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Bill Belichick vacations during free agency, makes hardline contract offers from the beach

01.27.17 at 10:40 am ET
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Belichick_9-1-16Bill Belichick is an even tougher negotiator than you imagined.

In a feature story, the MMQB’s Robert Klemko speaks with seven NFL agents who have worked with Belichick over the last 15 years. In most contract negotiations, there’s usually a give-and-take –– at least to some degree. But with Belichick, there doesn’t appear to be much of an opportunity for discourse. Agents say he’ll will often punctuate his pitch with one simple question: “Does your guy want to win a Super Bowl, or doesn’t he?”

It’s difficult to offer much of a rebuttal to that.

This past season served as another validation for Belichick’s callous approach to roster management. Last spring, the Patriots traded away their leader in sacks, Chandler Jones, to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a second-round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper, who was cut in October (the second-round selection eventually turned into wideout Malcolm Mitchell and guard Joe Thuney). After the Giants handed defensive end Olivier Vernon $52.5 million guaranteed in free agency last year, it became clear that Jones would likely demand a similar deal when he hits the open market in 2017. Belichick, who only pays the market rate for a select number of players, shipped Jones away. Seven months later, Belichick also jettisoned linebacker Jamie Collins to Cleveland, where he just inked a four-year, $50 million deal with $26 million guaranteed. And yet, despite losing two of the most talented players on their defense, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. Without Jones and Collins, they allowed the fewest number of points in the league.

Those results illustrate why Belichick owns all of the leverage in negotiations. As long as Tom Brady is under center, he knows he’s going to win. That’s probably why he inserts himself into contract talks with players at the last minute, offering less money than his director of player personnel, Nick Caserio. According to some agents, Belichick usually vacations during free agency, making his hardline offers from tropical hideaways.

Belichick, exercising his abundance of leverage, will often go on vacation in the heat of free agency and make his take-it-or-leave-it offers from faraway beaches while other coaches are flying around the country on private jets to court players,” Klemko writes. “When prospective players visit Foxborough, they express to their agents a sense of fear, but often leave feeling as if they have just met the lone coach who understands their true purpose on a football field.”

In addition to all of the winning, Brady’s penchant for taking less money is another reason why the Patriots are often able to sign players to below market contracts. According to Spotrac, his salary cap hit this season was $13.7 million –– 27th highest in the NFL.

Almost every veteran player on the Patriots probably could’ve signed for more money elsewhere. But when they arrive in Houston next week for Super Bowl 51, their decisions will be validated.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Georgia gas station bans sale of Sam Adams before Super Bowl; Tiger Woods struggles in PGA Tour return

01.27.17 at 9:09 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Friday 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.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Orlando at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN)
NBA: Houston at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College hockey: Northeastern at UMass Lowell, 6 p.m. (NESN)
College hockey: Bowling Green at Ferris State, 8:30 p.m. (NESN Plus)
College basketball:  Quinnipiac at Monmouth, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Dayton at VCU, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Green Bay at Oakland, 9 p.m. ESPNU
Women’s college basketball: DePaul at Creighton, 8 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— A gas station in Georgia has banned the sale of Sam Adams beer leading up to the Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl matchup.

Viral Chhadua, a gas station manager in Gainesville, Georgia, said Monday he made the decision to stop selling the beer, which is made by Boston Beer Company, after reading a Boston Globe column written by Dan Shaughnessy.

In the column, which is titled “It’s hard to get pumped up about a Super Bowl against . . . Atlanta,” Shaughnessy called Atlanta a place with “absolutely zero enthusiasm for professional sports.”

“I was already pumped that we were in the Super Bowl and matched up against living legends in Bill [Belichick] and Tom [Brady],” Chhadua said. “Then this article pops up and belittles our sports teams and fan base. I was irritated at the shots this guy took at the fan base and Atlanta as a whole.”

Chhadua said he wants to show “America and Dan that Atlanta has a passionate fan base” and will stop selling Sam Adams until after the Super Bowl.

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Read More: Tiger Woods,

Why Donald Trump’s apparent obsession with athletes could be disastrous for U.S.

01.26.17 at 5:12 pm ET
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Donald Trump is obsessed with athletes. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

Donald Trump is obsessed with athletes. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

President Donald Trump seems to be enamored with athletes.

He frequently campaigned with sports stars –– or in Tom Brady’s and Bill Belichick’s cases, mentioned their support on the stump –– and even promised to present an “Athlete’s Night” at the Republican National Convention. Though many politicians pretend to be sports fans, Trump appears to be the real deal. This could carry disastrous consequences for our nation.

In a meeting with congressional leaders Monday, Trump repeated his debunked claim that millions of illegal ballots cost him the popular vote. On Twitter, Trump called for a “major investigation” into voter fraud.

Given that Trump has failed to present any supporting evidence that backs up his theory, there have been questions about how it originated in the first place. As it turns out, the genesis of this wild claim circles back to professional golfer Bernhard Langer, who’s apparently friendly with the President.

Three witnesses to the meeting told the New York Times Trump relayed a story about how Langer, a German-native and two-time Masters winner, wasn’t allowed to vote on Election Day. Trump said Langer told him there were many people surrounding him in line who didn’t look like they were eligible to vote. Then, the President reportedly started rattling off names of Latin American countries where he thinks the voters might have come from.

Langer’s version of the story is different. In a statement issued Thursday, he says the voter fraud account was told to him by a friend. He then relayed the tale to another friend, who told Trump. Langer isn’t a U.S. citizen and therefore is ineligible to vote.

It’s beyond troubling an unfounded anecdote, which may or may not have come from Langer, could spur a widespread investigation into voter fraud. But perhaps even more concerning is the fact that Langer’s connection to the anecdote seems to legitimize it for Trump. According to the Times, he prefaced his story by saying he heard it from “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer.”

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Read More: Donald Trump,

The Gary Tanguay Velfie power rankings

01.26.17 at 1:21 pm ET
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If you haven’t heard, the Gary Tanguay Velfie phenomenon is currently sweeping the country. Gary has velfied from his kitchen, living room, Guitar Center in Natick and Troy Brown’s driveway. He even velfies while he sleeps.  

  My Dream Velfie. @csnne #tanguaytakesamerica   A video posted by Gary Tanguay (@gntanguay) on

Do you put mustard on that dress?

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Desperate for ratings, Fox Sports 1 hosts are saying crazy things about the Patriots

01.26.17 at 12:39 pm ET
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Fox Sports 1 may not be able to catch ESPN in the ratings, but it can usurp the WorldWide Leader in one category: awful hot takes about the Patriots.

Granted, that’s a difficult task. ESPN is responsible for turning Deflategate into a national scandal, thanks to Chris Mortensen’s false report about 11 of 12 Patriots footballs being deflated by two pounds of air. But Fox Sports 1 hosts who are desperate for ratings and relevancy are giving the folks in Bristol, Conn. a run for their money.

On Wednesday, sportswriter Rob Parker was a guest on Skip Bayless’ Undisputed alongside Eric Mangini and Shannon Sharpe. Previously, Parker’s most asinine statement about the Patriots came on the WEEI airwaves, when he said Tom Brady should’ve been suspended eight games for his alleged role in the Deflategate saga. But that takes a backseat to his latest anti-Brady screed, which included a shot at Bostonians for their apparent ignorance about the Tea Party:

“Up in there in Boston, let’s just be honest: it’s a cult. People up there are drinking the Kool-Aid,” he said. “You can’t get people in Boston to even admit that Native Americans had nothing to do with the Boston Tea Party. They don’t want to hear it. Same thing with Tom Brady. They will not acknowledge, accept no matter what goes down with what the Patriots have done, with what Tom Brady has done. I think that Tom Brady, and I’ve said this before, should be on par with like a Derek Jeter, who is a guy who was a great champion, won, had a great career, no blemishes. Tom Brady’s not in that boat anymore. And I do believe at some point, some disgruntled employee is going to write a tell-all book down the road and we’ll find out … what went on behind the scenes, what Tom Brady knew — Spygate, Deflategate, all of that. And Tom Brady will end up being Lance Armstrong without the bicycle.”

Outside of a bewildered “what?” from Bayless after the Tea Party comment, Parker’s rant was uninterrupted. So let’s examine these claims one-by-one:

Bostonians don’t acknowledge that Native Americans were involved in Tea Party: This is accurate, because Native Americans weren’t involved in the Boston Tea Party. Some demonstrators disguised themselves as Native Americans to hide their identities and send a message to the British. Parker should read a history book, or at least check out Wikipedia.

Tom Brady will end up being Lance Armstrong without the bicycle: In addition to being the ringleader of the most successful doping program in cycling history, Armstrong buried at least dozens of former associates and opponents in his selfish quest to preserve his own reputation. The science says Brady didn’t even play with unusually deflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game. Unless Parker knows about scandals that haven’t come to light yet, this is a reach of incredible proportions.

Despite receiving a suffocating amount of promotion during Fox’s NFL telecasts, First Take owns a 4:1 viewership edge over Undisputed. Recently, a rerun of of M*A*SH* from 1973 drew 232,000 more viewers in the same day and time-slot than Bayless’ shout fest.

While those numbers are depressing, Colin Cowherd would kill for an audience like that. Last week, he said Brady was playing for his job in the AFC championship against Pittsburgh.

“If Pittsburgh wins this game and Brady is average, you’re darn right [Robert] Kraft and [Bill] Belichick are having that, ‘Let’s have lunch and talk,’” he said.

If these tirades don’t move the needle, perhaps an FS1 personality will light him or herself on fire in Houston next week. We’re almost at that point.

Read More: Colin Cowherd, Deflategate, New England Patriots, Rob Parker

Mayor Marty Walsh on Kirk & Callahan: Boston isn’t a racist city

01.26.17 at 9:48 am ET
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In recent weeks, several ESPN personalities have derided Boston as a racist city. In an appearance on Kirk & Callahan Thursday, Mayor Marty Walsh said the accusations trouble him.

“That stuff bothers me. When I read that, I get upset about it, because in the past we’ve had problems,” he said. “Obviously Bill Russell’s problems have been very well documented. Other folks’ have been very well documented. It’s another issue that we’re working on. I don’t like the label of having a racist city. I think it’s important for us to be a fully inclusive city.

“It’s not even about athletes coming to our city to play in the city. I think it’s about making sure that when people come to our city –– I know and I feel that Boston is a world class city. One of the best cities in the world. And to have people label us? Yeah, that bothers me. It should bother all of us.”

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW WITH MAYOR MARTY WALSH

Read More: Marty Walsh,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Louisville argues for leniency for Rick Pitino in stripper scandal; Dwayne Wade rips teammates after Bulls loss to Hawks

01.26.17 at 7:56 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: Pittsburgh at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: St. Louis at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Dallas at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: LA Lakers at Utah, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Women’s college basketball: Nebraska at Purdue, 6 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Women’s college basketball: North Carolina at Miami, 7 p.m. (NESN Plus)
College basketball: Campbell at Radford, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Robert Morris at Mount St. Mary’s, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: North Carolina at Miami, 7 p.m. (NESN Plus)
College basketball: Xavier at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Nebraska at Northwestern, 8 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Virginia Tech at North Carolina, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Oregon State at Colorado, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Indiana at Michigan, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: UT Martin at Austin Peay, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Oregon at Utah, 10:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: BYU at Santa Clara, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB: 

— On Wednesday, Louisville released their response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations for the stripper scandal involving men’s basketball team staff member, Andre McGee. The school argues the team’s coach Rick Pitino should not be charged with a major violation of NCAA rules from the incident.

In October, the NCAA claimed the school had four major violations, one of which was Pitino’s failure to monitor McGee while he spent $5,400 over four years on strippers and escorts for players, recruits, AAU coaches, and others.

The NCAA ruled Pitino was “presumed responsible” for McGee’s behavior because he failed to “frequently spot-check the program to uncover potential or existing compliance problems” according to NCAA rules.

“The University believes Coach Pitino fostered a culture of NCAA compliance within the basketball program and exercised appropriate supervisory oversight of McGee,” read Louisville’s response. “McGee’s furtive conduct was not detectable by reasonable monitoring practices, as McGee purposefully intended to avoid detection.”

If it is ruled Pitino committed a major violation, he could face a multi-game suspension during the 2017-2018 season.

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Read More: Dwyane Wade, Rick Pitino,

Roger Goodell reminds Patriots fans he’ll never answer their questions

01.25.17 at 5:14 pm ET
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Roger Goodell will never answer Patriots fans' questions. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Roger Goodell will never answer Patriots fans’ questions. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Even though Roger Goodell says he’s available to the media “almost every day,” he seldom speaks with the press. That’s why there’s always so much anticipation leading up to his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference. Every year, we fool ourselves into thinking the commissioner will answer for his misdeeds. And then, after he spends his time deflecting questions of substance, we walk away disappointed. It’s impossible to trip him up.

In an interview with Colin Cowherd Wednesday, Goodell gave everybody a preview of what to expect in Houston. Cowherd brought up a number of pertinent topics, including Goodell’s two-year absence from Gillette Stadium and his feelings on handing the Super Bowl trophy to Tom Brady. But the commish danced around them with aplomb.

When Goodell was asked whether he’s comfortable with fans loathing him in New England, he circled back to his favorite four words: Integrity. Of. The. Game.

“Well, listen, the fans are going to feel what they want,” he said. “We have, obviously, 32 sets of fans, national fans that want to make sure we’re doing things that are upholding the integrity of the game at all times. We think this is a great opportunity to see the two best teams in football playing on Sunday in the Super Bowl. The Patriots have earned it. The Falcons have earned it. And we’re thrilled. We think this is one of the great mathcups and should be one of the great games.”

Over the last two years, Goodell has often cited his apparent quest to “uphold the integrity of the game” as his reasoning for besmirching Tom Brady’s reputation over slightly deflated footballs. The phrase will likely make an appearance during his remarks next week, and he’ll be able to get away with it, too. Ever since Rachel Nichols peppered Goodell three years ago about league’s butchering of the Ray Rice investigation, he’s shied away from taking follow up questions.

On Wednesday, Cowherd was allowed to ask follow ups. But it didn’t do him any good. With a straight face, Goodell told him the quality of Thursday Night Football is superior to other games. The man is a better liar than Kellyanne Conway.

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Read More: Roger Goodell,

Atlanta-Journal Constitution published maybe the worst Deflategate article ever

01.25.17 at 1:50 pm ET
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Accuracy is the cardinal rule of journalism, except when it comes to writing about Deflategate. For some reason, when the topic turns to deflated footballs, it’s acceptable to parrot lies and spread misinformation. The disturbing trend continues to this day.

Wednesday, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution answered the question nobody is asking: What should we tell our kids about Deflategate? The ensuing column might be the worst collection of words ever written about the scandal, which is an incredible feat. It includes the greatest hits of Deflategate propaganda, beginning with the implication that the Patriots are the only team in the history of the NFL to have played with under-inflated footballs.

In the first subsection of the article, the author of the piece condenses the backstory of Deflategate to five paragraphs. There’s a lie in the third sentence. It’s highlighted for your convenience:

“New England coach Bill Belichick denied any knowledge of the deflated footballs. He explained that normal use and air conditions during the game may have caused the air leakage (despite it only affecting Patriots footballs).”

Some of the Colts’ footballs, of course, were also under-inflated. According to the halftime measurements, which were published in Ted Wells’ 243-page report, three of the four Colts’ balls were below the 12.5 PSI threshold on one of the two gages. It would be nice to know the air pressure of all the Colts’ footballs, but the Wells report says the testing was stopped due to time constraints.

It’s worth noting the average PSI of the Patriots’ balls is lower than the Colts’, but that’s not useful, because we don’t know what their air pressure level was when the game started. NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says no readings exist.

Since the mistruth about only the Patriots playing with deflated footballs appears in the third sentence, it’s fair to say the author didn’t even peruse the Wells report. The column only gets worse from there:

For your kid: NFL footballs have to be a certain size. The Patriots won a game (and maybe more) with footballs that weren’t regulation size and that is not fair.”

That’s a nice summarization, except when the Steelers were caught playing with under-inflated footballs this season, the league didn’t pursue an investigation. If deflating footballs is unfair, then it’s laughable the Steelers didn’t even get scrutinized, never mind penalized.

Later on, when the author is recapping the NFL’s findings, he or she makes reference to Patriots fans and their “Deflategate conspiracy theories.” But the truth is, if you believe Tom Brady deflated footballs, you’re the conspiracy theorist. The scientific community says the balls naturally lost air pressure in cold weather. Their conclusions are supported by the Ideal Gas Law. People who argue against those facts point to text messages between low-level Patriots employees, John Jastremski and Jim McNally, in which McNally calls himself the “deflator.” Oh, and McNally went to the bathroom with the footballs for 90 seconds before the game, too. Don’t forget that.

Siding with anecdotal text messages and evidence of a bathroom trip over scientific consensus is insanity, but that’s the conventional wisdom. At the end of the piece, the author reaffirms the Patriots cheated, then hyperlinks to a two-year old article in the Federalist about how Deflategate could’ve been avoided if Brady had just apologized:

“The general conclusion is the team cheated and won, and they can’t escape the label. This is why two years later we’re still talking about Deflategate.

Another is the nearly 18-month legal wrangle could have been avoided:

If either man would have taken responsibility (the fact that they were in violation of league rules isn’t in dispute) or simply said “sorry” this episode would have been put to rest.”

That’s nice, but it discounts one little detail: Brady almost certainly didn’t do it. Why would anybody apologize if they’re in the right?

In recent months, there has been a moratorium on Deflategate-related articles. But with the Patriots returning to the Super Bowl, the trolls will be back in full force. Consider this AJC piece a preview of the madness to come.

Read More: Deflategate, New England Patriots,

National Police Organization executive: Roger Goodell ‘has no moral courage’

01.25.17 at 1:02 pm ET
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TMZ SportsThe head of one of the largest police groups in the country is calling out Roger Goodell — saying he has “zero confidence” the NFL commish will punish Pacman Jones for wishing death on a Cincinnati cop.

TMZ Sports spoke with Bill Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations — a group that represents more than 241,000 officers — and he tore into Goodell.
“Unfortunately, I have zero confidence in Roger Goodell to do anything meaningful as far as punishment.”

“Under Goodell, the NFL has stood for Not For Law enforcement. He continuously fails to discipline for disrespecting officers. From Kaepernick’s anti-police socks, to not allowing the Cowboys to honor the fallen officers, to supporting Beyonce’s halftime show. He doesn’t have the moral courage to do the right thing.”

As for the video of Jones cussing out a police officer during his Jan. 3 arrest … Johnson says, “The video is obviously disappointing and vulgar.”

“This is something that law enforcement deals with all the time, but once an athlete or celebrity gets involved, that’s when it becomes newsworthy.”

“The video shows how dangerous this job is for cops. It’s a tragedy that this happens all the time. Law enforcement shouldn’t have to deal with this.”

I love this. Bill Johnson is a true hero and I am a big fan of his.

And he is exactly right. Obviously we all know Goodell should spend more time handing out punishments to players who commit actual crimes rather than focusing on petty infractions, like celebrating a touchdown or the amount of air in a football, but it’s fantastic when people call him out on it like this.

Further proof Goodell has none of the integrity he’s constantly talking about and is very bad at his job.

Read More: Roger Goodell,