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By wearing black, Wizards are paying Celtics highest compliment

01.24.17 at 4:05 pm ET
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In November, Wizards guard John Wall had to be restrained from going after the Celtics, including Marcus Smart. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

In November, Wizards guard John Wall had to be restrained from going after the Celtics, including Marcus Smart. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics scored their biggest victory of the season Tuesday before they even stepped onto the court. The Wizards plan to wear black to their game against the C’s, giving this team an aura of intimidation it has lacked since Kevin Garnett’s prime.

According to the Washington Post, Wizards guard Bradley Beal came up with the idea. Tensions between the two clubs rose following the Celtics’ victory over the Wizards earlier this month, when Jae Crowder and John Wall got into an on-court altercation. The verbal sparring continued as they walked to their respective locker rooms, and police were called to stand guard.

“We’re wearing all black to the game,” Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. said. “So you know where we’re going with that. … We’re wearing all black to the game. It’s a memo that the team is giving away. We’re ready for whatever, man. Round three, let’s get it.”

Isaiah Thomas, who scored 20 points points in the fourth quarter against the Wizards Jan. 11, took the news in stride.

“That’s cute that they’re wearing all black. It’s not a Game 7. It’s not the playoffs,” he said. “I saw the funeral and all black thing last night and I just laughed about it.”

The last time these teams met, Thomas led all scorers with 38 points. Wall, who’s long been considered one of the most talented guards in the league, went 4-for-21 and dropped a season-low nine points in the loss. On Tuesday, Wall said the Wizards were dressing for a “funeral.”

When the Giants dressed in black prior to Super Bowl 42, they were able to back up their wardrobe –– thanks to a dominant pass rush and an all-time great catch by David Tyree. But this stunt from the Wizards seems to channel the 2012 Texans, who wore letterman’s jackets to Gillette Stadium and were promptly blown out by 28 points.

In a lot of respects, it’s even more pathetic than what the Texans did. At the time, Houston was an 11-1 team and wanted to make a statement heading into an important late-season Monday night game in Foxboro. The 24-20 Wizards, meanwhile, are a middling club that’s gearing up for a routine midseason matchup.

Oh, and they’re the home team. That’s right: the Wizards are letting the Celtics get into their heads in their own building. That’s not cute. It’s sad.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jae Crowder, John Wall, Marcus Smart

Dan Le Batard cowers after implying Patriots prefer white wide receivers

01.24.17 at 1:51 pm ET
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Dan Le Batard came close to saying the Patriots have white wide receivers because they’re a racist organization and Boston is a racist city. But then he stopped just short.

On his ESPN radio show Monday, Le Batard talked about the stylistic differences between the Patriots and Falcons, who will face off in Super Bowl 51.

“Is anyone going to, at any point in 2017 America, point out the contrasting styles we have in this Super Bowl? Two very different cities, the wide receiver cores for both teams are very different,” he said. “When is that going to become a thing as we head towards Super Bowl week and we’re going to have to talk about everything and people are going to get tired of the chess match. Is anybody going to dare to wander into that topic? You’ve got Julio [Jones] and Muhammad [Sanu] and [Julian] Edelman. No? We’re going to avoid that?”

Le Batard, like other ESPN personalities who have defamed Boston in recent weeks, refuses to defend his words when challenged. On Tuesday, he implied his comments were said in jest.

Given ESPN’s history of disparaging Boston, it’s difficult to give Le Batard the benefit of the doubt. Earlier this month, when Celtics fans cheered soon-to-be free agent forward Gordon Hayward during pregame introductions, several talking heads at the WorldWide Leader brought race into the conversation. Jae Crowder, who took exception to fans applauding an opponent, is black. Hayward, of course, is white. For some, the low-hanging fruit was too much to ignore.

On Highly Questionable, Bomani Jones appeared to say Celtics fans like Hayward because of his skin color.

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

Writer Israel Gutierrez made a similar connection on Around the Horn.

“It’s Boston. They’re famous for having Larry Bird on their team. Gordon Hayward looks more like Larry Bird than other players in the league. So maybe there’s that Boston connection there,” he speculated.

Never mind that Celtics fans also showered then-pending free agent Kevin Durant with applause last season or that Crowder said he was upset his remarks were interpreted as race-related. Don’t let context or facts get in the way of a good rant, like when NBA analyst Amin Elhassan said in a recent podcast Boston is the most racist city in the country north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

“Somebody asked me, ‘How would you kind of tabulate or kind of quantify how racist a town is?’ I said, ‘Oh that’s easy. Record scratches per square foot.’ Because I’m telling you, it’s a funny thing from movies, but it’s happened to me for real in Boston. You walk in, the music stops, and everybody who’s all in their individual conversations stops and turns to me. I’m talking places not a stone’s throw from the arena.”

Presumably, Elhassan is referring to the T.D. Garden, the place where Celtics fans cheered for Hayward and within a stone’s throw of where they once cheered for Larry Bird. Apparently, it’s improper for fans to like multiple white players per half-century. They can only choose one. (Jones, Gutierrez and Elhassan all declined invitations to appear on WEEI, by the way.)

There’s no ignoring Boston’s repulsive history when it comes to its treatment of African-American athletes. The Red Sox were the last team to integrate and Bill Russell endured a disgusting amount of hardship. One night, vandals wrote racial slurs on his walls and smeared feces on his bed.

While these shameful episodes shouldn’t be forgotten, it’s reckless to use them as ammunition to support the lazy narrative about Boston being unwelcoming towards black athletes. David Ortiz might be the most beloved Red Sox player of all-time, with Pedro Martinez finishing a close second. Kevin Garnett, who originally didn’t want to play for the Celtics, now says Boston will always have a special place in his heart.

Few black athletes are more outspoken than Martellus Bennett, and he’s seemed to embrace Boston with open arms. This week, in fact, he made a t-shirt that says as much.

If Bennett spoke ill of Boston, race-baiting provocateurs like Le Betard and Jones would probably discuss his comments ad nauseum for the next two weeks. But since he didn’t, his shirt and accompanying tweet likely won’t be mentioned on their respective shows.

At ESPN, slandering Boston sports fans and teams seems to be part of the mission statement. And instead of defending his wild insinuation about the Patriots preferring white receivers, Le Batard decided to deflect. It’s par for the course.

Read More: ESPN, New England Patriots,

Erin Andrews reveals she battled cervical cancer this NFL season

01.24.17 at 1:25 pm ET
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Erin Andrews revealed she had surgery for cervical cancer. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Erin Andrews revealed she had surgery for cervical cancer. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

FOX Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews revealed she battled cervical cancer during the NFL season in an interview with Emily Kaplan of MMQB.com.

Andrews underwent surgery for the cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 11 and was back on the sidelines five days later.

“Should I have been standing for a full game five days after surgery? Let’s just say the doctor didn’t recommend that,” Andrews said. “But just as I felt during my trial, sports were my escape. I needed to be with my crew.”

All of this comes after Andrews settled last year with two hotel companies that were found partially liable for a stalker posting secretly recorded nude video of her online.

Read More: Erin Andrews,

Johnny Manziel: A week in review

01.24.17 at 10:22 am ET
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Mood #🏈🏈🏈🏈🏈

A photo posted by Johnny Manziel (@jmanziel2) on

Here is a recap of what Johnny Manziel has been up to the past few days: It begins, as all moments of clarity after torpedoing your NFL career do, with an interview with TMZ:

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Yordano Ventura reportedly robbed after deadly accident; video of Bengals’ Adam Jones verbally assaulting police officer surfaces

01.24.17 at 9:01 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Tuesday 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.

TUESDAY’S MORNING MASHUP:
NBA: Boston at Washington, 7 p.m. (CSN)
NBA: San Antonio at Toronto, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: Detroit at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: St. Louis at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Kansas at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Louisville at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Purdue at Michigan State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Rutgers at Maryland, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Southern Illinois at Wichita State, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Villanova at Marquette, 8 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Kansas State at Iowa State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kentucky at Tennessee, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Penn State at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Tulane at Houston, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Utah State at New Mexico, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Reports from the Dominican Republic claim as Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura lay dying after a fatal car crash, the people who found him robbed him instead of helping him.

This report has yet to be confirmed by police. The report is Ventura was found still alive after the accident and looters robbed him of his World Series ring, among other belongings. Dominican journalist Euri Cabral reported this claim in an appearance on a Dominican radio station.

Pedro Martinez heard Cabral and commented on this alleged new development on Twitter:

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Read More: Adam "Pacman" Jones, Yordano Ventura,

Patriots don’t have a Trump problem

01.24.17 at 9:00 am ET
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Susan Pease of Lincoln may not have watched the Patriots defeat the Steelers in the AFC championship game, but it doesn’t appear as if many others joined her boycott. The contest received a household rating of 51.6, making it the second-highest non-Super Bowl performance in team history. Just imagine what the number would’ve been if it was a competitive game instead of a 19-point blowout.

Two weeks ago, SB Nation published a piece about how the Patriots have a Trump problem. The premise, which is supported by one on-the-record interview with Pease, is that the team’s affiliation with the divisive president is causing fans to tune out. But the ratings tell a much different story.

Throughout the season, the Patriots have consistently drawn massive numbers on television. Their affair against the Broncos Dec. 18 was the highest-rated broadcast of the regular season on CBS and the divisional round matchup against the Texans garnered a monstrous 42.2 rating in Boston.

Even more impressively, the market share for the AFC championship game was a whopping 73. That means 73 percent of TV watchers in Boston were tuned into the matchup.

Amazingly, this ratings triumph came on the heels of Trump’s inauguration, which was heavily Patriots-themed. Owner Robert Kraft was in attendance and even photographed at a swanky dinner with Kellyanne Conway, perhaps the President’s most visible surrogate. On Thursday, Trump gave Kraft a shoutout at an event, saying Tom Brady had called him recently.

On Kirk & Callahan Monday, Brady said he speaks with Trump from time-to-time. On the night before the election, at a stump speech in New Hampshire, Trump said Brady had voted for him and also read an endorsement letter from Bill Belichick. Though Belichick admitted to writing the letter, Brady hasn’t revealed who he supported.

The Patriots and Trump will forever be tied together, but the ratings show that the vast majority of fans in liberal Massachusetts are able to separate football from politics. When Super Bowl 51 begins in two weeks, Trump will probably be the furthest thing from most people’s minds –– at least for a couple of hours.

Read More: Donald Trump, New England Patriots,

Why Roger Goodell doesn’t care if Patriots win Super Bowl

01.23.17 at 4:36 pm ET
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Roger Goodell won't be able to dodge the Patriots in the Super Bowl. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Roger Goodell won’t be able to dodge the Patriots in the Super Bowl. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

It probably doesn’t make a difference to Roger Goodell whether the Patriots win the Super Bowl. For him, Deflategate is ancient history. He won a long time ago.

When owner Robert Kraft grabbed the microphone Sunday following his team’s blowout victory over the Steelers in the AFC championship game, he seemingly spoke for every aggrieved Patriots fan around the world.

“For a number of reasons, all of you in this stadium understand how big this win was,” Kraft told a rabid crowd in Foxboro.

It wasn’t difficult to connect the dots. Almost two years ago to the date, the NFL caught the Patriots playing with slightly under inflated footballs against the Colts. Over the next year-and-a-half, even when the science said there was no wrongdoing, Goodell smeared Tom Brady’s character and imposed draconian penalties on the team –– including suspending Brady for four games. Now, in two weeks, Goodell may be in the building when Brady is handed the Lombardi Trophy. Talk about sweet revenge.

Once a regular visitor to Gillette Stadium, Goodell has avoided it since Deflategate started. He’s been in Atlanta for the last two weeks closing down the Georgia Dome, one of the most unremarkable venues in professional football.

It’s unclear whose decision it is to keep Goodell in hiding. According to Comcast SportsNet’s Tom E. Curran, Goodell would’ve been at the AFC championship game Sunday if he had gotten his way. So perhaps somebody else in the league office, or the Krafts themselves, are making the call. But then again, it’s hard to believe that Goodell would allow other people to dictate his schedule. After all, this is guy who doesn’t permit his staffers to eat pizza until he gets the first slice.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Deflategate, New England Patriots, Roger Goodell

Tom Brady is a fool to wonder why his friendship with Donald Trump is a big deal

01.23.17 at 1:34 pm ET
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Tom Brady doesn't understand the Donald Trump questions. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady doesn’t understand the Donald Trump questions. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady doesn’t understand why people care about his friendship with Donald Trump. He must’ve been born yesterday.

In his weekly appearance on Kirk & Callahan Monday, Brady shed further detail on how often he communicates with the President. Last week, Trump said Brady called him before the inauguration.

“I have called him, yes, in the past. Sometimes he calls me. Sometimes I call,” Brady said. “But, again, that’s been someone I’ve known. I always try to keep it in context because for 16 years you know someone before maybe he was in the position that he was in. He’s been very supportive of me for a long time. It’s just a friendship. I have a lot of friends. I call a lot of people.”

In the past, Brady has shied away from talking about Trump. But that wasn’t the case Monday. Just when the conversation was heading in a different direction, he brought up the subject again.

“Why does everybody make such a big deal? I don’t understand it,” he said. “I don’t want to get into it, but if you know someone it doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say or they do. You have a lot of friends in your life. I think there are things that are based in your own dealings with someone that is a personal dealing, not a public dealing. Because you have personal experiences.”

While Brady didn’t formally endorsed Trump –– he declined to tell K&C who he voted for –– he aligned himself with him throughout the entirety of the campaign. In September 2015, after a “Make America Great Again” hat was spotted in Brady’s locker, he said it “would be great” if Trump were in the Oval Office. At that point, Trump had already derided some Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and spent years propagating a racist birther conspiracy theory meant to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency. Brady later claimed to be unaware of the political issues at play, but ignorance isn’t an excuse.

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

John Cena: ‘I kind of run a parallel life with Tom Brady’

01.23.17 at 12:52 pm ET
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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that John Cena truly understands what makes the Patriots tick.

The WWE star, and actor, grew up in Massachusetts and played football at Springfield College. So when he turned down the opportunity to offer a hype video for his hometown team, there was a very good explanation that came with the denial.

“That’s what’s great about New England,” Cena said. “You can look at it from all the [Tom] Brady sound bytes and all the [Bill] Belichick sound bytes. They don’t need to get hype. They just do really, really well.”

There was also the us against them mentality that Cena said he enjoys, explaining, “I run kind of like a parallel life with Tom Brady.”

Deion Sanders: Julian Edelman is under appreciated because he’s white

01.23.17 at 11:04 am ET
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Deion Sanders had some interesting things to say about Julian Edelman. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Deion Sanders had some interesting things to say about Julian Edelman. (James Lang/USA Today Sports)

Deion Sanders says Julian Edelman’s skin color is the reason why he isn’t considered one of the best receivers in the league.

On NFL Network Sunday, Sanders said Edelman, who put up a monstrous stat line during the AFC championship game, is a victim of reverse racism.

“Julian Edelman is one of the best receivers in the league. … It’s like reverse racism,” he said. “I’m not lying. This is real talk. Julian Edelman, just because he’s a caucasian receiver, they don’t give him the credit that he deserves. He deserves so much more. This kid can flat out play. There hasn’t been there an answer for him over the last several years. Julian Edelman moves the chains, he can get deep, he works between the numbers, works outside the numbers, he can throw the football, he can run the football. He does it all, man.”

While the Patriots were largely able to contain Antonio Brown (seven receptions for 77 yards), Chris Hogan and Edelman tore up the Steelers’ secondary, reeling in 17 catches for 298 yards and three touchdowns. After the extra-point, Edelman’s touchdown grab extended the Patriots’ lead to 34-9 with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter.

Despite averaging 98 receptions over his last three full seasons, the Patriots don’t pay Edelman like an elite wideout. According to Spotrac, he only took home $2.5 million in base salary in 2016. Next year, the figure bumps up to $3 million.

Edelman’s position, not skin color, is probably the reason why he’s not put on the same level as star receivers like Julio Jones. Given the success of other slot receivers in this offense, he’s largely viewed as expendable. Tom Brady seamlessly transitioned from Troy Brown to Wes Welker to Edelman. He’s the primary reason for their success, not the other way around.

Edelman is an incredible talent, but his stock takes a major hit without Brady. He probably knows that’s the case, too, since he’s never even threatened to hold out for a bigger deal.

Read More: deion sanders, Julian Edelman,