<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston - Sports]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcboston.com/news/sports http://media.nbcboston.com/designimages/clear.gif NBC10 Boston https://www.nbcboston.comen-usTue, 23 Jan 2018 00:43:08 -0500Tue, 23 Jan 2018 00:43:08 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Winter Olympics Snowboarding Judge Hails From New England]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 23:56:46 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Olympic_Snowboarding_Judge_Hails_from_New_England.jpg

A Vermont man will help determine the medalists in some of the most thrilling events at the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Connor Manning, a native of Underhill, will serve as one of only a small handful of judges responsible for scoring athletes in the freestyle snowboarding events of Big Air, Half-pipe, and Slopestyle.

“I can’t wait to get there with the world’s best,” Manning said of his upcoming trip to the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Manning travels the world as a top judge for snowboarding competitions, evaluating difficulty, amplitude, execution, and variety of tricks.

The sport’s governing body has him working at the upcoming Winter Games as the U.S. judge for the three freestyle events.

“For me, this was one of the goals I’ve had since I got into snowboard judging—to make it to the top,” Manning told NBC 10 Boston. “So it’s a goal achieved, and dream come true.”

Manning said he grew up riding at Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe Mountain Resort, and used to compete himself. However, following an injury, he said he started focusing on judging. He still enjoys riding, especially when in his home state.

“It’s always trying to be objective,” Manning said of his work as a snowboarding judge. “I don’t really even think about nationalities or who’s dropping in. It’s a bib number for us. You don’t want to have any biases towards anything like that, because if you do, you’re kind of harshing someone else’s dream.”

And for Olympic fans who’ll watch along from home, Manning predicted snowboarding spectacles on TV that’ll wow the world.

“I expect an incredibly entertaining show this year,” Manning said.

<![CDATA[Patriots Fan Dies After Watching AFC Championship Game]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 23:46:53 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000012139489_1200x675_1143232579738.jpg

Surrounded by loving family and the jubilant cheers resonating from Patriots nation, 83-year-old Larry Mahoney died Sunday night after watching the AFC Championship game.

"You couldn’t have asked for anything more than that."

It was the Marshfield man's final wish.

"He cared more about Tom Brady’s hand being hurt, than himself in the hospital."

Mahoney died Sunday night at South Shore Hospital after battling pneumonia.

"They actually expected it I think days earlier."

But Mahoney had one final play.

"He wanted to be there for the game and he was."

Even though her dad was starting to fade, Katie Mahoney says he insisted on watching the entire AFC Championship game on TV.

"Come hell or high water, that man was going to see that game."

 At least until they made it to the Super Bowl.

"It was history to him."

And it turned into a nail biter. Late in the fourth quarter, Brady had to engineer a comeback for the win.

"We said, 'they did it for you.' And he said, 'that’s great.' He smiled, and then drifted off to sleep."

While Mahoney's family is still grieving, they are at peace knowing he went out on his own terms, watching his favorite team win.

"It was just great to be with him."

"He fought a long hard battle."

"Loved his family, loved his Patriots. And got to see his game."

<![CDATA[Will Any Players Take a Knee on Super Bowl Sunday?]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 17:53:15 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/patskneel2017.jpg

The teams are finally set. The pricey commercials are ready to go. The prop bets are being made and the Super Bowl party invites are going out. 

As Super Bowl LII approaches, nearly everything about the game has been mapped out. Even Justin Timberlake promises he'll be on his best behavior.

But what about the action on the field before the game even begins? What if the controversy that engulfed the NFL all of 2017 surfaces with millions tuned in to watch the New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles?

What if one of the NFL players takes a knee during the national anthem?

Well, the question actually came up and was addressed earlier this month at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. NBC Sports executive producer Fred Gaudelli, who will produce Super Bowl LII, said if any players take a knee during the anthem the event would be covered live.

“The Super Bowl is a live event, just like 'Sunday Night Football.’ When you’re covering alive event, you’re covering what's happening. So if there are players that choose to kneel, they will be shown live," Gaudelli said. "I would say, probably since Thanksgiving, a lot of that has kind of dissipated and died down. It’s certainly possible it could happen again.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick initiated the protests in 2016 to bring attention to racial inequality and police brutality against minorities. That action not only proved divisive among the NFL and its fan base, but quickly spilled over into the political arena.

During a speech at a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, in late September, President Donald Trump said, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a b------ off the field right now, out, he's fired, he's fired."

At the peak of the protests during the NFL season's third week, roughly 200 players knelt or showed some other form of discontent, according to the Associated Press. Protests died down each week after that.

Protesting at sporting events is hardly a new phenomenon. In 1968 U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos — after winning gold and bronze respectively in the 200-meter sprint — raised black-gloved fists during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. The moment became one of the most iconic sports images of the 20th century.

The Super Bowl is one the most-watched events globally. Just last year, 113 million viewers tuned in to see the Patriots mount a historic comeback to defeat the Falcons.

So if one of the players from either the Pats or Eagles decides the moment is right to reignite the kneeling protest, he could find himself written onto the pages of history.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Concussion Expert Talks Gronkowski Head Injury]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 18:40:18 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/171*120/gronk+hit.jpg

New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski is on the NFL concussion protocol as he recovers from a helmet-to-helmet hit that sidelined him during Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Many are wondering, will the tight end be ready to play in the Super Bowl?

Dr. Robert Cantu, of the Cantu Concussion Center, is a concussion expert who helped write the NFL concussion protocol.

Dr. Cantu says he was concerned when he saw Gronk take the hit Sunday.

“He falls like a heap to the ground and stays down and when he does get up he’s kinda shaking his head and not walking what looked to be very steady. So everything I saw says concussion until ruled out.”

Fans watched Sunday as Gronk was taken back to the locker room, but what happened back there that fans didn't see?

Dr. Cantu explains that Gronk would have went through “a very detailed neurological assessment."

"It takes normally about 8-10 minutes, and orientation, alertness is looked for, whether somebody has amnesia. They also go through eye tracking, speech, balance, coordination, aspects of a neurologic exam.”

A team of doctors and trainers watch games along with fans. But they are not looking for the big plays; they are looking for head injuries. Their football playbook is all about defense.

An unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultant also watches from the NFL office in New York.

And at Gillette Stadium, two athletic trainers watch with binoculars and video replay from an upper level booth. They can send the video to the sidelines and have phones that ring right to the benches with any concerns.

In addition, there is a fourth person, a neuro-trauma consultant, who is on the field. The athletic trainers and neuro-trauma consultants are paid by the NFL, watching both teams equally as they are unaffiliated with either team.

New for the 2017 season are the blue medical tents along the sidelines. An NFL spokesperson confirms to NBC 10 Boston Investigators there have been over 600 evaluations in those tents this season for head injuries alone. In lieu of the medical tent, Gronk went straight to the locker room.

Cantu says of those with a concussion, “the majority will recover in within usually two weeks. That’s why, most probably, Gronk will be back for the Super Bowl.”

Will Gronk be talking about it? The timeline remains to be seen as the NFL rules prohibit players from talking or meeting with the media until medically cleared.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Fans Celebrate After Super Bowl Berth]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:57:36 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_01_04_07.Still002.jpg

Philadelphia Eagles fans go wild after earning a trip to Super Bowl LII.

<![CDATA[4-Time Olympian Kelly Clark Inspired by Tom Brady]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:16:57 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2018-01-10+at+12.48.04+PM.png

U.S. snowboarder Kelly Clark knows what it’s like to compete with the best despite being one of the oldest in the sport. It’s no surprise that she takes inspiration from NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who continues to excel with the New England Patriots despite his many years in the league.

<![CDATA['I Was Stressed Out': Tom Brady Opens Up About Hand Injury]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 16:49:20 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-908470500.jpg

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady opened up about his mysterious hand injury during an interview on Monday morning.

Brady said almost nothing about the injury in the days leading up to Sunday's AFC Championship Game, even wearing gloves on both hands during practices and at a media availability to avoid having anyone see them.

But during an appearance on the "Kirk & Callahan" show on WEEI, Brady explained more about how the injury happened and exactly how bad it was. He said he wasn't sure when the injury first happened if he'd even be able to play in Sunday's game.

"I wasn't sure Wednesday night. I definitely wasn't sure," he said. "It didn't look good there for a little bit.

"It was pretty stressful," Brady added. "I was stressed out."

If it weren't for the black tape he wore on his hand during Sunday's game, you would have had a tough time telling that Brady was injured at all. He threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns against one of the NFL's top defenses, including his 54th career game-winning drive. The Patriots won the game 24-20.

"Everyone deals with injuries, but the timing and where it was probably wasn't the best thing in the world for a quarterback," Brady said. "But it is what it is."

Brady also confirmed reports that he received 12 stitches for a cut suffered in a collision during last Wednesday's practice. Several outlets have reported that he collided with running back Rex Burkhead.

"It was just a really good cut," he said. "We ran into each other and my thumb just got bent back.

"Fortunately, there wasn't the damage normally associated with that. I think we're very lucky."

Brady said the injury shouldn't impact him at all in the Feb. 4 Super Bowl matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles given that he has almost two weeks to heal up.

"As the game went on, it got better and better," he said. "It won't be a problem in a couple weeks."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Olympic Team Unveils Opening Ceremony Uniforms]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 11:05:18 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/2018+Olympics+Opening+Ceremony.jpg

The U.S. Olympic team is heading to Pyeongchang, South Korea, in style with the coolest warming outfits at the opening ceremony parade on Feb. 9.

Ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani and bobsledder Aja Evans helped unveil the Polo Ralph Lauren-designed techwear uniform Monday on NBC's "Today" show. The innovative red, white and blue down parkas are embedded with wearable heating technology, giving athletes a jolt of toasty warm at the touch of a button.

"Ralph Lauren has effortlessly woven style and functionality into the opening ceremony uniform for the 2018 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams," Lisa Baird, U.S. Olympic Committee chief marketing officer told "Today." "The revolutionary design will keep American athletes warm as they proudly walk through the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony."

The uniforms' heating systems are made from electronic-printed conductive inks, which are printed in the shape of an American flag in carbon and silver ink, according to “Today.” The flag is connected to a battery pack that has three heat settings for athletes to choose from.

"The jackets are amazing," Alex Shibutani said.

The patriotic togs also features a slim jean with moto-inspired seaming, an intarsia-knit wool sweater, a navy wool ski hat with "Team USA" lettering, a USA-themed navy bandanna, brown suede gloves with fringe and beading and brown suede mountaineering boots with red laces.

Polo Ralph Lauren is the official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams for its sixth Olympic Games. The closing ceremony uniform, which also reflects Polo's iconic all-American style, was unveilved in November.

The Polo Ralph Lauren Team USA collection is available in select Ralph Lauren retail stores, at RalphLauren.com and TeamUSAShop.com. A portion of the proceeds will go to the U.S. Olympic team.

Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren
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<![CDATA[Patriots, Eagles Advance to Super Bowl LII]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:43:05 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/eagles26.jpg

The Philadelphia Eagles will battle the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Eagles beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship game while the Patriots topped the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship.

<![CDATA['Brady a Beast': Social Reaction Pours in After Pats Win AFC]]> Sun, 21 Jan 2018 23:51:02 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-908489168.jpg

What a game!

In a nail-biting comeback, the New England Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in Sunday's AFC Championship title game, and are now heading to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII.

Naturally, fans and celebrities went wild as the clock ran down, and congratulations to the Patriots started pouring in from around New England and across the country on social media.

"Congrats to @Patriots and #TomBrady on another trip to #SuperBowl 40yrs old, and at the top of his game indeed #NeverGiveUp #AFCChampionship," pro wrestler and TV star John Cena tweeted out.

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III simply tweeted out a goat emoji.

Some people though were thinking what we've known forever here in New England.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Scenes From the Patriots' Comeback AFC Championship Win]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 08:13:00 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-908489792.jpg The Patriots came from behind to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday in the AFC Championship, punching their ticket to Super Bowl LII.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Battle Back, Earn Trip to Super Bowl LII]]> Sun, 21 Jan 2018 18:26:39 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/patswin1.jpg

Tom Brady and the Patriots were down 10 points to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter but battled back to win the AFC Championship and earn a trip to Super Bowl LII.

<![CDATA[Patriots Are Super Bowl Bound After 24-20 Win Over Jaguars]]> Sun, 21 Jan 2018 23:58:08 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Amendola+Touchdown+012118.jpg

No comeback could ever compare to 28-3, but Sunday's AFC Championship Game will have its own place in New England Patriots lore.

Trailing 20-10 with under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady engineered yet another fourth quarter masterpiece to punch the Patriots' ticket to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII with a 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.

Brady now has 11 postseason game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime, giving him five more than anyone else in the modern era.

With Rob Gronkowski knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a head injury, Brady made do with what he had to extend his record of Super Bowl appearances to eight.

What he had was Danny Amendola, who continues to ascend the ranks of the best playoff performers in NFL history.

"We put a lot of hard work into each week of the season, and coming out here and getting a win each week," Amendola said to Jim Nantz at the presentation of the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the game.

"We love playing at home, we love being in Foxboro and we love you," he told the national audience on TV, as well as those who hung around Gillette Stadium for the ceremony.

Amendola caught each of Brady's fourth quarter touchdown passes, the latter coming with 2:48 to go in regulation. Amendola caught seven passes total for 84 yards as he emerged as Brady's go-to guy in the playoffs once again. His punt return to the Jacksonville 30 gave the Patriots superb field position to finish off their comeback.

"This was a great football game," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said at his press conference. "Really, as I said out there, really proud of our players, did a great job. We didn’t really do things as well as we’d like to have done them at times in the game, but they battled. They kept competing. In the end, we made enough phases in all three phases of the game."

Brandin Cooks, who had a bad drop in the third quarter, redeemed himself nicely with a catch to extend New England’s first fourth quarter scoring drive and finished with six catches for 100 yards to finish as the Patriots leading receiver. In just his second career playoff game, it was his first 100-yard receiving game.

Brady got off to a lightning hot start, assuaging fears that his throwing hand was more banged up than anyone could have realized. But after completing each of his first seven passes, he fell out of sync while Jacksonville jumped ahead 14-3.

Brady missed a few open receivers, but also wasn't helped by drops – Cooks' was hardly the only one of the game. A Dion Lewis fumble lost early in the fourth quarter looked it spelled doom for New England, only for once again the team to climb out of a five-and-a-half-foot hole that seemed destined to reach six feet under.

The much-maligned Blake Bortles, who played great, seemed poised to bring the Jaguars right back downfield to stun the Patriots near the end of the game, trailing by four. But Kyle Van Noy's sack of Bortles for a loss of 9 yards around midfield took all the wind out of Jacksonville's sails, giving them a nearly-impossible to convert third-and-19 inside of the two-minute warning.

Bortles checked down to James O'Shaugnessey for a short gain, giving the Jaguars a do-or-die fourth-and-15. Bortles took his shot deep in search of Dede Westbrook, only for Stephon Gilmore to come flying in with the most emphatic pass break up of his career to date to all but ensure a win for New England.

"It wasn't the biggest play I've made, but it was definitely one of the most important," Gilmore said. "I go out there and try to make plays for my teammates. I have great teammates and my coaches put me in a position to go out there and make plays."

Armed with all three timeouts, Jacksonville still had one last chance to stop the Patriots and get the ball back. After getting two quick run stuffs and stopping the clock on third-and-9, Dion Lewis broke free for an 18-yard gain to allow Brady to take three kneel downs.

"I wasn't worried about getting the [first] down, I was worried about protecting the ball," Lewis said. "Obviously, I had a fumble today, unacceptable; I felt I put my team in a terrible position. I felt extremely bad, so I was just happy that I was able to get a down to end the game."

It was pretty much the only contribution for New England's running game on the afternoon; in all, the Patriots carried the ball 19 times for just 46 yards.

Bortles did nothing to warrant his punchline reputation, outshining Brady for much of the first half. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft finished 23 for 36 passing with 293 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions.

The final stat line for Bortles wasn't too far off from Brady's; New England's quarterback completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns.

Brady finished with a passer rating of 108.4, the eighth-best of his 36 career postseason starts. Bortles finished at 98.5.

Brady was asked in the postgame if he was able to appreciate this particular trip to the Super Bowl, his being 40 years old and all.

"I think for all of us, it does, because you cherish these moments and opportunities, and I know we've had quite a few of them, which we've been very blessed to do," Brady said. "It's just been an unbelievable run, and I think everyone should be really proud of what we accomplished."

The Jaguars were at their best offensively utilizing running backs on wheel routes, creating mismatch nightmares with New England's linebackers, which is something they got away from as the game went along.

The Patriots pulled within 14-10 at halftime, James White breaking through for New England's first touchdown of the game.

With a full 55 seconds left, Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone opted to kneel the ball in lieu of attempting to add to its lead.

It was a sign of things to come, as the Jaguars turned to an even more conservative approach in the second half, letting the Patriots claw their way back in the game.

New England will face the Eagles in the Super Bowl in Minneapolis on Sunday, Feb. 4.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Patriot Named Titans Head Coach]]> Sun, 21 Jan 2018 07:10:29 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/180*120/Vrabelcandydate.jpg

The Tennessee Titans are expected to announce former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel as their new head coach according to several reports.

Vrabel has spent the past four seasons working as a coach and defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. ESPN reports that Vrabel will be signed to a 5-year contract as he replaces Mike Mularkey who was fired on Monday.

Vrabel, of course, was one of the mainstays of the earlier part of the Patriots dynasty as part of the first 3 Super Bowl championship teams. He played with the Patriots from 2001-2008. While mainly known as a linebacker, Vrabel was sometimes used on offense as a tight end. All of the 10 passes he caught in his career were for touchdowns, including two in the Super Bowl. He was also the first player in NFL history to have caught 2 touchdowns and record one sack in a game.

Vrabel will be replaced as defensive coordinator by former Patriots coach Romeo Crenell who is already an assistant head coach with the Texans. Vrabel is expected to be named as the Titans coach officially at a press conference on Monday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Halladay Had Morphine in System When His Plane Crashed]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 23:25:25 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/179*120/roy+halladay+accidente++007.jpg

All-star Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay had traces of morphine and other drugs in his system when his experimental plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico in November, toxicology results showed.

The Pasco County, Florida coroner said Friday that test results found traces of three drugs in his blood at the time of the 40-year-old's death. Morphine, amphetamine, and a generic form of Ambien, a drug used to treat insomnia, were detected.

Halladay died in November when his two-seater ICON A5 amphibious plane nose-dived into shallow water off New Port Richey, Florida, which is near Tampa. The plane flipped over after hitting the water.

Witnesses told authorities the plane was climbing, diving, and flying close to the water surface shortly before impact.

Halladay died on impact. The coroner ruled the cause of death as blunt trauma.

Halladay, known as "Doc," pitched four seasons with the Phillies before retiring after injuries cut short his 2013 season. He won the 2010 National League Cy Young Award and pitched a perfect game while winning 21 games in his first season with the Phillies. He went on to pitch a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 divisional series.

He started his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, winning the 2003 American League Cy Young Award, before he was traded to the Phillies ahead of the 2010 season.

Halladay picked up flying after retiring from Major League Baseball. He had about 700 hours of flight time after getting his license in 2013. He started flying the aircraft, which has wings that can be folded and a body that can float, a month before the crash.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Christian Petersen, File]]>
<![CDATA[Jets WR Threatened to Sexually Assault Cop's Wife: Police]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 23:15:35 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/robby-anderson-diptych.jpg

New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson allegedly threatened to sexually assault a South Florida police officer's wife early Friday after authorities said he was caught driving a Jaguar more than 100 mph.

Anderson, 24, also accused the arresting officer of trying to "ruin his fun" after the stop on North Flamingo Road in Sunrise about 2:15 a.m. on Friday, according to a police report. 

According to the report, the officer clocked Anderson's Jaguar going 105 mph in a 45 mph zone. The officer wrote in the report that the vehicle was all over the road, ran two stop lights and refused to stop when he began to pursue the car with lights and sirens on. 

Once the officer finally got the vehicle to stop, Anderson declined to answer any questions and asked for a lawyer, according to the report. The cop and another officer then detained the man and tried to put him in the car, but Anderson reportedly refused to obey their commands.

According to the report, Anderson threatened the officer's wife and his family once he was in the patrol car. He also allegedly bragged about how much money he had.

Anderson was arrested on multiple charges including resisting an officer without violence, fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer, reckless driving, disobeying a red light and failure to drive in a single lane, records showed. He was booked into Broward County jail on $7,000 bond and was released Friday afternoon.

In a statement, a Jets spokesperson said the team was aware of the situation.

"This is a pending legal matter and we will have no further comment," the spokesperson said.

Attorney information for Anderson wasn't immediately available. But about 45 minutes before the arrest he tweeted, "I’m flaming right na man I swear."

It's the second arrest for Anderson in South Florida in the past year. He was charged with resisting an officer with violence after an alleged confrontation with a Miami police officer outside the Rolling Loud Music Festival in May.

A graduate of South Plantation High School, Anderson played college football at Temple before he was signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He finished the 2017 season as the team's leading wide receiver, with 63 catches for 941 yards and seven touchdowns.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office / AP File Photo
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<![CDATA['Tables Have Turned Larry': Aly Raisman Speaks at Sentencing]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 17:34:44 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000012057596.JPG

Olympic gold medalist and Needham, Massachusetts native Aly Raisman was among the dozens of athletes who gave powerful impact statements Friday in a Michigan courtroom ahead of the sentencing of disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar.

In her court statement, Raisman charged that Team USA Gymnastics "turned a blind eye" on Nassar's conduct.

The 54-year-old Nassar spent nearly 20 years as the team doctor for the U.S. women's elite program, often working with athletes one-on-one.

Raisman was the fifth member from the 2012 "Fierce Five" team to come forward, joining McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles with accusations against Nassar.

Raisman spoke directly to Nassar in her statement.

"Larry, you do realize this group of women you heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force and you are nothing," said Raisman, looking directly at him. "The tables have turned Larry, we are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere."

Raisman had tweeted that she wouldn't attend the sentencing the other day but said in court that once she started listening to the impact statements, she changed her mind.

"It wasn't until I started watching the impact statements from the other brave survivors that I realized I too, needed to be here," Raisman said.

Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls at Michigan State University and his home. He also was a team doctor at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He's already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

On Jan. 31, Nassar will get another sentence for sexual assaults at a Lansing-area gymnastics club in a different county.

<![CDATA[What Tom Brady's Teammates Are Saying About His Hand Injury]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 10:13:46 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/207*120/bradypic1.jpg

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's hand injury is the number one topic among Boston sports fans right now. But it's been hard to get any information on exactly how badly he is hurt.

The quarterback appeared at practice Thursday, but did not participate due to his right hand injury. He reportedly jammed the hand at practice Wednesday when a player accidentally ran into him. X-rays showed no structural damage, and barring anything unexpected, Brady is still expected to play in Sunday's AFC title game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brady sure isn't talking about his injury. For the past two days, the team has cancelled his scheduled media availability, which has only heightened the speculation.

And head coach Bill Belichick definitely isn't saying anything. He steered clear of every question about Brady's injury at his Friday morning press conference.

Both at the podium on Thursday and in the locker room later in the day, Patriots players were peppered with questions about Brady's throwing hand. Most said very little, but they each had their own special way of delivering their non-answers.

When he was asked how Brady injured his hand, safety Devin McCourty said, "I don't know, I was playing defense."

Asked how Brady looked at practice on Thursday, McCourty tried his hand at comedy.

"Tom looks excellent every day," he said. "One of the best-looking people I've ever met." 

When he was pushed on whether Brady looked like he was favoring his hand, McCourty continued to gush about the quarterback's good looks.

"When you look at Tom, the facial (region), it's hard to look at anything else. So, I really only saw his face."

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy took a similar route. "Tom always looks good," he said in the locker room Thursday. "He's handsome. He's good at football. That (injury)'s his thing. All I'm going to do is control what I can control, and that's play on defense."

Many Patriots players wanted to make it very clear that they are not medical experts.

"I'm not a doctor or anything like that," center David Andrews said when asked how Brady was injured. "I am just focused on what I have to do to get ready this week. I don't really remember.

"Like I said, I was just doing my job," he added. "I don't know what really happened with that."

"You've got to ask him," defensive end Trey Flowers added. "I'm on the defensive side of the ball. I'm definitely not a hand doctor. Far from it."

Running back James White was asked if Brady's injury was caused by a collision with him, since it's been rumored that it happened on a handoff. White laughed, and said only, "The world may never know."

Assuming he shows up, Patriots Nation will no doubt be watching closely when Brady takes the podium at 1:40 p.m. Friday to meet with the media.

Photo Credit: Boston Herald]]>
<![CDATA[Belichick Offers Little Clarity on Brady Injury]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 12:10:59 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000012031507.JPG

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke Friday morning amid concerns for star quarterback Tom Brady's hand injury, which has prevented him from practicing ahead of Sunday's game.

Belichick did not reveal much during his press conference at Gillette Stadium.

When asked for an update on Brady's condition, he said, "We gave out the injury report yesterday. We'll update it today."

Asked if Brady's absence from practice has limited the team's preparation, Belichick replied, "We're going to continue to get ready for Jacksonville all the way through, up till game time."

A reporter then asked if Brady might be a game-time decision.

"Today's Friday," Belichick deadpanned.

He also ducked questions about whether he regretted trading backup quarterback Jimmy Garappolo to the San Francisco 49ers or if he wished he had a third quarterback.

"We're getting ready for Jacksonville," he said.

Brady and wide receiver Danny Amendola are scheduled to speak Friday afternoon around 1:40 p.m.

Brady appeared at practice Thursday, but did not participate due to his right hand injury. The star quarterback reportedly jammed his throwing hand at practice Wednesday when a player accidentally ran into him, according to the Boston Herald. X-rays showed no structural damage and barring anything unexpected, Brady is expected to play in Sunday's AFC title game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brady was spotted at practice on Thursday wearing gloves, but the team's official injury report released later in the day said he did not participate. He was originally scheduled to speak to the media at 3:30 p.m., but the team announced around 2:30 p.m. that he would address the media on Friday instead.

It was the second straight day that the team had canceled Brady's scheduled session with the media.

Patriots fans said they're worried about the injury, but aren't panicking yet.

"I think they will win even with his injury," said Bruce Storer of Foxboro. "I think our offense is just too big for their defense."

"It's a huge concern," added Steve Haynes of Norfolk. "I mean without him, who are our quarterbacks now?"

Most fans agree, though: Brady will still play on Sunday, and the Patriots will still win.

"He has three or four days to heal up here," said Bob Carey of Foxboro. "So I wouldn't be concerned at this point unless we find something more drastic."

"I just think it's a precautionary thing and gamesmanship on the part of the Patriots," Bobby O'Shea said. "They're not gonna give Jacksonville any advantage they can get."

"They're gonna win, that's the only thing I know," Tony Ringuil said. "I guarantee they'll win. They'll probably win by 14 points...he's the champion. Patriots are meant to win."

Even Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker weighed in, issuing a "personal guarantee" that Brady will play on Sunday.

The third-seeded Jaguars will face the top-seeded Patriots on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Gillette Stadium after defeating the favored Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42 last weekend. The Patriots punched their ticket to the title game with a 35-14 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans.

The Jaguars are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season. Jacksonville is also one of four franchises to never play in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots have made it to the AFC championship game for seven straight seasons. New England has advanced to the Super Bowl in three of the past six years.

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<![CDATA[Experts Weigh in on Tom Brady's Hand Injury]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 23:56:24 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/214*120/Experts_Weigh_in_on_Brady_s_Hand_Injury.jpg

Tom Brady didn't participate in practice Thursday due to his right hand injury, leaving many people wondering what impact his injury is going to have come Sunday, especially when it comes to gripping and throwing the football.

Two men who have made their money throwing a football told NBC 10 Boston, when it comes to accuracy and ball security, an injury here can cause big problems.

"Being a quarterback, anytime it's throwing hand, it kind of worries you," said Sean Brackett, who knows the importance of a healthy throwing hand.

The current arena football player and quarterback coach said that's why a healthy hand matters.

"Basically you have pressure on it the entire time," he says. "Any hand-off, any throw, that thumb is going to play a major part of it, as far as ball security."

At practice Thursday, Brady appeared to have a brace on his right thumb under his red glove.

The mystery of the extent of the injury is adding to the intrigue, even for former Boston College and NFL quarterback Mark Hartsell.

"I would never question Tom Brady but yeah, it has to add a little worry to you because it, it the most important thing on his body to throw a football," Hartsell said.

But in the end, these quarterbacks say, let's remember who we are talking about here.

"He is the goat, so there is no doubt in my mind they'll figure it out no matter the severity of the injury," Brackett said.

What's Brady's take on this?

We don't know because for the second straight day, he canceled his planned media session.

It's now set for Friday as Patriots nation hangs on every update ahead of Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

<![CDATA[BU Study: Repeated Head Hits, Not Concussions, Cause CTE]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:52:15 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/BU_Study_Links_Repetitive_Hits_to_Head_to_CTE.jpg

Boston University researchers have a renewed warning on the impact of football: it is hits, not concussions, that lead to CTE.

The new research on brain damage was published Thursday in the journal "Brain."

"This paper is the best evidence to date CTE is not triggered by concussion, but rather by hits to the head," said lead researcher Dr. Lee Goldstein.

CTE leads to aggression, dementia and suicidal thoughts. The research focused on the brains of teenagers.

"We also saw the very earliest fingerprints of CTE soon after these injuries, and this is really very profoundly disturbing," Goldstein said. "What it tells us is as these hits are occurring even in the early aftermath — days, weeks, months after these injuries, this disease is already being kicked off."

Researchers say for too long, people have believed only concussions lead to CTE.

"There is no direct correlation whatsoever," Goldstein said of concussions. "The only correlation we saw was with the hit itself."

They warn parents against a false sense of security if their child doesn't have an actual diagnosed concussion.

"Kids are getting hit and hurt, but they aren't getting helped," Goldstein said.

As the study was being released, Hall of Fame football players have a message for parents. They are advising only flag football for kids under age 14.

"I beg of you, I beg all parents to please don't let your children play football until high school," said former Boston Patriots linebacker Nick Buoniconti.

"We kept this game alive and I want to keep it alive," said Hall of Famer Phil Villapiano, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. "I'm all in on the under 14 flag football."

Researchers say everyone has been so focused on concussions, but they say the big damage is being done with repeated impacts from every hit, every tackle. Those kids, they say, are suffering damage not seen and heading right back onto the field.

Testing mice, researchers showed that repeated blows to the head trigger the wasting disease within 20 minutes, whether the mice suffered concussions or not.

"We can probably prevent concussion," Goldstein said. "But what we can't do is prevent the motion of the head from a tackle. And that's the real problem."

Goldstein authored a major report in 2012 about soldiers, showing exposure to even one bomb blast can cause CTE. His new paper has shown the same is true for head hits in sports.

"It is not the concussion, it is the way the head is hit," he explained. "At the end of the day, there is no difference in the way brain looks after a hit, no matter how the hit was sustained. Any hit can have this effect. We were not expecting that."

<![CDATA['Like a Dream': Pats Reward Superfan With Playoff Tickets]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:58:53 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/214*120/Patriots_Superfan_Wins_Playoff_Tickets.jpg

A Patriots fan with more than 100,000 followers on Twitter finally got attention from the team itself.

"They slid in my DMs on Saturday," said Abdul Dremali.

The Patriots sent a message to Dremali offering him a ticket to the Patriots AFC Divisional game Saturday, against the Tennessee Titans.

"I didn't think it was real," he said. "I thought they got hacked or something."

It was no joke. The Patriots responded by saying "true story."

"It literally felt like a dream," Dremali said.

His Twitter handle is @Advil. He's a biomechanical and data scientist with AndPlus in Southborough and has more than 100,000 followers.

"I built a following in both science and in sports," he said.

He's always tweeting about the Patriots and his love for the team.

"A lot of Patriots fans follow me and have supported me for a long time," he said. "I've gotten some pretty interesting opportunities. I helped with the Super Bowl commercial for Intel last year, so it's been a very fruitful relationship, indirectly, with the Patriots."

Dermali got the message from the team around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. He was in Boston and had to make it to the stadium by 7 if he wanted passes to be on the field.

"I parked in Walpole and ran to the stadium," he said, adding that he dropped and shattered his iPhone along the way.

He made it just in time to snap photos of Tom Brady warming up.

"It was so worth it," he said.

The dream just keeps getting better for Dremali.

The Patriots have invited him back on the field and in the stands for the AFC Championship game Sunday.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston
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<![CDATA[Vt. Police Department to March at AFC Championship Game]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:26:14 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/VT_Police_Department_to_March_at_AFC_Championship_Game.jpg

A small Vermont police department has a big responsibility this weekend, ahead of the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

The Windsor Police Department’s honor guard was selected to appear on the field before kickoff, presenting the flag for the national anthem, alongside members of law enforcement from the other five New England states.

“Vermont is a piece of the New England family, and if somebody weren’t there from Vermont to represent the state, they’d be missing a little bit of Patriots nation,” said Officer Jered Condon of the Windsor Police Department, who is a member of the force’s honor guard.

The department has done the job before, representing Vermont at Gillette before two previous championship matchups.

“It’s an honor and it’s a privilege,” said Chief Bill Sampson of the Windsor Police Department.

The responsibility is particularly meaningful to Sampson, who is a lifelong Pats fan originally from Worcester, Massachusetts.

“This is the biggest home game they’re going to have, and there’s no better time to be there,” Sampson said.

Sampson noted that the Patriots won both previous championship games the honor guard attended, so he thinks the Windsor officers may be something of a good luck charm.

<![CDATA[Governor 'Guarantees' Tom Brady Will Play on Sunday]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:40:34 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/bakerbrady.jpg

Patriots Nation has been abuzz this week with news of Tom Brady's hand injury, wondering if it could hurt New England's chances in Sunday's AFC title game against Jacksonville.

But Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says fans can relax. He's confident that Brady will play.

"Tom Brady is going to play," Baker said Thursday. "I don't make a lot of predictions, but on that one, Tom Brady's going to play."

When asked if he was guaranteeing that Brady will take the field, he responded, "Personal guarantee."

Brady reportedly jammed his throwing hand at practice on Wednesday when a player accidentally ran into him, according to the Boston Herald. X-rays showed no structural damage, and barring anything unexpected, Brady is expected to play in Sunday's AFC title game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The quarterback was spotted at practice on Thursday wearing gloves, and was scheduled to speak at 3:30 p.m. But the team announced around 2:30 p.m. that he would address the media on Friday instead.

It was the second straight day that the team cancelled Brady's scheduled session with the media.

The third-seeded Jaguars will face the top-seeded Patriots on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Gillette Stadium after defeating the favored Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42 last weekend. The Patriots punched their ticket to the title game with a 35-14 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans.

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<![CDATA[See All 51 Super Bowl Championship Rings From I to LI]]> Sat, 20 Jan 2018 13:48:56 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/super-bowl-rings-thumb.jpg The Vince Lombardi trophy and a championship ring has marked each year's winning Super Bowl team for the NFL. See all 51 ring designs that have emerged from Super Bowl I to LI.

Photo Credit: Nina Lin/NBC]]>