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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,
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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Donald Trump refuses to fill out NCAA tournament bracket for ESPN 02.15.17 at 4:09 pm ET
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Donald Trump won't be filling out a bracket this year. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool Photo/USA Today Network)

Donald Trump won’t be filling out a bracket this year. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool Photo/USA Today Network)

Throughout all eight years of his presidency, Barack Obama filled out NCAA tournament brackets on ESPN. Donald Trump is discontinuing the tradition.

According to the Washington Post, Trump declined ESPN’s bracket offer. In a statement provided to the Post, White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks didn’t provide many details about the reasoning behind the President’s decision.

“We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future,” she said.

Obama, a basketball enthusiast who frequently played pick-up games with staff members and other politicians, filled out both men’s and women’s brackets for an annual special on ESPN. Basketball analyst Andy Katz, who guided the President through the process, told the Post Obama’s passion for the game made the arrangement work.

“He wasn’t as dialed in to every player or team but had conversational knowledge to offer his own analysis on the NCAA tournament for the men’s and women’s game. Baracketology was a success because it was clear he was a fan of the sport and the NCAA tournament, like millions of other Americans,” he said.

Though Trump holds an apparent reverence for athletes, it’s unclear how closely he follows sports (he bailed on his beloved Patriots during halftime of Super Bowl LI, missing the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history). While Obama was known to watch SportsCenter in his free time, Trump opts for cable news. He often live-tweets the morning talk shows, offering his unfiltered analysis on Twitter. Wednesday morning, Trump pleaded with his followers to watch Fox and Friends and ditch CNN and MSNBC, which were covering the fallout from Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation.

While ESPN likely would’ve caught flak for collaborating with Trump, much like Saturday Night Live did in 2015 when he hosted an episode, this is a negative development for the WorldWide Leader. In recent months, the network has been criticized for its apparent left-wing bias. Featuring a softball segment with Trump may have helped change that perception –– at least for one day.

Read More: Donald Trump, ESPN,
ESPN’s public editor is at war with WEEI 02.15.17 at 12:44 pm ET
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In a recent column, ESPN public editor Jim Brady said he thinks it’s acceptable for media personalities to fire back at folks on Twitter. He’s taking his own advice.

Following a discussion on Kirk & Callahan Wednesday about his piece, which features interviews with ESPN personalities about their approaches to social media and political commentary, several listeners messaged Brady with their complaints about the story. Most notably, Brady failed to admonish hosts who have insinuated Boston is a racist city, such as Bomani Jones and Israel Gutierrez. After Celtics fans briefly applauded potential free agent forward Gordon Hayward before tip-off when the Jazz visited the T.D. Garden last month, Jones strongly hinted on “Highly Questionable” that race played a role in the warm reception.

“Is there another arena in the whole country that would get this charged about Gordon Hayward maybe coming as a free agent?,” he asked. “Clapping for Kevin Durant is one thing. But if you put Gordon Hayward on the same level as Kevin Durant, you might be the city that had the Kevin Love welcoming tour when he wasn’t even a free agent yet.”

Israel Gutierrez followed up on Around the Horn, saying the Celtics are “famous for having Larry Bird on their team.”

After failing to respond to an invitation to join K&C, Brady took his fight to the Twittersphere.

Even though the article was about ESPN’s social media policy, it failed to mention Curt Schilling, the most high-profile employee who’s ever been terminated for his behavior on the Internet. On Twitter, Brady said he omitted Schilling because the right-hander was a multiple time offender. He was suspended in 2015 for comparing radical Muslim jihadism to Nazism, roughly seven months before he was canned for sharing an anti-transgender picture on Facebook.

Perhaps the most puzzling line in the piece came when Brady was introducing Jones, who he says is “never shy at [sic] mixing it up with fans or with critics.” That characterization contradicts the accounts of dozens of Boston sports fans who Jones has blocked on Twitter. He also refused to come on WEEI last month to further explain his point.

This isn’t the first time the public editor has mixed it up with WEEI personalities and listeners. Earlier this year, after Brady declined a request to join the station to discuss Jones’ inflammatory comments, Kirk Minihane called him a “coward.” He responded by calling Minihane a “clown.”

Read More: ESPN,
Patriots fan got a Tom Brady tattoo on his butt 02.15.17 at 11:40 am ET
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Sometimes, it’s not enough to wear your favorite player’s jersey. You must get his face tattooed on your rear end.

That’s what one Patriots fan did last week before the championship parade, which attracted more than 1 million people to the streets of Boston. Before the festivities began, he decided to stop by Boston Barber & Tattoo Co. on Salem Street and get Tom Brady’s mug branded where the sun don’t shine.

In a phone call with WEEI.com, an employee at the tattoo parlor said several Patriots fans came by for some ink during the parade last week. In addition to the butt tattoo, two other patrons got some Patriots-related artwork on their lips.

New England fans have a history of sporting unusual ink. Prior to Super Bowl XLII, Victor Thompson, a resident of Laconia, N.H., decided to get the Patriots’ logo tattooed on both sides of his head –– like a football helmet. The 47-year-old passed away last year.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
ESPN still ignores apparent double-standard that resulted in Curt Schilling’s firing 02.14.17 at 4:12 pm ET
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Curt Schilling was dismissed from ESPN last March. (David Manning/USA TODAY Sports)

Curt Schilling was dismissed from ESPN last March. (David Manning/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN public editor Jim Brady published a column this week about the company’s policy when it comes to social media use and political discourse. He addresses a wide swath of controversies, including a recent string of comments from ESPN hosts who have insinuated Boston is a racist city. But he fails to mention Curt Schilling, who was fired from the network last year after sharing an anti-transgender post on Facebook.

The omission is significant, and it’s not just because Schilling is the most high-profile employee who’s ever been terminated for his behavior on social media. It also provides a glimpse into the apparent double-standard that exists at ESPN when it comes to who’s allowed to speak out, and who must stay silent.

In his piece, Brady says the WorldWide Leader should let its personalities express themselves with few restrictions.

“Barring something truly beyond the pale, it’s unlikely any ESPN personality would be terminated over a single comment or social media post,” he writes. “And, in a world where patience for opposing viewpoints seems to be evaporating, I think that’s a good position for the company to take.”

When asked why Schilling wasn’t included in the article, Brady said on Twitter it’s because he was a multiple time offender, having served a suspension in 2015 for comparing radical Muslim jihadism to Nazism. That’s fair, but several of his colleagues habitually make inflammatory statements, only to see their profiles rise.

Jemele Hill, who co-hosts the highly promoted “SC6″ with Michael Smith, was reprimanded in 2008 for saying rooting for the Celtics is akin to calling Adolf Hitler a victim.  Last summer, in the wake of the Orlando Massacre, she admonished Americans who condemn homophobia in Islamic cultures, because gay people face discrimination in the U.S. as well. While that may appear to be a nuanced take on the issue of LGBTQ rights, it’s mindless and insulting.  In at least 10 majority Muslim nations in the Middle East and Africa, homosexuality is punishable by death. It’s difficult to see how that equates to the U.S., where same-sex marriage is legal and federal contractors are barred from discriminating against LGBTQ workers.

While gay rights in the U.S. can still be expanded, and are in danger of being rolled back during Donald Trump’s administration, the comparison Hill made is invalid. Or, at the least, it’s not any less nonsensical than comparing Islamic jihadism to Nazism.

But Hill is now one of the most visible hosts on ESPN, free to label Boston as the “gold-standard of racism” during a recent podcast with NBA analyst Amin Elhassan. In that same episode, Elhassan called Boston the most bigoted city in the country north of the Mason-Dixon line.

It seems to be acceptable at ESPN to smear Bostonians and call them racist. When Celtics fans cheered Jazz forward Gordon Hayward last month, Bomani Jones implied on “Highly Questionable” that race may have been a factor in his warm reception. (Never mind that Celtics fans have also applauded Kevin Durant and other potential free agents in recent years, as an apparent effort to recruit them to Boston.)

“Is there another arena in the whole country that would get this charged about Gordon Hayward maybe coming as a free agent?,” he asked. “Clapping for Kevin Durant is one thing. But if you put Gordon Hayward on the same level as Kevin Durant, you might be the city that had the Kevin Love welcoming tour when he wasn’t even a free agent yet.”

On “Around the Horn,” Israel Gutierrez issued a similar statement.

“It’s Boston. They’re famous for having Larry Bird on their team. Gordon Hayward looks more like Larry Bird than other players in the league. So maybe there’s that Boston connection there,” he said.

In an interview with Brady, Jones said he was talking about how Boston has a “particular affection for white players.” But it’s unclear how that’s different than other cities that support talented white athletes. Skin color isn’t the barometer for Celtics fan appreciation, or else Kelly Olynyk would probably be the most popular player on the squad instead of Isaiah Thomas. Rather than clarify his remarks, Jones fired off another cheap shot.

At ESPN, there appear to be different sets of rules for each personality. Stephen A. Smith, for example, was welcomed back after hinting in 2014 that women sometimes bring domestic violence upon themselves. Last summer, he strongly hinted that Stephen Curry’s outspoken wife, Ayesha, should know her place and not bring any negative attention to herself.

In isolation, none of these comments should result in anybody’s firing. Opinionated personalities should be allowed to speak their minds both on- and off-air. But it remains difficult to see how Schilling’s statements crossed a line, while others are deemed acceptable.

Schilling was politically outspoken throughout his tenure at ESPN, including when he got into a spat with Keith Law about the theory of evolution and said Hillary Clinton should be “buried under a jail.” So it’s unlikely his political leanings were the ultimate reason he was fired. It’s more plausible Schilling was canned for his crassness. The anti-transgender meme he shared featured a burly man in drag, and below it, he said the “men’s room was designed for the penis.” Classy stuff.

But then again, it’s not all that classy to compare Celtics fans to Nazi sympathizers or label Boston racist with nothing more than decades-old anecdotal evidence –– such as citing the break-in at Bill Russell’s house during his playing days in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

When it comes to ESPN’s policies on social media use and political commentary, Schilling stands out as someone who may have fallen victim to a double-standard. But apparently, it’s easier for ESPN to ignore that instead of address it head-on.

Read More: Curt Schilling, ESPN,
USA Today grossly misrepresents Tom Brady’s comments on Patriots White House visit 02.14.17 at 12:47 pm ET
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Given Brady's friendship with Donald Trump, there's been a lot of focus on whether he'll visit the White House later this year. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Given Tom Brady’s friendship with Donald Trump, there’s been a lot of focus on whether he’ll visit the White House later this year. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

When Tom Brady was asked Tuesday about several of his teammates planning to skip the Patriots’ White House visit, he gave a diplomatic answer. But that’s not the way USA Today represented it.

In an interview with PFT Live, Brady said he respects players’ decisions to boycott the ceremony.

“Putting politics aside, it never really was a political thing. At least it never was for me,” he said. “It’s just always something that was a privilege to be able to do, because it really meant you won a championship and you got to experience something cool with your team and with your teammates. Everyone has their own choice and everyone, it’s their offseason. These days are valuable for everybody. You only get so much time with your family and friends. If people don’t want to go, they don’t want to go and that is their choice.”

It’s difficult to think of a way for Brady to answer that question any more judiciously. Since he skipped the White House visit two years ago while President Barack Obama was in office, he’s wise to say he personally feels it’s an apolitical event –– especially if he plans on going this spring to see his pal Donald Trump. But he also acknowledged others may disagree. He covered all of his bases.

When USA Today wrote up the interview, however, Brady’s message was misconstrued.

In a tweet from the USA Today Sports account, the teaser for the story reads: “Tom Brady says his teammates should put ‘politics aside’ when it comes to visiting the White House.” That echoes the original headline, which has been replaced. It now says, “Tom Brady in favor of ‘putting politics aside’ when it comes to White House visit.”

That’s still misleading, because it implies Brady was preaching to others about how they should view the White House trip. But in reality, he was only speaking for himself. He couldn’t have been more clear, saying “at least it never was [political] for me.” There’s no other way to interpret that comment, unless you’re trolling for clicks.

It’s fair to criticize Brady for the way he’s handled the Trump story. It was weak for him to end his press conference when he was asked about the President’s leaked Access Hollywood video tape, in which he brags about sexually assaulting women. It also came across as phony for Brady to claim he’s oblivious to current events when asked about Trump at Super Bowl opening night.

But when it comes to his answer about the White House boycott, Brady satisfied all parties. Shame on USA Today for taking those remarks, and presenting them as inflammatory comments directed towards his teammates.

In these divisive times, it’s more important than ever for the media to serve as a watchdog. The press is supposed to disprove “alternative facts,” not create them. By publishing an inaccurate description of Brady’s interview, USA Today failed in this mission.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Penn State truther John Ziegler on Kirk & Callahan: Jerry Sandusky’s son may have been set up 02.14.17 at 10:12 am ET
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In recent years, right-wing talk show host John Ziegler has emerged as Jerry Sandusky’s most prominent defender. According to Ziegler, every single one of Sandusky’s victims is lying. With news that Sandusky’s son, Jeffrey, has been arrested on child sexual abuse charges, Ziegler came on Kirk & Callahan Tuesday to talk about the case.

According to prosecutors, Jeffrey Sandusky, who’s one of the disgraced ex-Penn State defensive coordinator’s six adopted children, tried to solicit his two teenage stepdaughters for oral sex and naked pictures. Sandusky allegedly asked his older daughter for a blowjob in 2013 when she was 15 years old, and her younger sister last year to send him pictures of herself changing and urinating. She was 16 at the time.

Though Ziegler says the criminal report report looks bad, he’s unwilling to say Sandusky is guilty. Instead, Ziegler says there’s a possibility he was set up.

“Put yourself in the position of a father whose ex-wife is dating a Sandusky in 2013-2016. You want that guy out of your life,” he said. “You want this entire situation out of your life. If Jeff did something really stupid, and maybe even wrong and maybe even highly inappropriate –– and who knows –– maybe even criminal [crosstalk]. … Those three people clearly have a huge incentive to get Jeff Sandusky out of their life.”

Ziegler went on to say Dottie Sandusky, Jeffrey’s mother and Jerry’s wife, thinks her son is innocent. He says he told her Jeffrey is going to jail, even though he doubts the older daughter’s account of events.

“After reading the complaint about the 15-year-old daughter –– I don’t believe that, because that happened in 2013 and that sounds to me like a sister trying to help another sister out along with a dad to try to substantiate and exaggerate a story,” he said.

Given the mountain of evidence against Jeffrey Sandusky, it’s difficult for Ziegler to dismiss the charges outright. But he says it lends further credence to his theory about Jerry Sandusky’s innocence, because no text messages or recorded conversations have been brought forward in his cases.

“Why is there evidence against Jeffrey Sandusky that does not remotely exist against Jerry, despite the fact that Jerry has been investigated for eight years with unlimited resources by multiple authorities?,” he said. “There’s no evidence when there should be mountains of evidence.”

In a lot of ways, Ziegler says the Penn State sexual assault story is analogous to Deflategate. According to him, false reporting from ESPN ignited the scandal, much like Chris Mortensen’s fabricated report about the Patriots’ footballs air pressure levels propelled Deflategate to the front-page.

“As far as Deflategate is concerned, the whole Deflategate thing starts because ESPN files a false report –– Chris Mortensen with the 11 out of 12 balls being deflated. And that gets [treated as] gospel, and sparks a domino affect and everyone gets invested in a mythology,” he said. “Well, that’s exactly what happened with the [Mike] McQueary episode in the Penn State case. There was a false report, mostly by ESPN at the start of this story and everything comes downhill from there. Everyone is invested in mythology. It’s the Lock Ness Monster story.”

Read More: Jerry Sandusky,