College Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network
Marty Walsh wants to meet with SNL’s Michael Che about his experiences with racism in Boston 03.31.17 at 3:40 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Marty Walsh wants to meet with SNL’s Michael Che about his experiences with racism in Boston
Mayor Marty Walsh says he wants to speak with SNL cast member Michael Che about his experiences in Boston. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Network)

Mayor Marty Walsh says he wants to speak with SNL cast member Michael Che about his experiences in Boston. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Network)

Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” anchor Michael Che keeps saying Boston is the most racist city he’s ever been to. His remarks have apparently earned him a meeting with the mayor.

In an interview Friday on Boston Public Radio, Mayor Marty Walsh said he wants to sit down with the comedian to talk about his experiences in the city.

“Clearly it is something that is still inside of him and still bothers him or he wouldn’t have made that statement,” he said.

In a skit earlier this year, Che called the Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl matchup a battle between “the blackest city in America” and “the most racist city.” He doubled-down on those remarks during an appearance last week at Boston University.

Walsh said his administration has tried to get in touch with Che to further discuss his grievances.

“He’s clearly had some bad experiences in this city, in this state, because I think it’s more than Boston,” he said. “But, hopefully, I’d love to sit down and talk to him about it and express what we’ve done in the city and the things that we’ve done over the last three years with the race dialogues and diversity office. That won’t erase his experience but what it will do is help us understand better.”

Read More: Marty Walsh,
Red Sox seem to be copying Donald Trump’s ‘fake news’ approach to media relations 03.31.17 at 3:18 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Red Sox seem to be copying Donald Trump’s ‘fake news’ approach to media relations
John Farrell denied this week the Red Sox's shoulder program was a factor in Tyler Thornburg's DL stint, even though he once said otherwise. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

John Farrell denied this week the Red Sox’s shoulder program was a factor in Tyler Thornburg’s DL stint, even though he once said otherwise. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

When Donald Trump wants to discredit the media, he’ll often reprimand outlets for reporting his words verbatim, claiming he never said what he did. The latest example of this phenomenon came last week, when he told Time Magazine his tweets about President Barack Obama wiretapping him weren’t meant to be taken literally.

As the 2017 season nears, it seems as if the Red Sox are developing a similar approach to media relations.

Earlier this month, reliever Tyler Thornburg told WEEI.com and the Boston Herald the team’s strenuous shoulder program played a role in his shoulder injury. After two Spring Training outings, he was shut down so he could acclimate himself to the regimen.

“Once we started working those muscles in the back that in depth and that much they really started to tire,” he said March 11. “I was doing a shoulder program on a certain day and all of a sudden I would pitch in the game and they would already be fatigued. It was one of those things where we decided to shut it down and let them relax as well as strengthen it at the same time. It was really hard to do it all at the same time. It’s a lot more than I was used to, for sure.”

When Thornburg was placed on the disabled list this week, he brought up the shoulder program again.

“If anything, it might have fatigued my arm a little bit before the first outing,” he said, via the Herald. “Or it possibly could’ve pointed out some weaknesses in my shoulder or something that wasn’t working properly. That’s all stuff we were figuring out in the last couple days.”

That sounds pretty cut-and-dried, apparently except to the Red Sox. They deny Thornburg ever mentioned the shoulder program. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday it was never part of the conversation.

“I’m not getting into that particular. It’s not the throwing program, OK? I wish you would just lay off of that, OK? We talked about that part of it,” he said, via the Herald.

Dombrowski lashed out when he was told Thornburg was the person who had originally mentioned it.

“No, it’s you pushing it,” he said.

Manager John Farrell, who also referenced the shoulder program March 10 when asked about Thornburg’s status, essentially called the reports fake news.

“There’s a lot been written targeting our shoulder program here,” he said. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which the inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms now are the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

As Trump has shown, if you repeat a lie often enough, your followers are likely going to believe it. A recent poll shows 74 percent of Republicans believe he was wiretapped, even though FBI Director James Comey says that wasn’t the case. A February poll from Politico found that 25 percent of voters believe Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud as well.

Despite lying 69 percent of the time, Trump was able to ascend to the presidency. His success in the political arena shows truthfulness may not be all that important when it comes to public perception. It wouldn’t be surprising to see sports teams, which are private businesses and have no obligation to be transparent with the press, copy some of those tactics.

Instead of acknowledging reality, the Trump administration habitually presents “alternative facts.” The Red Sox followed a similar blueprint with Thornburg this week, denying the words that came out of his mouth.

Presidents affect culture in addition to policy. This week, the phrase “fake news” carried down from the White House all the way to Fort Myers. Maybe it will make its way to Fenway Park this season as well.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski, Donald Trump, john farrell
NFL teams reportedly don’t want to sign Colin Kaepernick because of his vegan diet 03.31.17 at 1:01 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on NFL teams reportedly don’t want to sign Colin Kaepernick because of his vegan diet
Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers prior to the start of free agency. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick donated $1 million to community organizations last year. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

NFL teams continue to come up with reasons to explain Colin Kaepernick’s prolonged unemployment. The latest excuse is the wackiest of all.

According to CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, clubs are leery of bringing Kaepernick aboard because of his vegan diet. The quarterback’s weight was down at the beginning of last season, but he’s reportedly back to his full weight now. Given that information, it appears as if this is a convenient cover for organizations that may be concerned about being accused of collusion. Last offseason, a number of teams, including the Broncos, were reportedly looking into acquiring Kaepernick. But now, after he kneeled during the national anthem, the interest doesn’t appear to be there. It’s easy to connect the dots, especially considering Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman’s story from earlier this month that says 70 percent of NFL teams “genuinely hate” Kaepernick because of his protest.

Kaepernick is flawed as a quarterback. He only completed 59.2 percent of his passes in 2016 and went 1-10 in his starts. But he also played well down the stretch, posting a quarterback rating north of 100 over the final month of the season. If Kaepernick wasn’t a divisive figure, he likely would have found a job already.

As Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann notes, it would be difficult for Kaepernick to actually prove collusion against him occurred. He would have to produce hard evidence, either in the form of written communication –– such as an email or memo –– or admittance from a league official.

While it’s unlikely there’s a coordinated effort between multiple teams to keep Kaepernick from playing in the NFL, it seems as if he’s been blackballed to an extent. He played better last season than he did in 2015, but yet, teams that once pursued him are now backing off.

The story about Kaepernick’s veganism is the latest curious report about him to emerge from NFL circles. Last week, ESPN’s Dan Graziano said the former 49ers QB seeking $9 or $10 million per season, which would price him out of nearly every potential backup job. But a source told Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio the story is bogus.

It’s apparent teams are refusing to sign Kaepernick, because they don’t think he’s worth the backlash. Blaming his diet or contractual demands seem to be nothing more than cheap excuses.

Read More: Colin Kaepernick,
Report: Few ESPN on-air personalities will be safe during upcoming layoffs 03.31.17 at 9:06 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Report: Few ESPN on-air personalities will be safe during upcoming layoffs
ESPN has been hemorrhaging subscribers in recent years. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

ESPN has been hemorrhaging subscribers in recent years. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

ESPN is reportedly going to undergo massive layoffs this year. And according to one of the most prominent media reporters in the business, few on-air personalities are safe.

In an appearance on Sports Illustrated’s media podcast with Richard Deitsch, James Andrew Miller, who authored “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” said the network will likely cut 40-50 employees in order to trim tens of millions of dollars from its payroll. He then mapped out what he thinks will be ESPN’s new weekday lineup, including a re-airing of Neil Everett and Stan Verrett’s west coast “SportsCenter” at 6:00 a.m. EST followed by a variety show with Mike Greenberg from 7-10 a.m. Miller said he expects Bomani Jones and Pablo Torres to get their own program as well.

Under this scenario, Miller says “First Take,” “SC6 with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith” and the station’s block of afternoon shows will stay in place. He also expects Scott Van Pelt’s solo “SportsCenter” to still air at midnight following live sports coverage.

“If you’re ESPN talent and you’re looking at a schedule that’s something like that, based on the commitments they’ve made, if you’re not on that, then you’re starting to feel a little shaky,” Miller said. “That’s not to say everyone else is gone, but I think those are the people that should take a deep breath, and those are the people that should feel immune.”

Deitsch, citing his own sources at ESPN, said “SportsCenter” anchors who haven’t been pegged as faces of the franchise –– such as Van Pelt, Everett and Verrett –– should start figuring out where they stand in the station’s hierarchy.

“If you are part of the SportsCenter unit right now but not one of the special talents where management has tapped on the shoulder and given the golden ticket, if I were one of those people I would be talking to my agent and my representation about how management thinks of me,” he said.

One notable ESPN personality who could be on his way out is anchor John Buccigross, whose contract expires later this year. The 20-year network veteran told Sporting News recently he wants to stay at the WorldWide Leader, but is realistic about the current business climate. Disney, ESPN’s parent company, reported lower-than-anticipated first quarter earnings last month –– partially due to the network’s decreased revenue base. ESPN has lost roughly 12 million subscribers since 2011.

With ESPN now paying $3.3 billion annually to broadcast the NFL and NBA alone, it looks like the network is going to have to prioritize retaining big-ticketed sports rights over keeping some of its most prominent personalities. The days of being able to do both appear to be over.

Read More: ESPN,
Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee took his surname after Odin Lloyd killing 03.30.17 at 2:10 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee took his surname after Odin Lloyd killing
Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez (right) testified against Aaron Hernandez Thursday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez (right) testified against Aaron Hernandez Thursday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee took the stand Thursday in his double murder trial. Perhaps the most surprising revelation from her testimony wasn’t anything she said, but rather what she now calls herself.

Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez says she took on her childhood sweetheart’s surname in 2015, one year after he was convicted of first-degree murder for killing his friend and former semi-professional football player, Odin Lloyd. It was the first time she used Hernandez’s last name in a criminal court.

The prosecution peppered Jenkins Hernandez with questions about a call she received from Hernandez at 2:37 a.m. on July 16, 2012, minutes after the former Patriots tight end allegedly killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive-by shooting. Much to Suffolk First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Haggan’s apparent frustration, Jenkins Hernandez claimed she doesn’t remember what she discussed with Hernandez after the 2012 slayings or after he shot his confidante, Alexander Bradley, in the eye in 2013.

Bradley, who testified against Hernandez last week, said the ex-football standout fired a gun at the two victims after Abreu spilled a drink on him at a nightclub. In February 2013, Hernandez shot Bradley in Florida in an apparent effort to silence him.

Jenkins Hernandez said she learned about the Bradley shooting “from another source,” while claiming ignorance about the evening of the double murder. She said Hernandez and Bradley would frequently go out to bars while she stayed home.

This is the second time she’s testified against Hernandez, as she also took the stand in the Lloyd trial. Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence for his conviction in that case.

Indoor Football League team refuses to sign Greg Hardy after fans vote against adding him to roster 03.30.17 at 12:34 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Indoor Football League team refuses to sign Greg Hardy after fans vote against adding him to roster
Greg Hardy is still unemployed. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Greg Hardy is still unemployed. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Greg Hardy is experiencing some well-deserved comeuppance.

For the second consecutive year, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of interest in Hardy on the NFL free agent market. With his career seemingly in jeopardy, he’s decided to turn to the Indoor Football League. But the defensive end has been rebuffed there as well.

The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles expressed an interest in bringing Hardy aboard, but only if their fans approved. They held a vote on their team app about the matter this week, which ended in a virtual tie. In an announcement Thursday, the team revealed 50.1 percent of voters were opposed to offering Hardy a contract. Thus, he will remain unemployed.

“We understood this fan vote to sign Greg Hardy would be controversial, but we believe in empowering fans to make the final decision, the right decision,” the club said in a statement, via ESPN. “We stand behind what was agreed upon and what is best for the team’s future success.”

Hardy, 28, played one game for the Panthers in 2014 before being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list following a domestic violence incident the previous May. According to law enforcement, Hardy threw his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, onto a couch littered with assault rifles and threatened to kill her. A judge found him guilty of assault, but the charges were eventually dismissed because Holder failed to appear in court to testify.

The Cowboys signed Hardy to an incentive-laden one-year contract in 2015, but he expressed little remorse for his actions. Prior to his first game back from suspension against the Patriots, he called out Tom Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

“I love seeing Tom Brady, he’s cool as crap,” Hardy said, via Fox Sports. “Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game.”

The misogynistic comments were downright creepy coming from Hardy, considering his violent history with women. He flamed out at the end of the season in Dallas, only recording two sacks from Week 9 onwards.

Though the domestic violence incident has been expunged from Hardy’s record, his legal problems continue to persist. He was indicted on a felony count of cocaine possession last November.

Read More: Greg Hardy,
5 things we want to learn about LaVar Ball during his ‘Dale & Holley with Keefe’ interview 03.30.17 at 10:57 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on 5 things we want to learn about LaVar Ball during his ‘Dale & Holley with Keefe’ interview
LaVar Ball will be on WEEI Thursday at 2:30 p.m. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

LaVar Ball will be on WEEI Thursday at 2:30 p.m. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

There’s nothing endearing about LaVar Ball. He’s the worst caricature of a sports dad –– hellbent on manipulating and controlling his kids’ athletic careers. But the qualities that make him so repulsive also make him a great interview. That’s why his appearance on Dale & Holley with Keefe Thursday promises to be must-listen radio.

With the Celtics holding possession of the Nets’ first-round pick, there’s a legitimate chance Lonzo Ball will play in Boston next season. With that reality in mind, it’s imperative to know what LaVar Ball thinks about the Celtics organization and the city itself. There are an infinite number of questions that could be posed to him about those topics. Five possibilities are below:

“Do you want Lonzo playing for the Celtics?”

When Eli Manning entered the NFL Draft in 2004, his father Archie Manning made it clear he didn’t want his son playing for the Chargers, who wound up trading him to the Giants. It’s not difficult to imagine LaVar Ball expressing similar demands about his eldest son.

In an interview last month, LaVar Ball said Lonzo will “only play” for their hometown Lakers. He later walked back those comments, saying Lonzo will play anywhere. But it would be curious to hear LaVar Ball’s thoughts on the Celtics, considering they play on the other side of the country and are projected to be a playoff contender for years to come. If LaVar Ball wants Lonzo to play 30 minutes per night in his rookie season, Boston may not be the best landing spot for him.

“What if Lonzo Ball doesn’t play that much?”

LaVar Ball is intent on making his kids stars. He wants to ink an $1 billion shoe contract for them and is already selling “Big Baller Brand” t-shirts. But if Lonzo Ball is a role-player during his rookie season, those plans may have to be put on hold for a little bit. Daddy Ball may not react kindly to that.

“Would you try to interfere with Brad Stevens?”

LaVar Ball is an overbearing presence at Chino Hills High School, where all three of his kids have attended. His interference with the program is chronicled in a recent USA Today feature story, which details stories about how he would try to overrule head coach Stephan Gilling at almost every turn.

After one game, Ball refused to leave the locker room, because Gilling had run a different defense than the one he suggested:

“He comes to me and says, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m trying to win the game.’

“He turns around and walks to our locker room,” Gilling said. “I said, ‘LaVar, don’t go into the locker room.’ He continues walking. I said, ‘LaVar, why are you trying to embarrass me?’ And he just kept walking and goes into the locker room. He’s in there sitting down with the team. And I’m like, ‘LaVar, get out!’”

Gilling says Ball refused to leave the locker room, so Gilling told his team to follow him back to the hotel while Ball’s sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, stayed behind.

When the Chino Hills team made it back to their hotel, Ball still hadn’t cooled down. In fact, he was just getting started.

“An assistant coach comes up to me and tells me that he sees LaVar rallying the team up,” Gilling said. “I guess he got them out of their rooms on the 18th floor and tells the team that it was his system that won. That we’re doing what he says. ‘I run Chino Hills! I run UCLA, about to run the NBA!’

That kind of act won’t work in the NBA, especially with an organization like the Celtics. But that doesn’t mean LaVar won’t try.

“Could you beat Larry Bird one-on-one?”

LaVar Ball claims he would have “killed” Michael Jordan in an one-on-one game if they had played each other during the primes of their athletic lives. Does he feel similarly about Larry Legend?

“Is Boston a racist city?”

LaVar Ball doesn’t appear to have any qualms about speaking out of his rectum on topics he knows little about. He seems like the perfect candidate to ignorantly opine on Boston’s racial history.

 

NFL owners have reportedly fallen in love with Roger Goodell again 03.29.17 at 11:08 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on NFL owners have reportedly fallen in love with Roger Goodell again
Owners reportedly have a favorable view of Roger Goodell once again. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Owners reportedly have a favorable view of Roger Goodell once again. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Towards the end of the interminable Deflategate saga, some NFL owners were reportedly souring on Roger Goodell. Several influential league executives, including Falcons owner Arthur Blank and 49ers CEO Jed York, even publicly expressed a desire to see the commissioner vacate his unilateral disciplinary power.

But now, following another year of monstrous profits, Goodell is reportedly back in the good graces of his billionaire overlords.

According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, Goodell’s standing among owners has increased recently. They respect the way he was able to navigate past the Ray Rice and Deflategate fiascos, while serving as a fall guy for the league. The owners are also reportedly thrilled with the way Goodell has handled the league’s concussion crisis. Last year, the Supreme Court left the NFL’s $1 billion settlement with thousands of ex-players who accused the league of masking the dangers of head trauma in place. It’s a favorable deal for the NFL, because it doesn’t cover CTE, which at this point can only be diagnosed posthumously.

With league revenue reaching $14 billion, the NFL seems poised to enter another period of prolonged financial growth. The league gained a whopping $1.65 billion in relocation fees from the Rams, Chargers and Raiders, which will be divided up among all 32 franchises. Every team will receive $53 million as a result of the moves, with none of the money going to the players.

That’s probably a reason why Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who continues to jab at Goodell for Deflategate, expressed support for the Raiders’ relocation at the league meetings this week.

“Now, they have an opportunity to be a very solid, vibrant team,” he said, via Patriots.com. “In the end, we’re in a competitive league, and you can’t compete at the highest level if you don’t have a first-rate stadium. I think that’s what this is really all about.”

As long as the money keeps pouring in, Goodell will likely remain popular among owners. He continues to deliver for them.

Read More: Roger Goodell,
Michael Irvin under investigation for sexual assault after woman says he drugged and raped her 03.29.17 at 10:07 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Michael Irvin under investigation for sexual assault after woman says he drugged and raped her
Michael Irvin is no stranger to legal trouble. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports

Michael Irvin is no stranger to legal trouble. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports)

A woman says NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin sexually assaulted her in a Florida hotel last week, according to TMZ.

The 27-year-old accuser told law enforcement she was in a bar with Irvin until the early hours of the morning before returning to his room at the W Fort Lauderdale March 21. Once they got there, the woman says she felt sick and remembers trying to fight off the former NFL star before falling asleep. She told police she believes Irvin drugged and raped her.

Irvin’s attorney, Larry Friedman, says his client isn’t guilty of any wrongdoing.

“The allegations are completely false,” he said, via TMZ. “In the few hours since we’ve learned about them we’ve already discovered many red flags about this young woman’s background and the allegations she made against Michael. Even the complaint that she made specifically says she does not recall the events that took place. She was very drunk that night. Nothing happened and there was no assault.”

The New York Post reports Irvin was at a bar with the alleged victim until roughly 4:30 a.m. The former wideout claims he was only in the room with the woman for 15 minutes, and another man was present as well.

Irvin, who played 12 seasons for the Cowboys, is currently an analyst at NFL Network. He settled a civil suit in 2011 with a woman who accused him of sexual assault.

Read More: Michael Irvin,
Bomani Jones: Only way Tom Brady plays 6 or 7 more years is if he takes steroids 03.29.17 at 9:29 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Bomani Jones: Only way Tom Brady plays 6 or 7 more years is if he takes steroids
Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl MVP last season.  (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl MVP last season. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Tom Brady hopes to play for another six or seven more years. Given that Brady will turn 40 in August, that means he expects to stand under center until he’s 46 or 47. It would be a superhuman feat.

On ESPN’s “Around the Horn” Tuesday, panelist Bomani Jones insinuated he doesn’t think Brady can last that long unless he takes illicit substances.

“At his age, the only people you’re playing six or seven more years is not legal as things stand right now,” Jones said. “I’m saying to play until you’re 45 years old, you can’t quite do that naturally.”

Jones didn’t back down when he was pressed about whether he was implying Brady would be forced to turn to performance-enhancing drugs to realize his goal.

“That is exactly what I’m saying, because nobody can play NFL football until they’re 45 years old unless they’re a kicker,” he said. “That is an insane thought to have. But part of him being so good is being insane.”

While Brady shows no signs of slowing down –– he led the AFC in passer rating last season –– it’s unfathomable to imagine him continuing to play quarterback into his late 40s. But then again, it is rather reckless to preemptively accuse somebody of using PEDs.

The only time Brady has even been remotely linked to steroid use was in 2006, when Barry Bonds’ former personal trainer Greg Anderson revealed to prosecutors he once spoke briefly with the Patriots’ quarterback on the phone. Anderson said he didn’t have any conversations with Brady afterwards.

Read More: ESPN, Tom Brady,