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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Athletes and celebrities react to the Patriots’ AFC championship win over Steelers 01.23.17 at 8:25 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Monday 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.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: New York at Indiana, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NFL: San Jose at Colorado, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: N.C. State at Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: TCU at Oklahoma State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: American University at Holy Cross, 7:05 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Texas Southern at Miss. Valley State, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oklahoma at Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Women’s college basketball: Mississippi State at South Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Women’s college basketball: Penn State at Indiana, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

— After the Patriots beat the Steelers Sunday night to seal their spot in the Super Bowl, other athletes and celebrities reacted to the win on social media.

 

 

   

Some Patriots themselves also posted about the win:

 

Tight ends baby! @jdevelin @martellusb Them boys worked hard for this!!! A photo posted by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on

Great Team Win #PatsNation

A photo posted by Logan Ryan (@realloganryan) on

 

THAT’S SOME HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE! #letsgooooooo

A photo posted by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

 

Read the rest of this entry »

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Over next four years, Patriots won’t be able to hide from Donald Trump 01.20.17 at 11:37 am ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick didn’t react well when they were asked questions about Donald Trump this season. But over the next four years, they should get used to it. One of the most divisive presidents ever is tied to the Patriots. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask some of his most high-profile backers to answer for him.

On the eve of his inauguration, Trump name-dropped both Brady and Belichick in front of a room full of supporters –– including Robert Kraft. He credited Belichick for teaching him a great work ethic, and let everybody know Brady called to wish him well.

“In the audience we have somebody that’s under no pressure whatsoever ’cause he’s got a great quarterback named Tom Brady, and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft,” Trump said. “So good luck, Bob. Your friend Tom just called, he feels good. He called to congratulate us, he feels good. Good luck. You’re going to do great things.”

Later in the speech, Trump said he outworked everybody who’s ever ran for president. “I learned that from Belichick, right?” he said while appearing to point at Kraft.

Brady probably didn’t think he was making a political statement when he placed a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker a year-and-a-half ago. As he said several times throughout the campaign, he’s “good friends” with Trump. It’s perfectly normal for good friends to support each other.

But that doesn’t mean he was forced to stick with Trump at every turn. Even Vice President Mike Pence condemned Trump’s remarks about how much he enjoys sexually assaulting women. Brady, meanwhile, walked out of his press conference when he was asked about the Access Hollywood tape.

Patriots beat writers are obligated to cover more than the games on the field. They write about issues surrounding the team, spanning from a nearly 18-month scandal involving deflated footballs to a murderous former tight end. If Trump sends out a tweet calling for flag-burners to get their citizenship revoked or reintroduces his proposed Muslim ban, Brady should get asked about it. As one of Trump’s “good friends,” his perspective is pertinent.

The same applies to Belichick, who wrote Trump a fawning endorsement letter before the election. It doesn’t matter if Belichick never intended for the note to be public. He said he hopes Trump can “Make America Great Again.” So if Trump signs legislation that leads to the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, including mothers and fathers, it would be interesting to see if that’s the kind of greatness Belichick has in mind.

Brady and Belichick, of course, are under no obligation to answer any of these questions. On Friday, Belichick wouldn’t even bite when he was asked about his reaction when he heard about Trump’s shoutout. But if they didn’t want to be tied to Trump, they shouldn’t have expressed their support. They’re accountable for their words.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Kraft, who’s been spotted around the capital this week, went all-in on Trump.

“Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend,” he said. “I think one of the great problems in the country today is the working poor, the middle class, that there hasn’t been growth in income on an equal basis, and I really think the policies he’s going to bring to bear are going to be great for the economic side of America.”

Kraft doesn’t appear to have a problem touting Trump’s economic proposals, which include starting a costly trade war with China, so he should be asked about them after they’re enacted. As a titan of industry himself, it would be interesting to hear his thoughts.

Trump’s behavior during the transition wasn’t any less inflammatory than it was during the campaign. With that in mind, it’s fair to assume he’ll act similarly once he assumes the Oval Office. That means on many days over the next four years, Trump’s rhetoric or actions will be the No. 1 story in the country. Brady, Belichick and Kraft have aligned themselves with him. They’re forever part of the story, whether they like it or not.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Donald Trump, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft
Robert Kraft reportedly still simmering about Tom Brady’s suspension 01.19.17 at 3:44 pm ET
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Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

Patriots owner Robert Kraft last spoke publicly about Deflategate last summer, shortly after Tom Brady announced he would no longer fight the NFL’s draconian four-game suspension. In a statement, Kraft condemned the league, calling Brady’s punishment “unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable.” Five months later, his feelings haven’t appeared to soften.

In a wide-ranging feature story in the New York Times, Kraft is described as still “simmering” about Brady’s ban. He defends his decision to not take the NFL to court –– Kraft said in May 2015 he would accept the league’s penalties –– but takes a couple of jabs at the commissioner’s office.

“Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly,” he said. “But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything. I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse.”

Besides Deflategate, the other big controversy surrounding the Patriots over the last year has been their affiliation with the divisive President-elect, Donald Trump. Much like Brady and Bill Belichick, Kraft maintains a relationship with Trump. He called him a “good friend” ahead of the Massachusetts primary and visited Trump Tower in November. This week, Kraft was photographed at a pre-inauguration dinner party.

Though Kraft has donated to Democratic causes and candidates in the past, he praised Trump when asked about his incoming presidency.

“Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend,” he said. “I think one of the great problems in the country today is the working poor, the middle class, that there hasn’t been growth in income on an equal basis, and I really think the policies he’s going to bring to bear are going to be great for the economic side of America.”

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

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

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

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

“No, there wasn’t any cussing, but we did get to see what happens “inside the walls” of the Patriots’ locker room at Gillette Stadium, something Brady said would never happen,” she wrote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Robert Kraft photographed at Donald Trump pre-inauguration dinner party at 1:42 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are both tied to Donald Trump, but somehow Robert Kraft gets to skate, even though he appears to be closer with the President-Elect than either his coach or quarterback.

Trump made the rounds at a pre-inauguration dinner in Washington D.C. Tuesday, mingling with a plethora of diplomats, politicians and donors. The Daily Mail posted photographs from the event, one of which featured Kraft arm-in-arm with senior Trump propagandist, Kellyanne Conway (pictured above). Billionaire real-estate developer Richard LeFrak, who Trump asked recently to lead a new infrastructure council, was also in the shot.

It’s not surprising that Kraft is celebrating Trump’s victory. He called the former reality television a star a “good friend” ahead of the Massachusetts primary last year and was seen at Trump Tower in November. When I reached out to Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks to ask about the meeting, she said it was a “congratulatory visit.”

While Brady and Belichick have tried to distance themselves from Trump since the election, expect Kraft to only get cozier with the President-Elect. If the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl, perhaps Trump will be seated in Kraft’s box. He’s been there before, and in fact, even once paid a visit to the Patriots’ locker room after a victory in 2012.

The New England Patriots are the official football team of Donald Trump. There’s no debate about that.

Read More: Donald Trump, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft,
Thanks to Bill Belichick, SnapFace is going viral at 1:39 pm ET
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Over the last couple of years, Bill Belichick has made a habit of botching the names of popular social media platforms. His apparent ignorance of the Internet came to the forefront again this week, when he was asked on Dale & Holley about Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown live-streaming a video of the team’s locker room on Facebook Live.

“Yeah, as you know I’m not on SnapFace and all that, I don’t really get those,” he said. “I’m just really worried about getting our team ready to go. I’m not really too worried about what they put on InstantChat, or whatever it is.”

While InstantChat is a new addition to Belichick’s repertoire, SnapFace is an old favorite. He first dropped the term around Patriots reporters last year and it seems to be picking up steam. According to NFL Network’s social team, “SnapFace” has been used on Twitter more than 12,000 times over the last day.

At his press conference Wednesday, Belichick referenced InstaFace, which might be an offshoot of SnapFace.

Malapropisms aside, it’s worth noting that the pre-fixes of Belichick’s fictional social media networks are up to date with the latest trends. Back in 2011, he was talking about MyFace. As John Tomase points out, maybe Belichick is more aware of the social media landscape than he likes to let us believe.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,
Sporting News writer calls Tom Brady a liar for no reason whatsoever 01.17.17 at 4:44 pm ET
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Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has caught a lot of flak this week for streaming a since-deleted video on Facebook Live of the team’s locker room following their win over the Chiefs Sunday. In a laudable attempt at contrarianism, a writer for the Sporting News tries to use this story as a way to put down Tom Brady. But unfortunately for her, she doesn’t have her facts straight.

On Kirk & Callahan Monday, Brady was asked about Brown’s video, which includes sound of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin calling the Patriots “a––holes” during his postgame speech. He said something like that would never happen with the Patriots.

“Our team has a policy. We don’t show anything that should be private because he [Bill Belichick] feels when we are inside our stadium, inside the walls, there has to be a degree of privacy that we have,” Brady said. “What’s done in the locker room should stay in the locker room.”

Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger piled on Brown Tuesday. Tomlin said the wideout’s actions were “foolish,” and Roethlisberger said he was “disappointed.” But that’s not the way Sporting News scribe Sara Jane Harris sees the situation. She stumbled upon the weekly video the Patriots post on their website following each game, and calls out Brady for being hypocrite:

“No, there wasn’t any cussing, but we did get to see what happens “inside the walls” of the Patriots locker room at Gillette Stadium, something Brady said would never happen,” she writes. 

When compared to Brown’s livestream, which was shot with his smartphone camera, it’s obvious the Patriots’ clip is professionally edited and put together. If the aesthetic differences aren’t stark enough, Jane Harris also could’ve completed a Twitter or Google search, where she would’ve found out the Patriots publish a postgame video every week.

It’s sad to see a hot take so thoroughly debunked.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Steelers are bigger cheaters than Patriots at 11:28 am ET
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Mike Tomlin (Kirby Lee/USA Today Images)

Mike Tomlin (Kirby Lee/USA Today Images)

Imagine if a video leaked of Bill Belichick calling his upcoming opponent “a–holes.” He would probably be eviscerated for his arrogance, condemned for not respecting the league. Maybe Mark Brunell would even cry.

At the least, it would be the lead story across sports for the entire day. Belichick’s surliness makes him an easy target. There’s a lot to be said for affability, because it allows you to skate out of trouble. Just ask Mike Tomlin; he’s made a career of it.

Sunday night, Steelers wideout Antonio Brown posted a since-deleted video on Facebook Live that caught Tomlin deriding the Patriots.

“We spotted them a–holes a day-and-a-half,” he said. “They played yesterday; our game got moved to tonight. We’re gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the [expletive] morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for their [expletive]. But you ain’t got to tell them that we’re coming.”

The rah-rah speech, by all accounts, was standard football talk. Coaches across the NFL probably call their opponents –– and especially the Patriots –– a lot worse. But that’s not the point. Tomlin was recorded saying something incendiary. And yet, every talking head on ESPN’s Around the Horn, one of the network’s signature debate shows, laughed it off Monday. It’s difficult to believe everybody would’ve been so amused if Belichick were in Tomlin’s place.

Belichick gets treated differently than every coach, but few people represent the contrast more than Tomlin. All of the proof one needs to make that claim happened on Thanksgiving night in 2013, when Tomlin tried to trip Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones on a kick return in prime time. Belichick is called a cheater because the Patriots were caught taping opponents from the wrong area of the stadium and Tom Brady’s footballs lost air pressure in cold weather. Tomlin, meanwhile, actually tripped a guy on the field. But after a $100,000 fine, it all went away.

Speaking of Deflategate, the Steelers were also caught playing with under-inflated footballs against the Giants this season. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, one ball was measured at 11.4 PSI and another one clocked in at 11.8. Or, in other words, numbers that are nearly identical to the PSI level of the Patriots’ balls in the 2015 AFC championship game.

But unlike Deflategate I, the sequel was quelled in roughly one hour. The NFL released a statement shortly after the original report, saying all game day procedures were followed and there were no “chain of command issues.” The league masterfully avoided the PSI issue, since the science says nothing nefarious happened to the Patriots’ balls. Now it’s all about “chain of command,” because Jim McNally took some footballs into the bathroom with him before heading onto the field. Keep in mind, McNally’s pregame whereabouts weren’t known until after the league had paid millions of dollars to Ted Wells to investigate the alleged crime.

Giants owner John Mara, who admonished the Patriots during Deflategate, said the whole fuss over the Steelers’ balls was “much ado about nothing.” Pittsburgh got off, whereas the Patriots lost Brady for four games and a first-round pick. (For those keeping score at home, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger also missed four contests after being accused of sexual assault.)

As ESPN reported, the league went so hard against the Patriots, because many owners believe Roger Goodell let them off easy during Spygate (New England lost a first-round pick, but apparently that wasn’t enough). If that’s the case, then the Steelers should face even more scorn. Former head coach Bill Cowher admitted to trying to steal signals, and he was never even investigated.

There’s a double-standard when it comes to judging the Steelers and Patriots. Pittsburgh is held up on a pedestal as a model organization despite committing the same, if not worse infractions than New England. Like most instances, the strongest message the Patriots can send will be on the field Sunday. Brady is 7-2 against the Steelers with a 114.2 passer-rating. Nobody can spin that.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers
Tom Brady tantrum after Jadeveon Clowney hit is real reason why he’s so hated 01.16.17 at 6:03 pm ET
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Tom Brady was hated well before Deflategate. The reason why was apparent to everyone who was watching the Patriots take on the Texans at Gillette Stadium Saturday.

In the third quarter, Jadeveon Clowney tackled Brady after he had thrown the ball. When the referee didn’t throw a flag, Brady threw a temper tantrum –– even though it seemed to be a routine play.

Much like last year’s AFC championship game against the Broncos, Brady was under duress all night long. After the game, Clowney bragged about getting inside his head.

Few football players are more durable than Brady. The only time he’s ever missed a game due to injury was in 2008, when then-Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard tore his ACL. Brady would probably credit his rigorous, if not unorthodox diet and training regimen for this phenomenon, but sheer toughness factors into the equation as well. You don’t play through a stress fracture for an entire season (2010) or a torn ligament in your throwing hand for three months (2013) without being exceptionally resilient.

But sometimes in this world, perception and reality don’t match up. Around the league, some defensive players view Brady as a soft pretty boy. One of his loudest detractors is Ray Lewis, who poked Brady on Twitter after the Clowney hit.

The likely reasoning for Lewis’ feelings about Brady can be traced to a matchup between the Ravens and Patriots in October 2009. In it, Brady successfully lobbied for the officials to call questionable roughing the passer penalties on two occasions, including after a Suggs hit. Lewis voiced his frustration at the time, calling the whole situation “embarrassing to the game.” (Suggs, for his part, doesn’t even say Brady’s name anymore.)

With that history in mind, it’s not surprising that former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott also shares those sentiments. Two years ago, he mocked Brady and called him a dork.

“Come on man, Tom Brady doesn’t think he’s tough,” Scott said. “Gisele [Bundchen] doesn’t think he’s tough. Listen, I respect him, but he plays the game differently. No different from the way Peyton Manning plays it, but listen, certain guys — Steve McNair, tough guy. He was a guy that could hang with anybody.”

It’s not just ex- and current Ravens who like to belittle Brady’s toughness. Prior to last season’s AFC championship game, former Broncos lineman Antonio Smith called him a crybaby who grovels for calls. His then-teammate, Malik Jackson, backed him up, saying Brady is a “whiner.”

Brady’s been caught in a few uncompromising moments off the field that play into this perception as well. He was once photographed screaming with his hands up while he went down a waterslide, acting similarly to the way a toddler would. Then there the Ugg endorsements and GQ photoshoots, never mind the Elaine Benis-esque dance moves that he once showed off at Carnival.

As a fabulously wealthy and handsome four-time Super Bowl champion who’s married to Gisele Bundchen, Brady is an easy target for criticism. When he throws hissy fits like he did Saturday, he’s just asking to be mocked.

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
SB Nation’s Charlotte Wilder goes unchallenged in ESPN Radio interview at 10:31 am ET
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SB Nation’s Charlotte Wilder turned down an interview with Kirk & Callahan last week, but she did pay a visit to the cozy confines of ESPN Radio following her controversial article about Patriots fans having a problem with the team’s affiliation with President-Elect Donald Trump.

In an appearance Sunday on The Morning RoastWilder reiterated her claim that the team is experiencing a significant amount of Trump-related backlash. “I heard from people who were like, ‘Man, I can’t believe they like this guy –– they like Trump. I hate Trump.’ And sort of up in arms,” she said. “But the majority of people I talked to or that I saw leave comments on Brady’s Facebook page –– there were thousands, hundreds –– the people that struck me the most, somebody put it really eloquently and I quote him in my story, he was like, ‘Look, I don’t care what they do off the field. I don’t care who they vote for.’ … But there’s this deep hypocrisy to some fans who think, ‘Here’s Belichick, who’s famously gruff with the media, who says, ‘We’re onto Cincinnati. We’re onto Cincinnati. We’re onto Cincinnati.’” And then, they felt that when it was beneficial for him, or when he felt like he didn’t have to follow his own rules, where the rules have been the media policy and the no distractions and the ‘do your job’ has been something that fans have really bought into. They feel sort of betrayed. It’s like, ‘Wait, you’re not following the one thing that we thought we all agreed on was our thing.’”

Hosts Domonique Foxworth, Clinton Yates and Mina Kimes didn’t challenge Wilder’s conclusion, despite the fact she only quotes one fan, Susan Pease of Lincolin, who says Tom Brady’s and Bill Belichick’s friendships with Trump propelled her to stop watching. Wilder declined my request to be interviewed for this piece.

Later in the conversation, Wilder says many Patriots fans are experiencing an existential crisis in the wake of Trump’s victory. “Some people have stopped watching. As I said in the piece, the majority of people aren’t going to stop watching or stops supporting. But what I was focusing on are the people who are having issues with this, not the people who aren’t,” she said. “If you don’t care about this, great. I’m glad there’s a way some people are able to compartmentalize. But I think when you have an identity –– being a fan is so much about identity –– and your identity is tied into that of your team. And then when you team gets tied up into an identity that fundamentally breaks from yours, then it’s this real kind of moment of crises where you’re like, “Wait, where are the venn diagrams here? Where can I separate myself, how can I compartmentalize this?” And it might seem silly, because it’s sports, but it’s not silly, because sports are kind of everything.”

It seems as if most Patriots fans were able to put their supposed mental distress aside and watch Saturday’s game against the Houston Texans. The contest drew a monstrous 42.2 rating in Boston.

Read More: Donald Trump, ESPN, New England Patriots,