Blackhawks Lose Second Straight in 4-2 Defeat vs. Devils

The Chicago Blackhawks had won five straight games against the New Jersey Devils, but that streak came to a whimpering end as they fell by a score of 4-2 on Friday night.

Tanner Kero scored his first career NHL goal, and Patrick Kane extended his points streak to nine games, but it wasn’t enough as the Hawks lost for the second night in a row.

The Blackhawks’ offensive struggles continued even after Joel Quenneville attempted to shake things up by pulling Crawford in favor of Scott Darling. The Hawks got an early power play in the second period, but they couldn’t generate any good chances as the New Jersey defense continued to smother them.

Later in the frame, the Devils took advantage as they scored again to extend their lead. Damon Severson made a great play as the got the puck near the top of the face-off circle, and after waiting for a beat he found Michael Cammalleri for the goal to make it a 4-0 game.

The Devils nearly made it a 5-0 game a few moments later, but the goal was waved off after Sergey Kalinin was ruled to have interfered with Darling, negating Cammalleri’s attempt at a second goal in the period.

The Blackhawks finally managed to get on the board late in the period thanks to a good possession by their second line. With Quenneville shuffling up lines, Andrew Shaw made his way to the front of the net, and new linemate Patrick Kane took advantage as the winger fired home a shot to not only cut the Devils’ lead to 4-1, but it also extended his personal scoring streak to nine games.

The Blackhawks pulled their goaltender with about six and a half minutes to go in the game, but it took them nearly five minutes to score without Darling in the cage. Finally, Artemi Panarin made the play happen as he fired a quick pass to the front of the cage, and Tanner Kero backhanded a shot past Schneider to make it a 4-2 game with a minute and a half to go.

The Hawks had a few more opportunities to get back into the game, but that wasn’t enough as the team lost for the second game in a row.

On Sunday the Blackhawks will return to the United Center where they will take on the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m.

The Blackhawks got off to a sluggish start against the Devils, and some carelessness with the puck ended up costing them. After Niklas Hjalmarsson received a pass in the defensive zone from Teuvo Teravainen, he turned the puck over, and Lee Stempniak took advantage as the winger fired a shot past Corey Crawford to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.

The Devils were unable to convert on a power play about halfway through the period, but as the frame came to an end they were able to score to extend their lead. After a tie-up in the face-off circle, Kyle Palmieri pounced on the puck and quickly ripped a wrist shot that evaded Crawford, putting the Devils ahead by two goals.

Just 26 seconds later, the Devils scored again. Travis Zajac came in hard on the rush, and even though Hjalmarsson blocked his initial shot, the talented forward got his own rebound and slid home the shot to put New Jersey up by a 3-0 margin after 20 minutes of play.

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New England Patriots Players, Fans Have Fun at Parade

Giddy fans of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots chanted “Brady! Brady!” and clambered atop massive snowbanks for better views as players danced and waved their way through Boston in a Wednesday parade celebrating their fourth NFL title.

A few parade watchers furtively sipped from small bottles of booze to keep warm.

Carl Estrelle of Cambridge wore a white T-shirt saying “deflate this” – a reference to allegations that the Patriots used underinflated footballs in their AFC championship win against the Indianapolis Colts. But he made his loyalties clear.

“That was the best championship,” he said. “They deserved to win. They did their job.”

Near the city’s snow-blanketed Common, a chant of “Boston Strong” went up, and some revelers tried to get a wave going before midday fireworks at City Hall Plaza.

Others found a better perch in the warmth of fast-food eateries.

“This is the best view,” said Chris Cunningham of South Kingston, Rhode Island, watching from inside a Dunkin’ Donuts storefront.

According to Boston police, four people were arrested at the parade. Three people were arrested on drinking charges, while another person faces an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge after throwing snowballs at an officer.

The MBTA has said commuters should continue to see delays into Wednesday. Old equipment and snow-removal impacted services Tuesday, causing hours of delays for some passengers.

Buses will continue to replace Mattapan Trolley service between Ashmont and Mattapan stations throughout the day.

Passengers can check updates on schedules on the MBTA website.

In addition, passengers looking to use MBTA services to reach the parade are encouraged to check schedules for reaching the parade route.

Sunday’s 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks was New England’s fourth championship and their first in a decade, and that brought exuberant fans out into the winter chill.

“I’m freezing but it’s been great. It’s exciting,” said Annie Cushing, of Quincy, wearing a Rob Gronkowski jersey and a homemade Lombardi trophy hat made of tin foil and tape. The real Gronk drew laughs with hip-hop dance moves and a goofy cap featuring a one-eyed “Minion” character.

By the granary burial ground where famous Bostonians were laid to rest, a boy held high a sign on a wooden picket saying: “13 years old, nine championships,” a nod to the city’s other successful sports franchises.

Well-wishers blew kisses, pumped their fists and screamed themselves hoarse from behind barriers as the team rolled through downtown aboard the World War II-style amphibious “duck boat” vehicles that have become a staple of the city’s championship parades.

Some fans defied police warnings and climbed on giant piles of snow left from last week’s blizzard to get a glimpse of quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and other players and their wives and girlfriends as a truck blew plumes of confetti into the air.

The crowd roared as a smiling Belichick and his players snapped selfies and took turns waving the Lombardi trophy. Dozens of police officers on foot secured the convoy as it rolled down Boylston Street and past the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where two bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others in 2013.

Fans sported No. 12 Brady jerseys, shouted the MVP’s name and held “We are the CHAMPIONS” placards. One had a sign that read: “Belichick for President.”

A beaming Brady held his young son, Benjamin, who grinned and waved to the crowd.

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Rollins’ Homers in 9th to Lift White Sox Past Athletics 5-4

Having grown up in the Bay Area, Chicago White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins knew his ball might get caught up in the cool night air at the Oakland Coliseum, so he hustled around the bases as quickly as possible.

He could have slowed to a trot rounding first.

Doolittle, who missed 121 games a year ago with shoulder and rotator cuff issues, took the loss. It was Oakland’s second straight one-run defeat after leading the majors in that category last year.

“It’s tough to come back in here after a one-run loss at home after trying to come back from a one-run loss,” Doolittle said. “I’m disgusted with myself.”

Nate Jones (1-0) pitched one inning for the win and David Robertson worked a scoreless ninth for his second save.

Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie drove in two runs apiece for the A’s. Oakland has lost 13 of its last 18 against Chicago.

53 AND COUNTING

Quintana allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts but was saddled with the 53rd no-decision of his career — most in the majors since 2012. Oakland rallied for two runs in the eighth off Zach Duke and Jones.

“The most important thing here is taking the W,” Quintana said. “That’s part of the game. It happens sometimes. We won the game, that’s most important.”

Rollins hit a tiebreaking homer off closer Sean Doolittle with two outs in the ninth inning and the Chicago White Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Signed to a minor league deal by the White Sox in February, Rollins connected on a 2-2 pitch from Doolittle (0-1) after Chicago’s bullpen blew a two-run lead in the eighth.

“I hit it good but with this thick air you just never know what’s going to happen,” Rollins said. “I got a good amount of backspin on it and it stayed up just long enough.”

Todd Frazier also homered for Chicago, a three-run shot in the fifth. Austin Jackson added an RBI infield single and Adam Eaton had three hits.

Rollins’ first home run of the season came three innings after he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. It also bailed out Chicago’s bullpen after starter Jose Quintana left with a two-run lead.

“I don’t know if that’s the way you draw it up, but it’s a nice team win,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We’re going to hit some homers — Jimmy with the big one.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: Chicago has won six straight at the Coliseum. … Ventura needs one win to reach 300 for his career. … Jose Abreu struck out three consecutive times after singling in his first at-bat.

Athletics: Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt was drafted by the White Sox in 2011. He gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings. … Liam Hendriks retired all eight batters he faced.

UP NEXT

White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon, who went 9-6 last season, faces Oakland on Wednesday. The 23-year-old Rodon finished fifth among rookies a year ago with 139 strikeouts.

Athletics: Gray makes his delayed season debut against Chicago. Gray has never defeated the White Sox and has an 8.10 ERA in two starts against them.

FLU BUGS A’S

The flu is apparently working its way through the Athletics’ clubhouse. Oakland ace Sonny Gray was scratched from his opening day start Monday and sent to the hospital with possible food poisoning, though he now says it might have been a 24-hour flu bug. Fellow starting pitcher Kendall Graveman was also not feeling well and spent the day trying to recover, though he is expected to make his scheduled start on Thursday.

“I’ve had this Purell hand dispenser in here for years and now everybody doesn’t think I’m so crazy,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We had (head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta) address the team and go over what we can try to do to combat that. We’re going to do the best we can.”

Ventura said his ballclub dealt with a similar issue in spring training.

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NBA’s Stephen Curry Named AP Male Athlete of the Year

“Steph actually looks different,” ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said. “Like the best player in the league usually is also physically opposing — 6-6 plus, scowl on his face, menacing. With the attitude that we appreciated because like a Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’Neal, or Kobe Bryant, you know, just a cutthroat nature. Steph allows us into his living room. We see him on a national stage be a son, a dad, a husband, a father, a brother. And he does all of it while continuing to improve.”

Curry has improved his scoring from 23.8 points per game to 30.8 — the biggest one-year jump ever by an MVP — prompting Rose to say that Curry could be the most improved player and repeat as MVP this season in a remarkable tribute to the offseason work he put in even after winning a title.

He has become much more efficient scoring on drives and has amazingly added range to his already record-setting 3-point shooting. Curry can consistently make shots from 28 feet out as he is on pace to shatter his own record of 3-pointers made in a season.

Stephen Curry’s greatness as a basketball player can be measured by his record-setting shooting numbers that are changing the game.

His immense popularity derives from something less tangible.

While American Pharoah got three more first-place votes than Curry’s 24, Curry appeared on 86 percent of the 82 ballots that ranked the top five candidates. More than one-third of the voters left American Pharoah off their list.

“That’s a real honor,” Curry said. “I’m appreciative of that acknowledgement because it’s across all different sports. … It’s pretty cool.”

Curry has become the face of the NBA this past year. His jersey is the best-seller in the league, his team’s games get record television ratings at home and in opposing markets and even his 3-year-old daughter Riley became a star by overshadowing her dad at playoff news conferences.

Even his intricate warmup routine has become a show for fans who get out early or even sometimes on TV pregame shows. He does an elaborate two-ball dribbling routine, works on passes and shots with both hands, takes jump shots from just inside half court and then caps it with a long-range shot from the tunnel on the way back to the locker room.

The drive to succeed is fueled by the fact that Curry got no major scholarship offers coming out of high school, he was the third point guard taken in the 2009 draft and he settled for a below-market contract extension three years ago because people questioned his durability following ankle injuries.

“The thing I would say about Steph, what makes him who he is, is that nobody has to challenge him to get to the next level because he does it on his own,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I didn’t think he could get that much better from last year but I do think he’s gotten considerably better, which is quite a feat when you’re the reigning MVP.”

While many NBA greats rely on uncommon height and athletic ability that average fans can only dream of having, Curry’s game relies on the traits that every casual player can work on: shoot, dribble and pass.

The difference is, perhaps nobody ever has put those three skills together the same way Curry has the past year as he has dominated on the court and made the once downtrodden Golden State Warriors the NBA’s must-watch team.

“The way that I play has a lot of skill but is stuff that if you go to the YMCA or rec leagues or church leagues around the country, everybody wants to shoot, everybody wants to handle the ball, make creative passes and stuff like that,” he said. “You can work on that stuff. Not everybody has the vertical, or the physical gifts to be able to go out and do a windmill dunk and stuff like that. I can’t even do it.”

That’s about all Curry is unable to do on the basketball court. His amazing year, in which he won an MVP, led Golden State to its first title in 40 years and helped the Warriors get off to a record-setting start this season, earned him The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.

Curry finished first in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors, with the results released Saturday. He joined LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as the only basketball players to win the honor in the 85 years of the award. Curry beat out golfer Jordan Spieth, who won two majors, and American Pharoah, who became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.

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Play Ball! 10 Things to Watch in 2015 Major League Baseball

Play Ball! 10 Things to Watch in 2015 Major League Baseball

The Cardinals beat the Cubs 3-0 to open the 2015 Major League season in a nationally televised game Sunday, to be followed by 14 games Monday. A quick look at 10 things to watch over the 162-game schedule:

1. San Francisco Giants

Can the Giants break their odd-year streak? The defending World Series champs have won three championships in the even years of 2014, 2012 and 2010 but have flopped in 2011 and 2013. What will 2015 bring? Third baseman Pablo Sandoval is gone and outfielder Hunter Pence will miss the start of the season with a broken bone in his left forearm. Will all those postseason innings last season hurt Madison Bumgarner in 2015?

2. Kansas City Royals

K.C. caught everyone by surprise in 2014, winning a wild card and storming through the American League playoffs with a mix of terrific pitching, great defense and timely hitting. But can they do it again? The American League Central is tough Detroit, Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox appear loaded and the Royals may have trouble replicating the magic they produced a year ago.

3. Washington Nationals

Does any team in the National League stand a chance against the Nats, who now have the league*s best rotation? Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister give manager Matt Williams’ team an ace-quality starter every game and the Nats have Tanner Roark (who won 15 games with a 2.79 ERA last season) in the wings if they need him. Plus, the lineup is talented and deep.

4. Mike Trout

He*s just 23, but Trout is at a key point in his career. The Angels center fielder won the American League MVP award in 2014 with the worst season he*s had statistically since coming to the big leagues. He hit 36 homers in 2014 with a league-leading 111 RBI, but his batting average and on-base percentage plummeted (.323 to .287 and .432 to .377) and his strikeouts increased (136 to 184). Now Trout has vowed to be more aggressive earlier in counts and to stay away from the high fastballs that ate him up in the second half of last season.

Baseball Q&A Session with George W. Bush and Rob ManfredBaseball Q&A Session with George W. Bush and Rob ManfredFormer president George W. Bush and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sit down for a Q&A session for the baseball exhibit at the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Topics include the state of the game plus humorous takes on instant replay and online streaming. (Published Monday, April 6, 2015)

5. Alex Rodriguez

After being suspended all of last season, the nearly 40-year-old A-Rod is back in the Yankees lineup, now as the designated hitter. Will he be capable of adding power and stability to a lineup that needs it in 2015? Or will age and the missed season turn him into just an overpriced, over-the-hill out machine? There are signs he may be OK. Over 40 at-bats this spring Rodriguez hit close to .300. With 654 home runs, A-Rod needs seven to pass Willie Mays into fourth place all time.

6. Kris Bryant

At some point early this season, the Chicago Cubs will promote Bryant from the minors and we*ll all get to see how good this young slugger can be. Bryant, the former No. 2 overall pick in the draft, hit .425 this spring with nine home runs, but will start the season in the minors. The Cubs gain an extra season of control over his contract if Bryant stays at least 12 days at Triple-A Iowa to start the season. Cubs fans and Bryant are disappointed now, but Chicago made the smart move for the long term based on current rules.

7. Loooooong Games

Major League Baseball is determined to shorten games to better keep the interest of fans, so new rules will be in effect in 2015, including a game clock to quicken the pace between innings and pitching changes and restrictions on hitters stepping out of the batter*s box. If spring training is an indication, the rules may work. Games this spring were about 20 minutes quicker. Games last season took an average of 3 hours, 2 minutes 30 minutes longer than the average time of games in 1981.

Chatting Courtside with an NCAA PlayerChatting Courtside with an NCAA PlayerManhattan College’s Emmy Andujar talks about what it’s like to play in the NCAA tournament, his favorite teammate and getting pedicures. (Published Monday, April 6, 2015)

8. Giancarlo Stanton

Home run numbers have gone down in the post-steroid era, but one young slugger continues to put up big-time home run totals: the Marlins* Stanton, who hit 37 in 2014 despite missing over half of the last month of the season after being hit in the head with a pitch. He has hit 154 homers in five seasons. The question is, will he be the same slugger he was before being hit? Florida certainly is betting he will be. The team gave him a 13-year, $325 million extension over the offseason.

9. The Shift

In 2014, more teams than ever before shifted their infields to better defend against hitters. Using sophisticated computer charts, teams now know best how to position fielders to turn line drives into outs. It*s frustrating for some of the game*s best hitters and their fans, but the shift won*t be going away any time soon, unless hitters adapt and stop trying to pull every pitch. So in 2015 it should be interesting to see how batters evolve.

10. The Cubans

Over the past few seasons, young Cubans have made a huge impact. Sluggers such as Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu and pitcher Aroldis Chapman escaped the island, made their way to America and have developed into stars. Now the crop of Cubans on big-league rosters is quickly multiplying. Among the rookies to watch in 2015 are outfielder Rusney Castillo of the Red Sox, pitcher Yoan Moncada and third baseman Yasmany Tomas of the Diamondbacks and recently signed infielder Hector Olivera of the Dodgers (who will start the season in the minors, but is 29 years old).

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Blackhawks Wallop Coyotes, Keep Home Ice Hopes Alive

The Chicago Blackhawks have seemingly found their offensive spark, beating the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 6-2 on Tuesday night.

Andrew Ladd scored two power play goals on the night, and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored goals as the Blackhawks won their third straight game and kept alive their slim hopes of gaining home-ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.

Needless to say, it will not be another 15 years before another Blackhawks player hits the 250-goal mark. Patrick Kane currently is sitting at 248 goals, and with two games left in the regular season, he could conceivably catch and pass his teammate on the scoring list before the year is out.

So far, the audience for NFL streams has been significantly smaller than that for traditional television. The Yahoo broadcast of the Bills-Jaguars game from London in October averaged a worldwide audience of about 2.4 million. A Jets-Dolphins matchup from London earlier that month, which started at the same time, averaged more than quadruple that in the U.S. alone with 9.9 million viewers on CBS.

Not to be outdone, Kane scored a beautiful goal of his own on a power play later in the game. On an outlet pass, Artemi Panarin sprinted up the ice and fed a gorgeous saucer pass across the zone to Kane. Kane quickly shifted to his backhand and lifted a shot over Domingue to make it a 3-0 game.

Artem Anisimov was forced to leave the game late in the second period after a big hit from Antoine Vermette, and the Blackhawks scored twice to make the major penalty hurt even more. Ladd scored both goals for the Blackhawks, deflecting a Trevor van Riemsdyk shot in to make it 4-0 and then collecting a pass from Kane near the blue paint and shoving a shot through the goaltender’s pads to extend Chicago’s lead to five goals.

The Coyotes finally got on the board in the third period of the game thanks to a Connor Murphy goal, but the Blackhawks responded quickly. Michal Rozsival made a key play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and after he cycled it behind the net, Marcus Kruger fed a quick pass to Andrew Desjardins for the one-timer goal and a 6-1 edge for the Hawks.

A late goal from Brad Richardson did nothing to change the outcome, and the Blackhawks cruised to victory.

The Blackhawks will look to keep those home-ice hopes alive on Thursday night when they welcome the St. Louis Blues to the United Center for the team’s home finale.

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NFL Season Opener: Patriots Defeat Steelers

Not much new in the NFL season opener.

Tom Brady was unstoppable, and so was Rob Gronkowski.

Some unheralded players put on New England jerseys and looked like stars.

The opposing coach, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, raised suspicions about something untoward going on at Gillette Stadium.

A 28-21 victory for the Patriots wasn’t nearly that close, and the sellout crowd of 66,829, braving a persistent rain Thursday night, got just about everything it wanted. The pregame ceremony celebrated New England’s four Super Bowl crowns; Brady was behind center after his four-game suspension from the NFL in the deflated balls saga was vacated by a federal judge; and the home team unveiled some new weapons.

“I was pretty excited,” said Brady, who has 161 wins as a starting quarterback, most in NFL history. “I think the regulars around here always can be pretty excited, especially running out there in pregame.

“You have one week and you put everything you can into it for that one three-hour performance.”

Brady certainly put in everything the Patriots could hope for, which does not bode well for the rest of the NFL. Nor do some of the other things we saw against the undermanned and generally ineffective Steelers.

GRONK: Gronkowski was dynamic with five catches for 94 yards and touchdowns of 16, 6 and 1 yard. He broke a tackle after catching a short pass in the flat on the first score; beat two defenders into the back of the end zone for the 6-yarder; and recovered a fumble by running back Dion Lewis at the Steelers 1 before his final score.

The All-Pro tight end had not played in the preseason

“It was the first game of the year and I’m not going to say I was in top-notch shape,” he said. “It’s different when you go out there and play for real versus other opponents that are very good. I’m definitely a little rusty in some spots.”

Sounds ominous. So does having another dangerous tight end, Scott Chandler, to complement him. Chandler had a 1-yard TD catch.

WHO’S THAT?: Not an unusual question around the Patriots, who’ve gotten contributions from obscure players throughout their successful run. Remember Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl; the Seahawks surely do. Or running back Jonas Gray from his one-hit wonder last season?

Thursday night it was Dion Lewis, a fourth-year running back out of Pitt signed away from the Eagles as a free agent, and rookie center David Andrews, who was not drafted. Andrews stepped in for regular snapper Bryan Stork, who is injured, and did a very solid job. Lewis followed Andrews and several other young blockers up front to gain 69 yards rushing and 51 receiving.

“We had eight rookies play and they all contributed,” coach Bill Belichick said. “Hopefully they’ll get better.”

SAY WHAT?: Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin isn’t saying the Patriots messed around with Steelers coaches’ headsets in the first half. He’s just saying it does seem to happen a lot when he plays in New England.

“We were listening to the Patriots radio broadcast for the majority of the first half on our headsets,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin told reporters that Pittsburgh coaches “always” have trouble with their communication systems in New England.

A league spokesman said the interference was “caused by a stadium power infrastructure issue, which was exacerbated by the inclement weather.

And the Patriots said they had problems with their headsets, too.

“We deal with that, it seems like, weekly,” Belichick said.

Other teams in the league have been suspicious of the Patriots at least since 2007, when the league caught coach Bill Belichick illegally taping opposing coaches’ signals. The team’s reputation took another hit last season when the Indianapolis Colts questioned whether the footballs New England used in the AFC title game were properly inflated.

TORN CURTAIN: Pittsburgh’s defense never looked formidable. At times, it was more of a Steel Sieve than a Steel Curtain.

Brady had wide-open receivers nearly all night, going 25 of 32 for 288 yards. Lewis had his big production.

“I thought we got a little frazzled at times,” Tomlin said. Some of the young people have got to get better in a hurry.”Patriots fans are reveling in a 28-14, fourth-quarter lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers and taking the opportunity to mock NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Gillette Stadium crowd broke into a chant of “Where is Roger?” — taking shots at the league’s leader for the botched investigation in the scandal that came to be known as “Deflategate.”

Goodell suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games after a league investigation found the team supplied improperly inflated footballs for the AFC title game in January. But last week a federal judge vacated the suspension.

It’s made Goodell an unpopular figure in New England. He said he would skip th NFL opener for the first time as commissioner to avoid being a distraction.
The “Where is Roger?” chant was a reprise. In the 1999 AL baseball playoffs, Boston fans mocked former Red Sox ace Roger Clemens — who had moved to the Yankees — with the same chant for his early exit in a much-hyped matchup with Pedro Martinez.

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