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Curt Schilling’s status as a right-wing icon grows with each lost Hall of Fame vote 01.19.17 at 11:13 am ET
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Curt Schilling's opinions have hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy, but helped his brand. (David Manning/USA Today Sports)

Curt Schilling’s opinions have hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy, but helped his brand. (David Manning/USA Today Sports)

Curt Schilling may never get into the Hall of Fame, but his status as a right-wing icon only grows with each lost vote. The end game is no longer getting a plaque in Cooperstown. Instead, it’s martyrdom.

The three-time World Series champion received only 45 percent of the vote this year, more than a seven-point decrease from his 52.3 percent total in 2015. In the months leading up to the election, several sportswriters who previously supported Schilling’s candidacy said they could no longer vote for him following a string of incendiary statements. The final straw for many, including the Boston Globe‘s Dan Shaughnessy, was when Schilling tweeted a photo of a t-shirt that advocates the lynching of journalists.

“Schill has transitioned from a mere nuisance to an actual menace to society. His tweet supporting the lynching of journalists was the last straw for this voter. Curt later claimed he was joking. Swell,” Shaughnessy wrote.

It’s disingenuous for Shaughnessy, or anybody else, to say Schilling actually wants to lynch journalists. The t-shirt is a joke, representing the disdain many conservatives hold for what they feel is a venal left-wing press. The fact that Schilling, who statistically is a superior pitcher to Tom Glavine, lost Hall of Fame votes this year only emboldens his case. If he’s serious about running for senate in 2018, his first campaign ad is already written.

“No, it’s not about about being yourself,” Schilling said on Kirk & Callahan Thursday when asked about losing Hall of Fame support. “It’s about being someone the left doesn’t like. That’s the difference.”

It’s smart business for Schilling to portray himself as a victim who’s been persecuted for his conservative viewpoints. President-elect Donald Trump rode this narrative all the way to the White House, even though the media awarded him with $5 billion in free advertising –– adding instant legitimacy to his campaign. Earlier this month, Schilling said he would be in the Hall of Fame if he disparaged Trump instead of Democrats and journalists.

“If I had said, ‘Lynch Trump,’ I’d be getting in with about 90% of the vote this year,” he told TMZ.

It’s insincere for Schilling to say his conservatism is the reason he’s losing Hall of Fame support, because he’s been politically outspoken for years. In 2004, just hours after the Red Sox had won their first World Series in 86 years, he decided to endorse George W. Bush for reelection during an interview with Good Morning America.

“And make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week,” he said.

But in recent years, Schilling’s political musings have become increasingly contemptuous. ESPN put up with a lot during his six years with the company: He wasn’t reprimanded in 2014 for railing against the theory of evolution on Twitter or for saying Hillary Clinton should be “buried under a jail.” Schilling was suspended two summers ago for tweeting a meme that compares radical Muslims to Nazis, but he returned to work afterwards. The end finally came last spring, when he shared an anti-transgender meme on Facebook featuring a burly man in drag.

Schilling was fired for his crassness, not his politics. But in the aftermath of his ESPN dismissal, he’s been playing up his role as a culture warrior, saying the WorldWide Leader employs “some of the biggest racists in sports commentating.” Now a host at Breitbart News, Schilling is wise to further exploit the right-wing persecution complex that Fox News and other outlets have ridden to incredible success.

“Shaughnessy has been calling me names since ’04. He’s just pissed, because he built his entire career on a fallacy and we beat it in 2004 and he’s been inconsequential and irrelevant ever since,” Schilling said on K&C, putting him down in Trump-like fashion. “[Jon] Heyman is a liar. I’ve watched him write lies about us in ’04, because I was one of them he lied about.”

As a player, Schilling’s ultimate goal may have been to get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But now, he’s better off sitting out, because he can present himself as a real victim of the so-called liberal takeover. The campaign stump speeches write themselves.

Read More: Curt Schilling,
There have been some awful Tom Brady hot takes this week 01.18.17 at 5:17 pm ET
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There’s nothing wrong with a good Tom Brady hot take. In fact, the genre was seemingly invented for him. He fills up the sports page with his Hall of Fame play and the gossip section with his A-list lifestyle. Add in the nearly 18-month Deflategate scandal, and he’s produced perhaps more content than any athlete in history.

For those reasons, it’s tempting to write or talk about Brady –– even when there’s nothing to say. It’s important to keep that in mind this week, because three of the worst Brady takes in recent memory have surfaced:

1) Brady is a liar (Sara Jane Harris, the Sporting News

Sara Jane Harris thought she caught Brady in a lie. During his weekly interview on Kirk & Callahan, Brady said no Patriots player would ever mimic Antonio Brown and stream a video of their locker room on Facebook Live. The team posts an edited video of the postgame celebration on its website after each win, but that’s a professional production. Apparently Jane Harris didn’t catch that when she stumbled upon this week’s version:

“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 wrote.

A simple Twitter or Google search would’ve shown Jane Harris there was nothing nefarious about the video. The article, which amazingly is still posted, is an outright lie. How ironic.

2) Brady is playing for his career with the Patriots Sunday (Colin Cowherd, Fox Sports 1)

It’s probably been a humbling couple of months for Colin Cowherd. Like every program on FS1, his radio show simulcast is struggling to attract viewers. So this week, he decided to throw the talk radio version of a Hail Mary: Claim Brady’s career with the Patriots is on the line.

“If Pittsburgh wins this game and Brady is average, you’re darn right [Robert] Kraft and [Bill] Belichick are having that, ‘Let’s have lunch and talk,’” he said.

According to Cowherd, Brady can’t afford to play poorly in three consecutive postseason games. In his last two playoff contests against the Broncos and Texans, Brady has posted an average QB rating of 62.6.

With Jimmy Garoppolo’s emergence, it’s likely the Patriots will trade a quarterback this offseason. But after an MVP caliber season, it’s not going to be Brady. And even if it is, does anybody really think Belichick would make a decision like that based off just one game?

Cowherd knows better. It’s sad to see somebody so desperately vying for relevance.

3) Aaron Rodgers would have more Super Bowls with Patriots than Brady (Manish Mehta, New York Daily News)

As Christopher Price notes, the world wants to see a Brady-Rodgers Super Bowl. But Manish Mehta is getting a little ahead of himself. In his latest column, he writes Rodgers would have won more Super Bowls with the Patriots than Brady. What’s his reasoning, you ask? Well, outside of talking about “physical tools,” he never gets to it:

“Rodgers, however, would have put up even more ridiculous numbers if paired with Belichick. He’s every bit as smart as Brady with more physical tools.”

Mehta talks about Rodgers’ incredible athleticism and his ability to make plays outside of the pocket. That’s all true, but it doesn’t explain how Rodgers would’ve been able to win more than four Super Bowls in New England. Apparently, Mehta’s theory assumes David Tyree wouldn’t have caught that pass in Super Bowl 42 and the defense would’ve held the Giants in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 46 if Rodgers were standing on the sideline instead of Brady.

That’s the problem with making this argument: there are far too many variables at play. It’s a noble effort for Mehta, but he comes up short.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
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,
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,
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
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,
David Price probably did hear racist taunts at Fenway Park 01.16.17 at 2:37 pm ET
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David Price told The Boston Globe he heard racist comments at Fenway Park. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

David Price told The Boston Globe he heard racist comments at Fenway Park. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

David Price probably did hear racist taunts at Fenway Park last season. But that doesn’t mean Red Sox fans are bigoted. All it proves is that jerks reside everywhere, including Boston.

In a recent interview with The Boston Globe, Price said some fans sitting in the bleachers would jeer at him while he was warming up in the bullpen before games. Once in a while, he said the barbs would also become racial.

“I got it all,” Price said. “It’s all right. I don’t care about that. My mom is white and my dad is black. I’ve heard that since I’ve been in school. There’s nothing you can say to me that I haven’t heard before. Your ignorance is not going to affect what I’m trying to do. But I feel sad it’s still out there.”

Despite those comments, it doesn’t seem as if Price is making an overarching statement about race relations in Boston. Later in the piece, he says he loves the city and can’t wait for his first son to be born here. If Price thought Boston were racist, or was constantly bombarded with bigoted insults, it’s unlikely he would be appear so enthusiastic about living in the area.

In ballparks across the country, black players say they’ve heard racial slurs. In October, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said fans in Toronto hurled racial epithets at him and Hyon Soo Kim during the ALCS. A few months earlier, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward acknowledged he’s been taunted with bigoted comments during his career as well.

Conversations about Boston’s ugly history with race have been reignited in recent weeks after Celtics fans cheered Jazz forward Gordon Hayward during pre-game introductions earlier this month. Jae Crowder expressed frustration about that, which prompted some talking heads at ESPN to insinuate Celtics fans like Hayward because he’s white. Keep in mind, Crowder never mentioned race during his postgame rant. The talking point was fabricated.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Price,
Kirk Minihane: Steelers will beat Patriots in AFC championship 01.16.17 at 12:21 pm ET
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Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will meet the Patriots in Sunday's AFC title game. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will meet the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC title game. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

The Steelers didn’t score a touchdown in their victory over against the Chiefs Sunday, but Kirk Minihane predicts they’ll have a big day against an untested Patriots defense in the AFC championship next Sunday.

In the first hour of Kirk & Callahan Monday, Minihane said he thinks the Steelers will ride their offensive firepower to an upset win at Gillette Stadium.

“New England has played one quarterback this year who’s good. They lost to him. The defense is good; I’ll grant you the defense is good. [But] who have they played since then?,” he asked.

Minihane is right: though the Patriots finished No. 1 in points allowed, they spent most of the season playing against the dregs of the NFL. They faced off against seven of the 10 worst offenses in the league, including the worst four –– the Texans, Browns, 49ers and Rams.

“We have to give this defense credit, I get that,” Minihane said. “But when I look at Roethlisberger and the weapons they have offensively, the way they’re playing right now, I feel like against this offense they’re going to go in the high 20’s, low 30’s. So will the Patriots, probably –– I don’t doubt that. But the Patriots do seem, offensively, a little banged up now –– wouldn’t you say? No Gronkowski, clearly Bennett is banged up.”

Roethlisberger has played well against the Patriots in his career. In eight games, he’s thrown for 17 touchdowns and six interceptions while posting a 95.4 quarterback rating. Despite those impressive numbers, he’s only won three of his eight meetings with New England. That’s probably because of the damage Tom Brady has inflicted on the Steelers during his illustrious career. His passer-rating against them is a whopping 114.2. (Brady is 7-2 when matched up against the Steelers and has never lost to them at Gillette Stadium.)

Brady’s history against the Steelers is one of the reasons why Minihane says he’s experiencing some pause about his pick. And if the Patriots do win, Minihane says he’s prepared to call them one of the best teams of the Bill Belichick era –– assuming they take care of business in the Super Bowl.

“If the Patriots beat the Steelers and then go on to beat either [Matt] Ryan or [Aaron] Rodgers and win the Super Bowl, finish the year ––what, 17-2 –– and beat Aaron Rodgers in a Super Bowl and Roethlisberger in a championship game, then this is a great team,” he said. “There’s no argument: this is one of the great Patriots teams of all-time.”

Is Kirk right, or is Kirk wrong?

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Read More: Kirk Minihane, Pittsburgh Steelers,