College Blog Blog Network

Donald Trump: Tom Brady is ‘getting a lot of popularity’ out of their friendship

02.05.17 at 4:22 pm ET
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Donald Trump said Tom Brady is gaining popularity because of him. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

Donald Trump said Tom Brady is gaining popularity because of him. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

President Donald Trump talks incessantly about his friendships with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. The pattern continued in his pre-game interview Sunday with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

When asked about the criticism Brady and Co. have faced for their ties to him, Trump said he believes it also has been beneficial for them.

“They’re taking a lot of heat. But you know what? They’re also getting a lot of popularity out of it. I think they’re going to do very well. Tom’s a winner,” he said.

Trump didn’t explicitly say he was rooting of the Patriots Sunday, but implied he was pulling for his pals, who he thinks will win by eight points.

“I think the other team is fantastic, though. No, I think it’s a fantastic team –– turned out to be a good quarterback,” he said. “But you know, there’s less pressure on the Patriots, because they’ve been there. Once you’ve won, once you’ve done it –– and they’ve done it –– once you’ve done it, there’s a lot less pressure. So, we’ll see what happens. But you know? You have to stick up for your friends, right?”

Given Trump’s closeness to the Krafts, there’s been some speculation he’ll be the first sitting president to ever attend the Super Bowl. His vice president, noted Brady hater Mike Pence, will be at NRG Stadium in Houston.

When asked on Kirk & Callahan Friday about the possibility of Trump showing up, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft demurred.

“You don’t –– I don’t know. Talk to the White House. They would know what’s going on,” he said.

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

Saturday Night Live weekend update anchor says Boston is most racist city he’s ever been to

02.05.17 at 1:07 pm ET
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The barbs about Boston being a racist city are hackneyed and stale. So, it’s not surprising that one of them found its way into another dreadful Weekend Update sketch on Saturday Night Live.

When discussing Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and Falcons, anchor Michael Che threw out this groaner: “I just want to relax, turn my brain off, and watch the blackest city in America beat the most racist city I’ve ever been to.”

Ironically, the quip came shortly after Kenan Thompson rolled out his David Ortiz impression, which exaggerates the slugger’s Dominican accent for comedic effect.

Bill Maher: F— Tom Brady and f— Bill Belichick

02.04.17 at 2:05 pm ET
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Bill Maher has weighed in on the Patriots’ love affair with Donald Trump.

The provocative Real Time host brought up the subject during his closing monologue Friday night, and fired off a salvo of insults towards Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

“The Falcons are playing a team where the owner, the coach and the star quarterback all love and support Donald Trump,” he said. “So I’d really like them to lose by the score of a million-f—— thousand to one.”

Despite attending Trump’s inauguration and saying his policies are “going to be great” for America, Robert Kraft was largely spared from Maher’s onslaught. Instead, the comedian singled out Brady.

“I love the Falcons! I love their running back, what’s-his-face, and the guy who catches the ball, but mostly I love them because Tom Brady was one of the first to display a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, because America’s been so tough on Tom so far,” Maher said. “And back when Tom was asked if he thought Trump would be president, he said, ‘I hope so, that would be great.’ Hey Tom, f— you.”

After reading portions of the fawning letter Belichick sent Trump, which the President read aloud at a campaign rally the night before the election, Maher had similar words for the Patriots coach.

“Wow, that’s some serious butt-licking, coach,” he said. “Let me give you some advice for the big game: F— you, Belichick. F— you and your deflated balls you joyless, cheating f—.”

At the end of his rant, Maher, who’s a minority owner of the Mets, bemoaned the politicization of sports. Kind of.

“[Trump] took something beautiful, a game where millionaires give each other brain damage, and made it tawdry and cheap,” he said. “I don’t want to make everything political, but that’s where we’re headed. Athletes are refusing to stay at Trump hotels. People are unfriending each other on Facebook. Siblings have stopped talking to one another, which makes it hard to get laid in the South.”

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

A Deflategate movie is coming out –– and it has nothing to do with deflated footballs

02.03.17 at 3:46 pm ET
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There’s a documentary coming out about Deflategate. It has nothing to do with deflated footballs.

Director Julie Marron is nearing completion of the film, “Four Games in Fall: The Genius Marking of Deflategate.” The documentary takes a look at some of the larger themes of the scandal, including how the NFL manipulated the media to spread false information, such as ESPN’s report about 11 of 12 Patriots footballs being 2 PSI below the legal limit.

Tom Brady served his Deflategate suspension this season, almost two years after the alleged violation.

Tom Brady served his Deflategate suspension this season, almost two years after the alleged violation. (Screenshot via Lemon Martini Productions)

“We’re exploring three things in this film: manipulation of the media, misrepresentation of science, and abuse and perversion of the legal system,” Marron said. “Those are the things we’re really looking at. On the surface you have a very trivial event that just involves an equipment violation, and yet, you have this very serious and concerted event that was made on the part of one of the parties to really manipulate the media, to cement public opinion by leaking misinformation and not allowing correct information to get out there, and then kind of switching it up and focusing on other types of things where they can kind of craft the story in a way that’s to their advantage. So to me, this is a really fascinating story.”

Deflategate first caught Marron’s eye when the NFL announced it was hiring attorney Ted Wells and the research firm Exponent to investigate the matter. An executive in corporate strategy, Marron is well aware of Exponent’s practices. The company once published tobacco industry-backed studies that deny the existence of second-hand smoke.

“I’m very familiar with the kind of work they do in terms of product liability and industry-sponsored clients,” she said. “So for me, that was a real eye-opener. I thought it was really intriguing that they had been brought in to examine allegations of deflated footballs. That, to me, seemed preposterous –– and intriguing.”

Using Exponent’s expertise, Wells concluded it was “more probable than not” that Tom Brady was aware of the Patriots’ illegally deflated footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game. But that finding goes against scientific consensus. A litany of independent scientists, including MIT’s Dr. John Leonhard, who Marron interviewed for the film, don’t believe there was any wrongdoing. The footballs, they say, naturally lost air pressure in the cold weather –– much like tires.

In addition to Dr. Leonhard, Marron speaks Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, Barstool Sports’ Jerry Thornton and a litany of others who closely followed the Deflategate saga. Even though the scandal is two years old, it was still one of the top storylines during Super Bowl week in Houston. Marron says the NFL is fortunate for that.

“Obviously, it’s been a really useful tool for the NFL in terms of deflecting attention away from more important issues facing the league,” she said. “The thing about the concussion is, this is an existential threat to the organization. The fact that the NFL supported faulty research and lied to the public about the facts of concussions –– that’s scientific misconduct. They have these dubious research findings that are now out in the public. That, to me, is phenomenal. Certainly Deflategate has been a really useful tool to deflect attention away from serious issues facing the league and facing human beings.”

Read More: Deflategate,

Disgusted by ‘Tom Brady’s garbage politics,’ anti-Trump Patriots fans pledge to donate to charity during Super Bowl

02.03.17 at 3:26 pm ET
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It’s unlikely many Patriots fans will boycott the Super Bowl due to the team’s affiliation with Donald Trump. But some fed up fans are pledging to donate to charity.

Boston comedian Josh Gondelman, who’s a writer for Late Night with John Oliver, tweeted Thursday he thinks Tom Brady has “garbage politics.” As a result, he says he’s going to donate $100 for every Patriots touchdown and $50 for every New England field goal to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He and his friend Emma Sandoe, who gave him the idea for the project, are encouraging other fans to do the same, using the hashtag “#AGoodGame.”

In a statement emailed to WEEI, Gondelman says this is his way of coping with the Patriots’ Trump ties.

“I’m a lifelong Patriots fan who has some pretty serious philosophical disagreements with a number of high-profile figures in the team’s organization (namely Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Bob Kraft), specifically their ongoing personal friendships with President Donald Trump. I’d like to cheer for the team I grew up loving without feeling like I’m cheerleading the Trump administration too,” he said.

Others using the hashtag have also promised to give money to Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations. Much like newspapers, which have seen a boost in subscriptions in the Age of Trump, advocacy groups are seeing donations fly in. Last weekend, the ACLU received a record $24 million in online gifts. Lawyers for the ACLU were the first to challenge the Trump travel ban, convincing a federal judge in New York City to temporarily block parts of the order.

Since a Super Bowl boycott would be meaningless, Gondelman deserves credit for urging people to put money behind their words. Donating to an advocacy organization is a far more effective way of combating Trump than posting long-winded screeds on Facebook and, probably much to Gondelman’s chagrin, writing jokes for John Oliver. Despite delivering several scathing monologues about Trump during the campaign, Oliver and other late-night hosts shockingly couldn’t change hearts and minds.

This post was updated to include Gondelman’s statement. 

Read More: Donald Trump, Tom Brady,

Barstool Sports guys push Johnny Manziel down comeback trail

02.03.17 at 2:52 pm ET
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Predictably, Johnny Manziel has been where the action is at during Super Bowl week.

First, Manziel had his much-publicized autograph signing. Then he linked up with the guys who are seemingly everywhere in and around Houston — the Barstool Sports guys.

The former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns took the football field once again, this time allowing Barstool founder David Portnoy and his posse to put Manziel through his paces.

When told that one of his receivers for the day, “Glenny Balls”, was fast despite being 5-foot-8, 310 pounds Manziel responded, “You’re about the size of all my receivers in Cleveland, so we’re good.” He then caught himself, “They’re the best, don’t get me wrong.”

Why Barstool Sports is the winner of Super Bowl week

02.03.17 at 1:14 pm ET
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When Barstool Sports was acquired last year, there were questions about whether it would lose a piece of its soul. With a multimillion-dollar corporate backing, it finally acquired the resources it needs to compete with other media conglomerates. But at what cost?

During Super Bowl week, Barstool has shown how far it’s come from its parochial and underfunded beginnings. Its nightly program on Comedy Central, the Barstool Rundown, drew 310,000 viewers during its debut episode Monday, attracting more than three times the audience as Skip Bayless’ debate program on Fox Sports 1, Undisputed. It also edged out the iconic Daily Show in the highly coveted men 18-to-34-year-old demographic.

Barstool made a splash this week when it announced Pat McAfee is joining its staff. (Screenshot via Barstool)

Barstool made a splash this week when it announced Pat McAfee is joining its staff. (Screenshot via Barstool)

But perhaps the biggest coup for Barstool came Wednesday, when former Colts punter Pat McAfee announced he was retiring from the NFL to join the company. After undergoing three knee surgeries in four years, McAfee, 29, says he was looking to get out of football. But instead of joining a traditional sports media powerhouse, such as ESPN or Fox Sports, the charismatic two-time Pro Bowler decided to work for the website that once published nude photos of Tom Brady’s baby. It’s a sign of the times.

“The last half of the season I couldn’t really walk much on days that I kick. I’d just go home and lay in bed and ice my knees. I felt like a 90-year-old man,” McAfee said Thursday on the Dan Patrick Show. “Just going into work every morning like, ‘There has to be something more to life than kicking balls.’ And then when Barstool Sports approached me about the potential of joining their family whenever I’m done with football. I told them I might be done sooner than most people think. Conversations kind of cooked up. I told them I wanted to stay in Indianapolis and they said, ‘Sounds good, we’ll give you headquarters out there.’ It was really the perfect fit at the perfect time.”

When I spoke with Barstool founder Dave Portnoy shortly after the sale, he insisted he would maintain editorial control over the website. So far, that appears to be the case. The NFL denied Barstool Super Bowl credentials this year, presumably as retribution for their sit-in at league headquarters two years ago following Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension. Portnoy and three of his underlings were arrested following the stunt.

At his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference, Roger Goodell was asked about Barstool’s banishment. The commissioner played dumb, which is perhaps the greatest gift he could’ve given Portnoy and Co.

“I’m not familiar with this,” Goodell said. “I really don’t have any information about who’s credentialed and who’s not credentialed. I’ll take your word for it. I assume there’s a reason why a particular organization may not be credentialed to be here.”

Out of all the lies Goodell spouted Wednesday, his apparent feigned ignorance about Barstool was perhaps the biggest whopper. Portnoy and his staffers handcuffed themselves to each other in his lobby two years ago. It’s difficult to believe the commissioner doesn’t remember the incident.

But Goodell probably didn’t want to give Barstool the credit. His approach is to ignore them. That’s the same attitude Michael Wilbon displayed on Pardon the Interruption Thursday when he was discussing McAfee’s decision.

“[He’s] nutty as a fruitcake. A blog?! We used to call that a column,” Wilbon said. “Barstool –– what is it called? –– they’re going to tell him no if he punts two more years?”

Despite being sold for a reported price between $10 and $15 million, members of the sports establishment –– Goodell and Wilbon –– still seem to believe Barstool is beneath them. That’s great news for Portnoy. Barstool is perhaps one of the most recognizable media brands out there, but can still keep its iconoclast status. This arrangement may not last forever, but it gives Barstool more cache than ever before.

Thinking Out Loud: Thoughts on Super Bowl LI

02.03.17 at 12:38 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering where Roger Federer might now have taken his tennis talents.

— Got a ticket for Super Sunday? Chances are, it cost you (or is worth more than) $4800. The average for the previous four Super Bowls? $3334. Somebody is making out, and it ain’t me.

— Super Bowl week, for the media, can be a drag. I know, I know. Sure, you think you’d like to be there – and while the circus has its moments, like when the big clown (i.e. the commissioner) comes out of the tent to entertain the masses, the rest of it can be a little tedious.

— Adding to the media misery this week – Houston’s size. It’s a big city, and not just in population. Having family and several friends who still live there, they know it’s tough with traffic to get anywhere you need to go in an expeditious manner. My media friends are learning things the hard way on Houston’s very long and mean streets. Time is a precious commodity.

— Leave now, if you want to get to NRG Stadium in Houston before the kickoff. Seriously. Especially if you’re IN Houston already.

— The send-off rally at Gillette Monday was energetic as much as it was cold. Kudos to the hundreds of fans who began lining up at 3:30 in the morning for the best spots up close to see the Patriots off – at 10:30. What? Does anyone work around here?

— Media day was its typical ho-hum affair. I appreciate NFL Network turning it into a prime time special, because after all, it is show biz. But I’ve had enough of guys in wedding dresses and others trying to be super heroes. Do we really need these people to appeal to “non-fans” of the game? Stupid is as stupid does.

— The cost of one 30 second Super Bowl ad this year? $5 million. Or more. And that figure is up 110 percent since 2007.

— Who knew? Tom Brady’s challenging year, from an emotional standpoint, could have choked a horse. But here’s a guy who kept his mouth shut, his eyes straight ahead, and put his team’s needs ahead of his own. For real? If it was possible, he’s earned even more respect from me.

— Why? Because I don’t know if I could have kept my own mouth shut through all of what he’s gone through – from the false persecution and incredible scrutiny of his personal and professional life, to his mothers’ illness. Guy can’t even go down the street and grab a beer at a bar. Think about that. Yeah, he makes more money than God. But he’s not God.

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Stephen A. Smith on Kirk & Callahan: I have a problem with hosts who give opinions and hide

02.03.17 at 11:19 am ET
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For the last several months, some ESPN personalities have been avoiding the WEEI airwaves. But not Stephen A. Smith. The host of First Take joined Kirk & Callahan from radio row Friday, and disagreed with his colleagues who have called Boston racist.

Smith said he used to believe Boston was a bigoted town. But once he visited, his feelings changed.

“I went to Boston and I said, ‘It’s a great sports town. ‘I said, ‘I have no problem with this city.’ I said, ‘These folks are passionate, they have their beliefs.’ You’ve gotta understand something –– and I think deeply about this, maybe it’s because I had a grandmother who was white, because my mother was from a mixed-marriage –– I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, here.’ Racism, what exactly is that? There’s this feeling of superiority from one towards another based strictly on ethnicity. That’s not what I get when I’m in Boston.

“To isolate Boston as this particular kind of city, I personally have grown to believe is incredibly unfair. But I must confess, I learned that when I got there. What I would hold Boston accountable for as a city is that somehow, some way, whatever your history entails, there’s this belief that you allowed to disseminate where your city was characterized in such a way, so folks who are ignorant to the city will believe such-and-such thing.”

Smith, who’s come under fire many times in his career, is no stranger to controversy. But unlike some of his fellow ESPN hosts, he says he’s always willing to defend his words.

“I inherently have a problem with anybody in our business who’s hiding,” he said. “If I got something to say about Boston and WEEI calls me, I’m coming on, because I said it. I’m not going to say something publicly and then hide. I’m very, very big on that. I believe that everybody in this business should be that way.”

On First Take, Smith and his new co-host, Max Kellerman, occasionally delve into current events. In today’s world, Smith says he believes sports and politics are connected to each other.

“I think that the world of sports and politics are intertwined,” he said. “When you see LeBron endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton, when you hear Bill Belichick and Tom Brady being unapologetic about their friendship with Donald Trump –– along with Robert Kraft, who I revere. … When you see that along with the plethora of other athletes that have spoken out against our president and what have you, I don’t have any problem touching on those subjects.”

The intersection between sports and politics is manifested in Brady’s relationship with Trump, which has been maybe the top stories during Super Bowl week. While Smith says he doesn’t have a problem with the friendship, he thinks the topic is worth exploring.

“Where Brady gets a little bit dicey is only in this context: if you are in that position, what we’ve been taught watching news and how it becomes news in recent memory –– over the last decade or so –– the slightest little thing gives everybody an excuse to interogate and probe you,” he said. “My attitude is, ‘OK, then Brady deserves that probe.’ Not the judgment, but deserves the probe. If Donald Trump has a video, and it comes out and you hear what he’s saying, I want to know how you feel about that. I don’t want to hear, ‘I shouldn’t ask you that question.’ I want to know how Kraft feels about that, I want to know how Bill Belichick feels about that. Just the same way we know or want to hear from anybody else. That’s all it is.”

Read More: Stephen A. Smith,

Jonathan Kraft on Kirk & Callahan: I have no respect for the way Deflategate was handled

02.03.17 at 9:06 am ET
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Patriots president Jonathan Kraft says he supports Roger Goodell as commissioner of the NFL, but it’s apparent he’s still bitter over the way Deflategate unfolded.

In an interview with Kirk & Callahan Friday, Kraft lambasted the way the league conducted the investigation.

“I and our organization have been pretty clear that the whole air pressure situation –– from the night of the AFC championship game through when it finally ended with the appeals court –– it wasn’t well-handled and was poorly executed and was a waste of time, energy and resources,” he said. “I don’t have respect for the way that process was handled.”

Though the Krafts have been vocal about their unhappiness with Deflategate –– Robert Kraft said recently he thinks Goodell received “bad advice” –– some fans have been critical about their seeming cordial relationship with the commissioner. When the Patriots played the Giants at MetLife Stadium last season, for example, Kraft was spotted hugging Goodell on the sidelines. He told K&C the embrace was about a personal matter.

“That weekend was right after the Paris Bombings and we had been talking about –– it becomes a personal story. That wasn’t a salutation. That had to do with something different. I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

Two of the unanswered questions about the Deflategate saga are the statuses of Jim McNally and John Jastremski, the two low-level Patriots employees who were implicated in the scandal. Kraft wouldn’t confirm or deny their employment with the team. Instead, he said he regrets they got dragged into it.

“As I described, people who didn’t want to be in the spotlight were put in the spotlight,” he said. “People that weren’t looking to be in the spotlight, looking to have themselves made public in lots of ways. That was one of the many bad parts of what I believe was a waste of energy, time and resources.”

Though the Patriots made McNally and Jastremski available at the onset of the Deflategate investigation, they didn’t allow the NFL to conduct multiple followup interviews with them. Kraft defended that decision, saying the team viewed it as unnecessary.

“We cooperated with them that first week,” he said. “We made witnesses available to them, we made electronic devices available to them. I think we cooperated. Did we not make people available a fifth time after we got a letter asking to talk to those people? Yeah, because we were sick of the time-drain on our organization.”

Outside of Deflategate, the other big topic surrounding the Patriots this week has been their relationship with Donald Trump. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Krafts are all friends with the President, with the Krafts even attending his inauguration two weeks ago. Kraft told K&C he feels indebted to Trump for his friendship over the years.

“He was personally critically [helpful] to my father’s recovery after my mother [passed away]. I’ll be forever grateful for that,” he said. “He’s been a close personal friend for a long time prior. Being loyal in life, I think, is a very important character trait. That’s something that’s important to our family and me personally.”


Read More: Deflategate, Donald Trump, jonathan kraft, New England Patriots