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Robert Kraft photographed at Donald Trump pre-inauguration dinner party

01.18.17 at 1:42 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are both tied to Donald Trump, but somehow Robert Kraft gets to skate, even though he appears to be closer with the President-Elect than either his coach or quarterback.

Trump made the rounds at a pre-inauguration dinner in Washington D.C. Tuesday, mingling with a plethora of diplomats, politicians and donors. The Daily Mail posted photographs from the event, one of which featured Kraft arm-in-arm with senior Trump propagandist, Kellyanne Conway (pictured above). Billionaire real-estate developer Richard LeFrak, who Trump asked recently to lead a new infrastructure council, was also in the shot.

It’s not surprising that Kraft is celebrating Trump’s victory. He called the former reality television a star a “good friend” ahead of the Massachusetts primary last year and was seen at Trump Tower in November. When I reached out to Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks to ask about the meeting, she said it was a “congratulatory visit.”

While Brady and Belichick have tried to distance themselves from Trump since the election, expect Kraft to only get cozier with the President-Elect. If the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl, perhaps Trump will be seated in Kraft’s box. He’s been there before, and in fact, even once paid a visit to the Patriots’ locker room after a victory in 2012.

The New England Patriots are the official football team of Donald Trump. There’s no debate about that.

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

Thanks to Bill Belichick, SnapFace is going viral

01.18.17 at 1:39 pm ET
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Over the last couple of years, Bill Belichick has made a habit of botching the names of popular social media platforms. His apparent ignorance of the Internet came to the forefront again this week, when he was asked on Dale & Holley about Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown live-streaming a video of the team’s locker room on Facebook Live.

“Yeah, as you know I’m not on SnapFace and all that, I don’t really get those,” he said. “I’m just really worried about getting our team ready to go. I’m not really too worried about what they put on InstantChat, or whatever it is.”

While InstantChat is a new addition to Belichick’s repertoire, SnapFace is an old favorite. He first dropped the term around Patriots reporters last year and it seems to be picking up steam. According to NFL Network’s social team, “SnapFace” has been used on Twitter more than 12,000 times over the last day.

At his press conference Wednesday, Belichick referenced InstaFace, which might be an offshoot of SnapFace.

Malapropisms aside, it’s worth noting that the pre-fixes of Belichick’s fictional social media networks are up to date with the latest trends. Back in 2011, he was talking about MyFace. As John Tomase points out, maybe Belichick is more aware of the social media landscape than he likes to let us believe.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,

Jose Canseco goes on Twitter rant about Hall of Fame voters, claims ex-teammates used steroids

01.18.17 at 12:12 pm ET
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NY Daily NewsOn the eve of the Baseball Hall of Fame announcement, former slugger and self-proclaimed “godfather of steroids” Jose Canseco went off on a Twitter rant, ripping the writers, the voting process and naming players on the ballot as definite juicers.

Canseco, author of the 2005 book “Juiced,” which outed players as steroid users, claims in one tweet that Mike Piazza — inducted last year — used steroids and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez should definitely get in because of that.

Rodriguez was one of the players Canseco specifically mentioned in his book who used steroids. He also calls Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci an “idiot” for thinking Jeff Bagwell did not use steroids.

Canseco is a tough one because he’s insane and I never know whether or not to believe anything he says. Do we ignore him because he sounds crazy or he is actually telling the truth? He says he’s an expert on the PED era since he was a part of it, but is he too off-the-wall to be helping the MLB with this?

I don’t know, but here are some of his ideas and thoughts:

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Willie McCovey pardoned by Barack Obama; Chris Paul needs thumb surgery, out 6-8 weeks

01.18.17 at 9:14 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: New York at Boston, 7:30p.m. (CSN)
NBA: Milwaukee at Houston, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Oklahoma City at Golden State, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Boston at Detroit, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: San Jose at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Indiana at Penn State, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Missouri at Alabama, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State, 7 p.m. (NESN Plus)
College basketball: Oklahoma at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s at UMass, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: Temple at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Tulane at Tulsa, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, 9 p.m. (NESN Plus)
College basketball: Illinois State at Bradley, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Kansas State at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Ohio State at Nebraska, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Colorado at Washington, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Colorado State at Fresno State, 11 p.m. (CBSSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Baseball Hall of Famer and Giants legend Willie McCovey was one of the 273 people to be pardoned or have a sentence commuted by Barack Obama on Tuesday in the last days of his presidency.

In 1995, McCovey and fellow Hall of Famer Duke Snider pled guilty to tax evasion and received a $5,000 fine and a two-year probation.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to President Obama not only for this kind gesture on my behalf, but also for his tireless service to all Americans,” McCovey said in a statement made through the Giants. “He will be deeply missed and I wish him all the best in the future.”

McCovey, the cove namesake, is now a senior advisor to the Giants.

Obama pardoned 64 people and commuted the sentences of 209.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chris Paul, Willie McCovey,

Sporting News writer calls Tom Brady a liar for no reason whatsoever

01.17.17 at 4:44 pm ET
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Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has caught a lot of flak this week for streaming a since-deleted video on Facebook Live of the team’s locker room following their win over the Chiefs Sunday. In a laudable attempt at contrarianism, a writer for the Sporting News tries to use this story as a way to put down Tom Brady. But unfortunately for her, she doesn’t have her facts straight.

On Kirk & Callahan Monday, Brady was asked about Brown’s video, which includes sound of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin calling the Patriots “a––holes” during his postgame speech. He said something like that would never happen with the Patriots.

“Our team has a policy. We don’t show anything that should be private because he [Bill Belichick] feels when we are inside our stadium, inside the walls, there has to be a degree of privacy that we have,” Brady said. “What’s done in the locker room should stay in the locker room.”

Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger piled on Brown Tuesday. Tomlin said the wideout’s actions were “foolish,” and Roethlisberger said he was “disappointed.” But that’s not the way Sporting News scribe Sara Jane Harris sees the situation. She stumbled upon the weekly video the Patriots post on their website following each game, and calls out Brady for being hypocrite:

“No, there wasn’t any cussing, but we did get to see what happens “inside the walls” of the Patriots locker room at Gillette Stadium, something Brady said would never happen,” she writes. 

When compared to Brown’s livestream, which was shot with his smartphone camera, it’s obvious the Patriots’ clip is professionally edited and put together. If the aesthetic differences aren’t stark enough, Jane Harris also could’ve completed a Twitter or Google search, where she would’ve found out the Patriots publish a postgame video every week.

It’s sad to see a hot take so thoroughly debunked.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

Twitter harassment, unfortunately, is part of the job

01.17.17 at 4:25 pm ET
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It’s five days before Christmas, but nobody on Twitter seems to be in the holiday spirit. “[Alex Reimer] just ruined my drive in,” somebody tweets at me at 6:50 a.m. “His only talent is homosexuality. Is that a talent? Nope.”

Within minutes, another stranger chimes in. “That is partially the case. Gag reflex?”

Since I started hosting on Kirk & Callahan three months ago, I’ve faced an unfathomable amount of vitriol from listeners on social media. In order to cope, I channel the sage wisdom of our next president, Donald J. Trump: “They’re just words.”

In many instances, the rules surrounding public and private citizens are different. This is true in the courts, where the threshold for committing defamation against a public person is far greater than a private person, or on the street, where it’s perfectly OK to mob strangers as long as they qualify as “celebrities.”

The same norms apply to social media. When I go on the radio and call Tom Brady a coward, I expect to experience blowback. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s below the belt. But that’s the reality of cyberspace. Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever for trolls to torment people online. All it takes is a couple of clicks, and suddenly they’re at the top of their targets’ mentions, invading computer and smartphone screens. It’s important to remember this is nothing more than perceived intimacy. The creators of these mean tweets are far more likely to be high school students located hundreds of miles away than reputable members of society.

Last week, SB Nation’s Charlotte Wilder published a piece about how the Patriots have a Trump problem. The premise is, many Patriots fans have abandoned their team due to Trump’s friendships with Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. Though that’s a fascinating hook, the story only quoted one person on the record who said she could no longer watch the team. The evidence was anecdotal at best.

Over the next couple of days, Wilder received a bevy of criticism from enraged Patriots fans. Some of it, disgustingly, took a sexist turn.

“Today was exhausting but the support and kindness I received from friends and strangers restored the faith in humanity that others took away,” Wilder wrote last Thursday. “The internet as a woman can be ugly, but I’m not shutting up anytime soon. I appreciate you.”

On K&C Tuesday, Kirk Minihane said he thinks it’s shallow for Wilder to insinuate she was disparaged because of her gender.

“The predictability of writing a dumb story and then hiding behind it like she did, though, I knew this was so obviously going to happen,” he said. “She took some heat, which she deserved, and then I knew she was immediately going to play the ‘people are being mean to me because I’m a woman’ card. I knew that was coming.”

In response, Comcast SportsNet’s Trenni Kusnierek, who was sitting in as the third host, said she understands why Wilder was so distraught.

“They’re not just mean tweets,” she said. “One of these: ‘This was the worst story ever, besides BuzzFeed. I would say you get cancer, but yikes, the face on you, honey.’ Then he goes on to say, ‘I hope this mother of yours gets cancer.’ Is that really necessary?”

It’s not necessary, but unfortunately it’s a part of the job –– especially after writing a provocative piece. Take a look at Dan Shaughnessy’s mentions once in a while. There’s plenty of venom to go around.

Last year, “Just Not Sports” released a PSA that highlights the harassment women sports journalists face online. In it, actors read mean tweets directed towards ESPN’s Sarah Spain and Chicago-based broadcaster Julie DiCaro, both of whom have been outspoken about this issue.

What the video doesn’t mention, however, is the reach of the people who tweet vile and sexist comments at Spain and DiCaro. From my experience, the majority of Twitter trolls have faceless avatars and less than a dozen followers. Their irrelevance doesn’t make their actions right, but it puts it in perspective. They don’t matter.

In a recent conversation with me, Doris Burke, who’s now one of ESPN’s lead NBA analysts, echoed those sentiments. She said she’s tried to block out the noise to the best of her abilities, instead focusing on gaining respect from her peers.

“The players and coaches have been nothing but accepting of me from the very first time I broadcasted their games,” she said. “I’ve had a couple along the way, including an NBA official, who admitted to a little bit of skepticism when they first saw and heard me on the game. But this person quickly followed that with, ‘But then I listened to what you had to say.’ And I realized, ‘She knows what she’s talking about.’”

Perhaps one day, people will stop making derogatory comments online. But until they do, the best tactic is to ignore the trolls. They’re not worth the attention.

Read More: Twitter,

Alex Rodriguez set to host CNBC show ‘Back in the Game’

01.17.17 at 2:32 pm ET
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N.Y. PostAlex Rodriguez is “Back in the Game,” but not literally.

The former Yankees slugger will host a CNBC show by that title in which he counsels former athletes who have gone broke, it was announced Tuesday. The reality program, from SMAC Entertainment and Machete Productions, will be produced by former Giants star Michael Strahan. 

“It’s a story we hear all too often,” read the release, tweeted out by Politico’s Alex Weprin. “A pro athlete heads into retirement, only to find themselves in financial free-fall. With no more games to play or paychecks to cash, the future can often look bleak to those athletes struggling to adjust and adapt. But help may be on the way.”

The sentimental CNBC show marks the latest step in Rodriguez’s public relations turnaround. A-Rod was once one of the most hated players in the game, but spent the past two years since his season-long PED suspension in 2014 remaking himself as a clubhouse mentor. Rodriguez also got rave reviews for impressively articulating his baseball knowledge as an analyst for Fox Sports during the postseason.

I’m not a huge Alex Rodriguez fan but he’s not bad on TV. The first lesson should be not to waste money hiring people to stand outside a courthouse and hold supportive signs for you, as it was speculated he did in 2013,

Johnny Manziel should be the first guest on this show.

Steelers are bigger cheaters than Patriots

01.17.17 at 11:28 am ET
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Mike Tomlin (Kirby Lee/USA Today Images)

Mike Tomlin (Kirby Lee/USA Today Images)

Imagine if a video leaked of Bill Belichick calling his upcoming opponent “a–holes.” He would probably be eviscerated for his arrogance, condemned for not respecting the league. Maybe Mark Brunell would even cry.

At the least, it would be the lead story across sports for the entire day. Belichick’s surliness makes him an easy target. There’s a lot to be said for affability, because it allows you to skate out of trouble. Just ask Mike Tomlin; he’s made a career of it.

Sunday night, Steelers wideout Antonio Brown posted a since-deleted video on Facebook Live that caught Tomlin deriding the Patriots.

“We spotted them a–holes a day-and-a-half,” he said. “They played yesterday; our game got moved to tonight. We’re gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the [expletive] morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for their [expletive]. But you ain’t got to tell them that we’re coming.”

The rah-rah speech, by all accounts, was standard football talk. Coaches across the NFL probably call their opponents –– and especially the Patriots –– a lot worse. But that’s not the point. Tomlin was recorded saying something incendiary. And yet, every talking head on ESPN’s Around the Horn, one of the network’s signature debate shows, laughed it off Monday. It’s difficult to believe everybody would’ve been so amused if Belichick were in Tomlin’s place.

Belichick gets treated differently than every coach, but few people represent the contrast more than Tomlin. All of the proof one needs to make that claim happened on Thanksgiving night in 2013, when Tomlin tried to trip Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones on a kick return in prime time. Belichick is called a cheater because the Patriots were caught taping opponents from the wrong area of the stadium and Tom Brady’s footballs lost air pressure in cold weather. Tomlin, meanwhile, actually tripped a guy on the field. But after a $100,000 fine, it all went away.

Speaking of Deflategate, the Steelers were also caught playing with under-inflated footballs against the Giants this season. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, one ball was measured at 11.4 PSI and another one clocked in at 11.8. Or, in other words, numbers that are nearly identical to the PSI level of the Patriots’ balls in the 2015 AFC championship game.

But unlike Deflategate I, the sequel was quelled in roughly one hour. The NFL released a statement shortly after the original report, saying all game day procedures were followed and there were no “chain of command issues.” The league masterfully avoided the PSI issue, since the science says nothing nefarious happened to the Patriots’ balls. Now it’s all about “chain of command,” because Jim McNally took some footballs into the bathroom with him before heading onto the field. Keep in mind, McNally’s pregame whereabouts weren’t known until after the league had paid millions of dollars to Ted Wells to investigate the alleged crime.

Giants owner John Mara, who admonished the Patriots during Deflategate, said the whole fuss over the Steelers’ balls was “much ado about nothing.” Pittsburgh got off, whereas the Patriots lost Brady for four games and a first-round pick. (For those keeping score at home, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger also missed four contests after being accused of sexual assault.)

As ESPN reported, the league went so hard against the Patriots, because many owners believe Roger Goodell let them off easy during Spygate (New England lost a first-round pick, but apparently that wasn’t enough). If that’s the case, then the Steelers should face even more scorn. Former head coach Bill Cowher admitted to trying to steal signals, and he was never even investigated.

There’s a double-standard when it comes to judging the Steelers and Patriots. Pittsburgh is held up on a pedestal as a model organization despite committing the same, if not worse infractions than New England. Like most instances, the strongest message the Patriots can send will be on the field Sunday. Brady is 7-2 against the Steelers with a 114.2 passer-rating. Nobody can spin that.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Cubs visit Barack Obama at White House, Jon Lester explains his absence

01.17.17 at 9:53 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 BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Chicago at Colorado, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Houston at Miami, 7:30 p.m. (NBA)
NBA: Denver at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA)
College basketball: Illinois at Purdue, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Kentucky at Mississippi State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at N.C. State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: South Florida at UCF, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Texas at Baylor, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Michigan at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Vanderbilt at Georgia, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wichita State at Evansville, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: New Mexico at Boise State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Memphis at South Florida, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Women’s college basketball: Oklahoma at Texas, 7 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The World Series champion Cubs visited the White House Monday for the last champion team visit of Barack Obama’s presidency.

“They said this day would never come,” Obama began his remarks during the ceremony. “I will say to the Cubs, it took you long enough. I only have four days left. You’re just making it under the wire. Even I was not crazy enough to suggest that during these eight years we would see the Cubs win the World Series. But I did say there has never been anything false about hope.”

Cubs team president and former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein joked about Obama’s White Sox fandom, granting him a “pardon.”

“We have taken the liberty of offering you a midnight pardon,” Epstein said. “We welcome you with open arms today to the Cubs family.”

“Among Sox fans I’m the Cubs’ No. 1 fan,” Obama responded.

Former Red Sox pitcher and current Cub Jon Lester was not in attendance at the White House and explained his absence was not political:

Read More: Chicago Cubs,

Tom Brady tantrum after Jadeveon Clowney hit is real reason why he’s so hated

01.16.17 at 6:03 pm ET
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Tom Brady was hated well before Deflategate. The reason why was apparent to everyone who was watching the Patriots take on the Texans at Gillette Stadium Saturday.

In the third quarter, Jadeveon Clowney tackled Brady after he had thrown the ball. When the referee didn’t throw a flag, Brady threw a temper tantrum –– even though it seemed to be a routine play.

Much like last year’s AFC championship game against the Broncos, Brady was under duress all night long. After the game, Clowney bragged about getting inside his head.

Few football players are more durable than Brady. The only time he’s ever missed a game due to injury was in 2008, when then-Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard tore his ACL. Brady would probably credit his rigorous, if not unorthodox diet and training regimen for this phenomenon, but sheer toughness factors into the equation as well. You don’t play through a stress fracture for an entire season (2010) or a torn ligament in your throwing hand for three months (2013) without being exceptionally resilient.

But sometimes in this world, perception and reality don’t match up. Around the league, some defensive players view Brady as a soft pretty boy. One of his loudest detractors is Ray Lewis, who poked Brady on Twitter after the Clowney hit.

The likely reasoning for Lewis’ feelings about Brady can be traced to a matchup between the Ravens and Patriots in October 2009. In it, Brady successfully lobbied for the officials to call questionable roughing the passer penalties on two occasions, including after a Suggs hit. Lewis voiced his frustration at the time, calling the whole situation “embarrassing to the game.” (Suggs, for his part, doesn’t even say Brady’s name anymore.)

With that history in mind, it’s not surprising that former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott also shares those sentiments. Two years ago, he mocked Brady and called him a dork.

“Come on man, Tom Brady doesn’t think he’s tough,” Scott said. “Gisele [Bundchen] doesn’t think he’s tough. Listen, I respect him, but he plays the game differently. No different from the way Peyton Manning plays it, but listen, certain guys — Steve McNair, tough guy. He was a guy that could hang with anybody.”

It’s not just ex- and current Ravens who like to belittle Brady’s toughness. Prior to last season’s AFC championship game, former Broncos lineman Antonio Smith called him a crybaby who grovels for calls. His then-teammate, Malik Jackson, backed him up, saying Brady is a “whiner.”

Brady’s been caught in a few uncompromising moments off the field that play into this perception as well. He was once photographed screaming with his hands up while he went down a waterslide, acting similarly to the way a toddler would. Then there the Ugg endorsements and GQ photoshoots, never mind the Elaine Benis-esque dance moves that he once showed off at Carnival.

As a fabulously wealthy and handsome four-time Super Bowl champion who’s married to Gisele Bundchen, Brady is an easy target for criticism. When he throws hissy fits like he did Saturday, he’s just asking to be mocked.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,