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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,

Ted Cruz is funnier than I thought

01.25.17 at 9:32 am ET
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Ted Cruz beat Deadspin at their own game Tuesday night on Twitter when he responded to Deadspin’s tweet requesting someone send proof Cruz plays basketball.

Cruz absolutely nailed that joke but Deadspin didn’t think it was so funny.

To which Cruz responded:

Winner? Cruz in a landslide. Well played by him.

I did not know he had this kind of sense of humor and I sincerely hope he came up with this himself. In Deadspin’s defense, Cruz did call a basketball hoop a “basketball ring” last year, which isn’t really a great look for the founder of the Republican senators’ weekly basketball game.

And why is Deadspin so angry? Even after their aggressive response, Cruz kept the game going with another tweet showing he relates to today’s youth, burying Deadspin once again.

However, I would still like to see actual video footage of Cruz playing basketball because I do want to see what someone who says “basketball ring” playing basketball looks like.

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Peyton Manning reportedly to speak at Republican retreat featuring Donald Trump; Celtics to wear GE patches on uniforms next season

01.25.17 at 8:30 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Wednesday 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.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Houston at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN)
NBA: Golden State at Charlotte, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: LA Lakers at Portland, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Philadelphia at NY Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Memphis at Temple, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: SMU at UCF, 6 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: St. John’s at Providence, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Florida State at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: Minnesota at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: UConn at South Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Texas A&M at Mississippi, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Texas Tech at Baylor, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: URI at Richmond, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Butler at Seton Hall, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Alabama at Georgia, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Boston College at Miami, 9 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: Iowa at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Nevada at Boise State, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UCLA at USC, 11 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Washington at Arizona State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is reportedly scheduled to speak at a Republican retreat in Philadelphia which begins on Wednesday.

Speakers at the retreat include President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Before Super Bowl 50, Trump spoke about his admiration for Manning.

“I very much have always liked Peyton Manning,” Trump said. “He is a very good guy. I know him. And he is a very, very good guy. So, I have to go with the person I know and I like. I like the other team. I think the other team looks fantastic. Probably, they would be favored by something. But I will stick with Peyton, because he is a very good guy.”

Manning has donated to many Republican campaigns in the past, most of them in Tennessee where he went to college.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Peyton Manning,

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,