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Despite battling illness and personal anguish, Jerry Remy is back at top of his game 02.13.17 at 4:50 pm ET
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At various times last year, it seemed as if NESN was phasing out Jerry Remy. At one point, after being sidelined for three consecutive road trips, the longtime color analyst even took it upon himself to assure fans he was feeling fine. He said the new schedule, not his health, was the reason for his prolonged absence from the booth.

It’s been a trying stretch for Remy, who NESN announced Monday is being treated for a relapse of lung cancer. The 64-year-old broadcaster was first diagnosed in 2008, leading to a more than three-month sabbatical the following year due to a bout with depression. He relapsed in the offseason prior to the 2013 campaign, but was able to work on Opening Day. Remy stayed on the job until mid-August, when his son, Jared, was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, with whom he had a young child. The news forced Remy off TV for the remainder of the championship run.

While his son’s murder trial played out in the early portions of the 2014 season, Remy was on the air almost daily. When Jared pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges May 27, 2014, he returned to the broadcast booth the next night. Though Remy was able to maintain his amiable on-air persona during that time, it made for some uncomfortable imagery. Play-by-play man Don Orsillo navigated through the delicate situation with aplomb.

At that point, after being on the job for 27 years, there were questions about how much longer Remy would continue to work. Those uncertainties may have been a reason why NESN brought in Steve Lyons to do studio shows in 2014. The telegenic former Red Sox outfielder was once Fox’s No. 2 baseball analyst. A local studio job seemed beneath him, unless it came with the promise of also getting into the broadcast booth.

Lyons has worked his way onto game broadcasts, taking part in a three-man color rotation alongside Remy and Dennis Eckersley. After Orsillo was ousted in favor of ex-radio voice Dave O’Brien at the end of 2015, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said he wanted to “re-energize the broadcast.” Apparently, lessening Remy’s workload was a part of that process.

After an offseason of change, it wasn’t the broadcast that seemed re-energized –– O’Brien struggled to adapt to a lighter, more conversational format –– but rather Remy. He appeared more focused than in recent years, frequently pointing out intricate details about the game that probably eluded most folks watching at home. When Remy is at his best, he combines a keen level of insight with his endearing RemDawg persona. That happened last year, and suits at NESN seemed to notice. Earlier this year, the network announced it had re-signed Remy to a multi-year contract. He’ll call 115 games in 2017.

Remy, who’s currently undergoing treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, plans to work his full schedule this season. That’s good news for viewers, who didn’t appear to enjoy Lyons last year. On a couple of occasions, Lyons was even trending on Twitter during games, because so many people were complaining about him.

With the sharp-tongued Eckersley reportedly unwilling to sign on for a full-season slate, Remy remains the Red Sox’s best color analyst option. As he enters his 30th season in the booth, his value to NESN has never been higher.

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Jerry Sandusky’s son charged with sexually abusing children 02.13.17 at 3:26 pm ET
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The apple apparently doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Jerry Sandusky’s son, Jeffrey, was charged Monday with 14 counts of child sexual abuse. He’s currently housed in the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, Penn., where his bail is set for $200,000.

Jerry Sandusky, the disgraced ex-Penn State defensive coordinator, is serving a lengthy prison sentence for sexually abusing at least 10 boys. In an attempt to get his conviction overturned, he denied in court last year he ever had sexual contact with children. The appeal is still pending.

Over the last several years, Penn State has paid roughly $93 million to more than 30 of Sandusky’s accusers. In September 2016, the school settled a long-running suit with its main liability insurance company over whether it will be reimbursed for the money it paid Sandusky’s victims.

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Robert Kraft is acting like one of Donald Trump’s political surrogates 02.13.17 at 1:26 pm ET
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Kraft routinely touts Trump's economic plans. (Andrew Innerarity/USA TODAY Sports)

Robert Kraft routinely touts Donald Trump’s economic plans. (Andrew Innerarity/USA Today Sports)

If Robert Kraft needs an activity this offseason, perhaps he could fill in for Donald Trump’s embattled White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer. He appeared to be auditioning for the role in an interview Monday on Fox Business Network.

The Patriots’ owner, who also appeared on NBC’s TODAY show, was asked about attending dinner with Trump Friday at his Mar-a-Largo estate alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Kraft third-wheeled for the evening’s proceedings, and was seated across from the President.

“[President Trump and Prime Minister Abe] had a real connection. I think it’s going [to be] to the benefit of both countries,” he said on Mornings with Maria. “The president stressed the need to create jobs and have a fair trade relationsihp. They both seem connected in the area of defense and all the issues that Americans would care about.”

When asked about Trump’s policies as a whole, Kraft said he thinks they’ll be great for working families –– echoing his comments to the New York Times last month.

“The most important thing for our country is new, good jobs –– especially in the inner-cities for working class people,” Kraft said. “People who live in the inner-city –– for the last decade, I don’t think they’ve gotten their fair share. I think if we can create a vibrant economy and have new stimulation, have this deregulation, and repatriation and tax reform, I think that’ll create a vibrant economic environment.”

During Super Bowl week, Kraft explained some of the history behind his relationship with Trump. He says when his wife, Myra, passed away in 2011, Trump called once per week for one year. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why Kraft feels an apparent loyalty towards Trump.

But unlike Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are also buddies with the President, Kraft discusses Trump’s political policies. During his interview with Fox Business, he parroted Trump’s vapid economic rhetoric, acting like a cable news surrogate.

Moments like these demonstrate why the Patriots and Trump are inseparable. Kraft aligning himself with Trump not just personally, but politically, is a relevant story –– just like when any celebrity or influential person decides to step into the political arena.

During his TODAY show interview, Kraft expressed support for the six Patriots players who announced last week they plan to skip the ceremonial White House visit. But he also appeared to criticize the press for fixating on the story, a move right out of the Trump playbook.

“Well, you know what’s interesting, this is our, I’m happy to say, fifth Super Bowl in the last 16 years,” Kraft said. “And every time we’ve had the privilege of going to the White House, a dozen of our players don’t go. This is the first time it’s gotten any media attention.”

With deflections like that, maybe Kraft will soon be making his way onto a CNN set.

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Watch Canucks forward Alex Burrows, who bit Patrice Bergeron during Stanley Cup, get laid out 02.13.17 at 11:00 am ET
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Six years ago, Canucks forward Alex Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron’s finger during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. On Sunday, he finally received his comeuppance.

During the first period of Vancouver’s contest against the Sabres, Burrows started to engage in a shoving match with Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner. During the midst of their confrontation, Sabres defenseman Justin Falk came out of nowhere and tackled Burrows to the ice.

Burrows’ night got a lot better from there, however. He netted a goal against Lehner and also recorded an assist in the Canucks’ victory. But for a fleeting moment, the Hockey Gods seemed to enact their belated revenge.

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‘Simpsons’ added final score of Super Bowl LI to their all-Boston episode 02.13.17 at 10:30 am ET
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When the Simpsons’ Boston-themed episode first aired in October, Homer and his buddies went to Moe’s Tavern to watch the Boston Americans oust the Springfield Atoms. The game-winning drive, which features the Americans’ well-coiffed quarterback slinging a touchdown pass to the team mascot –– a trick play drawn up by his dour-looking head coach –– is a familiar sight for Patriots’ fans. And now, so is the final score.

For Sunday’s rerun of “The Town,” Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman, a Watertown-native, decided to sub out the “Americans and “Atoms” for “New England” and “Atlanta.” The score, 34-28, was also coincidently the final of Super Bowl LI.

“For an episode that’s really a love letter to Boston, this felt like the perfect one-time addition,” Selman told Boston.com’s Kevin Slane. “It’s kind of cocky, but everyone else already hates the Patriots and their fans, so it’s OK.”

James Corden led the lamest rendition of “Sweet Caroline” at the Grammys 02.13.17 at 9:53 am ET
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When thousands of drunken moms and dads are screaming the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning of Red Sox home games, it’s difficult to think of being subjected to anything worse in life. But then, James Corden tried to lead a rendition of Neil Diamond’s 1969 single at the Grammys Sunday.

With a car cutout in hand, Corden gathered a bunch of A-listers and put them in his pretend vehicle for a game of Carpool Karaoke –– a signature bit from the Late Late Show. With Jennifer Lopez in the front seat and an array of artists in the back, including Diamond, Tim McGraw and John Legend, “Sweet Caroline” began playing inside the theatre. Three minutes of tortuous television followed.

Up until Sunday, the lamest moment in award show history was when Ellen Degeneres took a star-filled selfie at the Oscars three years ago. But now, her desperate attempt to go viral has been surpassed. Congratulations, everyone.

Patriots are selling way more Super Bowl merchandise this year than after last championship 02.10.17 at 3:15 pm ET
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The Patriots' win in Super Bowl LI may be the most celebrated championship in Boston sports history. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots’ win in Super Bowl LI may be the most celebrated championship in Boston sports history. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

It’s difficult to win a Super Bowl in more dramatic fashion than the Patriots did two years ago against the Seahawks. Faced with a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady orchestrated two incredible touchdown drives that put the Patriots ahead. The game ended with Seattle on the one-yard line, where Malcolm Butler jumped a slant route to record the Super Bowl-clinching interception.

But the Patriots topped that this season, storming back from a 25-point deficit to upstage the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Brady went 21-of-27 in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Patriots to the biggest come-from-behind win in Super Bowl history. On top of that, he got to hold up the Lombardi trophy in front of Roger Goodell, finally getting his revenge for Deflategate.

Amidst all of this euphoria, Patriots merchandise is flying off the shelves. According to data from Fanatics, the Pats sold as much team gear in the first two hours after their victory in Super Bowl LI than they did in 24 hours following Super Bowl XLIX. The contrast has only intensified since:

  • The Patriots sold more merchandise in the first 12 hours after Super Bowl LI than they did in seven days after Super Bowl XLIX.
  • Patriots sales this week are ahead of where they were 30 days following Super Bowl XLIX.
  • The Patriots have out-sold their 2015 championship by more than 130 percent.

These numbers are a bit surprising, considering Super Bowl XLIX attracted more viewers in Boston than Super Bowl LI. The Patriots’ matchup with the Seahawks drew a 61.0 rating in the city, whereas their affair against the Falcons garnered a 54.3 rating. It’s also worth noting that Super Bowl XLIX was a slightly better game from start-to-finish –– despite New England’s historic comeback Sunday.

But with more than 1 million people taking to the streets for the Patriots’ parade this week, in spite of snow and freezing rain,  it’s apparent this might be the most celebrated championships in Boston sports history. Maybe Roger Goodell should get a cut of all those merchandise sales. His draconian penalties on Brady and the Patriots only heightened the appetite for ring No. 5.

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Another ‘Summer of Gronk’ is the last thing Rob Gronkowski needs 02.10.17 at 1:07 pm ET
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Gronkowski caught a career-low 25 catches this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Rob Gronkowski caught a career-low 25 passes this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

It looks like another “Summer of Gronk” is on the way. But this one may not be as well-received as its previous renditions.

Despite only playing in eight games this season, Rob Gronkowski was the star of the Patriots’ championship festivities this week. He went psychotic during the parade Tuesday, guzzling down Bud Lights and taking off his shirt to party with fans in frigid temperatures. At night, he brought down the house at Foxwoods, and even managed to outlast Rick Ross.

It was an uneventful Super Bowl for Gronkowski, who was sidelined with a back injury. The all-time Patriots touchdown leader underwent another back operation in December, the third of his career. At 27 years old, Gronkowski has experienced at least nine surgeries since 2009.

Entering the playoffs sans Gronk is familiar ground for the Patriots. They’ve been forced to play with him in a limited capacity or without him entirely in five of the last seven years –– perhaps costing them multiple championships. But they were able to pull off a historic comeback Sunday, which could put a damper on Gronkowski’s plans for a five-month stretch of debauchery. For the first time in his career, he appears to be expendable.

Make no mistake: Gronkowski remains the best tight end in football. But he was close to a non-factor this season. Twenty-one of his 25 receptions came within a four-week stretch, and he only caught one pass in two contests without Tom Brady. After Gronkowski was placed on IR Dec. 3, the Patriots went 8-0 with an average margin of victory of 17.25 points. They played their best football when he wasn’t on the field.

Over the last couple of years, it seems as if Gronkowski has operated under a different set of rules than many of his teammates. After suffering a knee injury during the 2015 campaign, the Patriots filed a joint statement with Gronkowski’s family about his status. Hours later, Gronkowski published a video on Bleacher Report, in which he said he wouldn’t return until he’s 100 percent. Bill Belichick goes to great lengths to hide injury information, but with Gronkowski, the Patriots are an open book.

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Rick Ross says he threw up while partying with Rob Gronkowski 02.10.17 at 10:06 am ET
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Da Boss couldn’t hang with Gronk.

Hip-hop megastar Rick Ross partied with Rob Gronkowski following the Patriots’ parade Tuesday, tearing up Shrine Nightclub at Foxwoods. According to the Boston Globe, Gronk and his posse sprayed about 45 bottles of champagne into the crowd while Ross performed. It’s unclear whether that happened before or after Ross puked his guts out.

In an interview with Charlamagne Tha God and Andrew Schulz on their podcast, “Brilliant Idiots,” Ricky Rozay said he vomited after mixing liquor with the Gronkowski brothers. But eventually, he picked himself back up.

“I threw up a couple more times and then when I stood back up I felt good as f—,” he said.

Ross has given the Patriots numerous shoutouts in his songs over the years, including his latest single, where he calls Tom Brady his “new neighbor.” With that in mind, don’t be surprised if Rick Ross and Gronk are spotted together again this offseason. They’re a perfect match.

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Kevin Youkilis says he supports Patriots players who want to skip White House visit 02.09.17 at 4:19 pm ET
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Five Patriots players have announced they’re not going to visit the White House this year. Tom Brady’s brother-in-law, former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, supports their decision.

Youkilis, who’s married to Brady’s sister, Julie, tweeted this week he doesn’t understand why players get criticized for skipping the customary White House trip. He followed up on those thoughts Thursday, appearing to theorize that people are afraid to mix sports and politics.

It’s been a busy week for Youkilis, who was in attendance to watch the Patriots defeat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. The three-time All-Star was included in the Brady family pre-Super Bowl photo, standing off to the right.

It takes a team. And so much love. #NeverStopBelieving

A photo posted by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

This isn’t the first time Youkilis has commented on politics over the last couple of months. In December, he chimed in on WEEI.com’s report about President Donald Trump considering ex-Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine for United States Ambassador to Japan. Valentine questioned Youkilis’ commitment during the disastrous 2012 season, saying he wasn’t as “physically or emotionally into the game” as he had been in the past. Two months later, Youkilis was traded to the White Sox

Last month, Valentine said he was no longer a candidate for the ambassadorship.

Read More: Donald Trump, kevin youkilis, New England Patriots,