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Jimmy Garoppolo’s future with Patriots is currently biggest Boston sports story –– bar none 02.22.17 at 12:42 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo might be the most valuable trade commodity in the NFL this offseason. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Jimmy Garoppolo might be the most valuable trade commodity in the NFL this offseason. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Globe says baseball still owns our hearts in the Hub, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Despite the hoards of cargo shorts-wearing beat writers who have descended upon Red Sox Spring Training, the biggest Boston sports story of the season is happening more than 1,000 miles away from the confines of JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. Somewhere in the bowels of Gillette Stadium, Patriots staffers are planning out their offseason. They’re evaluating draft prospects, free agents and, most importantly, whether to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s where the action is.

It wasn’t too long ago that Red Sox hot stove talk routinely wrestled attention away from the Patriots. This most infamously happened in December 2003, when the Red Sox were on the verge of acquiring Alex Rodriguez. Excitement about the possibility of A-Rod playing in Boston dwarfed the interest surrounding Tom Brady chasing a Super Bowl title. Nowadays, trade talk about Brady’s backup dominates the airwaves. It’s been quite a turn of events.

In less than two months’ time, the Red Sox will be gearing up for Opening Day and the Celtics will be on the verge of beginning what could be their longest playoff run since 2012. But the daily drama, the kind that fuels talk radio and draws website traffic, will likely be Garoppolo’s status with the Patriots. It’s already sparked endless rumors, and even a feud between ESPN colleagues.

In December, Adam Schefter told Kirk & Callahan the Patriots expect to receive at least a first-round and fourth-round pick in return for Garoppolo. This statement prompted Trent Dilfer to call his co-worker a pawn during an appearance with Dale & Holley later that day.

“I can promise you nobody is trading a first and a fourth for Jimmy. Now, it’s smart that the brass in New England is using Adam [Schefter] to get that headline out there because now they are starting the market there,” he said.

Schefter fired back the following week, which prompted Dilfer to apologize. But that will probably be far from the last media squabble centered around Garoppolo’s availability or status. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport insists the Patriots are open to dealing Garoppolo, much like Schefter. The MMQB’s Peter King and ESPN’s Ed Werder, meanwhile, think he’s staying put. On Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman poured kerosene on the fire, reporting several teams are preparing to make blockbuster offers for Garoppolo.

The Garoppolo story has it all: mystery, debate and big stakes. Since the Patriots are perhaps the most tight-lipped and unpredictable organization in sports, it’s a genuine question about how they’ll proceed. There’s a real argument, to be had, too. With Tom Brady still at the top of his game, it seems prudent to trade Garoppolo for a haul this offseason. He’s entering the final year of his contract and is fresh off the glow from playing one-and-a-half sterling games in Brady’s absence. If the Patriots want to cash in, this will probably be their best chance to do it.

Then again, Brady will be 40 years old in August. He says he wants to play five more years, but his football mortality will eventually catch up to him. Assuming Garoppolo will be a successful NFL starter, maybe the Patriots should try to sign him to an extension. They would be tying up a lot of money in the quarterback position, but that’s a short-term hit. The security of having their next QB under contract may be worth it.

In this case, one single personnel decision could alter the course of the franchise for the next decade. If the Patriots trade Garoppolo and Brady falters over the next two years, Bill Belichick would have difficulty defending the move. It would be maybe the biggest blemish on his resume, the one time in which he lacked foresight.

But if Brady continues to defy age, and the Patriots recoup their lost first-round pick in a Garoppolo trade, then the move would be heralded as Belichick’s greatest coup. The future of the organization is on the line.

With all due respect to the Red Sox, there’s no decision they can make in sleepy Fort Myers that carries the same kind of importance. Even the Celtics, barring a blockbuster deadline trade, seem to be engaging in little more than a fun sideshow. Yes, they’re only three games behind the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. But if the two teams were to meet in the postseason, the Celtics’ defeat seems inevitable.

From September-February, the Patriots were the best story in town. That won’t change this spring, as long as Garoppolo trade rumors continue to swirl.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots,
Tom Brady movie will be terrible 02.17.17 at 1:04 pm ET
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Tom Brady's season was good enough without the Hollywood ending. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady’s season was good enough without the Hollywood ending. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

The worst movies are cheesy and predictable. The feature film project about Tom Brady’s historic comeback in Super Bowl LI will be both of those things.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Oscar-nominated screenwriters Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson are teaming up with New York Times best-selling author Casey Sherman to produce a book and movie about the Patriots’ improbable victory over the Falcons. Dave Wedge, who co-authored “Boston Strong” with Sherman, will be a part of the project as well.

Tamasy’s and Johnson’s involvement in the film is worrisome. Though they were up for an Oscar for their screenplay in “The Fighter,” they also were writers for “Patriots Day” –– perhaps the corniest Boston movie ever made. Every scene with dialogue was cringeworthy, from Mark Wahlberg’s hero cop character calling someone a “CHOWDAHEAD!!!” in the opening scene to his vomit-inducing speech about “good vs. evil” after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.

Deadline Hollywood’s write-up doesn’t make it seem like the Brady movie will be any better. The article’s author, Anita Busch, says the film chronicles Brady’s “fall from grace and then his triumphant return to lead the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl championship.” Brady was victimized in Deflategate, but painting him as an underdog who battled back against all odds –– like Micky Ward –– is silly. During his four-game suspension, he sun-bathed nude on the Italian coast and went on a publicity tour for UGG slippers. He wasn’t exactly sent to the gulags.

That ties into the central problem with creating a Hollywood-produced retelling of the Patriots’ 2016 season: it was dramatic enough on its own. Additional angles or storylines, such as giving slain MIT police officer Sean Collier a fake girlfriend in “Patriots Day,” is tawdry and cheap.

The real-life drama of the Patriots storming back from a 25-point deficit in Super Bowl LI, and then accepting the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell, was enough on its own. Replacing Brady with Wahlberg would be an easy way to turn the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time into a laughingstock.

There’s still a lot that can be gleamed from Deflategate, and the impact it had on this Patriots season. That’s why director Julie Marron is producing a documentary about it, due to be released this summer. The entire saga is a lesson in the corporate power dynamics of a multibillion-dollar organization, media manipulation and, frankly, the art of revenge. It’s best to address those themes in interviews with people who were there first-hand, not by turning Brady into a Tommy Saunders-inspired hero.

In this case, the reality is better than fiction ever could be. The retelling of Super Bowl LI should never be put in the hands of Hollywood.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Chris Long tears into rubes who are criticizing him for skipping White House visit 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,
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.

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Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
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,
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,
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Patriots missing Super Bowl game-winning football found; UConn Women reach record 100-game win streak at 8:45 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Cleveland at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Sacramento at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: Vancouver at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NHL)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s at VCU, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Notre Dame at Boston College, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Rutgers at Purdue, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Tulsa at UCF, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Clemson, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: Dayton at Saint Louis, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Mississippi State at Georgia, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Ohio State at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Penn State at Nebraska, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Texas at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Boise State at New Mexico, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Patriots running back James White said after the Super Bowl he forgot to take the game-winning touchdown football and didn’t know what happened to it.

“I wasn’t thinking in that moment,” White said. “I was too busy sprinting down the field.”

Thankfully, we now know, according to a team spokesman, an equipment manager picked it up and it is safe and sound and on display in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame.

The missing football was worrisome at the time because Tom Brady’s game-worn jersey was also missing and still has not been found.

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Read More: James White, New England Patriots, UConn women's basketball,
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.

Read More: New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI,
Another ‘Summer of Gronk’ is the last thing Rob Gronkowski needs 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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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,