College Blog Blog Network

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 home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

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)


— 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.

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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,

American flag waving marine who lost leg embodies what Boston Marathon is all about

04.18.17 at 10:42 am ET
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The most inspiring Boston Marathon participants often don’t finish until mid-afternoon, long after the elite runners have crossed and the crowds begin to dissipate. That was the case Monday, when Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez charging down Boylston Street waving the American flag.

Sanchez, a Marine who lost the lower part of his left leg after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, finished the Marathon this year in under six hours. He ran his first Marathon in Washington D.C. in 2015 and finished Boston last year as well.

Sanchez ran Monday as part of Team Semper Fi, which is connected to the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that provides “immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families.”

In an interview with WBZ, Sanchez said he hopes others can use his efforts as a source of motivation.

“It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated,” he said.

Read More: Boston Marathon,

ESPN will reportedly promote Sage Steele –– silencing rumors she was demoted due to her conservatism

04.18.17 at 9:47 am ET
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Sage Steele will reportedly be tapped for a larger role at ESPN. (Peter Llewellyn/USA Today Sports)

Sage Steele will reportedly be tapped for a larger role at ESPN. (Peter Llewellyn/USA Today Sports)

When ESPN removed Sage Steele from NBA Countdown earlier this month, there was some speculation in conservative circles the network was demoting her due to her right-leaning political views. But it appears as if that conjecture was incorrect.

According to the Sporting News, Steele will soon anchor a morning edition of “SportsCenter,” perhaps teaming up with Mike Greenberg on his new solo project. Greenberg, who recently signed a new contract that pays him more than $6.5 million annually, is expected to host his own morning variety show on ESPN.

Steele came under fire in January for calling those who were protesting President Donald Trump’s travel ban “disruptive.” The veteran anchor also sparked controversy in November, when she criticized Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans for kneeling during the national anthem.

In a statement, ESPN president John Skipper expressed his full support for the outspoken anchor.

“Sage definitively has a bright and long-term future at ESPN and my complete support,” he said, via Awful Announcing.

Given Curt Schilling’s dismissal last year for sharing an anti-transgender meme on Facebook, ESPN has been accused of silencing right-wing voices. But Steele’s reported promotion shows that’s a simplistic way of looking at it. Schilling was always an outspoken conservative. After all, he endorsed George W. Bush for reelection in his first nationally televised interview following the Red Sox World Series win in 2004. When ESPN hired him, there was no secret about which side of the aisle he was on.

But after a series of social media flareups, including a post that compared Muslim extremists to Nazis, ESPN decided to fire Schilling in 2016. He was canned for his crassness, not his politics.

Steele’s reported ascension at the network coincides with new guidelines that appear to grant on-air talent more freedom to express their political views. Since Greenberg’s new venture will likely cover social issues in relation to sports, Steele’s politics could become more visible than ever. It doesn’t seem like there’s any conspiracy here.

Read More: ESPN,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Patriots fan refuses ESPN request for Boston Marathon Patriots poster picture use rights, tells ESPN to block him

04.18.17 at 8:02 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: Boston at Toronto, 7:07 p.m. (NESN)
MLB: Pittsburgh at St. Louis, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Milwaukee at Toronto, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Chicago at Boston, 8 p.m. (CSN, TNT)
NBA: Utah at LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Montreal at NY Rangers, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL: Edmonton at San Jose, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)


— During the Boston Marathon on Monday, Twitter user Abdul tweeted a picture of a spectator holding a homemade sign displaying the third quarter score of Super Bowl LI as motivation for runners because the Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit.

When ESPN responded to the tweet with a request for permission to use the picture, Abdul replied with a passionate denial. “After the witch hunt ESPN led against tom brady? absolutely the f— not. in fact block me right now. go f— yourselves,” Abdul responded. 

As of Tuesday, the reply to ESPN has over five thousand retweets and Patriots fans applauded his heroics. Abdul also granted other media outlets permission to use the photo.

And SportsCenter then blocked him for his response.

It turned out Abdul did not take this picture and tweeted back and forth with the person who did, apologizing for posting the picture without credit.

We’ve seen this before with other Patriots fans who have denied ESPN rights to use their footage of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, citing the network’s role in Deflategate.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Once they get a little success, their confidence is starting to grow. And I think they settle into that pecking order that has emerged. It still comes down to executing, which they’ve done a very good job at.” — John Farrell, on the Red Sox bullpen this season

Read More: Boston Marathon, Deflategate, ESPN,

Boston Marathon bombing survivor expresses outrage over memorial location

04.17.17 at 3:47 pm ET
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Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost a leg during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, expressed outrage over the weekend about the location of a memorial wreath that honors victims and survivors.

In an Instagram video posted Saturday, Haslet-Davis discovers the wreath is placed in front of the Starbucks at 755 Boylston Street. One of the blasts occurred in front of the Forum Restaurant, which is one door down.

“Nice work, Boston. Real good job of laying the wreath in front of the wrong place,” she said in the video. “Nice work. That’s real offensive to everyone. Appreciate it. It’s cool. So glad I came down to see this.”

Haslet-Davis also swore in the video, and defended her use of vulgarities in the captain.

“Valid offensive language. How Boston Strong are you? I bet if we had a permanent memorial people would remember where the actual attack happened,” she wrote.

In an accompanying video, Haslet-Davis said she moved the display.

MOVED. IT. . . . . #forumrestaurant #sooffended #icriedalot #dothepossible

A post shared by Adrianne Haslet (@adriannehaslet) on

Wreath-laying ceremonies occurred Saturday morning at the site of both blasts, with Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker in attendance alongside survivors and members of victims’ families. In a statement to the Boston Globe, Mayor Walsh’s office said the wreath was originally placed next to the Forum Restaurant. It’s unclear why it was moved in front of Starbucks.

Haslet-Davis ran in the Boston Marathon last year. Her husband, Adam Davis, was injured in the blasts as well.

Read More: Boston Marathon,

Photos: Meb Keflezighi embraces Martin Richard’s family at Boston Marathon finish line

04.17.17 at 2:24 pm ET
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Meb Keflezighi ran his final Boston Marathon Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Meb Keflezighi ran his final Boston Marathon Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Meb Keflezighi, who won the Boston Marathon the year after the bombings, stopped at the finish line Monday for an emotional exchange with Martin Richard’s family.

The four-time Olympian kissed the hands of Bill and Denise Richards, who’s eight-year-old son was killed in the 2013 bombings. Since then, Keflezighi has developed a relationship with the couple. He met with them three years ago prior to running Boston for the first time.

“[Martin] was inspiring,” Keflezighi said in 2015, via MassLive. “To have that sign ‘No more hurting people, peace’ says it all for Martin.”

This was the last Boston Marathon for Keflezighi, who was the first American to win the event in 31 years. The 41-year-old California native plans to run one more New York City Marathon before retiring from racing.

Read More: Boston Marathon,