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Potential Aaron Hernandez juror thinks trial is for Deflategate, gets dismissed

02.17.17 at 5:48 pm ET
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Boston Globe— Three jurors were seated Friday morning in the upcoming double murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, while one woman who mistakenly linked the former New England Patriots star to the Deflategate scandal was excused from serving.

That woman, identified as Juror 13, told Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke that she knew little about the Hernandez case, except for a brief conversation she overheard among co-workers about a year ago.

She said she thought they had mentioned Hernandez’s name in connection with Deflategate, prompting laughter from Hernandez and his lawyers, who were seated near her at a conference table.

“Deflategate has nothing to do with this case at all,” Locke said.

The woman said she understood but said of her co-workers, “That’s what they were talking about.”

Two other women and a man were selected for the jury during the morning session of voir dire in Suffolk Superior Court.

First, there was the guy earlier this week who pulled a Liz Lemon and wore a Patriots hat to jury selection. I believe he did this because to get out of serving because he had to have known wearing that would disqualify him.

If he thought the opposite and wanted to be involved in the trial of a former Patriot, he doesn’t have a clue how this process works.

And now, there is this lady who thinks Hernandez is on trial for Deflategate. That saga was handled with the severity of a murder trial so I don’t blame her.

Thinking Out Loud: Will Friars get into NCAA Tournament?

02.17.17 at 2:42 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering where John Cahill, Tim Higgins and Jim Burr have gone?

— Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. A friend asked me this week about the NCAA Tournament – “the Friars’ aren’t good enough to get in, are they?” Are they as good as they’ve been in recent years? Maybe not. But are they good enough to get in this year? They might be.

— You’ve heard about the “soft bubble” surrounding mid-majors and mid-level high major conference teams this year – a .500 record or even a game below might just get consideration for the Field of 68. Why?

— It’s cyclical. Not enough Cinderella-types out there at present. Star players leave early, experienced players transfer to get more time elsewhere, younger players get forced into the mix for playing time before they’re ready.

— And if you schedule well for the non-conference slate – PC did this, and they’ve done a very good job of it in the past few seasons – it’s a combination of these things in college basketball this year that has formed the perfect storm – and the perfect opportunity for teams who appear less-than-worthy.

— Not for nuthin’, but I’ve seen some pretty good Friar teams get left behind over the past 30 years without a dance invite. So, if PC eventually gets a freebie here, who’s going to complain?

— Is Providence worthy? Does that question matter? After dispatching Xavier Wednesday night, two straight Top 50 (Top 17!) RPI wins will get noticed. All that really matters is what the selection committee thinks, and they’ve got 68 slots to fill, with 36 coming from at-large picks. Top 50 RPI wins matter most. They are “found gold” at this time of year.

— And if you can’t get them, you win your conference tournament. That’s precisely where Rhode Island’s chances now lie, with Rhody’s flat tire performance against Fordham this week. Rams’ players and fans were undoubtedly down after dropping a home game last week to Atlantic-10 favorite Dayton, but to not show up against Fordham?

— It starts at the top, and at the top is the head coach. He sets the tone, the tempo and the attitude. The Rams need to win what few games they have left with cache (VCU is one), and at least reach the final of the A-10 tournament in Pittsburgh. It’s do-able, but there is no more margin for error as the regular season winds down.

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George Steele had weirdest pre-first pitch ritual of all-time

02.17.17 at 1:57 pm ET
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George “The Animal” Steele with his unique first pitch preparations.

A post shared by Red Sox (@redsox) on

WWE legend George “The Animal” Steele died on Friday at 79. He threw out a few ceremonial first pitches in his time and had a very unique habit of chewing the baseball and biting off the hide before his pitch.

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Tom Brady movie will be terrible

02.17.17 at 1:04 pm ET
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Tom Brady's season was good enough without the Hollywood ending. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady’s season was good enough without the Hollywood ending. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

The worst movies are cheesy and predictable. The feature film project about Tom Brady’s historic comeback in Super Bowl LI will be both of those things.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Oscar-nominated screenwriters Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson are teaming up with New York Times best-selling author Casey Sherman to produce a book and movie about the Patriots’ improbable victory over the Falcons. Dave Wedge, who co-authored “Boston Strong” with Sherman, will be a part of the project as well.

Tamasy’s and Johnson’s involvement in the film is worrisome. Though they were up for an Oscar for their screenplay in “The Fighter,” they also were writers for “Patriots Day” –– perhaps the corniest Boston movie ever made. Every scene with dialogue was cringeworthy, from Mark Wahlberg’s hero cop character calling someone a “CHOWDAHEAD!!!” in the opening scene to his vomit-inducing speech about “good vs. evil” after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.

Deadline Hollywood’s write-up doesn’t make it seem like the Brady movie will be any better. The article’s author, Anita Busch, says the film chronicles Brady’s “fall from grace and then his triumphant return to lead the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl championship.” Brady was victimized in Deflategate, but painting him as an underdog who battled back against all odds –– like Micky Ward –– is silly. During his four-game suspension, he sun-bathed nude on the Italian coast and went on a publicity tour for UGG slippers. He wasn’t exactly sent to the gulags.

That ties into the central problem with creating a Hollywood-produced retelling of the Patriots’ 2016 season: it was dramatic enough on its own. Additional angles or storylines, such as giving slain MIT police officer Sean Collier a fake girlfriend in “Patriots Day,” is tawdry and cheap.

The real-life drama of the Patriots storming back from a 25-point deficit in Super Bowl LI, and then accepting the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell, was enough on its own. Replacing Brady with Wahlberg would be an easy way to turn the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time into a laughingstock.

There’s still a lot that can be gleamed from Deflategate, and the impact it had on this Patriots season. That’s why director Julie Marron is producing a documentary about it, due to be released this summer. The entire saga is a lesson in the corporate power dynamics of a multibillion-dollar organization, media manipulation and, frankly, the art of revenge. It’s best to address those themes in interviews with people who were there first-hand, not by turning Brady into a Tommy Saunders-inspired hero.

In this case, the reality is better than fiction ever could be. The retelling of Super Bowl LI should never be put in the hands of Hollywood.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

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 WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
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)

AROUND THE WEB:

— 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 WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS: 
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)

AROUND THE WEB:

— 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,