems to be acceptable at ESPN to smear Bostonians and call them racist. When Celtics fans cheered Jazz forward Gordon Hayward last month, Bomani Jones implied on “Highly Questionable” that race may have been a factor in his warm reception. (Never mind that Celtics fans have also applauded Kevin Durant and other potential free agents in recent years, as an apparent effort to recruit them to Boston.)

“Is there another arena in the whole country that would get this charged about Gordon Hayward maybe coming as a free agent?,” he asked. “Clapping for Kevin Durant is one thing. But if you put Gordon Hayward on the same level as Kevin Durant, you might be the city that had the Kevin Love welcoming tour when he wasn’t even a free agent yet.”

On “Around the Horn,” Israel Gutierrez issued a similar statement.

“It’s Boston. They’re famous for having Larry Bird on their team. Gordon Hayward looks more like Larry Bird than other players in the league. So maybe there’s that Boston connection there,” he said.

In an interview with Brady, Jones said he was talking about how Boston has a “particular affection for white players.” But it’s unclear how that’s different than other cities that support talented white athletes. Skin color isn’t the barometer for Celtics fan appreciation, or else Kelly Olynyk would probably be the most popular player on the squad instead of Isaiah Thomas. Rather than clarify his remarks, Jones fired off another cheap shot.

At ESPN, there appear to be different sets of rules for each personality. Stephen A. Smith, for example, was welcomed back after hinting in 2014 that women sometimes bring domestic violence upon themselves. Last summer, he strongly hinted that Stephen Curry’s outspoken wife, Ayesha, should know her place and not bring any negative attention to herself.

In isolation, none of these comments should result in anybody’s firing. Opinionated personalities should be allowed to speak their minds both on- and off-air. But it remains difficult to see how Schilling’s statements crossed a line, while others are deemed acceptable.

Schilling was politically outspoken throughout his tenure at ESPN, including when he got into a spat with Keith Law about the theory of evolution and said Hillary Clinton should be “buried under a jail.” So it’s unlikely his political leanings were the ultimate reason he was fired. It’s more plausible Schilling was canned for his crassness. The anti-transgender meme he shared featured a burly man in drag, and below it, he said the “men’s room was designed for the penis.” Classy stuff.

But then again, it’s not all that classy to compare Celtics fans to Nazi sympathizers or label Boston racist with nothing more than decades-old anecdotal evidence –– such as citing the break-in at Bill Russell’s house during his playing days in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

When it comes to ESPN’s policies on social media use and political commentary, Schilling stands out as someone who may have fallen victim to a double-standard. But apparently, it’s easier for ESPN to ignore that instead of address it head-on.

Read More: Curt Schilling, ESPN,

USA Today grossly misrepresents Tom Brady’s comments on Patriots White House visit

02.14.17 at 12:47 pm ET
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Given Brady's friendship with Donald Trump, there's been a lot of focus on whether he'll visit the White House later this year. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Given Tom Brady’s friendship with Donald Trump, there’s been a lot of focus on whether he’ll visit the White House later this year. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

When Tom Brady was asked Tuesday about several of his teammates planning to skip the Patriots’ White House visit, he gave a diplomatic answer. But that’s not the way USA Today represented it.

In an interview with PFT Live, Brady said he respects players’ decisions to boycott the ceremony.

“Putting politics aside, it never really was a political thing. At least it never was for me,” he said. “It’s just always something that was a privilege to be able to do, because it really meant you won a championship and you got to experience something cool with your team and with your teammates. Everyone has their own choice and everyone, it’s their offseason. These days are valuable for everybody. You only get so much time with your family and friends. If people don’t want to go, they don’t want to go and that is their choice.”

It’s difficult to think of a way for Brady to answer that question any more judiciously. Since he skipped the White House visit two years ago while President Barack Obama was in office, he’s wise to say he personally feels it’s an apolitical event –– especially if he plans on going this spring to see his pal Donald Trump. But he also acknowledged others may disagree. He covered all of his bases.

When USA Today wrote up the interview, however, Brady’s message was misconstrued.

In a tweet from the USA Today Sports account, the teaser for the story reads: “Tom Brady says his teammates should put ‘politics aside’ when it comes to visiting the White House.” That echoes the original headline, which has been replaced. It now says, “Tom Brady in favor of ‘putting politics aside’ when it comes to White House visit.”

That’s still misleading, because it implies Brady was preaching to others about how they should view the White House trip. But in reality, he was only speaking for himself. He couldn’t have been more clear, saying “at least it never was [political] for me.” There’s no other way to interpret that comment, unless you’re trolling for clicks.

It’s fair to criticize Brady for the way he’s handled the Trump story. It was weak for him to end his press conference when he was asked about the President’s leaked Access Hollywood video tape, in which he brags about sexually assaulting women. It also came across as phony for Brady to claim he’s oblivious to current events when asked about Trump at Super Bowl opening night.

But when it comes to his answer about the White House boycott, Brady satisfied all parties. Shame on USA Today for taking those remarks, and presenting them as inflammatory comments directed towards his teammates.

In these divisive times, it’s more important than ever for the media to serve as a watchdog. The press is supposed to disprove “alternative facts,” not create them. By publishing an inaccurate description of Brady’s interview, USA Today failed in this mission.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

Danny Amendola walks the runway in NYC fashion show

02.14.17 at 11:08 am ET
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Forget fishing, Danny Amendola is spending his offseason smizing … strutting the catwalk at a NYC fashion event in front of some HUGE celebrities.

The Patriots star sashayed down the runway for the Philipp Plein show at the New York public library Monday night … and from the look of these photos he had his fierce face down Pat (get it?).

Madonna, Kylie Jenner, Sofia Richie, Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton (remember her?) and Danny’s girlfriend, Olivia Culpo, were all in attendance, making this a pretty big moment for the wideout.

BTW, no Falcons were spotted at the event … because no Falcons want to be seen in public, (it was 28-3, c’mon).

He doesn’t quite have the runway strut down correctly, but he looks like he could make a nice post-playing career out of this. He’s got the face down perfectly.

This is the kind of stuff that happens when you date a model. Just look at what he let them do to his ear.

Another example:

 

       

Tom Brady’s 2015 Man of the Year GQ photoshoot had Gisele’s influence all over it.

Penn State truther John Ziegler on Kirk & Callahan: Jerry Sandusky’s son may have been set up

02.14.17 at 10:12 am ET
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In recent years, right-wing talk show host John Ziegler has emerged as Jerry Sandusky’s most prominent defender. According to Ziegler, every single one of Sandusky’s victims is lying. With news that Sandusky’s son, Jeffrey, has been arrested on child sexual abuse charges, Ziegler came on Kirk & Callahan Tuesday to talk about the case.

According to prosecutors, Jeffrey Sandusky, who’s one of the disgraced ex-Penn State defensive coordinator’s six adopted children, tried to solicit his two teenage stepdaughters for oral sex and naked pictures. Sandusky allegedly asked his older daughter for a blowjob in 2013 when she was 15 years old, and her younger sister last year to send him pictures of herself changing and urinating. She was 16 at the time.

Though Ziegler says the criminal report report looks bad, he’s unwilling to say Sandusky is guilty. Instead, Ziegler says there’s a possibility he was set up.

“Put yourself in the position of a father whose ex-wife is dating a Sandusky in 2013-2016. You want that guy out of your life,” he said. “You want this entire situation out of your life. If Jeff did something really stupid, and maybe even wrong and maybe even highly inappropriate –– and who knows –– maybe even criminal [crosstalk]. … Those three people clearly have a huge incentive to get Jeff Sandusky out of their life.”

Ziegler went on to say Dottie Sandusky, Jeffrey’s mother and Jerry’s wife, thinks her son is innocent. He says he told her Jeffrey is going to jail, even though he doubts the older daughter’s account of events.

“After reading the complaint about the 15-year-old daughter –– I don’t believe that, because that happened in 2013 and that sounds to me like a sister trying to help another sister out along with a dad to try to substantiate and exaggerate a story,” he said.

Given the mountain of evidence against Jeffrey Sandusky, it’s difficult for Ziegler to dismiss the charges outright. But he says it lends further credence to his theory about Jerry Sandusky’s innocence, because no text messages or recorded conversations have been brought forward in his cases.

“Why is there evidence against Jeffrey Sandusky that does not remotely exist against Jerry, despite the fact that Jerry has been investigated for eight years with unlimited resources by multiple authorities?,” he said. “There’s no evidence when there should be mountains of evidence.”

In a lot of ways, Ziegler says the Penn State sexual assault story is analogous to Deflategate. According to him, false reporting from ESPN ignited the scandal, much like Chris Mortensen’s fabricated report about the Patriots’ footballs air pressure levels propelled Deflategate to the front-page.

“As far as Deflategate is concerned, the whole Deflategate thing starts because ESPN files a false report –– Chris Mortensen with the 11 out of 12 balls being deflated. And that gets [treated as] gospel, and sparks a domino affect and everyone gets invested in a mythology,” he said. “Well, that’s exactly what happened with the [Mike] McQueary episode in the Penn State case. There was a false report, mostly by ESPN at the start of this story and everything comes downhill from there. Everyone is invested in mythology. It’s the Lock Ness Monster story.”

Read More: Jerry Sandusky,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Patriots missing Super Bowl game-winning football found; UConn Women reach record 100-game win streak

02.14.17 at 8:45 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:
NBA: Cleveland at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Sacramento at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: Vancouver at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NHL)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s at VCU, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Notre Dame at Boston College, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Rutgers at Purdue, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Tulsa at UCF, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Clemson, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: Dayton at Saint Louis, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Mississippi State at Georgia, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Ohio State at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Penn State at Nebraska, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Texas at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Boise State at New Mexico, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Patriots running back James White said after the Super Bowl he forgot to take the game-winning touchdown football and didn’t know what happened to it.

“I wasn’t thinking in that moment,” White said. “I was too busy sprinting down the field.”

Thankfully, we now know, according to a team spokesman, an equipment manager picked it up and it is safe and sound and on display in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame.

The missing football was worrisome at the time because Tom Brady’s game-worn jersey was also missing and still has not been found.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: James White, New England Patriots, UConn women's basketball,

Despite battling illness and personal anguish, Jerry Remy is back at top of his game

02.13.17 at 4:50 pm ET
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At various times last year, it seemed as if NESN was phasing out Jerry Remy. At one point, after being sidelined for three consecutive road trips, the longtime color analyst even took it upon himself to assure fans he was feeling fine. He said the new schedule, not his health, was the reason for his prolonged absence from the booth.

It’s been a trying stretch for Remy, who NESN announced Monday is being treated for a relapse of lung cancer. The 64-year-old broadcaster was first diagnosed in 2008, leading to a more than three-month sabbatical the following year due to a bout with depression. He relapsed in the offseason prior to the 2013 campaign, but was able to work on Opening Day. Remy stayed on the job until mid-August, when his son, Jared, was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, with whom he had a young child. The news forced Remy off TV for the remainder of the championship run.

While his son’s murder trial played out in the early portions of the 2014 season, Remy was on the air almost daily. When Jared pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges May 27, 2014, he returned to the broadcast booth the next night. Though Remy was able to maintain his amiable on-air persona during that time, it made for some uncomfortable imagery. Play-by-play man Don Orsillo navigated through the delicate situation with aplomb.

At that point, after being on the job for 27 years, there were questions about how much longer Remy would continue to work. Those uncertainties may have been a reason why NESN brought in Steve Lyons to do studio shows in 2014. The telegenic former Red Sox outfielder was once Fox’s No. 2 baseball analyst. A local studio job seemed beneath him, unless it came with the promise of also getting into the broadcast booth.

Lyons has worked his way onto game broadcasts, taking part in a three-man color rotation alongside Remy and Dennis Eckersley. After Orsillo was ousted in favor of ex-radio voice Dave O’Brien at the end of 2015, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said he wanted to “re-energize the broadcast.” Apparently, lessening Remy’s workload was a part of that process.

After an offseason of change, it wasn’t the broadcast that seemed re-energized –– O’Brien struggled to adapt to a lighter, more conversational format –– but rather Remy. He appeared more focused than in recent years, frequently pointing out intricate details about the game that probably eluded most folks watching at home. When Remy is at his best, he combines a keen level of insight with his endearing RemDawg persona. That happened last year, and suits at NESN seemed to notice. Earlier this year, the network announced it had re-signed Remy to a multi-year contract. He’ll call 115 games in 2017.

Remy, who’s currently undergoing treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, plans to work his full schedule this season. That’s good news for viewers, who didn’t appear to enjoy Lyons last year. On a couple of occasions, Lyons was even trending on Twitter during games, because so many people were complaining about him.

With the sharp-tongued Eckersley reportedly unwilling to sign on for a full-season slate, Remy remains the Red Sox’s best color analyst option. As he enters his 30th season in the booth, his value to NESN has never been higher.

Read More: jerry remy, NESN,

Jerry Sandusky’s son charged with sexually abusing children

02.13.17 at 3:26 pm ET
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The apple apparently doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Jerry Sandusky’s son, Jeffrey, was charged Monday with 14 counts of child sexual abuse. He’s currently housed in the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, Penn., where his bail is set for $200,000.

Jerry Sandusky, the disgraced ex-Penn State defensive coordinator, is serving a lengthy prison sentence for sexually abusing at least 10 boys. In an attempt to get his conviction overturned, he denied in court last year he ever had sexual contact with children. The appeal is still pending.

Over the last several years, Penn State has paid roughly $93 million to more than 30 of Sandusky’s accusers. In September 2016, the school settled a long-running suit with its main liability insurance company over whether it will be reimbursed for the money it paid Sandusky’s victims.

Read More: Jerry Sandusky,

Robert Kraft is acting like one of Donald Trump’s political surrogates

02.13.17 at 1:26 pm ET
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Kraft routinely touts Trump's economic plans. (Andrew Innerarity/USA TODAY Sports)

Robert Kraft routinely touts Donald Trump’s economic plans. (Andrew Innerarity/USA Today Sports)

If Robert Kraft needs an activity this offseason, perhaps he could fill in for Donald Trump’s embattled White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer. He appeared to be auditioning for the role in an interview Monday on Fox Business Network.

The Patriots’ owner, who also appeared on NBC’s TODAY show, was asked about attending dinner with Trump Friday at his Mar-a-Largo estate alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Kraft third-wheeled for the evening’s proceedings, and was seated across from the President.

“[President Trump and Prime Minister Abe] had a real connection. I think it’s going [to be] to the benefit of both countries,” he said on Mornings with Maria. “The president stressed the need to create jobs and have a fair trade relationsihp. They both seem connected in the area of defense and all the issues that Americans would care about.”

When asked about Trump’s policies as a whole, Kraft said he thinks they’ll be great for working families –– echoing his comments to the New York Times last month.

“The most important thing for our country is new, good jobs –– especially in the inner-cities for working class people,” Kraft said. “People who live in the inner-city –– for the last decade, I don’t think they’ve gotten their fair share. I think if we can create a vibrant economy and have new stimulation, have this deregulation, and repatriation and tax reform, I think that’ll create a vibrant economic environment.”

During Super Bowl week, Kraft explained some of the history behind his relationship with Trump. He says when his wife, Myra, passed away in 2011, Trump called once per week for one year. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why Kraft feels an apparent loyalty towards Trump.

But unlike Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are also buddies with the President, Kraft discusses Trump’s political policies. During his interview with Fox Business, he parroted Trump’s vapid economic rhetoric, acting like a cable news surrogate.

Moments like these demonstrate why the Patriots and Trump are inseparable. Kraft aligning himself with Trump not just personally, but politically, is a relevant story –– just like when any celebrity or influential person decides to step into the political arena.

During his TODAY show interview, Kraft expressed support for the six Patriots players who announced last week they plan to skip the ceremonial White House visit. But he also appeared to criticize the press for fixating on the story, a move right out of the Trump playbook.

“Well, you know what’s interesting, this is our, I’m happy to say, fifth Super Bowl in the last 16 years,” Kraft said. “And every time we’ve had the privilege of going to the White House, a dozen of our players don’t go. This is the first time it’s gotten any media attention.”

With deflections like that, maybe Kraft will soon be making his way onto a CNN set.

Read More: Donald Trump, Robert Kraft,

Watch Canucks forward Alex Burrows, who bit Patrice Bergeron during Stanley Cup, get laid out

02.13.17 at 11:00 am ET
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Six years ago, Canucks forward Alex Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron’s finger during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. On Sunday, he finally received his comeuppance.

During the first period of Vancouver’s contest against the Sabres, Burrows started to engage in a shoving match with Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner. During the midst of their confrontation, Sabres defenseman Justin Falk came out of nowhere and tackled Burrows to the ice.

Burrows’ night got a lot better from there, however. He netted a goal against Lehner and also recorded an assist in the Canucks’ victory. But for a fleeting moment, the Hockey Gods seemed to enact their belated revenge.

Read More: Alex Burrows,

‘Simpsons’ added final score of Super Bowl LI to their all-Boston episode

02.13.17 at 10:30 am ET
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When the Simpsons’ Boston-themed episode first aired in October, Homer and his buddies went to Moe’s Tavern to watch the Boston Americans oust the Springfield Atoms. The game-winning drive, which features the Americans’ well-coiffed quarterback slinging a touchdown pass to the team mascot –– a trick play drawn up by his dour-looking head coach –– is a familiar sight for Patriots’ fans. And now, so is the final score.

For Sunday’s rerun of “The Town,” Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman, a Watertown-native, decided to sub out the “Americans and “Atoms” for “New England” and “Atlanta.” The score, 34-28, was also coincidently the final of Super Bowl LI.

“For an episode that’s really a love letter to Boston, this felt like the perfect one-time addition,” Selman told Boston.com’s Kevin Slane. “It’s kind of cocky, but everyone else already hates the Patriots and their fans, so it’s OK.”