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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Cubs mocked as they unveil new mascot, ‘Clark’ 01.14.14 at 8:00 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:
NHL: Maple Leafs at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Flyers at Sabres, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Kings at Pacers, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Wisconsin at Indians, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Georgia at Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: St. John’s at DePaul, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: VCU at George Washington, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Oklahoma at Kansas State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Penn State at Michigan, 8 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Kentucky at Arkansas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Temple at Cincinnati, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Butler at Creighton, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Tennis: Australian Open, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The Cubs officially introduced their new mascot, a cub named “Clark,” on Monday night at a charity event, and the reviews are mixed.

The team says Clark — named after the street on which Wrigley Field is located — came about after surveys found that fans would like the park to be more family-friendly. However, many in Chicago are mocking the cartoon bear, and as of early Monday morning, a poll at the Chicago Tribune indicated 75 percent of almost 10,000 respondents do not like the mascot.

The Cubs, for their part, appear sensitive to fans’ criticism, explaining that Clark will not stand atop the dugout or otherwise cause a distraction during games. The bear will greet fans at the park’s entrance and be available in his own clubhouse at Wrigley Field.

“The Cubs are thrilled to welcome Clark as the team’s official mascot,” Cubs senior director of marketing Alison Miller said in a statement. “Clark is a young, friendly Cub who can’t wait to interact with our other young Cubs fans. He’ll be a welcoming presence for families at Wrigley Field and an excellent ambassador for the team in the community.”

The Angels, Dodgers and Yankees are the only three remaining MLB teams without a mascot.

Robert Griffin III recently took to Facebook to take on his critics and defend himself for wearing a sleeve and glove during games, appearing in commercials and getting attention everywhere he goes.

Wrote the quarterback: “You think I want it to be national news that I visit a beach? Or shop at Walmart? Or wore red shoes instead of green yesterday? Well, I don’t. I’m “striving” for greatness just like my fellow teammates do. The “attention” that comes with being a QB in the league is what you are referring to. All the press conferences and talking to the media? Mandated by the league to have a press conference every week during the season and during team activities during the offseason.”

Bears tight end Martellus Bennett had the same reaction as some fans when he implied that RGIII was being overly sensitive. Tweeted Bennett on Monday: “Lame,” and “Who still has Facebook anyways? Lol. I’m going to release a statement on my MySpace Music Page.”

Bennett didn’t stop the sarcasm later, adding: “Was it not politically correct of me to say or do that? Good thing I’m not into politics.”

Bennett finished his series of tweets with this: “My social experiment for the day is complete. Thank you all for participating.”

— NFL legends Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice will draft the players selected to the Pro Bowl and form two teams for the Jan. 26 game in Honolulu, in the league’s attempt to make the game more appealing to fans.

Sanders did his part to spice things up when on Monday he tweeted that he plans to suit up for the game.

Sanders also tweeted at Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson that he is reserving jersey No. 21 for the game.

Rice accepted Sanders’ challenge and didn’t back down.

 

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Jan. 14, 2007, the Patriots traveled to San Diego and knocked off the Chargers, 24-21, to advance to the AFC championship game. Which receiver — signed as a free agent from the Chargers in the previous offseason — had a huge game for the Patriots, catching a 4-yard touchdown pass with 4:36 remaining and hauling in a 49-yard pass that set up the game-winning 31-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with 1:10 left?

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Read More: Clark the Cub, deion sanders, Jerry Rice, Martellus Bennett
Former Raiders coach Bill Callahan denies accusations that he ‘sabotaged’ Super Bowl vs. Buccaneers 01.23.13 at 6:49 am ET
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Former Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice accused then-coach Bill Callahan of sabotaging the Super Bowl against the Buccaneers 10 years ago because of Callahan’s friendship with Bucs coach (and former Raiders boss) Jon Gruden.

The players claim Callahan changed the team’s game plan from a run-heavy strategy to a pass-oriented approach two days before the game, knowing it would give the players too little time to adjust. Tampa Bay went on to a 48-21 victory.

“We all called it sabotage, because Callahan and Gruden was good friends, and Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, hated the Raiders, and only came because Gruden made him come,” Brown said Monday in an interview on Sirius XM Radio.

Some players, including quarterback Rich Gannon and linebacker Bill Romanowski, defended Callahan, but Rice agreed with Brown’s assessment.

“I was very surprised that he waited till the last second, and I think a lot of the players, they were surprised also, so in a way, maybe because he didn’t like the Raiders he decided, ‘Hey, look, maybe we should sabotage just a little but and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one.’ ” Rice told ESPN.

Callahan, now the Cowboys offensive line coach, responded with a statement on Tuesday.

“While I fully understand a competitive professional football player’s disappointment when a game’s outcome doesn’t go his team’s way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s allegations and Jerry Rice’s support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last 24 hours,” he said. “To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations.”

Read More: Bill Callahan, Jerry Rice, Rumor Mill, Tim Brown
Top Stories of 2012, No. 9: Wes Welker franchised, phased out, back to form 12.25.12 at 3:04 pm ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our second entry in the countdown is No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year.

For five seasons in New England, Wes Welker seemingly could do no wrong, and it seemed unfathomable that the Patriots would not want to keep him in Foxboro for as long as possible.

Then came the drop in February’s Super Bowl loss — a difficult but catchable pass that went through Welker’s hands late in the fourth quarter. Instead of giving the Patriots a likely game-ending first down, it gave the Giants the opportunity for their game-winning drive. And suddenly Welker’s true value was being questioned by some. It didn’t help that the Patriots played hardball during contract negotiations in the offseason, electing to place the franchise tag on Welker and settle for a one-year contract rather than agree to a long-term deal.

The $9.5 million, one-year deal ensured that Welker would stay with the Patriots through the 2012 season. After that, who knows?

It certainly is possible that Welker could re-sign with the team after the season, but judging by his consistency and continued success, he might demand a larger contract next year, both in terms of money and years. For now, he is enjoying another tremendous season after professing happiness that he and the team were able to agree on a deal that kept him with a perennial Super Bowl contender.

“There are 9.5 million reasons why I wouldn’t miss any regular-season games,” Welker said during a May 14 appearance on Mut & Merloni, dismissing speculation that he would hold out for a long-term contract. “I don’t think there are any sort of hard feelings on my side or their side. I think we’re all looking forward to the 2012 season and hopefully do some big things there.”

Welker did not exactly do “big things” in the first couple of games this season, but he was not solely to blame. In the Patriots’ 34-13 victory over the Titans in Week 1, Welker’s playing time was limited and he had only three receptions for 14 yards while being targeted just five times (including a drop on third-and-8 in the first quarter). Speculation abounded that he was being phased out of the offense, either as punishment for asking for too much money or so fellow receivers such as Julian Edelman could get more of an opportunity.

Week 2 was better for Welker, as he finished with five catches for 95 yards, albeit in a 20-18 loss to the lowly Cardinals. Still, it was not the 10-catch, 100-plus-yard receiving performance New England fans were accustomed to seeing.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Brandon Lloyd
Jerry Rice: Randy Moss unwillingness to work was ‘slap in the face’ 08.09.11 at 10:06 am ET
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Jerry Rice is undeniably the best wide receiver to ever, but the former 49ers great doesn’t think he should have been.

Rice told ESPN Radio on Tuesday morning that he thought the recently retired Randy Moss could have taken the title away from him simply because he had more talent than Rice. (Quotes come courtesy NBCSports.com’s Pro Football Talk.)

‘€œHe could have been one of the greatest if he had worked just a little bit harder,’€ Rice said. ‘€œI don’€™t think he wanted to give it 100 percent. You never knew what you were going to get with Randy. Sometimes you’€™d get the unbelievable guy, the amazing guy. Other times you’€™d get the guy that took a couple plays off.’€

Earlier Rice admitted that he took Moss’s laziness personally and felt afflicted by the star receiver’s unwillingness to live up to his potential.

‘€œIt was hard for me to swallow because I was not as talented and I had to work harder,’€ Rice said. ‘€œTo see a guy with that much talent not give it 100 percent, it was almost like a little slap in the face. But Randy was Randy.’€

Read More: Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Rumor Mill,