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Chris Long tears into rubes who are criticizing him for skipping White House visit

02.17.17 at 11:08 am ET
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Chris Long is a free agent this offseason. (John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Long is a free agent this offseason. (John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports)

Last week, Chris Long shredded a New York Daily News columnist for writing him a dopey open letter about skipping the Patriots’ upcoming White House visit. On Thursday, he set his sights on folks who are bashing him for his plan to boycott the proceedings.

Long is one of six Patriots players who say they won’t be heading to the White House for a photo-op with President Donald Trump later this year. Though not all of the players said their decisions are political –– Dont’a Hightower also skipped in 2015 when Barack Obama was in office –– it’s fair to assume Long isn’t Trump’s biggest fan.

“I’m just not doing it,” he said recently on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon my Take” podcast when asked why he doesn’t want to go. “I’ve got plenty of serious political reasons that probably don’t belong on this show, but I’m just not doing it. America’s an awesome country, man. Everybody knows that. That’s why I have this choice.”

Since sportswriting is now a primarily liberal profession, Long didn’t hear a lot of disapproval about his decision in the media. But on Twitter, he decided to lash out at those who have been critical of him. Ironically, this shows Long is just as sensitive as our whiner-in-chief, whom he presumably loathes. (That doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining, however. It’s always nice to see rubes get put in their place.)

The primary focus of Long’s charity is to provide clean drinking water to communities in East Africa, for what it’s worth.

Despite that tweet storm, Long’s best moment on social media remains when he issued a biting rebuttal to Roger Goodell’s ludicrous analogy about couch sitting being just as dangerous as playing football.

“I am #blessed to survive a night on the couch. But I knew the risks,” he wrote after Super Bowl 50.

Read More: Chris Long, Donald Trump, New England Patriots,

Drew Bledsoe says Julian Edelman’s beard makes him look like a ‘homeless logger’

02.17.17 at 9:52 am ET
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Drew Bledsoe used to wear No. 11 for the Patriots. Julian Edelman wears No. 11 for the Patriots now. And apparently, Bledsoe doesn’t think the charismatic wideout is doing his legacy well.

Edelman, who prides himself as a fashionista, is rocking some unruly facial hair these days. On Twitter, Bledsoe said he should clean it up.

After making perhaps the best catch in Super Bowl history, Edelman can look like a hobo if he likes. But this writer agrees with Bledsoe: the clean-shaven or scruffy look suits him best.

Read More: drew bledsoe, Julian Edelman,

Aly Raisman says modeling for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition makes her feel ‘proud’

02.17.17 at 9:19 am ET
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Aly Raisman took home two silver medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics as well. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Aly Raisman took home two silver medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics as well. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman made her debut in Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit edition this week. She says it was a liberating experience.

The Needham native participated in the magazine’s “What I Model” campaign, explaining in an Instagram video why she decided to take part in the annual modeling shoot.

“I think it’s such an empowering feeling to be at a photo shoot and to know that your body’s not perfect, that you have insecurities just like everyone else,” she said. “But you’re still having so much fun because you know you’re unique and beautiful in your own way.”

Raisman, 22, also says it makes her feel proud of her body.

“I also model because when I was younger I used to get made fun of by the boys in my class,” she said. “They told me that I was too strong, that I looked manly, and that I was anorexic and looked like I was on steroids. Of course, that really bothered me, and I used to hate the way that I looked, which, looking back, it makes me feel really sad. But that’s why I’m so proud to be in the SI Swim 2017 issue because at 22 years old I feel strong and beautiful in my own way and there is no perfect body type.”

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team took home the gold at last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Raisman’s teammate, Simone Biles, also posed for SI‘s Swimsuit issue this year.

Read More: Aly Raisman, Sports Illustrated,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Rob Manfred says nothing about baseball needs to be fixed, then offers ideas to fix it

02.17.17 at 9:10 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

NBA: NBA All-Star celebrity game, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge, 9 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Columbus, 7 p.m. (NHL)
College basketball: Kent State at Akron, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Valparaiso at Oakland, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Fairfield at Quinnipiac, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: VCU at Richmond, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: California at Stanford, 10 p.m. (FS1)
Women’s college basketball: Xavier at Villanova, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)


— MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at the Grapefruit League media day Thursday and said nothing about the current state of baseball “needs to be fixed.”

He then went on to say the game needs to be changed “so that baseball means as much to the next generation as it does to our generation” and offered some ideas for changes.

Those ideas included requiring managers to stick to a time limit when deciding whether to challenge a call, “reasonable limits” on how long umpires in the replay center can look at replay angles before deciding whether to overturn a call and raising the strike zone.

Manfred also said he is in favor of experimenting with starting extra innings with a runner on second in the minor leagues, but said “we don’t expect to ever apply at the major league level.”

“Whenever you change something, there’s a risk,” Manfred went on. “We know that, even from the little rule changes that we’ve made … There’s a period of adjustment. But you know what? We get through those periods of adjustment. Modern civilization does not come to an end. And the game is better at the end of it.”

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Read More: Greg Maddux, Kris Bryant, Rob Manfred,

Why is Tom Brady going on a post-Super Bowl media tour?

02.16.17 at 11:16 am ET
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Tom Brady has spent his offseason on the interview circuit. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady has spent his offseason on the interview circuit. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Last offseason, while the Deflategate saga was playing out in court, Tom Brady went radio silent. He rarely spoke with reporters, instead opting to communicate with fans on social media. When Brady announced he was dropping his appeal, he posted a message on Facebook, bypassing the middle man.

That’s quite a difference from this year. Brady is embarking on a post-Super Bowl media tour, appearing on Pro Football Talk Live this week and participating in a series of interviews with the MMQB’s Peter King. In the second portion of his sit-down with King, the conversation centers around Brady’s exhaustive and unorthodox training methods. At this stage in his career, it’s apparent Brady is playing for more than his sixth Super Bowl ring. He’s playing to validate his lifestyle –– avocado ice cream and all.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Brady’s game is his durability. He’s played in 141 of the 145 Patriots contests from 2009-2016, only missing time to serve his four-game Deflategate suspension. Unlike most of his peers, Brady doesn’t lift heavy weights. Instead, he focuses on strengthening his core and flexibility. He says he believes this kind of training allows him to withstand punishment on the field.

“How do you work on durability? That’s what I’ve figured out,” he told King. “I know how to be durable. It’s hard for me to get hurt, knock on wood. Anything can happen in football. But I want to put myself in a position to be able to withstand the car crash before I get in the car crash. I don’t want to go in there and say, ‘Oh God, I know this muscle is really tight and ready to go, let’s see if it can hold up to someone falling on me who is 300 pounds.’ Then someone lands on you, and a rotator cuff tears. I could have told you that was probably going to happen. It’s going to be really hard for me to have a muscle injury, based off the health of my muscle tissue and the way that I try to take care of it.”

Brady seems to think he can cheat football mortality. He says he wants to play until he’s 45, and after watching him lead the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl title last season, it doesn’t appear all that crazy. At 39 years old, he led the AFC in QB rating among starting quarterbacks (112.2) and looks to be in better shape than ever. This was personified in Super Bowl LI, when Brady completed 21-of-27 passes in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Patriots on a historic 25-point comeback win over the Falcons. Despite taking 99 snaps, the most of his career, Brady seemed as fresh as he did during the first week of training camp.

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Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Potential Aaron Hernandez trial juror dismissed for wearing Patriots hat; Fenway Park bids for 2018 Army-Navy game

02.16.17 at 9:07 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

NBA: Indiana at Cleveland, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Philadelphia at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN)
NBA: New York at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: St. Louis at Detroit, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Florida at San Jose, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: LIU Brooklyn at St. Francis Brooklyn, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Xavier at Providence, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Cincinnati at South Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Iowa State at Kansas State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Maryland at Northwestern, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Temple at East Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Creighton at Seton Hall, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: St. John’s at Butler, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Duke at Virginia, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Indiana at Minnesota, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at TCU, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: San Diego State at Utah State, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)


— A potential juror in Aaron Hernandez’ second murder trial showed up to Suffolk Superior Court wearing a Patriots hat on Tuesday.

Officers made the man take off the hat and he was, obviously, not selected as a juror. 64 other potential jurors, including a self-proclaimed Trump supporter and woman due to give birth in April, were also dismissed.

Hernandez was present in the courtroom and said “good morning” to the jury prospects.

The trial is set to begin on March 1.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Fenway Park,

Tiger Woods is a mess, cancels rescheduled press conference

02.15.17 at 5:18 pm ET
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USA TodaySo just how bad is Tiger Woods’ injured back that he cited it as the reason for withdrawing from the Genesis Open here this week? Apparently so bad he’s incapable of holding a news conference.

On Monday, a Q&A session with the media scheduled for Tuesday was postponed until today. On Tuesday, the news conference was scrapped altogether.

Woods, who has undergone three back surgeries, returned to the PGA Tour last month after an 18-month layoff. Making his debut in January at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, he missed the cut for the first time in his career on that course. Then, citing back spasms, he withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic the following week after an opening-round 77.

Next move: On Friday Woods posted an update on his website announcing that he would not be playing in the Genesis Open or the Honda Classic next week in Florida.

It is unclear whether Woods has remained at his home in Florida this week or has flown to Los Angeles to be at the tournament, which benefits his foundation.

He’s been advised to limit activities like sitting and talking? This must be bad. Or he just doesn’t want to talk about it. If I’m him, I would retire. Enough of this.

The Masters is in about seven weeks and as of two days ago, the odds of him winning it were 100/1. But now it seems people should be betting on whether he’ll even play in it.

How the mighty keep falling.

Donald Trump refuses to fill out NCAA tournament bracket for ESPN

02.15.17 at 4:09 pm ET
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Donald Trump won't be filling out a bracket this year. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool Photo/USA Today Network)

Donald Trump won’t be filling out a bracket this year. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool Photo/USA Today Network)

Throughout all eight years of his presidency, Barack Obama filled out NCAA tournament brackets on ESPN. Donald Trump is discontinuing the tradition.

According to the Washington Post, Trump declined ESPN’s bracket offer. In a statement provided to the Post, White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks didn’t provide many details about the reasoning behind the President’s decision.

“We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future,” she said.

Obama, a basketball enthusiast who frequently played pick-up games with staff members and other politicians, filled out both men’s and women’s brackets for an annual special on ESPN. Basketball analyst Andy Katz, who guided the President through the process, told the Post Obama’s passion for the game made the arrangement work.

“He wasn’t as dialed in to every player or team but had conversational knowledge to offer his own analysis on the NCAA tournament for the men’s and women’s game. Baracketology was a success because it was clear he was a fan of the sport and the NCAA tournament, like millions of other Americans,” he said.

Though Trump holds an apparent reverence for athletes, it’s unclear how closely he follows sports (he bailed on his beloved Patriots during halftime of Super Bowl LI, missing the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history). While Obama was known to watch SportsCenter in his free time, Trump opts for cable news. He often live-tweets the morning talk shows, offering his unfiltered analysis on Twitter. Wednesday morning, Trump pleaded with his followers to watch Fox and Friends and ditch CNN and MSNBC, which were covering the fallout from Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation.

While ESPN likely would’ve caught flak for collaborating with Trump, much like Saturday Night Live did in 2015 when he hosted an episode, this is a negative development for the WorldWide Leader. In recent months, the network has been criticized for its apparent left-wing bias. Featuring a softball segment with Trump may have helped change that perception –– at least for one day.

Read More: Donald Trump, ESPN,

ESPN’s public editor is at war with WEEI

02.15.17 at 12:44 pm ET
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In a recent column, ESPN public editor Jim Brady said he thinks it’s acceptable for media personalities to fire back at folks on Twitter. He’s taking his own advice.

Following a discussion on Kirk & Callahan Wednesday about his piece, which features interviews with ESPN personalities about their approaches to social media and political commentary, several listeners messaged Brady with their complaints about the story. Most notably, Brady failed to admonish hosts who have insinuated Boston is a racist city, such as Bomani Jones and Israel Gutierrez. After Celtics fans briefly applauded potential free agent forward Gordon Hayward before tip-off when the Jazz visited the T.D. Garden last month, Jones strongly hinted on “Highly Questionable” that race played a role in the warm reception.

“Is there another arena in the whole country that would get this charged about Gordon Hayward maybe coming as a free agent?,” he asked. “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.”

Israel Gutierrez followed up on Around the Horn, saying the Celtics are “famous for having Larry Bird on their team.”

After failing to respond to an invitation to join K&C, Brady took his fight to the Twittersphere.

Even though the article was about ESPN’s social media policy, it failed to mention Curt Schilling, the most high-profile employee who’s ever been terminated for his behavior on the Internet. On Twitter, Brady said he omitted Schilling because the right-hander was a multiple time offender. He was suspended in 2015 for comparing radical Muslim jihadism to Nazism, roughly seven months before he was canned for sharing an anti-transgender picture on Facebook.

Perhaps the most puzzling line in the piece came when Brady was introducing Jones, who he says is “never shy at [sic] mixing it up with fans or with critics.” That characterization contradicts the accounts of dozens of Boston sports fans who Jones has blocked on Twitter. He also refused to come on WEEI last month to further explain his point.

This isn’t the first time the public editor has mixed it up with WEEI personalities and listeners. Earlier this year, after Brady declined a request to join the station to discuss Jones’ inflammatory comments, Kirk Minihane called him a “coward.” He responded by calling Minihane a “clown.”

Read More: ESPN,

Patriots fan got a Tom Brady tattoo on his butt

02.15.17 at 11:40 am ET
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Sometimes, it’s not enough to wear your favorite player’s jersey. You must get his face tattooed on your rear end.

That’s what one Patriots fan did last week before the championship parade, which attracted more than 1 million people to the streets of Boston. Before the festivities began, he decided to stop by Boston Barber & Tattoo Co. on Salem Street and get Tom Brady’s mug branded where the sun don’t shine.

In a phone call with, an employee at the tattoo parlor said several Patriots fans came by for some ink during the parade last week. In addition to the butt tattoo, two other patrons got some Patriots-related artwork on their lips.

New England fans have a history of sporting unusual ink. Prior to Super Bowl XLII, Victor Thompson, a resident of Laconia, N.H., decided to get the Patriots’ logo tattooed on both sides of his head –– like a football helmet. The 47-year-old passed away last year.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,