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Donald Trump spends night before inauguration talking Bob Kraft, taking calls from Tom Brady

01.19.17 at 9:36 pm ET
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How did President-Elect Donald Trump spend the night before being inducted into office? Taking calls from Tom Brady, of course.

“He’s got a great quarterback named Tom Brady, and a great coach named [Bill} Belichick, Bob Kraft. So good luck, Bob. Your friend Tom just called, he feels good. He called to congratulate us, he feels good. Good luck. Your going to do great things.”

And the Patriots love at the dinner celebrating campaign donors didn’t stop there …

“I outworked everybody, I think I outworked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick.”

Earlier in the day, Kraft was quoted in the New York Times as saying we should look forward to the Trump presidency.

“Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend,” Kraft said. “I think one of the great problems in the country today is the working poor, the middle class, that there hasn’t been growth in income on an equal basis, and I really think the policies he’s going to bring to bear are going to be great for the economic side of America.”

Robert Kraft reportedly still simmering about Tom Brady’s suspension

01.19.17 at 3:44 pm ET
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Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

Patriots owner Robert Kraft last spoke publicly about Deflategate last summer, shortly after Tom Brady announced he would no longer fight the NFL’s draconian four-game suspension. In a statement, Kraft condemned the league, calling Brady’s punishment “unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable.” Five months later, his feelings haven’t appeared to soften.

In a wide-ranging feature story in the New York Times, Kraft is described as still “simmering” about Brady’s ban. He defends his decision to not take the NFL to court –– Kraft said in May 2015 he would accept the league’s penalties –– but takes a couple of jabs at the commissioner’s office.

“Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly,” he said. “But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything. I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse.”

Besides Deflategate, the other big controversy surrounding the Patriots over the last year has been their affiliation with the divisive President-elect, Donald Trump. Much like Brady and Bill Belichick, Kraft maintains a relationship with Trump. He called him a “good friend” ahead of the Massachusetts primary and visited Trump Tower in November. This week, Kraft was photographed at a pre-inauguration dinner party.

Though Kraft has donated to Democratic causes and candidates in the past, he praised Trump when asked about his incoming presidency.

“Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend,” he said. “I think one of the great problems in the country today is the working poor, the middle class, that there hasn’t been growth in income on an equal basis, and I really think the policies he’s going to bring to bear are going to be great for the economic side of America.”

Read More: Deflategate, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft,

After pathetic season, Woody Johnson will leave Jets to serve as ambassador to United Kingdom

01.19.17 at 3:12 pm ET
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After a pathetic showing this season, Jets owner Woody Johnson is ditching his team to live in the United Kingdom. According to CNBC, he’s been called to serve as Donald Trump’s ambassador to the U.K. The jokes write themselves:

Johnson, 69, is a longtime Republican donor and served as the vice chairman of Trump’s victory committee. Ironically, he first supported Trump nemesis Jeb Bush in the GOP primary, but quickly shifted his allegiance after the former governor dropped out.

Earlier this month, Pro Football Talk reported Johnson would hand over day-to-day control of the Jets to his younger brother, Christopher Wold Johnson, if he were to be awarded an ambassadorship.

Like many of Trump’s appointments, Johnson has never previously held a job in government. But it’s not surprising he’s been named an ambassador. It’s political tradition to reward big-money donors with cushy overseas posts. Steelers owner Dan Rooney, for example, served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009-2012.

When Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited Trump Tower in November, there was some speculation he was lobbying to be named ambassador to Israel (the job went to bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman). Though Kraft wasn’t a prominent Trump supporter during the campaign, he did call the President-elect a “good friend” before the Massachusetts primary. On Tuesday, Kraft was photographed with senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway at a pre-inauguration dinner.

Given the NFL’s interest in relocating a team to the United Kingdom and Kraft’s role on several league boards, it’s possible he could work closely with Johnson on international expansion over the next several years.

But in order for Johnson to help the NFL make further inroads in the U.K., he’ll have to be a better ambassador than owner. Since he purchased the Jets in 2000, they’ve gone 132-140 and cycled through five different head coaches.

Read More: Donald Trump, Woody Johnson,

Donald Trump’s advisors want him to dance with Caitlyn Jenner at inauguration

01.19.17 at 1:35 pm ET
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Donald Trump filled his cabinet with staunch opponents of gay rights, but his advisors think a dance with Caitlyn Jenner at the inauguration will appease the anxious LGBTQ community.

According to the New York Post, people close to the President-elect are urging him to sway his hips with Jenner Friday.

“The image of Trump dancing with Caitlyn would send a strong message that he supports gay rights and trans rights,” one unnamed Republican said. “A picture is worth a thousand tweets.”

A representative for Jenner told PEOPLE Magazine the gold medalist will attend the inauguration, but currently isn’t planning to share the dance floor with Trump.

Jenner is a longtime Republican and reportedly lobbied her stepdaughter, Kim Kardashian, to considering voting for Trump last year. Trump expressed support for transgender rights on the campaign trail, when he told NBC’s Matt Lauer that Jenner would be free to use any bathroom she wants if she were to visit Trump Tower. The following week, Jenner took him up on his offer.

Though Trump never spoke ill of the LGBTQ community during his presidential campaign –– he said he would protect its members from “violence and oppression” during his Republican National Convention speech –– many of his cabinet choices have histories of advocating for anti-LGBTQ policies. Perhaps the most egregious offender is Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who signed a religious freedom law when he was governor of Indiana that critics say would’ve permitted businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians (he signed an amended version of the bill after facing immense national backlash). In addition to that, Pence is a vehement opponent of same-sex marriage and once appeared to express support for gay conversion therapy.

When it comes to domestic policy, Trump’s personal views are largely irrelevant. The people he’s put in charge will shape what the country looks like over the next four to eight years, and it’s a scary visual for many members of the LGBTQ community. It’s insulting for Trump’s advisors to think one dance with Jenner will ease those well-founded nerves.

Read More: Caitlyn Jenner, Donald Trump,

Curt Schilling’s status as a right-wing icon grows with each lost Hall of Fame vote

01.19.17 at 11:13 am ET
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Curt Schilling's opinions have hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy, but helped his brand. (David Manning/USA Today Sports)

Curt Schilling’s opinions have hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy, but helped his brand. (David Manning/USA Today Sports)

Curt Schilling may never get into the Hall of Fame, but his status as a right-wing icon only grows with each lost vote. The end game is no longer getting a plaque in Cooperstown. Instead, it’s martyrdom.

The three-time World Series champion received only 45 percent of the vote this year, more than a seven-point decrease from his 52.3 percent total in 2015. In the months leading up to the election, several sportswriters who previously supported Schilling’s candidacy said they could no longer vote for him following a string of incendiary statements. The final straw for many, including the Boston Globe‘s Dan Shaughnessy, was when Schilling tweeted a photo of a t-shirt that advocates the lynching of journalists.

“Schill has transitioned from a mere nuisance to an actual menace to society. His tweet supporting the lynching of journalists was the last straw for this voter. Curt later claimed he was joking. Swell,” Shaughnessy wrote.

It’s disingenuous for Shaughnessy, or anybody else, to say Schilling actually wants to lynch journalists. The t-shirt is a joke, representing the disdain many conservatives hold for what they feel is a venal left-wing press. The fact that Schilling, who statistically is a superior pitcher to Tom Glavine, lost Hall of Fame votes this year only emboldens his case. If he’s serious about running for senate in 2018, his first campaign ad is already written.

“No, it’s not about about being yourself,” Schilling said on Kirk & Callahan Thursday when asked about losing Hall of Fame support. “It’s about being someone the left doesn’t like. That’s the difference.”

It’s smart business for Schilling to portray himself as a victim who’s been persecuted for his conservative viewpoints. President-elect Donald Trump rode this narrative all the way to the White House, even though the media awarded him with $5 billion in free advertising –– adding instant legitimacy to his campaign. Earlier this month, Schilling said he would be in the Hall of Fame if he disparaged Trump instead of Democrats and journalists.

“If I had said, ‘Lynch Trump,’ I’d be getting in with about 90% of the vote this year,” he told TMZ.

It’s insincere for Schilling to say his conservatism is the reason he’s losing Hall of Fame support, because he’s been politically outspoken for years. In 2004, just hours after the Red Sox had won their first World Series in 86 years, he decided to endorse George W. Bush for reelection during an interview with Good Morning America.

“And make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week,” he said.

But in recent years, Schilling’s political musings have become increasingly contemptuous. ESPN put up with a lot during his six years with the company: He wasn’t reprimanded in 2014 for railing against the theory of evolution on Twitter or for saying Hillary Clinton should be “buried under a jail.” Schilling was suspended two summers ago for tweeting a meme that compares radical Muslims to Nazis, but he returned to work afterwards. The end finally came last spring, when he shared an anti-transgender meme on Facebook featuring a burly man in drag.

Schilling was fired for his crassness, not his politics. But in the aftermath of his ESPN dismissal, he’s been playing up his role as a culture warrior, saying the WorldWide Leader employs “some of the biggest racists in sports commentating.” Now a host at Breitbart News, Schilling is wise to further exploit the right-wing persecution complex that Fox News and other outlets have ridden to incredible success.

“Shaughnessy has been calling me names since ’04. He’s just pissed, because he built his entire career on a fallacy and we beat it in 2004 and he’s been inconsequential and irrelevant ever since,” Schilling said on K&C, putting him down in Trump-like fashion. “[Jon] Heyman is a liar. I’ve watched him write lies about us in ’04, because I was one of them he lied about.”

As a player, Schilling’s ultimate goal may have been to get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But now, he’s better off sitting out, because he can present himself as a real victim of the so-called liberal takeover. The campaign stump speeches write themselves.

Read More: Curt Schilling,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Former Red Sox minor leaguer Jeff Bagwell voted into Hall of Fame; athletes react to Baseball Hall of Fame results

01.19.17 at 8:05 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:
NBA: Washington at New York, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Minnesota at LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Davidson at La Salle, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Maryland at Iowa, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Richmond at Dayton, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: UConn at SMU, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: California at Oregon, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Clemson at Louisville, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Memphis at Houston, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UNC Asheville at Winthrop, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arizona St. at UCLA, 11 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Gonzaga at Santa Clara, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Wake Forest at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (NESN Plus)
Women’s college basketball: Michigan at Maryland, 6 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Women’s college basketball: Purdue at Indiana, 8 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

AROUND THE WEB: 

— Former Red Sox first baseman and native New Englander Jeff Bagwell was one of three former players voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it was announced Wednesday night.

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Tim Raines were the other two players voted into the Hall. Former MLB commissioner Bug Selig and Braves president John Schuerholz were also voted in.

Bagwell, who grew up a Red Sox fan in Killingworth, Conn. played with the Red Sox in the Gulf Coast League and Winter Haven in 1989. He was traded to Houston and played 15 seasons with the Astros.

“I don’t even know how I’m supposed to react,” Bagwell said Wednesday night. “It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been fun and exciting. My family is very, very excited for this thing. … I could not be more excited. It’s a weird thing to be a Hall of Famer. I wrote it on a ball tonight, and it was kind of crazy. So it was cool.”

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on July 30 in Cooperstown.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jeff bagwell,

There have been some awful Tom Brady hot takes this week

01.18.17 at 5:17 pm ET
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There’s nothing wrong with a good Tom Brady hot take. In fact, the genre was seemingly invented for him. He fills up the sports page with his Hall of Fame play and the gossip section with his A-list lifestyle. Add in the nearly 18-month Deflategate scandal, and he’s produced perhaps more content than any athlete in history.

For those reasons, it’s tempting to write or talk about Brady –– even when there’s nothing to say. It’s important to keep that in mind this week, because three of the worst Brady takes in recent memory have surfaced:

1) Brady is a liar (Sara Jane Harris, the Sporting News

Sara Jane Harris thought she caught Brady in a lie. During his weekly interview on Kirk & Callahan, Brady said no Patriots player would ever mimic Antonio Brown and stream a video of their locker room on Facebook Live. The team posts an edited video of the postgame celebration on its website after each win, but that’s a professional production. Apparently Jane Harris didn’t catch that when she stumbled upon this week’s version:

“No, there wasn’t any cussing, but we did get to see what happens “inside the walls” of the Patriots’ locker room at Gillette Stadium, something Brady said would never happen,” she wrote.

A simple Twitter or Google search would’ve shown Jane Harris there was nothing nefarious about the video. The article, which amazingly is still posted, is an outright lie. How ironic.

2) Brady is playing for his career with the Patriots Sunday (Colin Cowherd, Fox Sports 1)

It’s probably been a humbling couple of months for Colin Cowherd. Like every program on FS1, his radio show simulcast is struggling to attract viewers. So this week, he decided to throw the talk radio version of a Hail Mary: Claim Brady’s career with the Patriots is on the line.

“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.

According to Cowherd, Brady can’t afford to play poorly in three consecutive postseason games. In his last two playoff contests against the Broncos and Texans, Brady has posted an average QB rating of 62.6.

With Jimmy Garoppolo’s emergence, it’s likely the Patriots will trade a quarterback this offseason. But after an MVP caliber season, it’s not going to be Brady. And even if it is, does anybody really think Belichick would make a decision like that based off just one game?

Cowherd knows better. It’s sad to see somebody so desperately vying for relevance.

3) Aaron Rodgers would have more Super Bowls with Patriots than Brady (Manish Mehta, New York Daily News)

As Christopher Price notes, the world wants to see a Brady-Rodgers Super Bowl. But Manish Mehta is getting a little ahead of himself. In his latest column, he writes Rodgers would have won more Super Bowls with the Patriots than Brady. What’s his reasoning, you ask? Well, outside of talking about “physical tools,” he never gets to it:

“Rodgers, however, would have put up even more ridiculous numbers if paired with Belichick. He’s every bit as smart as Brady with more physical tools.”

Mehta talks about Rodgers’ incredible athleticism and his ability to make plays outside of the pocket. That’s all true, but it doesn’t explain how Rodgers would’ve been able to win more than four Super Bowls in New England. Apparently, Mehta’s theory assumes David Tyree wouldn’t have caught that pass in Super Bowl 42 and the defense would’ve held the Giants in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 46 if Rodgers were standing on the sideline instead of Brady.

That’s the problem with making this argument: there are far too many variables at play. It’s a noble effort for Mehta, but he comes up short.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

Robert Kraft photographed at Donald Trump pre-inauguration dinner party

01.18.17 at 1:42 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are both tied to Donald Trump, but somehow Robert Kraft gets to skate, even though he appears to be closer with the President-Elect than either his coach or quarterback.

Trump made the rounds at a pre-inauguration dinner in Washington D.C. Tuesday, mingling with a plethora of diplomats, politicians and donors. The Daily Mail posted photographs from the event, one of which featured Kraft arm-in-arm with senior Trump propagandist, Kellyanne Conway (pictured above). Billionaire real-estate developer Richard LeFrak, who Trump asked recently to lead a new infrastructure council, was also in the shot.

It’s not surprising that Kraft is celebrating Trump’s victory. He called the former reality television a star a “good friend” ahead of the Massachusetts primary last year and was seen at Trump Tower in November. When I reached out to Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks to ask about the meeting, she said it was a “congratulatory visit.”

While Brady and Belichick have tried to distance themselves from Trump since the election, expect Kraft to only get cozier with the President-Elect. If the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl, perhaps Trump will be seated in Kraft’s box. He’s been there before, and in fact, even once paid a visit to the Patriots’ locker room after a victory in 2012.

The New England Patriots are the official football team of Donald Trump. There’s no debate about that.

Read More: Donald Trump, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft,

Thanks to Bill Belichick, SnapFace is going viral

01.18.17 at 1:39 pm ET
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Over the last couple of years, Bill Belichick has made a habit of botching the names of popular social media platforms. His apparent ignorance of the Internet came to the forefront again this week, when he was asked on Dale & Holley about Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown live-streaming a video of the team’s locker room on Facebook Live.

“Yeah, as you know I’m not on SnapFace and all that, I don’t really get those,” he said. “I’m just really worried about getting our team ready to go. I’m not really too worried about what they put on InstantChat, or whatever it is.”

While InstantChat is a new addition to Belichick’s repertoire, SnapFace is an old favorite. He first dropped the term around Patriots reporters last year and it seems to be picking up steam. According to NFL Network’s social team, “SnapFace” has been used on Twitter more than 12,000 times over the last day.

At his press conference Wednesday, Belichick referenced InstaFace, which might be an offshoot of SnapFace.

Malapropisms aside, it’s worth noting that the pre-fixes of Belichick’s fictional social media networks are up to date with the latest trends. Back in 2011, he was talking about MyFace. As John Tomase points out, maybe Belichick is more aware of the social media landscape than he likes to let us believe.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,

Jose Canseco goes on Twitter rant about Hall of Fame voters, claims ex-teammates used steroids

01.18.17 at 12:12 pm ET
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NY Daily NewsOn the eve of the Baseball Hall of Fame announcement, former slugger and self-proclaimed “godfather of steroids” Jose Canseco went off on a Twitter rant, ripping the writers, the voting process and naming players on the ballot as definite juicers.

Canseco, author of the 2005 book “Juiced,” which outed players as steroid users, claims in one tweet that Mike Piazza — inducted last year — used steroids and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez should definitely get in because of that.

Rodriguez was one of the players Canseco specifically mentioned in his book who used steroids. He also calls Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci an “idiot” for thinking Jeff Bagwell did not use steroids.

Canseco is a tough one because he’s insane and I never know whether or not to believe anything he says. Do we ignore him because he sounds crazy or he is actually telling the truth? He says he’s an expert on the PED era since he was a part of it, but is he too off-the-wall to be helping the MLB with this?

I don’t know, but here are some of his ideas and thoughts: