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Devin McCourty and Chris Long explain decision to skip Patriots White House visit in anti-Donald Trump video 04.17.17 at 9:52 am ET
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Chris Long signed with the Eagles this offseason.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Chris Long signed with the Eagles this offseason. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Devin McCourty and Chris Long won’t be joining their teammates Wednesday for the Patriots White House ceremony. They elaborated on their decision to skip the proceedings in a video titled, “StandingPats (Be Patriots).” In it, the two players express their opposition to Donald Trump alongside several Patriots fans.

McCourty, who announced immediately after the Super Bowl he wouldn’t be making the trip to Washington D.C., said he believes Trump’s administration fails to embrace diversity.

“For me, it was simple. I don’t believe in excluding other people,” he said. “Right away I knew I wasn’t going, because it was something I thought about before we even won the game.”

Long added that he wants his son to remember he didn’t stand with Trump.

“My son grows up, and I believe the legacy of our President is gonna be what it is,” he said. “I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey Dad, why did you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?’”

In an interview with ESPN’s The Undefeated Friday, McCourty said he doesn’t agree with an array of the Trump administration’s policies. Martellus Bennett, Dont’a Hightower, LeGarrette Blount and Alan Branch aren’t going, either, but not all are abstaining for political reasons.

Read More: Chris Long, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots,
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,
Patriots players who plan to skip White House trip are delivering ultimate diss to Donald Trump 02.09.17 at 1:46 pm ET
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Trump will likely take every White House snub personally. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

Trump will likely take every White House snub personally. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

In nearly every liberal corner of the country, the Patriots have been castigated for their ties to Donald Trump. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft are all friends with the President, defending his character at every turn. But it’s also worth noting that several Patriots players are taking a stand against Trump, humiliating him in public fashion.

In the aftermath of New England’s historic comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, five players have come out and said they won’t be going to the White House this year for a presidential photo-op. Martellus Bennett first revealed his plans to snub Trump at Media Night, saying he doesn’t support him. The tight end reiterated his feelings Sunday.

Devin McCourty, who’s one of the Patriots’ team captains, took his protest one step further. In addition to announcing his intended absence, he says he “doesn’t feel welcome” at the White House with Trump in office. LeGarrette Blount expressed similar sentiments Thursday, telling Rich Eisen he doesn’t think he’s welcome there, either.

Chris Long also won’t be in attendance, and Dont’a Hightower plans to sit out the proceedings as well. (Hightower also didn’t go in 2015 when Barack Obama was president.)

Ever since 1865, when President Andrew Johnson hosted the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals amateur baseball clubs, sports teams have visited the White House for celebratory ceremonies. Ronald Reagan started making it a regular occurrence in the 1980’s, and today, roughly a dozen clubs stop by each year.

Throughout the last 40 years, plenty of players have skipped the customary White House trip. But it’s rare for them to say it was for political purposes. When Larry Bird didn’t go in 1984, he told a reporter the president knew where to find him. Michael Jordan golfed instead of visiting George H.W. Bush in 1991 and a family commitment reportedly kept Brady from meeting Obama two years ago.

When players do reveal their motivations behind a White House absence, it’s a big story. Former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas garnered headlines in 2012, when he said he wasn’t going because the federal government under Obama was “threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.” Ex-Ravens center Matt Birk, a pro-life advocate, made news when he declined to show up in 2013 because of Obama’s support for Planned Parenthood.

With Trump in office, a record-setting number of athletes are expected to forego the White House tradition. For a man who’s obsessed with appearance and aesthetics, that would be an embarrassing blow.

Throughout the entirety of his campaign, Trump flaunted his apparent reverence for sports stars. He campaigned with Bobby Knight in Indiana, promised to present an “Athlete’s Night” at the Republican National Convention and frequently mentioned his three good friends –– Brady, Belichick and Kraft. With that in mind, it only makes sense for Trump’s beloved Patriots to be the first professional team that visits him in office.

Except, leading up to the event, the story will likely be about the players who aren’t going. This week, running back James White said he was still considering a White House boycott, and several of his teammates probably feel similarly. When the Patriots go to the White House this spring, it’s nearly certain that more than five players will opt to stay behind.

Every other person who’s ever sat in the Oval Office probably didn’t spend any time stewing over athletes who didn’t want to come shake their hand during a ceremonial event. But Trump is different. This is a man who on the first full day of his presidency, sent out his press secretary to lie about his inauguration crowd size. He tweets constantly about Saturday Night Live and is obsessed with media coverage. Trump’s apparent insecurities run so deep, that he reportedly brags about the breadth of his electoral college win in phone calls with foreign leaders.

Given his tweet calling millions of protesters “anarchists” and “thugs,” Trump doesn’t appear to respect the right of free speech. He seems to view every sign of dissent, such as a federal judge temporarily halting his possibly unconstitutional travel ban, as a personal slight. An athlete refusing to visit the White House to meet the president –– an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity –– is the ultimate diss.

Nearly 30 years ago, Graydon Carter, now the editor of Vanity Fair, called Trump in Spy Magazine a “short-fingered vulgarian.” To this day, Carter says he occasionally receives photographs from Trump, in which the President circles his fingers in gold sharpie to showcase their length.

Whenever Trump looks at pictures of the Patriots’ visit, he’ll be forced to remember that numerous members of his favorite football team didn’t want to meet him. And by all accounts, it will bother him greatly.

Brady and Co. have long been a source of pride for Trump. But for the next couple of months, as the anticipation for their White House visit builds, they’ll be a thorn in his side.

This post was updated to include LeGarrette Blount’s comments, which were made after the article was published.  

Read More: Chris Long, Devin McCourty, Donald Trump, Martellus Bennett
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Local, national athletes react with dismay to ambush of police officers in Dallas 07.08.16 at 8:47 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Pirates, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Orlando Summer League, Mavericks vs. Hornets, 8 a.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Orlando Summer League, Magic vs. Pistons, 10 a.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Orlando Summer League, Clippers vs. Knicks, noon (NBA TV)
NBA: Orlando Summer League, Thunder vs. Heat, 2 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Orlando Summer League, Magic vs. Pacers, 4 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Bucks vs. Cavaliers, 6 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Hawks vs. Rockets, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Timberwolves vs. Nuggets, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Kings vs. Raptors, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Lakers vs. Pelicans, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Track and field: U.S. Olympic trials, 6 p.m. (NBCSN), 8 p.m. (NBC)
Gymnastics: U.S. Olympic trials, 9 p.m. (NBC)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 8 a.m. (ESPN)


— Five police officers were killed and seven more injured when snipers opened fire during a protest in Dallas on Thursday following the deaths of two black men earlier in the week, and athletes around the nation reacted with dismay.

New Patriots defensive end Chris Long, who spent the past seven seasons playing in St. Louis, tweeted:

Praying for those Dallas PO’s
Respecting, appreciating good ppl in uniform
Being angry about an unjust murder by a PO

Added Long: All violence in this country sucks. Whoever perpetrates it. intellectually dishonest people will continue to justify it. So sad. Rant over

Cavaliers star LeBron James commented on an article about Philando Castile, the Minnesota man shot by a policeman while in his car, writing: Sickens me and I shed multiple tears about it all.

Later in the evening, as details emerged from Dallas, he wrote: We are all hurting tonight. More violence is not the answer. #StoptheViolence

Former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders urged Dallas to show restraint.

Tweeted Sanders: Dallas let’s wake up this ain’t us! We’re better than this. We’re hurting,upset,confused,sad,frustrated,tired & fed up but this ain’t right!

Wrote former Giants defensive end Justin Tuck: Eye for an eye truly means that we all soon will be blind. Hate + more hate = HATE. I CHOOSE TO LOVE EVEN THOSE THAT HATE ME.

Tweeted Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: Dallas,we mourn those who lost their lives protecting us and stand together, united, to cherish those we live and work next to #DallasStrong

— Rajon Rondo is saying all the right things as he joins the Bulls, although it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to avoid the issues with teammates and coaches that have plagued his career.

Rondo was introduced to the media Thursday after agreeing to a reported two-year, $28 million deal earlier in the week, and he said he understands he’s not the No. 1 star in Chicago, which features Jimmy Butler and former Heat star Dwyane Wade.

“Jimmy’s the youngest, he’s the engine here,” Rondo told reporters. “It’ll be Jimmy, Wade, and then it will be a pecking order.”

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Read More: Chris Long, deion sanders, LeBron James, rajon rondo
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Rams players take to social media to thank St. Louis fans, turn attention to new Los Angeles home 01.13.16 at 8:10 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NHL: Celtics at Flyers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Pacers at Celtics, 8 p.m. (CSNNE, ESPN)
NBA: Heat at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Boston College at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: SMU at East Carolina, 6:15 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Georgetown at St. John’s, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Duke at Clemson, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Houston at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Temple at Memphis, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: TCU at Baylor, 8:15 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Marquette at Villanova, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Mississippi at LSU, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech, 9 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: San Diego State at Colorado State, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: USC at UCLA, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oregon State at Colorado, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Soccer: Premier League, Arsenal at Liverpool, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


Chris Long

Chris Long

— Following Tuesday’s news that the Rams were approved for a move back to Los Angeles, players took to social media to express their thanks to St. Louis and their excitement for their new home.

The Rams will play in a new stadium in Inglewood that will be built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The Chargers — who had proposed sharing a Los Angeles-based stadium with the Raiders — have been given the option of striking a deal to share the Rams’ facility. If the Chargers stay in San Diego, the Raiders will be given the opportunity to join the Rams.

While politicians and executives in St. Louis expressed their frustration with the NFL, the players reached out to fans of both cities.

Defensive end Chris Long traded tweets with heartbroken St. Louis fans, writing: Humbly, eternally gratefully: Thank you St. Louis. I’m sorry we fell short the past 8 years. You treated me like family anyways. I love yall . . . I will always remain involved in trying to continue to give back to the community that supported me through thick and thin.

As for his new fans in Southern California, Long wrote: Los Angeles You are getting a team that is hungry to win. See y’all soon.

Added linebacker Alec Ogletree: #thereturn it’s official!!! Appreciate the support and love we got here in stl. Def will miss this place. Now it’s time for a fresh start!!!

Wrote linebacker James Laurinaitis: While it is very exciting to be [a part] of bringing football back to Los Angeles, it is a bittersweet feeling. Out fans in STL have supported me since day 1 when I was drafted and I will never forget that. Thank you for your undying support of me and my family for the last 7 years! We are grateful! Go LA Rams!

— Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who already has 10 children with several women — and famously struggled to remember their names during a “Hard Knocks” appearance — is set to become a father yet again. His wife, Terricka, told Us Weekly that she is pregnant with twins, even though her husband had a vasectomy.

“I didn’t even tell Antonio right away because I didn’t think it was possible,” Terricka said. “I was going back and forth in my head how it could even happen. In my head we were good to go, we were having free sex! I just really thought that his procedure was the best protection you could have at this point.”

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Jets fan detained after punching female Patriots fan in fight at MetLife Stadium 10.21.13 at 7:59 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NFL: Vikings at Giants, 8:40 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Avalanche at Penguins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA preseason: Mavericks at Rockets, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Premier League, Crystal Palace vs. Fulham, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


‘€¢ It’s not shocking that there was a fight involving Patriots and Jets fans at MetLife Stadium after Sunday’s game, but a video making the rounds is surprising for what it shows: a large male Jets fan delivering a punch to the face of a female wearing a Patriots shirt.

The man, wearing the No. 80 jersey of former Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet, appeared to jump into a fracas in the concession area. As he was being pulled away, a blonde woman was among those who ran at him and pushed him. He responded with a hard right that connected with the woman and knocked her back, although she remained on her feet. A man in a Patriots T-shirt then responded with a punch that caught the Jets fan on the left cheek.

A spokesperson for the Jets said the man was detained, and the New Jersey State police said the incident is under investigation.

“We are aware of the situation and we do not tolerate that behavior,” the Jets spokesperson said.

‘€¢ Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is not happy with Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and he’s not shy about letting everyone know the reason why.

Smith claims Jenkins, a second-year pro from North Alabama, crossed the line when he tried to rattle the veteran receiver, making comments about Smith’s family.

“What I don’t like is a young guy who comes in, who obviously his first time every using the Internet and Google, and he Googles information about me, talks about my wife and stuff like that,” Smith said in a lengthy tirade. “That’s just some of the [expletive] I just don’t play with.”

Added Smith: “I don’t play them games. When you try to take it personal like that, I don’t have any great humbling things to say. So he can take his [expletive] back to St. Louis and watch the [expletive] film, ’cause I don’t play them games. And if I see him on the street, I’m going to bust him in the [expletive mouth.”

There were five personal fouls in the game — won by Carolina, 30-15 — including one that resulted in the ejection of Rams defensive end Chris Long for throwing a punch.

Smith got away with taunting Jenkins after hauling in a 19-yard touchdown catch, the 800th reception of his career.

“Yes, I directly points to him,” Smith said. “I don’t give a damn. ‘€¦ When you embarrass people, you rub it in their face. When your dog [expletive] on the carpet, you rub it in his face.”

‘€¢ LeBron James turned some heads when he said in a Twitter chat with fans Friday that “I wanna play one NFL game before it’s over.”

James has expressed interest in the past in playing professional football, and the owner of his favorite team, the Cowboys, sounds like he would be happy to accommodate him.

“I hope to see LeBron,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said when James attended a game in September. “I just wish I could suit him out.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 21, 1975, the Red Sox beat the Reds in Game 6 of the World Series on Carlton Fisk‘s 12th-inning home run off Pat Darcy. Which pitcher got the win for the Sox?

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Read More: Chris Long, Janoris Jenkins, LeBron James, steve smith