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ESPN’s Max Kellerman: Bill Belichick will retire this season

03.14.17 at 9:18 am ET
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Last year, ESPN’s Max Kellerman predicted Tom Brady would soon “fall off a cliff.” Considering Brady led the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl championship last season, he couldn’t have been more wrong.

But that doesn’t mean Kellerman is out of the Patriots hot take business –– no, no. The bloviating talking head now says Bill Belichick is getting ready to retire, perhaps as early as this season.

On “First Take” Monday, Kellerman said he thinks Belichick’s impending exit is the reason why the Patriots have been so aggressive in free agency. Last week, the team handed cornerback Stephon Gilmore $40 million guaranteed and traded its first-round pick to the Saints for star wideout Brandin Cooks.

“He knows that Brady’s, and his, days are numbered –– obviously. Since when do the Patriots load up by trading their highest draft picks for players?,” Kellerman asked. “When does Belichick trade his highest available draft picks for the present? You know when? Right now. He is getting ready, for his and Tom Brady’s swan song. Now, my belief is, that will be this season. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe his belief is he’s got another two seasons. But the point is, he knows the end is coming. He is absolutely loading up to win a least one more Super Bowl, because at this moment they are so clearly the odds on favorites.”

Prior to Super Bowl LI, Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed he knows when Belichick is going to hang it up. But unfortunately for Kellerman, Kraft guaranteed it won’t be this year.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez’s new Japanese contract includes unlimited sushi; LaVar Ball wants $1 billion shoe deal for sons

03.14.17 at 9:03 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:
World Baseball Classic: Cuba vs. Japan, 6 a.m. (MLB Network)
World Baseball Classic: Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, 9 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Toronto at Boston, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM 850)
MLB: Atlanta vs. Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: San Francisco vs. Cleveland, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Detroit at Cleveland, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: Chicago at Montreal, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: New Orleans vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 6:40 p.m. (tru TV)
College basketball: UNCG at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Valparaiso at Illinois, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oakland at Clemson, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Georgia Tech at Indiana, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Wake Forest vs. Kansas State, 9:10 p.m. (tru TV)
College basketball: Richmond at Alabama, 9:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Boise St. at Utah, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Bakersfield at California, 11:15 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Can wait for this season with our #KochiFamily Arigatou gozaimasu🙏🏻 @kochifightingdogs @junkitakomi @colbysan3🙏🏻

A post shared by _____💎Mrs. Juliana Ramirez____ (@mrsjulianaramirez) on

— Former Red Sox goofball Manny Ramirez recently signed a contract with Japan’s Kochi Fighting Dogs and it is loaded with perks.

His deal with the country’s independent baseball league includes his own hotel suite for away games, his own Mercedes with a personal driver, unlimited sushi and practices are optional.

He will wear No. 99 with simply “Manny” stitched on the back.

Ramirez last played professional baseball in 2014 for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs as a player-coach. He hasn’t played at the major league level since 2011.

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Read More: Lonzo Ball, Manny Ramirez,

In a lawsuit, woman says UMass basketball staff members intimidated her

03.13.17 at 10:03 am ET
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Former UMass coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Former UMass coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

A woman says members of the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball coaching staff intimidated her in an attempt to keep her from leaking potentially detrimental information about the program, according to court documents.

In a civil suit, AyAnna Hickman alleges assistant coach and former UMass great Lou Roe prevented her from leaving his office during an incident in December 2013. The lawsuit states Roe had told Hickman “about the use of banned substances by team members; domestic violence by certain staff members against family members; incidents of infidelity and quashing of potential criminal complaints against unidentified team members.” She says assistant coach Shyrone Chatman and former strength coach Richard Hogans aided Roe in his efforts to trap her. Hickman and Roe used to date each other.

The University confirmed to WEEI.com it’s aware of the lawsuit, but declined further comment. Roe was placed on administrative leave in December and Chatman remains in good standing. Hogans left the program in 2014.

Recently fired head coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant, but the University says his dismissal was unrelated to the case. The suit says he “encouraged and participated in a cover-up” of the incident.

Hickman’s attorney, Harry Miles, declined comment when reached by email Sunday night. She’s suing for $75,000 in damages and is seeking a jury trial.

Read More: UMass,

Thinking Out Loud: Providence should still be all set to get into NCAA Tournament

03.10.17 at 11:01 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to a member of the “Brady Six,” Chad Pennington?

— Maybe he should have been selected by his fellow Big East coaches as the COY. The job Ed Cooley has done with this Providence team is easily his best effort in the six seasons he’s been the head coach of the Friars. Preseason picked for ninth? Finished third? Lost two players to the NBA draft? Cultivated another Most Improved Player in the Big East? Just sayin’.

— While Butler’s Chris Holtmann is also very deserving, a media straw poll conducted in New York this week gave Cooley the nod as Big East Coach of the Year. Fitting that NBCSports.com also thought likewise.

— Regardless of Thursday night’s result against Creighton, the Friars should be all set for Selection Sunday. A month ago, they were all set to watch everyone else get invited. Now, it matters little where they’re seeded, or who they play. You want a gravy game? A gravy year? This is it.

— But what a time to throw a stink bomb into the NCAA party. It was as if the Friars hadn’t played a game in a month, or worse yet, hadn’t seen a basketball in a month, either. Thursday night’s mess against Creighton was as self-inflicted as hoop wounds can get – turnovers and missed free throws. You control those, the other guys not-so-much.

— Providence, right now, is still the better team. And that’s not dumping on the BlueJays. The Friar defense is good.

— But if they reach the NCAA’s, they’ve got to remember they’re the better team and play like one. Or it will be a very short stay, wherever they play.

— Good move by CBS to shorten the selection show by 30 minutes, and get the brackets released in the first hour of the program. Last year’s production was abominable in the way it unfolded, and interminable with the interviews prior to the entire bracket being announced. Now, the key to true success is in the execution of the new plan. Somebody needs a quick finger on Charles Barkley’s microphone.

— In the Big East’s opening round Thursday, who else thought they were caught in a 1985-time warp, when Georgetown Hoyas suddenly surrounded St. John’s’ Chris Mullin? Emotion? You could cut it with a knife at that moment.

— That PC’s Kyron Cartwright earned 2nd team all-Big East honors wasn’t a surprise. Most Improved Player? Absolutely. But Rodney Bullock’s honors seemed to surprise some – except for right here. Bullock’s numbers were consistently in the league Top 10 throughout the season. Maybe the surprise was in the expectation?

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Witness says Aaron Hernandez called repairman when his car ran out of gas

03.10.17 at 3:45 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Aaron Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence for Odin Lloyd’s murder. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Aaron Hernandez doesn’t appear to be a car aficionado.

During his double murder trial Friday, the former president of Fox Toyota was called to the witness stand. Jack Fox leased the Toyota 4Runner to Hernandez that authorities say he was driving when he shot and killed Daniel Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28, in the South End in 2012.

During one exchange, Fox was asked about his relationship with the former Patriots tight end. He said he entered a promo agreement with Hernandez, and would regularly service the vehicle free of charge. In exchange, Hernandez would give Fox tickets and other perks.

About three or four weeks into the lease, Fox said Hernandez told him the car wouldn’t start. He went to Hernandez’s house, only to find that the 4Runner didn’t have any gas in it.

The 4Runner has been off the road for over three years, as authorities seized it around the time Hernandez was arrested for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder the following year.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Tom Brady’s 2020 presidential election odds are better than Donald Trump’s three years ago

03.10.17 at 1:58 pm ET
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Tom Brady has a better chance to be president than Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady has a better chance to be president than Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Three years ago, Donald Trump’s odds to be elected president were 150/1. Tom Brady’s chances to be sworn into the Oval Office in 2020 are better than that.

According to Bovada, Brady’s chances to be the next President of the United States sit at 125/1. That puts him in line with U.S. senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Leonardo DiCaprio, Chelsea Clinton, George Clooney, Kanye West and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have 125/1 odds as well. Johnson is the only person in that group who’s hinted at making a presidential run, telling reporters last year he “wouldn’t rule it out.”

In an interview with GQ in 2015, Brady said he doesn’t have any desire to seek higher office.

“There is a 0.000 chance of me ever wanting to do that,” he said. “I just think that no matter what you’d say or what you’d do, you’d be in a position where –– you know, you’re politicking. You know? Like, I think the great part about what I do is that there’s a scoreboard. At the end of every week, you know how you did. You know how well you prepared. You know whether you executed your game plan. There’s a tangible score.”

While Brady expressed support for Trump during the campaign, he never explicitly revealed his political views. Earlier this year, Brady implied on Kirk & Callahan he might disagree with some of Trump’s policies.

“If you know someone, it doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say or they do,” he said. “You have a lot of friends in your life. I think there are things that are based in your own dealings with someone that is a personal dealing, not a public dealing. Because you have personal experiences.”

Thanks to Trump’s improbable rise, the next presidential race will likely feature some unorthodox candidates. Oprah Winfrey, who Bovada says has 66/1 odds of winning in 2020, signaled last week she might be warming up to the idea of giving it a shot.

Currently, Trump has 9/4 odds at being reelected. The person most likely to unseat him is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s chances of winning are 8/1.

Read More: Donald Trump, Tom Brady,

Stephen A. Smith: Jimmy Garoppolo’s Instagram post wasn’t a hoax

03.10.17 at 12:40 pm ET
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Stephen A. Smith says he thinks Jimmy Garoppolo wants out of New England. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Stephen A. Smith says he thinks Jimmy Garoppolo wants out of New England. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Jimmy Garoppolo says his now-deleted Instagram post with a “peace out Boston” captain was a hoax. Stephen A. Smith ain’t buying it.

On ESPN’s First Take Friday, Smith said he thinks Garoppolo knew about the post when it appeared on his account.

“I think it’s indicative of what Garoppolo actually wants to happen. I don’t believe it was a hoax,” he explained. “I think he had everything to do with that post. I don’t care what anybody says.”

While ESPN’s Adam Schefter is adamant the Patriots will keep Garoppolo, trade rumors continue to swirl. Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports the Browns intend to make a strong run at the highly coveted backup, freshly armed with a 2018 second-round pick they received from the Texans in exchange for taking on Brock Osweiler’s entire salary.

If Garoppolo stays in New England, he’ll almost certainly sit behind Tom Brady in 2017. Though his rookie contract expires at the end of the season, the Patriots can franchise him, keeping Garoppolo under their control for an additional year. Smith said he thinks Garoppolo is anxious to start after spending the first three years of his career on the bench.

“Garoppolo is feeling himself a little bit. He knows that at no time the market is going to be as high as it is appears to be for him right now,” Smith said. “He senses a prime opportunity for himself to land someplace else, be a starting quarterback in the NFL and get some shine. And I think he wants to capitalize on it.”

In a statement Friday, Garoppolo’s agent Don Yee said the quarterback’s Instagram account was hacked. Hours before the cryptic post, Garoppolo took a Snapchat video from the Blackhawks game Thursday night. If he was hacked, perhaps responsibility lies with somebody who was with him.

Regardless, Garoppolo’s future with the Patriots will likely remain a major topic for the foreseeable future. Since there’s no timetable on a trade, the drama could even extend well into training camp.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots,

Bill O’Reilly agrees with Mike Francesa about women not being able to coach men’s teams

03.10.17 at 11:41 am ET
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Bill O'Reilly, pictured here with President Donald Trump, has Mike Francesa's back. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Bill O’Reilly, pictured here with President Donald Trump, has Mike Francesa’s back. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

On his radio show last week, WFAN host Mike Francesa said it would be “impossible” for a woman to coach a men’s sports team. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly agrees.

In a segment Thursday with HBO “Real Sports” contributor Bernard Goldberg, O’Reilly defended Francesa’s logic –– though he slightly misconstrued the Sports Pope’s words.

“I don’t disagree that women can coach a men’s basketball team. Twelve players … it could happen. He was talking about baseball and football and I agree with Francesa, it would be almost impossible on a number of different levels for that to happen,” he said.

Francesa wasn’t just talking about baseball and football, however. He made a blanket statement about women coaching all men’s sports teams.

“Do you know how difficult it would be on a female to have to manage 25 men? Or 50 men? Do you know how impossible that would be?,” he asked. “It wouldn’t be tough, it would be impossible. You’re gonna tell me that you would think a woman would walk into an NFL team and coach as a head coach 15 assistants and 50-60 men?”

A caller pressed Francesa on whether he thinks former Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt, who won eight champions with the Lady Volunteers, could’ve coached men. He said no.

“NBA? No,” he said. “She would have said, ‘I don’t belong there.’ But she could not coach an NBA team, nor would she even wanna try.”

This week, Francesa expounded on his take, saying he thinks it would be a publicity stunt if a men’s team hired a female coach. That’s an asinine statement to make, considering there’s nothing worse for a franchise’s publicity than a losing season. Seemingly no club would sacrifice on-field or on-court success for the sake of a short-term PR boost.

That’s not to say Francesa’s argument doesn’t have a kernel of truth to it. It probably would be difficult for an accomplished female coach to be in charge of a men’s team –– just because of its unprecedented nature. There isn’t a single woman coaching men at the collegiate level, and in the NBA, there are only two female assistants: WNBA great Becky Hammon with the Spurs and two-time Olympian Nancy Lieberman with the Kings. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Women have risen to the highest levels in other male-dominated fields. Why not sports?

Naturally, after briefly addressing Francesa’s claims, O’Reilly and Goldberg turned their attention to a familiar target: the liberal PC police.

“(They) will punish you if you’re not PC enough and that’s what’s happening here,” Goldberg said.

Francesa, who reportedly makes $5 million per year, is almost certainly not being punished. In fact, his ratings have probably increased as a result of this episode.

Read More: Bill O'Reilly, Mike Francesa,

Adam Schefter is staking his reputation on the Patriots keeping Jimmy Garoppolo

03.10.17 at 10:28 am ET
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Adam Schefter (left) is the most trusted NFL reporter in the country. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

Adam Schefter (light) is the most trusted NFL reporter in the country. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

Adam Schefter is adamant the Patriots will keep Jimmy Garoppolo. If he’s wrong, it will cost him his reputation.

This all started back in December, when Schefter said on Kirk & Callahan the Patriots expect to receive at least a first- and fourth-round pick in return for the backup quarterback. That statement prompted Trent Dilfer to call his co-worker a pawn during an appearance with Dale & Holley, which resulted in Schefter firing back.

“I can tell you that nobody in New England has ever told me a certain price that they want or are expecting on Jimmy Garoppolo. I can promise you that,” he said on K&C earlier this year. “The New England brass is not using me to get a price out on Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s a fact we can dispel right there. That’s incorrect.”

Then last week, Schefter dropped another bombshell: the Patriots aren’t expected to trade Garoppolo at all. The acclaimed NFL Insider doubled-down on his assertion with OM&F later that day, saying he guaranteed Garoppolo would stay in New England.

It’s not unusual for Schefter, or any journalist, to defend their reporting. But Schefter has gone beyond that in recent days. He’s launched a full-blown PR campaign, bristling at anybody who dares to suggest the Patriots may still make Garoppolo available.

When members of an ESPN NFL panel brought up the topic Thursday, Schefter appeared agitated.

“You guys want to keep talking about this,?” he muttered.

Despite Schefter’s guarantees, there are still murmurs about Garoppolo heading elsewhere. Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reports the Browns intend to make a strong run at Garoppolo, freshly armed with a 2018 second-round pick they received from the Texans in exchange for taking on Brock Osweiler’s entire salary. But on “SportsCenter” Friday morning, Schefter said the Patriots have no intention of trading Garoppolo to Cleveland, even if they were offered several first-round selections.

“The facts are the facts: Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be on the Patriots, but we can continue to talk about [it], he explained. One person there said, ‘If they get four [first-round picks], they wouldn’t trade him.”

That seems a tad hyperbolic, which might be why Schefter didn’t repeat the claim afterwards on K&C. But he channeled his inner-Skip Bayless once again, declaring the Patriots would be destined for futility if Tom Brady were to get hurt and Garoppolo wasn’t on the roster to take his place.

“If they traded Jimmy Garoppolo and something were to happen to Tom Brady next season, the year after, they would be the Cleveland Browns,” he said. “It would the Cleveland Browns. What would they be doing at quarterback? What was it like for that franchise before Tom Brady came along?”

To make matters even more bizarre, while Schefter was making these grand proclamations, Garoppolo’s Instagram account posted a goodbye message to New England. The reported hoax was deleted at 9:30 a.m.

There’s no doubting Schefter’s flawless reputation in NFL circles. According to a Washington Post profile, he often swaps information with teams, exchanging scoops for scoops. But his steadfast denial about the Patriots even entertaining a Garoppolo trade flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and frankly, common sense. Though quarterback is the most important position in sports, it seems unfathomable to suggest the Patriots would never consider trading Garoppolo –– even for multiple first-rounders. Every player is believed to have a price, especially considering Brady played arguably the best football of his career last season. In February, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who used to cover the Patriots for the Boston Herald, reported the team wants to extend Brady’s contract past 2019. Considering Garoppolo’s rookie deal is up after this season, it’s difficult to imagine why the Patriots would want to re-sign Brady if they’re planning on handing the reigns over to him. It’s also hard to see why Garoppolo would want to stay and back up, when he could be a starter elsewhere.

Due to his refusal to cede any ground, Schefter is at odds with many of his colleagues in the NFL media. He better be right, or else his word will no longer take precedent over theirs.

Read More: Adam Schefter, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots,

Damien Woody burns Bill Simmons on Twitter over cancellation of his HBO talk show

03.09.17 at 2:21 pm ET
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Bill Simmons, like many Patriots fans, seems to be salivating over the prospect of Jay Cutler joining the Jets. The Bears released the embattled quarterback Thursday, and the Gang Green have reportedly emerged as one of his top suitors.

For a multitude of reasons, Cutler and the Jets would be the perfect marriage. Placing perhaps the most polarizing and error-prone quarterback in the league under center for one of the most dysfunctional franchises in sports would likely further turn the Jets into a soap opera. There would almost never be a dull moment.

Simmons tweeted about how “Jetsy” the move would be, only to get shot down by ex-Patriots and Jets offensive lineman, Damien Woody. Apparently, Simmons’ former ESPN colleague doesn’t have a lot of patience for those who take shots at his former team.

This isn’t the first time another media member has insulted Simmons with a reference to his short-lived HBO talk show, which was cancelled last year after just 25 episodes. In November, NBC’s lead NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth brought up Simmons’ failed TV endeavor in a tweet after Simmons had critiqued his on-air performance during a game broadcast.

“Somebody needs to gently break the news to Collinsworth that the Pats have a weak front 7 and that’s why Seattle’s o-line looks so good,” Simmons wrote.

Collinsworth responded by saying, “Thanks Bill, we’ll look for you ‘gently’ breaking it down on that hit show of yours.”

In a matter of hours, Collinsworth deleted the tweet. As of publication, Woody’s diss remains up.

Read More: Bill Simmons, Damien Woody,