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ESPNers are calling Dan Le Batard racist for his Magic Johnson criticism, and it’s glorious

02.24.17 at 9:25 am ET
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The Lakers hired Magic Johnson this week to be their president of basketball operations. (Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

The Lakers hired Magic Johnson this week to be their president of basketball operations. (Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN host Dan Le Batard has flippantly accused others of racism throughout his career. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it’s glorious.

On his radio show Thursday, Le Batard lambasted the Lakers for naming Magic Johnson president of basketball operations. In his opinion, Johnson doesn’t have the credentials for the job.

“What you’ve got here, though, is a testament to the power of fame. And a testament to the power of a modicum of charm, because Magic Johnson is charming,” Le Batard said. “But Magic Johnson was given a late-night television show because he’s famous and charming. Failed in 11 shows. Magic Johnson was given a head coaching job of the Lakers because he’s famous and charming. Failed in 16 games. Magic Johnson, not interesting as a broadcaster, given broadcasting opportunity after broadcasting opportunity, because he’s famous and charming.

“And now, he gets to run the entire Lakers organization because he’s famous and charming. But he wasn’t good at any of those jobs I just mentioned, and he got all of those jobs, bypassing a whole lot of people who are more qualified, because he’s famous and charming.”

That’s a reasonable position for Le Batard to hold, considering Johnson doesn’t have any significant basketball front office experience. He’s a part of the Dodgers’ ownership group in MLB, but doesn’t appear to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the club.

Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, however, has a different view. He defended the Lakers’ decision to hire Magic Johnson, and condemned Le Batard for disparaging the NBA great.

“I can’t tolerate this dude! I can’t tolerate him saying these things about Magic Johnson because his facts are completely wrong!” he said. “He got a talk show coming out of the NBA because they were trying a late-night talk show with African-Americans, and he’s a guy in the city of LA who everyone liked. The talk show business is hard! How many people fail at it?”

Later in the segment, Keyshawn Johnson suggested Le Batard’s comments were racially motivated.

“I’m going to read between the lines, I’m going to read between the lines on this one,” he said. “To me, he saying because he’s a black dude, that’s the way I look at it.”

Keyshawn Johnson’s co-host, Jorge Sedano, who’s worked with Le Batard in Miami, tried to defend the ex-newspaper scribe. But then one of Magic Johnson’s former teammates, Mychal Thompson, called in and pushed back against Sedano.

“Sedano, you’re pissing me off. You gotta stop defending this Le Batard,” the ex-Lakers center said. “How dare he question Magic’s credentials and qualifications, when this man is a basketball genius. What does he want? … That ticked me off when I heard that, I’m with you, Key, that was some kind of veiled racist comment there.”

Le Batard didn’t only take a beating on Keyshawn Johnson’s radio show. “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon sent out a series of tweets Thursday, accusing Le Batard of misrepresenting Magic Johnson’s post-career resume.

Since officially retiring from the NBA in 1996, Magic Johnson has taken part in a number of business ventures. His entertainment company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, has a net worth of $700 million. Magic Johnson did coach the Lakers at the end of the 1993-94 season, finishing with a 5-11 record.

Read More: Dan Le Batard, ESPN, Keyshawn Johnson, Magic Johnson

Aaron Hernandez’s potential marijuana defense is ridiculous

02.23.17 at 7:35 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2015. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo/USA TODAY Sports)

Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2015. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo/USA TODAY Sports)

Aaron Hernandez’s lawyers are thinking about using a pot defense, saying their client’s habit of smoking marijuana may have turned him into a murderous monster. That’s insane.

According to the Boston Herald’s Bob McGovern, Hernandez’s attorneys have included two unknown marijuana experts in a list of potential witnesses for his upcoming double-murder trial. They could discuss the nature of marijuana use in the NFL and the psychological impact the drug has on its users.

“At that point, if you are using this tactic, you are probably trying to get it down to second-degree murder or manslaughter,” criminal defense attorney Phil Tracy told the Herald. “You would try to say that repeated and prolonged use of marijuana had an effect on his brain so he couldn’t form clear intent to commit first-degree murder.”

Hernandez’s marijuana use was a central theme during his first murder trial two years ago, in which he was convicted for slaying semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in June 2013. His attorneys argued Hernandez couldn’t have killed Lloyd, because the two were smoking buddies.

But this time around, they may argue years of excessive marijuana use diminished Hernandez’s mental capacity. The former Patriots tight end is accused of killing Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28 in a drive-by shooting on a South End street in July 2012. The two victims reportedly encountered Hernandez at a club in the theatre district the night they were killed.

There’s little evidence that suggests smoking or ingesting marijuana can have a damaging long-term neurological impact. A 2003 study from the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society shows chronic marijuana users don’t experience a significant reduction in their cognitive abilities, except perhaps in their ability to remember. A 2014 study says marijuana can even be used to treat some forms of mental illness, such as PTSD and depression.

While alcohol makes its users more aggressive and violent, weed has the opposite effect. Last year, researchers in the Netherlands examined a group of 20 heavy drinkers and 21 habitual marijuana smokers, monitoring them while they got drunk or high. Through a series of tests, they found the drinkers got more aggressive as their blood alcohol content rose, whereas the smokers got less aggressive when they became impaired. Those findings coincide with a 2014 study that says couples that smoke marijuana are less likely to engage in domestic violence.

It’s possible that drug use may have ravaged Hernandez’s mind at the time of the double-murder. In a 2013 feature story, the Rolling Stone reported Hernandez was a PCP addict, with one friend saying he was “out of his mind.” During the Lloyd murder trial, Hernandez’s lawyers called a professor from Tufts University School of Medicine to testify about how PCP can cause people to become violent. Hernandez’s cousin said the tight end’s two co-defendents in that case, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, were smoking PCP the weekend Lloyd was killed.

It seems as if drug abuse played a role in Hernandez’s downfall. But placing the blame on marijuana is disingenuous and insulting.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots,

Enough About Me with Kirk Minihane podcast power rankings

02.23.17 at 3:21 pm ET
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It has now been just over a year since the Enough About Me podcast debut and its popularity is through the roof. Its host, Kirk Minihane, is as fearless in his approach with these interviews as he is on the radio, and is masterful at drawing great material out of his guests.

All of the episodes are worth listening to, but here are the top 10.

1. Episode 50: Michael Holley

In the deepest and longest podcast yet, Kirk and Michael talk about their kids, Michael’s father, religion and some great inside radio stuff. As Donald Trump was being sworn in as president, Michael opened up about his dad’s absence in his life and Kirk even got into some of his own personal issues.

And yes, Alice Walker did have a thing with Tracy Chapman.

Highlights: Kirk: “Well, maybe your father was lucky enough not to hear the Salk & Holley Show.”

Gerry Callahan once called Holley the “Drew Peterson of talk show hosts.”

2. Episode 53: Glenn Ordway Part 2

Gossip porn for inside radio lovers. In this long-awaited podcast, Kirk and Glenn start off talking about Johnny Most but then get into it about ‘The Incident” between Kirk and Christian Fauria and the events leading up to it. They disagree about the facts of what went down and basically recreate their phone conversation from the night after it happened.

Glenn also talks about what he thinks of the merger with CBS Radio and the current state of WEEI.

Highlights: Glenn: “I like working with ex-jocks because you can play with them a little bit.”

Kirk sincerely compliments John Dennis.

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Read More: Enough About Me,

ESPN’s Bomani Jones appears to suggest Boston would’ve been too racist for DeMarcus Cousins

02.23.17 at 2:25 pm ET
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The Celtics reportedly weren't interested in acquiring DeMarcus Cousins. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sport)s

The Celtics reportedly weren’t interested in acquiring DeMarcus Cousins. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sport)s

ESPN’s Bomani Jones appears to be slandering Boston again.

During a recent edition of his radio show, “The Right Time,” Jones was talking about teams that were linked to center DeMarcus Cousins, who was traded to the Pelicans Sunday. He says Cousins is fortunate he didn’t wind up in Boston, because it wouldn’t have worked for him here.

“I think all of us can say: DeMarcus Cousins in Boston probably wouldn’t have been the best idea.” Jones said. “For a number of reasons, it probably wouldn’t have been the best idea. Right?””

The possible reasoning behind Jones’ proclamation is ambiguous on the surface, but not difficult to surmise once you consider his history. Last month, Jones strongly hinted Celtics fans cheered for Jazz forward Gordon Hayward because he’s white, saying no other fan base would’ve reacted to him that way.

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

From a basketball standpoint, there’s little reason to think Cousins wouldn’t have fit with the Celtics. Head coach Brad Stevens has never publicly disparaged the three-time All-Star, and point guard Isaiah Thomas, who was teammates with Cousins in Sacramento, said last year it would be “really good” to play with him again.

Given the lack of convincing on-court evidence, it seems like Jones is once again needlessly introducing race to the conversation. Cousins has 17 technical fouls this season and is one of the most demonstrative players in the NBA. Jones, with his comment about Cousins not working in Boston for a “number of reasons,” appears to suggest Celtics fans would reject a passionate black player.

Jones isn’t the first ESPN host to allude to this point. In a podcast earlier this year, NBA analyst Amin Elhassan curiously said Celtics fans wouldn’t take to Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, presumably because he’s an outspoken black athlete.

Read More: Boston Celtics, DeMarcus Cousins,

ESPN’s ‘The Six’ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith is a boring flop

02.23.17 at 12:27 pm ET
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Michael Smith and Jemele Hill previously hosted "His & Hers" on ESPN2. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Jemele Hill and Michael Smith previously hosted “His & Hers” on ESPN2. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

When ESPN first launched “The Six” with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, it was billed as a hipper version of “SportsCenter,” set to reclaim weeknight viewers who have fled the network’s outdated signature program. But in reality, the show is unimaginative and boring. There’s nothing edgy about it, unless you consider Smith’s proclivity to wear sneakers with his suit jacket to be wacky instead of forced.

Despite weeks of incessant on-air promotion, including a corny video that features Hill and Smith boogying to the 1988 hit, “It Takes Two,” ratings for the refurbished “SportsCenter” leave much to be desired. On Monday, three weeks after its debut, the show drew 568,000 viewers. That’s less than the 574,000 people who tuned into the 6:00 p.m. airing of “SportsCenter” on the same date one year ago.

Ratings for other ESPN programs are suffering as well. The audience for “Pardon the Interruption” was down 16 percent over the first two weeks of February compared to last year, giving “The Six” a depressed lead-in. But still, with all of the effort spent publicizing the show, the numbers are underwhelming –– just like the product.

At the start of Wednesday’s episode, Hill and Smith spent some time discussing DeMarcus Cousins’ debut press conference with the Pelicans. The most notable tidbit from the conversation was their insistence on calling him “Boogie,” as if they’re close pals. Smith went on to say he’s president of the “Free Boogie Fan Club,” while Hill giggled awkwardly.

Following a staid segment about Paul George’s future with the Pacers –– Smith kept calling him “PG” in a contrived attempt at informality –– the two moved on to Magic Johnson, who didn’t interview a black candidate for the Lakers’ general manager position before hiring agent Rob Pelinka. On The Undefeated, ESPN’s black-interest website, columnist Marc Spears quoted a couple of league executives who criticized Johnson for bypassing potential African-American applicants. Instead of responding with their own takes, Hill and Smith equivocated. They both said they “understand the frustration,” but also believe Johnson must do what he thinks is best for the organization.

“Jeanie [Buss] fired her blood brother. So if you don’t win enough games, she will fire her brother from another mother in a second,” Smith said.

It’s insulting to expect black sports commentators to feel strongly about race relations. But both hosts, especially Hill, have spoken passionately about the subject in the past. Last year, she hosted a televised town hall on ABC with President Barack Obama about race in America.

One of the apparent reasons why Hill enjoys a prominent role on ESPN is her willingness to engage on social issues. But yet, on “The Six,” she plays it down the middle.

And therein lies the biggest problem with the program: there’s nothing memorable about it. The discussions are stale, with Hill and Smith regurgitating talking points that are heard on ESPN throughout the day. Neither take a particularly strong stand on anything, and when they do, they usually side with the athlete in question. Somewhere along the line, ESPN decided to become a promotional vehicle for the players it covers. Hill and Smith, with their insistence on referring to NBA stars by their carefully branded nicknames, feed into that.

Hill and Smith don’t need to turn into screeching hyenas to have a successful talk show. But there must be some elements of provocation. The demonization of “hot take culture” has caused people to forget that nearly every popular sports pundit in history, from Howard Cosell to Michael Wilbon, has routinely shared strong opinions. Hill, who once said cheering for the Celtics is akin to calling Adolf Hitler a victim, is no stranger to controversy. While nobody is clamoring for Nazi analogies, it’s bizarre to see her play an even-tempered role. The show desperately needs a shot of adrenaline.

In order to generate interest, programs must give their audience something to reach to. Tedious segments, like Wednesday’s interminable discussion with analysts Jeff Goodman and Ryen Russillo about NBA trade rumors, don’t accomplish that. Those kinds of dry interviews are staples on indiscernible sports talk shows across the country. They shouldn’t be featured on a supposedly groundbreaking show that ESPN is counting on to help resurrect its “SportsCenter” franchise.

“The Six” is billed as innovative. But the truth is, you’ve seen it a million times before.

Read More: ESPN, Jemele Hill, Michael Smith,

New ‘West Mass’ tourism promo is must-see, but must be stopped

02.23.17 at 9:57 am ET
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Boston Globe Some residents in the Pioneer Valley have taken umbrage with a new rebranding effort that strips the three-county region of its longtime moniker in favor of an ostensibly hipper alternative — “West Mass.”

A petition on Change.org titled, “Stop ‘West Mass’ and Keep The Pioneer Valley!” contends that there’s no benefit to renaming the area, which includes Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties.

“West Mass is awkward on the tongue,”one person wrote on the petition, which has been signed by 165 supporters. “Pioneer Valley is a name that reminds tourists and citizens just how historic the area is. Don’t waste your money or time.”

The Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts teamed up last year to hire a creative agency from Oklahoma to come up with a new name, part of a broader marketing campaign to attract new visitors, residents, and businesses to the area.

This is the worst tourism campaign video I’ve ever seen in my life.

It stars Michael Jordan, auto-tune, touts the area’s “fertility” and tells people to “develop and visit!” and “find your first” there.

Find your first what??????

Holy moly is this a mess. Calling the area “West Mass” is the least of the Pioneer Valley people’s problems.

It’s like a mix of public access television and the Yankee Doodle song in the Always Sunny in Philadelphia beauty pageant.

With this as your inspiration, how can you go wrong?

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Rick Pitino goes insane on UNC fan; Aaron Hernandez lawyers reportedly look to use pot defense

02.23.17 at 8:40 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Thursday 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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS: 
NHL: Washington at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Boston at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: Michigan at Rutgers, 6:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: DePaul at Georgetown, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Duke at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at Wake Forest, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: TCU at Kansas, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: UCF at Temple, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Xavier at Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Minnesota at Maryland, 8:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Butler at Villanova, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Louisville at North Carolina, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Kansas State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oregon at California, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: UConn at Houston, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Fresno State at San Diego State, 11 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Oregon State at Stanford, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Louisville coach Rick Pitino had a heated exchange with a UNC fan during halftime of North Carolina’s 74-63 win over his team Wednesday night.

As Pitino walked to the locker room tunnel, a fan reportedly yelled “Pitino, you suck!” at him.

He “got in my face and said something I didn’t like,” Pitino said afterward.

Pitino had to be restrained by his coaching staff and the fan was ejected.

“I take it from the students all the time; you expect it from the students. But from an adult? And then to turn his back on me like he’s a coward?” Pitino said. “And he is a coward, but North Carolina is a classy place and he doesn’t speak for the rest of the people.”

“I’ve always said this is the classiest place in college basketball, until I met a fan on the way out,” Pitino then said. “It always reminded me of a class place, but they’re getting just like some of the other places now.”

North Carolina coach Roy Williams apologized to Pitino after the game.

“I don’t like that. We’re North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else,” Williams said. “You can raise Cain, you can boo, but you don’t have to say stuff that we as coaches have to put up with on the road. I hope that never happens again at North Carolina.”

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Rick Pitino,

Chris Christie reportedly being considered to take over for Mike Francesa on WFAN New York

02.22.17 at 4:25 pm ET
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Chris Christie is a regular on WFAN in New York. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Christie is a regular on WFAN in New York. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is fat, loud, opinionated and ignorant. He was made for sports talk radio, and apparently, is considering it as a career.

According to NorthJersey.com, Christie is a candidate to replace Mike Francesa in afternoon drive on WFAN when the iconic host’s contract expires at the end of 2017. Francesa said last year he plans to move on from the New York sports talk behemoth once his deal is up.

“I would certainly at least want to consider [Christie],” WFAN’s program director Mark Chernoff said. “If he’s interested and we’re interested, it’s worth pursuing.”

Christie, who’s one of the least popular governors in the nation, frequently fills in on WFAN’s morning show, Boomer & Carton. In an appearance last week, he said President Donald Trump forced him to eat meatloaf when they dined together at the White House, continuing his yearlong emasculation.

In a recent interview, Christie said he would consider making the move to sports talk.

“As my son said — ‘I can’t believe I’ve been listening to you talk about sports my entire life and that someone might actually pay you to do that. He said, ‘I can’t imagine how great that would be for you,’ ” he said on SportsNet New York. “And so, yeah, that’s certainly one of the things that I hope I’ll have a chance to consider when I get out and stop being governor.”

With his term ending in January 2018, the timing would be perfect for Christie to take over Francesa’s chair. He apparently is already focused on the possible career change, too. On SNY recently, he lambasted Phillies fans, calling them “bitter” and “awful people.” A sizable number of folks in southern New Jersey, of course, follow the Phillies. Christie seems to want the job so badly, he’s willing to burn bridges with his own constituents.

In a lot of respects, it seems as if Christie has been training to be a talk radio host for some time. As governor, he shot to viral fame for his blistering attacks on public school teachers. He would be able to spew that same kind of vitriol on WFAN, except it would be directed towards callers.

After an insipid presidential bid and losing out on a job in Trump’s White House, Christie’s political career appears to be over. But he’s got the goods to make it big in the sports talk radio world. Or, at least, he has the bombast.

Read More: Chris Christie,

Isaiah Thomas tweets out another mysterious emoji, is almost certainly trolling us

02.22.17 at 2:52 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas is a great point guard. But he’s an even better Internet troll.

Two days after his eyeball emoji sparked chaos across the basketball world, Thomas is back at it again. On Wednesday, he tweeted out an hourglass. No word on whether this message will propel 20 reporters to contact Celtics general manager Mike Zarren, like the last one did.

With the NBA trade deadline coming up Thursday, the Celtics remain immersed in rumors. General manager Danny Ainge is reportedly still considering a deal for Carmelo Anthony, and the team has been linked to forwards Paul George and Jimmy Butler as well. With that in mind, perhaps Thomas’ hourglass means a blockbuster acquisition is imminent. Or, more likely, it means nothing. NBA players have taken to trolling the media recently.

Last week, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving told reporters he thinks the earth is flat. The inane assertion dominated headlines throughout All-Star Weekend, with every major sports blog publishing stories on the matter. When Irving was asked about his comments Saturday, he hinted he was trying to prove a point about contemporary media coverage.

“I think that there’s just so much, I guess — I don’t know if you can even call it news — there are so many real things going on, actual, like, things that are going on that’s changing the shape, the way of our lives,” he said, via ESPN. “And I think it sometimes gets skewed because of who we are in the basketball world, and, ‘Oh man, what does he actually think? Oh, no, I don’t like hearing … the world is flat, or he thinks the world can’t be round.’ You know, I know the science, I know everything possible — not everything possible — but the fact that that actually could be real news, that people are actually asking me that — it’s a social phenomenon.”

Whenever a famous person does something, it will get covered, regardless of how silly the action is. Pistons center Andre Drummond proved this Tuesday, when reporters swarmed him after he had retweeted Thomas’ eyeball emoji and –– get this –– tweeted his own, too.

Since there’s a small chance Drummond’s emoji sharing was a covert message, Pistons reporters can’t be blamed for asking him questions about it –– just like Celtics beat writers rightfully followed up with Zarren Monday. NBA players seem to know they have a captive audience on social media. They’re proving it one tweet at a time, with Thomas leading the charge.

(By the way, for more coverage of Thomas’s mystery tweet, check out John Tomase on the Green Street Blog.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas,

Jimmy Garoppolo’s future with Patriots is currently biggest Boston sports story –– bar none

02.22.17 at 12:42 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo might be the most valuable trade commodity in the NFL this offseason. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Jimmy Garoppolo might be the most valuable trade commodity in the NFL this offseason. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Globe says baseball still owns our hearts in the Hub, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Despite the hoards of cargo shorts-wearing beat writers who have descended upon Red Sox Spring Training, the biggest Boston sports story of the season is happening more than 1,000 miles away from the confines of JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. Somewhere in the bowels of Gillette Stadium, Patriots staffers are planning out their offseason. They’re evaluating draft prospects, free agents and, most importantly, whether to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s where the action is.

It wasn’t too long ago that Red Sox hot stove talk routinely wrestled attention away from the Patriots. This most infamously happened in December 2003, when the Red Sox were on the verge of acquiring Alex Rodriguez. Excitement about the possibility of A-Rod playing in Boston dwarfed the interest surrounding Tom Brady chasing a Super Bowl title. Nowadays, trade talk about Brady’s backup dominates the airwaves. It’s been quite a turn of events.

In less than two months’ time, the Red Sox will be gearing up for Opening Day and the Celtics will be on the verge of beginning what could be their longest playoff run since 2012. But the daily drama, the kind that fuels talk radio and draws website traffic, will likely be Garoppolo’s status with the Patriots. It’s already sparked endless rumors, and even a feud between ESPN colleagues.

In December, Adam Schefter told Kirk & Callahan the Patriots expect to receive at least a first-round and fourth-round pick in return for Garoppolo. This statement prompted Trent Dilfer to call his co-worker a pawn during an appearance with Dale & Holley later that day.

“I can promise you nobody is trading a first and a fourth for Jimmy. Now, it’s smart that the brass in New England is using Adam [Schefter] to get that headline out there because now they are starting the market there,” he said.

Schefter fired back the following week, which prompted Dilfer to apologize. But that will probably be far from the last media squabble centered around Garoppolo’s availability or status. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport insists the Patriots are open to dealing Garoppolo, much like Schefter. The MMQB’s Peter King and ESPN’s Ed Werder, meanwhile, think he’s staying put. On Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman poured kerosene on the fire, reporting several teams are preparing to make blockbuster offers for Garoppolo.

The Garoppolo story has it all: mystery, debate and big stakes. Since the Patriots are perhaps the most tight-lipped and unpredictable organization in sports, it’s a genuine question about how they’ll proceed. There’s a real argument, to be had, too. With Tom Brady still at the top of his game, it seems prudent to trade Garoppolo for a haul this offseason. He’s entering the final year of his contract and is fresh off the glow from playing one-and-a-half sterling games in Brady’s absence. If the Patriots want to cash in, this will probably be their best chance to do it.

Then again, Brady will be 40 years old in August. He says he wants to play five more years, but his football mortality will eventually catch up to him. Assuming Garoppolo will be a successful NFL starter, maybe the Patriots should try to sign him to an extension. They would be tying up a lot of money in the quarterback position, but that’s a short-term hit. The security of having their next QB under contract may be worth it.

In this case, one single personnel decision could alter the course of the franchise for the next decade. If the Patriots trade Garoppolo and Brady falters over the next two years, Bill Belichick would have difficulty defending the move. It would be maybe the biggest blemish on his resume, the one time in which he lacked foresight.

But if Brady continues to defy age, and the Patriots recoup their lost first-round pick in a Garoppolo trade, then the move would be heralded as Belichick’s greatest coup. The future of the organization is on the line.

With all due respect to the Red Sox, there’s no decision they can make in sleepy Fort Myers that carries the same kind of importance. Even the Celtics, barring a blockbuster deadline trade, seem to be engaging in little more than a fun sideshow. Yes, they’re only three games behind the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. But if the two teams were to meet in the postseason, the Celtics’ defeat seems inevitable.

From September-February, the Patriots were the best story in town. That won’t change this spring, as long as Garoppolo trade rumors continue to swirl.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots,