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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs suffers season-ending injury

09.14.15 at 8:03 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NFL: Eagles at Falcons, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL: Vikings at 49ers, 10:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Premier League, Newcastle at West Ham, 3 p.m. (NBCSN)


— Not only did the Patriots start the season with a solid win over the rival Steelers, New England had a Godfather-esque revenge day Sunday, as two key rivals who played roles in the Deflategate saga saw their seasons open with losses and a key injury.

The Colts were stifled by the Bills in suffering a 27-14 upset loss in Buffalo. And the Ravens lost a 19-13 decision to the Broncos — and lost longtime Patriots antagonist Terrell Suggs for the season in the process.

Suggs, known for his taunts of Tom Brady and the Patriots organization, tore his left Achilles while pressuring Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter. The 32-year-old was carted to the locker room, and the club announced the injury shortly after the game.

“It’s huge,” Ravens pass rusher Elvis Dumervil said. “You can never replace a Terrell Suggs.”

A six-time Pro Bowler and the 2011 AFC Defensive Player of the Year, Suggs tore his Achilles tendon in the offseason before the 2012 campaign. He missed the first half of the season but returned to help Baltimore knock off the Patriots in the AFC championship game and go on to win the Super Bowl.

According to am email that was part of evidence in Tom Brady‘s Deflategate case, the Colts alerted the NFL to the Patriots’ alleged deflation of footballs prior to last season’s AFC championship game after receiving an email from a Ravens staffer warning them. Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Colts coach Chuck Pagano have denied any involvement.

— Sunday’s Bills victory was tough to enjoy for many Bills fans who still were trying to deal with the apparent suicide of a man who was camping out in an RV parking lot across the street from Ralph Wilson Stadium late Saturday night.

While other campers and tailgaters partied and watched fireworks around 10:20 p.m. Saturday, a man among a group of tailgaters reportedly pulled out a gun and shot himself.

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Read More: Moses Malone, Terrell Suggs,

Thinking Out Loud: NFL’s feud with Patriots far from over

09.11.15 at 6:55 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to tennis dad/coach Richard Williams?

— OK, Roger. Good job. Call off the Code Red.

— Not for nuthin’, but no one is going to feel much like a winner in this back-and-forth between the Patriots and the NFL. Certainly the fans won’t. And we’re never going to get back the last eight months of our lives, mostly over ball deflation. So I’m crying “Uncle” here!

— It was petty. It was dumb. But it was poignant. Tom Brady was left out of an NFL tweet this past week picturing the league’s top QBs as part of the NFL’s celebration of 50 years of Super Bowls. The tweet was later deleted. But the point was made. League execs don’t like the Patriots, or TB12, or the fact that they’ve been made out to be the bad guys here.

— All of the new Spygate stuff released this week in exposes by ESPN and Sports Illustrated? Does anyone think the NFL, burned by its own incompetence in Deflategate, didn’t feed some additional information to ESPN The Magazine’s crew? If you don’t think this happened to some extent — that the NFL information machine intends to continue to spin things its way — then you haven’t been paying attention. Seems to me to be the league’s modus operandi — act stupidly, get burned, feed more trash to its “partners.”

— That’s editors decided to clip a couple of salient yet non-confrontational points from ESPNBoston reporter Mike Reiss’ opinion piece this week, concerning the ESPN and Sports Illustrated Spygate diatribe — is an absolute disgrace. Reiss questioned the Outside the Lines report alleging that Patriots underlings could sneak into a locker room and steal game plans. It’s preposterous, given the amount of security around the place. I know, I work there. But that bit of his opinion, based on fact and personal experience, was edited OUT of his original story. Smh.

— Hardly a week goes by when journalistic integrity doesn’t take a beating from the Bristol Spin Doctors. Do they even care how they’re perceived? It’s the height of arrogance.

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Read More: Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Patriots fans taunt commissioner with chant of ‘Where is Roger?’

09.11.15 at 7:50 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Blue Jays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
College football: Miami at Florida Atlantic, 8 p.m. (FS1)
College football: Utah State at Utah, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 3 p.m. (ESPN)


— The NFL explained last week that commissioner Roger Goodell, fresh off his loss to Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association in federal court, would not attend Thursday night’s season-opening game at Gillette Stadium. As league spokesman Brian McCarthy told Fox Sports, “The focus should be on the game on the field and the festivities celebrating the Patriots’ Super Bowl championship.”

Patriots fans took note, and they made sure to rub it in the commissioner’s face as their team was marching to a 28-21 victory over the Steelers.

A chant of “Where is Roger?” broke out midway the fourth quarter, when the Patriots had a two-touchdown lead.

The league said Goodell would be watching the game on television, so it’s likely he was aware of the taunt, as NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth acknowledged it.

Said Collinsworth: “I tend to say I agree with them.”

Goodell is scheduled to attend Sunday’s Packers-Bears game in Chicago.

Meanwhile, according to Bob Costas, Brady denied a request to be interviewed by NBC after the game, in which he completed 25-of-32 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns and set a team record with 19 consecutive completions. The network replaced him with Rob Gronkowski, who caught three of Brady’s TD tosses.

Brady did hold his usual postgame press conference, calling Thursday “a pretty special night” and insisting he holds no resentment toward the league for its aggressive stance against him in the Deflategate case.

“No, not at all,” Brady said. “And I think that would be just as harmful to me as it would be to anybody else. Carrying those feelings and emotions with me are very destructive. I understand everybody has a job to do and everyone is trying to do what they feel may be in the best interests of their own particular position, and I respect that.

“I may disagree with some things, but at the same time I understand they have a perspective on what their decision may be, also. So I don’t think I’m resentful at all.”

— New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton reached out to former tennis star James Blake on Thursday and apologized for his treatment a day earlier, when Blake was tackled and handcuffed in a case of mistaken identity.

“I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident,” Bratton said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues. Additionally, he said he would be returning the Mayor’s earlier phone call to speak to him. Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor [Bill de Blasio] and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to.”

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Read More: Ikemefuna Enemkpali, James Blake, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Former tennis star James Blake mistakenly tackled, detained by NYC police

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

NFL: Steelers at Patriots, 8:30 p.m. (WBZ-TV)
College football: Southern at Mississippi Valley State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky, 8 p.m. (FS1)
MLB: Blue Jays at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 7 p.m. (ESPN)


— Former tennis star James Blake’s visit to New York for the U.S. Open has been memorable, but not for the right reasons.

The Harvard alumnus, who is black, was mistaken for an identity theft suspect, and he was tackled and handcuffed Wednesday until police realized they had the wrong man.

The 35-year-old Blake, who once was ranked fourth in the world, was standing on front the Grand Hyatt hotel on East 42nd Street and texting while waiting for a ride to the Open, where he was making a corporate appearance. That’s when he saw a man charging at him.

“Maybe I’m naive, but I just assumed it was someone I went to high school with or someone who was running at me to give me a big hug, so I smiled at the guy,” Blake told the New York Daily News.

Blake said the plainclothes officer never identified himself. He was released after a former police officer recognized Blake and told the handful of arresting officers of their mistake. Blake said he never got an apology from the individual who threw him to the ground.

“It was definitely scary and definitely crazy,” Blake said. “In my mind there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody.”

New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Wednesday night there will be an investigation.

“The nature of what he described is not what we do, not what we’re supposed to do,” Bratton said. “I will not tolerate any type of excessive use of force on the part of my police, but as always, we have that saying, the first story is never the last story.”

— Jets coach Todd Bowles had some advice for Brandon Marshall after the receiver’s comments on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” that race played a role in Tom Brady‘s Deflategate suspension reversal: “Be smarter.”

“I think his opinion is well-warranted in what he said,” Bowles said Wednesday. “I’m sure you have cases back when I played. I’ve seen some things, just like he’s seen some things but I’m not on that platform. He is, and he’s got to be smarter.”

Added Bowles: “Yeah, he does have to be smarter. He expressed his opinion. I have no problem with it, I’d just like him to be smarter going forward, that’s all.”

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Read More: Brandon Marshall, James Blake, Tim Tebow, Todd Bowles

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Jets WR Brandon Marshall plays ‘race card’ in Tom Brady’s suspension reversal

09.09.15 at 7:51 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Cardinals, 1:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Dodgers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 11 a.m. (ESPN), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)


— Early in the Deflategate drama, there were rumors that Tom Brady was being punished in part because to appease minority NFL players who felt that white stars got preferential treatment.

On Tuesday, controversial Jets receiver Brandon Marshall added some validity to that suggestion during a panel discussion on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” when he voiced his opinion on why Brady’s suspension was lifted.

“The race card,” Marshall said. “There are a lot of players out there that believe that white players — specifically, at the quarterback position — are treated differently.”

Using prepared notes, Marshall explained that he has had conversations with players across the league — “This is not just from our locker room, this is from locker rooms across the States,” he said, adding: “This is how guys are feeling, this is not just my opinion” — and detailed their viewpoints.

“I think that there are three different types of players’ views in this thing,” Marshall said. “No. 1 is the fighter. I think there are guys in the fight with Tom. When one player’s rights are upheld, then all players’ rights are upheld. It’s not about what he did, if he’s right or wrong. It’s more about the process. Is it fair?

“The second is cowards — I call them cowards. That’s the guys that are afraid to face Tom Brady. They want him suspended; I don’t believe in that.”

The third view, Marshall said, is the “race card.” And he said he believe black players are held to a different standard.

“Absolutely,” he said. “At times, yes.”

— The two high school football players in Texas who slammed into a referee from behind during a game Friday claim the referee used racial slurs against them, according to officials in the students’ school district.

Northside Independent School District superintendent Brian T. Woods also said an assistant coach who is accused of encouraging the players to attack the referee was placed on leave.

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Read More: Andy Moeller, Brandon Marshall, Deflategate, Tom Brady

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul reportedly meets with team about returning after fireworks accident

09.08.15 at 8:03 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Exhibition, United States vs. Brazil, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Euro 2016 qualifier, Macedonia vs. Spain, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: UEFA qualifier, England vs. Switzerland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Exhibition, Mexico vs. Argentina, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: U.S. Open, noon (ESPN)


Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who reportedly lost his right index finger in a July 4 fireworks accident, evaded reporters and had a meeting with coach Tom Coughlin and team officials about returning to the squad, according to reports out of New York.

Pierre-Paul’s contact with the club reportedly had been minimal, but he is said to have had a physical with team doctors Monday, allowing them to finally see the extent of his injuries.

Pierre Paul is unsigned and on the reserve/franchise list, as the Giants pulled their $14.8 million franchise tag tender after the incident. It’s expected that the sides will negotiate a one-year deal, assuming the Giants are comfortable that he still can play at an elite level.

Coughlin said the team wants Pierre-Paul back, but only if he’s able to contribute as he did before the accident. Pierre-Paul reportedly has recovered from broken bones in the hand and has improved flexibility, and he’s confident he could take the field for New York’s opener vs. the Cowboys on Sunday. The team apparently isn’t so sure.

“We need a healthy Jason Pierre-Paul, certainly,” Coughlin said. “He’s a guy that would add to our team, provided he’s healthy and can play at the level he’s played at.”

Teammate Robert Ayers said he believes Pierre-Paul will be able to be successful despite his limitations.

“Pass-rushing is not necessarily about pushing and grabbing and pulling,” Ayers told the New York Daily News. “It’s about hand combat — you put your hand on me, I knock it off. You do something, I lift. If you watch JPP and truly study him, he’s not a big grab guy. … I think he’ll be all right.”

— Jets quarterback Geno Smith, sidelined by a broken jaw, said Monday he will not file charges against the former teammate who gave him his injury.

Smith, who is expected to miss at least the first four games of the season, did not say if he’s resolved the situation with Ikemefuna “IK” Enemkpali — who now is on the Bills practice squad — but he said he’s moved on.

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Read More: Geno Smith, Jason Pierre-Paul,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Robert Kraft meets Deflategate Judge Richard Berman at weekend party, giving more fodder to New York Post conspiracy theorist

09.07.15 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Orioles at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Ohio State at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Euro 2016 qualifying, Armenia vs. Denmark, noon (FS1)
Soccer: Euro 2016 qualifying, Scotland vs. Germany, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Golf: Deutsche Bank Championship, 11:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); 1:30 p.m. (NBC)


Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

— Patriots owner Robert Kraft was not in court for Tom Brady‘s Deflategate hearing that ended with the quarterback having his NFL suspension overturned last week, but he got his chance to talk to the judge over the weekend.

Kraft was at the Hamptons on Long Island for a Labor Day weekend party hosted by Discovery Communications boss David Zaslav and featuring media industry bigwigs such as Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Harvey Weinstein, Katie Couric, Alec Baldwin, Lorne Michaels, James Dolan, Irving Azoff, Jimmy Buffet, Jack Welch and Giants co-owner Jon Tisch, according to the New York Post.

That’s where Kraft ran into Berman and had a short conversation, confirmed by the Patriots.

Said a team representative to the Post: “It was a chance encounter at a social event with hundreds of guests. There was a brief introduction and an exchange of pleasantries that lasted no more than a couple of minutes.”

New York Post football writer/conspiracy theorist Bart Hubbuch, unsurprisingly, took the news and ran with it, continuing his attempt to imply Berman had reason to be biased toward the Pats.

Hubbuch, who had a tough time defending himself during a recent appearance on Dennis & Callahan, had tweeted earlier Sunday that he was “officially done debating Deflategate,” but that was before he heard about the apparent hard evidence of a conspiracy because Kraft ran into Berman at a party.

Tweeted Hubbuch: We’re supposed to believe this was their first-ever meeting just because a Patriots spokesman says so. Got it.

Hubbuch last week implied there was a connection between Kraft and the judge because one of Berman’s former law-firm colleagues is on Columbia’s Board of Trustees Emeriti with the Pats owner.

Hibachi also tweeted last week: Dear Boston: You have completely lost your f*cking minds about the Tom Brady case. Please rejoin the rest of us on Planet Earth.

— Mets pitcher Matt Harvey tried to end the controversy over his innings limit by writing a piece in The Players Tribune indicating he will pitch in the postseason if the Mets qualify.

Harvey, in his first season back since undergoing Tommy John surgery, has pitched 166 1/3 innings and is expected to start another 3-4 games this month. His agent, Scott Boras, has expressed a strong desire for the team to keep him under 180 innings.

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Read More: Bart Hubbuch, Matt Harvey, Richard Berman, Robert Kraft

Thinking Out Loud: Misguided NFL gets its due in Deflategate embarrassment

09.04.15 at 6:49 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering if Ludacris really is ludicrous?

— When it comes to the National Football League, power corrupts. Absolute power, Mr. Goodell, corrupts absolutely. It’s a basic, life lesson we learned once upon a time in civics class, and we often forget occurs in all walks of life. Oh, and the arrogance thing? Not a good look. Keep this in mind as you pursue your appeal.

— Inquiring minds need to know. When does the bastion of truth and information, ESPN, decide that its legal analysts now are worthless as teats on a bull?

— If you’ve followed along for any amount of time, you know Tom Brady‘s eventual exoneration was predicted right here. But not because of any special inside knowledge or information gained, really. The legal system had to work, to play itself out. Common sense had to prevail, eventually. The bullies and wannabes within the NFL had to be flushed out, and these things take time. That, and a little faith and persistence from the public. Patriots fans deserve big kudos for keeping this story alive and growing, much like fungus grows on a locker room shower floor.

— And of course, even Patriots haters have caught onto the absolute lunacy of the punishment the league attempted to stick onto TB12’s backside. If Brady’s penalty had been one game for “failure to cooperate”? This would have ended months ago, methinks. Just because Roger Goodell decided he would make an example of the Patriots — and Brady — by doing the bidding of a scorned few within the NFL, tired of getting pasted by the Pats and their ways, he now has opened up a Pandora’s box of litigation anytime he tries to discipline anyone else.

— Um, Rog? Try leading and making your own decisions, rather than following the revenge-fueled mindset of those dopes in Indianapolis, Baltimore and New York. If you had actually done that when this charade began, you wouldn’t necessarily be persona non grata in New England right now and viewed as a toothless shark by everyone else. Stupid is as stupid does.

— Tweet of the Week I, from @ArmandoSalguero: NFL Commissioner’s salary at an all-time high at a time his power may be at an all-time low.

— Biggest winners right now? Maybe those who took the Patriots by just three points over the Steelers in the season opener. Vegas books had that spread just before Judge Richard Berman’s decision came down Thursday. Just after it? New England moved to a 6.5-point favorite. Over/under grew from 48.5 to 51.

Jonathan Kraft said the team might have raised a Brady-themed banner instead of the Super Bowl XLIX banner next Thursday night if his suspension hadn’t been overturned. I almost — almost — wish we could see what that would have said. #FreeBrady?

— Kraft also told the audience it isn’t likely the team will make an attempt to recoup any of the fine or the draft picks deducted by the league. But the banner that read “16-0″ for the 2007 regular season? It’s gone, replaced by a new super box in Gillette Stadium‘s northwest corner. They may send that to Don Shula. Now that’s actually a great idea.

— #FreeBrady? Yes. #VindicateBrady? Nope. Not entirely. The end result is what Patriots fans have hoped for over the past seven-plus months. It is not, however, the truth. As I’ve said before, we’ll probably never know the whole truth. Sure, Brady has always steadfastly maintained his innocence, and the “nice guy” in all of us wants to believe him. But know this: The NFL bungled this so badly, it stretched the boundaries of reality, common sense and fairness. That is, ultimately, why TB12 is free.

— The NFL will appeal the decision, and while it isn’t likely Brady’s court win will be overturned, don’t be shocked if the league tries to “re-punish” him. Since the Patriots haven’t punished Tom for anything, technically speaking, the NFL could go after him again under the collective bargaining agreement’s “one-penalty” clause. No one is accusing Mensa of residing on Park Avenue in New York. But we’ll find out the meaning of the word “vindictive” if the league travels this road. Just sayin’.

— So, how come there isn’t a bigger deal being made over “Orsillogate”? Sorry, kids, but The Boston Globe said it couldn’t “independently verify” that signs mentioning Don Orsillo were actually confiscated at Fenway Park? Did anyone actually attempt to speak with fans holding signs? The Sporting News had the story, and it’s not IN Boston. Social media (admittedly, not always the best source) was rife with stories on placards being removed from the park. Why not check it out?

— Three words: conflict of interest. Yes, a few positive signs have been spotted over the past couple of games. Does anyone really believe they haven’t been screened first? Any mention of NESN or the Boston Red Sox screwing up this entire escapade, and those cardboard-carrying truths undoubtedly are whisked off to the dumpster. And NESN’s apparent attempt to get Orsillo to agree to say his departure was a “mutual” decision is a poor attempt to cover up a bad move.

— Our worst fears, people, are coming to fruition. The era of an actual, independent press continues to dwindle right before our eyes. The Globe, owned by Red Sox owner John Henry, has some ‘splainin’ to do. Or some actual reporting, if the boss lets the employees do it.

— Tweet of the Week II, from @GlobeKPD: Don Orsillo’s trademark, IMO, is his ease of manner and humor. His legacy: the dignity he has shown in recent days.

— Now, on to “Schillinggate.” ESPN, you’ve outdone yourself. A now season-long suspension for Schilling’s comparison of ISIS “extremist” Muslims to Nazis? While Hall of Famer Cris Carter goes free for his unconscionable words of wisdom to NFL rookies that they should have a “fall guy” for their actions? It’s so terribly obvious who the four-letter network is in bed with. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow must be turning in their graves from the conflict of interest.

— Most right-minded Red Sox fans realized early on that Hanley Ramirez could not play in the outfield, and a move to first base — if he stayed in the organization — had to happen. That John Farrell and Ben Cherington downplayed or dismissed this should be all you need to know about why change at the top has been made. Now that Ramirez is beginning his voyage on the other side of the diamond, this decision has Dealer Dave Dombrowski all over it.

— Providence basketball forward Rodney Bullock tweeted out this past week he’s been given medical clearance to play, after missing most of the past two seasons with a suspension and a knee injury. If Bullock is actually healthy and close to regaining his pre-injury form, he’ll play a major role for the Friars this season. He looks like he’s on a pogo stick when he heads to the boards.

— And if you need to know just exactly what a pogo stick is, Google it. And try to jump on one.

— Good move by the Big East Conference to launch what it’s calling the Freshman Fundamentals Program, which is designed to help student-athletes transition from high school sports to the demands of intercollegiate athletics. The event will be held in New York next weekend, with all 10 league teams sending selected scholarship athletes to learn about things like media demands, time accountability and balancing life with school and sports. Hope they don’t let Cris Carter in the building.

— If you’re wondering about the Big East hoop schedule, it was released about this time a year ago. Expect the 2015-16 version to be announced in the next week.

— It looks as if the Friars have caught a couple of unfortunate breaks before the season gets started. First, Illinois star guard Tracy Abrams went down with an Achilles injury, putting him out for the year. Now, Harvard senior point guard Siyani Chambers is out for the season with an ACL tear. Chambers also has to actually leave school for the year because of Ivy League rules against athletic redshirts. He’ll apparently attempt to re-enroll for 2016-17 and finish his eligibility. Along with his degree.

— URI’s schedule is complete, with the Atlantic-10 releasing the conference portion of the schedule this week. It was buried in the wake of the TB12 court decision (great timing and awareness, A-10), but nevertheless there will be at least 107 conference games on national TV of some kind. That’s a big step up.

— Valparaiso, Providence, Houston in non-league play for the Rams at home, but for an expected A-10 preseason favorite, road trips (with no return game to the Ryan Center) to VCU, George Washington and Davidson should prove to be challenging. Home-and-home with Dayton will be fun to watch.

— Back to the business of football: ICYMI, four Patriots were named in the NFL Top 100 player rankings, compiled by ESPN through voting from a panel of more than 70 analysts, reporters and stat geeks. To me, anything done by ESPN now is branded with the smell of “agenda,” much like the same burning stench you get when a cowboys’ brand is applied to a cow’s backside. Trust me, something stinks. Nevertheless, Tom Brady ranked No. 3, Rob Gronkowski No. 5, Devin McCourty 56 and Jamie Collins 97.

— Houston’s J.J. Watt was No. 1, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was No. 2 in the poll. Hard to argue with those findings, no matter the agenda.

— Preseason football games in the NFL are a modern-day fraud perpetrated on a willing, gullible society. We want — need — football after the offseason. We get it in name only. Because what we witnessed Thursday night in Foxboro was not football. Whatever it was, it was a gross misrepresentation of actual competition. On a night when emotions were running high over TB12’s court victory, the game against the Giants sucked the intensity right out of Gillette Stadium, faster than a Usain Bolt 100-meter sprint to a finish line.

— There is no quick fix to the preseason/exhibition game dilemma. As a season-ticket holder, I will point out that ticket prices are reduced by the Patriots for these games, compared to regular-season games. So there is that. But everything evolves over time, and it is well past time for pro football to follow. We’ve had four preseason exhibitions on the schedule every year since 1978. Time to throw a changeup.

— Players don’t need four games to work themselves into shape, but coaches will argue they need time to evaluate 90 guys trying to make a team. Can a compromise ever be reached, and reduce this charade to two games? Only when the owners and players come to an agreement over one thing: money.

— My buddy “Big E” has trouble with understanding money, even though he’s an accountant. He asked his secretary recently for some math help about a bill he had received. “If I gave you $20,000, minus 14 percent, how much would you take off?” Without missing a beat, his secretary replied, “Everything but my jewelry.”

— Tweet of the Week III, from @Gil_Brandt: Bad news for Rams and Saints: Only one team has finished winless in preseason and gone on to win Super Bowl (1982 Redskins).

— Predictions for the regular season? “Pain,” as Clubber Lang once opined before meeting Rocky Balboa in the ring. Emotion can only carry a team so far. But emotion and a good-sized chip on the shoulder can certainly carry you through some tough times. The Patriots have both going for them. The biggest question? Can the secondary play well enough to keep the other guys from scoring almost at will?

— Tough times right now for former Brown defensive end James Develin, the Patriots’ starting fullback. With a break of his right tibia against Carolina a week ago, Develin was put on season-ending injured reserve by the team this week. I dislike preseason games as much as anyone else, but sometimes getting hurt just can’t be avoided. Tough break, indeed.

— For my friend and tennis fanatic Edward in Johnston, Rhode Island: Serena Williams is NOT the greatest female tennis player of all time. She belongs in the top three or four, absolutely. And she probably inches closer to the GOAT moniker (Greatest of all Time) placed in front of her name if she claims the U.S. Open and clinches the Grand Slam of winning all four major tournaments in a calendar year. For my money, right now I’ll still take Martina Navratilova as the GOAT, and Chris Evert as the FOAT (Favorite of all Time).

— Maybe you missed it around here, but the city of New Britain, Connecticut, lost its minor league baseball team to Hartford, and the Double-A Rock Cats (the Minnesota TwinsEastern League affiliate) will be known as the Yard Goats in a brand new stadium starting next year. Sound familiar? This week, just two days after the Rock Cats played their final home game, New Britain announced it will be getting a new team to replace the old one, an expansion team in the independent Atlantic League.

— It sounds crazy right now, but crazier things have happened around here, haven’t they? If the PawSox build their stadium and move to Providence, what will the City of Pawtucket do with McCoy Stadium over the spring and summer? Maybe the city should place a phone call to the Atlantic League.

— Oh, and not for nuthin’, but that new ballpark in Hartford? Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Damn. Missed out on cornering the market on that one.

— Maybe you like his music, and maybe you think it’s a bit crazy. But rap star Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is the latest big name for Providence College to snag for its upcoming Late Night Madness celebration on Oct. 17, signaling the unofficial start to the college basketball season. Hey, it’s great for the kids and a potential boon for recruiting, to pull in a rap/rock star. But unless you attend PC, you won’t be able to get into Alumni Hall for the performance — it’s for students only. Last year, it was Big Sean. Before that, Nick Cannon. So when does Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top get an invite?

— There were some great comments this week via social media on the apparent end to Deflategate, the overwhelming majority from Patriots fans. But there was this note on Facebook from Kurt in Queens, New York: “The league is full of [expletive deleted]. I’m not even the least bit surprised. Still [another expletive deleted] the Patriots ALL DAY AND TWICE ON SUNDAYS.” Kurt: Good use of all caps. Appreciate the support, bro. And glad to see you’ve come around to the conclusion that yes, indeed, the NFL is having difficulty in the departments of arrogance and attitude. Thanks for the biology and anatomy lesson, too, by the way. You New Yorkers are so smart.

— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ’em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook,

— Don’t forget to join Scott Cordischi and me on Providence’s 103.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.

Read More: Deflategate, Don Orsillo, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers calls Deflategate dismissal ‘a good day for the players’

09.04.15 at 7:53 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Phillies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Diamondback at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Twins at Astros, 8:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
College football: Charlotte at Georgia State, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Baylor at SMU, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Fordham at Army, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: Michigan State at Western Michigan, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Kent State at Illinois, 9 p.m. (BTN)
College football: Washington at Boise State, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Exhibition, Peru at United States, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Euro 2016 qualifying, Germany vs. Poland, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 1 p.m. (ESPN), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)


— Count Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers among those pleased by Judge Richard Berman’s ruling Thursday that vacated Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension for Deflategate.

Rodgers, who has said he likes his football inflated on the higher end, spoke in general terms about Brady’s case and what it means in terms of taking some power back from the commissioner.

“I think it’s a good day for the players,” Rodgers told the Packers TV network from the sideline during his team’s preseason finale Thursday night. “I think that anytime we can get one of own back, that’s a good win for us. I think there is maybe a little bit of the, too much absolute power that frankly the players, we had a chance in 2011 to really make a difference in the CBA, and we didn’t. We left the commissioner in charge of a lot of those things, but our unions did a good job of appealing and helping our guys out.”

Meanwhile, Falcons owner Arthur Blank acknowledged that it might be time for the league to consider reworking the way it doles out discipline, implying that commissioner Roger Goodell might have to surrender some of his power.

“It’s not healthy for the NFL to be in the kind of litigious position that it’s been for last several years,” Blank told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think that the commissioner is working hard to hold up the respect and integrity of the game, the competitive balance of the game and the shield. Having said that, I think we have to find ways to get to a better place sooner with the NFLPA than the process that we’ve gone through.”

Added Blank: “This Deflategate thing — which isn’t about Deflategate any longer, it’s about what has been collectively negotiated for decades in terms of the commissioner’s responsibility in terms of disciplining players. If we have to look at that differently in today’s light, in today’s environment, as an ownership group we should be prepared to do that. The commissioner should be prepared to do that. … I think the commissioner and the ownership around the league have to be prepared to look at things, look at change, and change may be appropriate.”

— On the same day the NFL was getting its hat handed to it in the Deflategate ruling, the league suspended Broncos safety T.J. Ward one game for an incident last year, and the player is none too happy about it.

Ward was charged with misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace for a May 2014 incident at a Denver strip club in which he allegedly threw a glass mug at a female bartender who told him he could not bring alcohol into the club. The charges eventually were dropped.

“I feel it’s really unfair,” Ward said. “I’m getting punished for being accused of doing something, not for doing something but being accused, and I’ve got to pay the consequences for it. And I just don’t feel the whole process is very fair.”

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Arthur Blank, Deflategate, Roger Goodell

ESPN suspends Curt Schilling for remainder of season

09.03.15 at 7:02 pm ET
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Curt Schilling‘s suspension from ESPN has been extended to the entire season, including the American League wild card playoff game, the network announced Thursday.

Schilling was pulled off the network’s coverage of the Little League World Series and the Aug. 25 edition of Sunday Night Baseball after he retweeted a graphic that pictured Adolf Hitler and compared Muslims to Nazi-era Germans.


Above the graphic was a line that read: The math is staggering when you get to true #’€™s.

He acknowledged his poor decision and accepted the network’s punishment. The former Red Sox pitcher was back in the news this week when he wrote a harsh email to the website Awful Announcing and criticized a writer for misrepresenting the tweet and implying Schilling was comparing all Muslims to Nazis.

Said ESPN in a statement: At all times during the course of their engagement with us, our commentators are directly linked to ESPN and are the face of our brand. We are a sports media company Curt’s actions have not been consistent with his contractual obligations nor have they been professionally handled; they have obviously not reflected well on the company.  As a result, he will not appear on ESPN through the remainder of the regular season and our wild card playoff game.

Read More: Curt Schilling, ESPN,