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Judge in Aaron Hernandez trial tells Odin Lloyd’s mother not to cry on stand

02.04.15 at 1:45 pm ET
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The Aaron Hernandez trial continued Wednesday in Fall River with the mother of shooting victim Odin Lloyd taking the stand and identifying her son from an autopsy photo of his face.

Ursula Ward, who left the courtroom in tears on two other days after seeing photos of her son’s body, started to get emotional again, but Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh told Ward she needed to be in control of her emotions and avoid crying when shown photos of her son. Ward managed to make it through her testimony without tearing up.

Earlier Wednesday, Lloyd’s girlfriend, Shaneah Jenkins, testified that Lloyd and Hernandez spent time together — including occasions when they smoked marijuana — but were not that close.

Jenkins is the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins. After skipping Tuesday’s session, Shayanna was back in court Wednesday, sitting in the front row behind Hernandez and taking notes. She did not appear to make eye contact with her sister.

Hernandez’s defense team has said the former Patriot and Lloyd were friends and there was no reason Hernandez would want to kill him. Lloyd’s bullet-ridden body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez’s North Attleboro home in June 2013.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Pair from Ireland claim to have sneaked into Super Bowl, found seat next to Lawyer Milloy

02.04.15 at 11:12 am ET
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Usually you have to pay an arm and a leg to get anywhere near a Super Bowl game, but for Richard Whelan and Paul McEvoy, Seahawks fans from Ireland, all it apparently took was some confidence.

Whelan was interviewed outside the stadium before the game by NFL Network while the pair were trying to find tickets, but they were unable to pay scalper prices.

Instead, they decided to just walk in.

“Our game plan was to be super confident,” Whalen told The Independent. “We just thought if we pretend we belong there, nobody will question us. Between one layer of security and another we just walked in behind these 20 first aid workers, straight up to the front door and hid in behind them.

“Paul was looking at his phone, pretending to text me, as if we had just popped out to look at an email we got or something. We walked past another security guard that just wasn’t paying attention. We could see the field then, the stadium and the atmosphere was insane. … I remember looking at Paul’s face, we just couldn’t believe we got in.”

By the time they settled in, the pair wound up sitting in the fourth row next to former Patriots and Seahawks defensive back Lawyer Milloy.

“We spoke to this guy and told him we had sneaked in. He told us the girls beside him were in the halftime show and so wouldn’€™t be coming back to their seats after halftime” Whalen said. “So we ended up in the fourth row, sitting beside a former Super Bowl champion Lawyer Milloy who gave us a play-by-play of the game. … It was pretty cool to have the Super Bowl champion sharing all the details.”

“It was a good day of hustling,” Whalen said. “What seemed like impossible came true.”

Read More: Lawyer Milloy, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks,

Report: Colts LB D’Qwell Jackson, who allegedly sparked Deflategate investigation, arrested for punching pizza deliveryman

02.04.15 at 10:49 am ET
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D'Qwell Jackson

D’Qwell Jackson

Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, whose interception in the AFC championship game was believed to be the spark for the Deflategate investigation, was arrested Tuesday night for punching a pizza deliveryman twice in the head during a dispute over a parking spot, according to a report out of Washington, D.C.

ABC7 reporter Jennifer Donelan tweeted that Jackson, 31, was issued a citation for simple assault. The alleged victim was treated by an ambulance on the scene but did not go to the hospital.

A Colts spokesman told the reporter that the team was aware of the arrest but had no comment.

When Jackson came up with a Tom Brady pass in the first half of the AFC title game, it gave the Colts possession of a football and apparently allowed Indianapolis to have evidence to support its pregame suspicion that the balls did not have enough air.

Jackson, however, has said that he noticed nothing wrong with the ball.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Colts general manager Ryan Grigson told the league during the second quarter that the Patriots might be tampering with the footballs.

Read More: D'Qwell Jackson, Deflategate,

Russell Wilson: ‘I have no doubt in the play call’

02.04.15 at 10:22 am ET
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Malcolm Butler breaks up the late pass intended for Ricardo Lockette. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson‘s pass intended for Ricardo Lockette to clinch the Patriots’ 28-24 victory. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

What will live on as one of the greatest moments in Patriots history has been regarded on the other side as big a flub on a play call as any.

On the goal line, the Seahawks all but had the touchdown as they set up at the New England 1-yard line. But instead of having workhorse running back Marshawn Lynch carry the football, Seattle opted to pass the ball, which cornerback Malcolm Butler picked off to secure the Patriots’€™ fourth Super Bowl win in 14 years with a 28-24 victory.

Though people lamented the call and pinned the blame for the loss on coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson said he had no problem with the decision to pass.

“I had no doubt in the play call,” Wilson said. “I still don’t to this day.”

Wilson added that he thought the play “looked open enough.”

“When I threw it,” he said, “it was, ‘Touchdown. Second Super Bowl ring. Here we go.'”

After watching the replay 12 or so times, Wilson said he wouldn’t have done anything differently. However, he would like to put the play and the loss behind him.

“Let’s keep the focus on the future, not what’s behind,” he said. “The part that I hate is I have to wait seven months to play another game. I can use this for something else. I can use this for life.”

Read More: Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks,

Video: Sideline view of Malcolm Butler interception

02.04.15 at 9:50 am ET
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A video making its way around the web shows a sideline view of Malcolm Butler’s game-clinching interception in the Super Bowl, allowing viewers to see how well Butler read the play:

Read More: Malcolm Butler,

From ‘smashing and dashing’ to ‘Mona Lisa Vito,’ Patriots provided plenty of memorable quotes in 2014

02.04.15 at 8:00 am ET
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Seattle corner Jeremy Lane doesn't think Rob Gronkowski is very good. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski had some of the best quotes of the year for the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It was an interesting season for the Patriots, made all the more eventful by some terrific quotes. Here are the 10 most memorable statements from the 2014 season from the Patriots.

10. “We’re competing. We’re vibing on offense, trying to compete with the defense to try to get better every day.” — Wide receiver Danny Amendola on July 30, 2014, channeling his inner Wooderson when talking about the state of the Patriots offense early in training camp

9. “They beat us like we stole something.” Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork on Sept. 29, 2014 in the moments after a 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. The unquestioned low point of the season, New England was dominated in all three phases of the game as it fell to 2-2 on the season

8. “He’s our Energizer Bunny.” — Cornerback Darrelle Revis on Nov. 4, 2014 talking about Brandon Browner. Browner delivered a jolt to the New England secondary, bringing guts and energy to a group of defensive backs who became one of the best positional groupings in the league

7. “With a healthy Gronk, we’re a whole different team.” — Wide receiver Brandon LaFell on Oct. 12, 2014, speaking after a 37-22 win over Buffalo where Gronkowski had seven catches for 94 yards and really started to show signs of his pre-injury form

6. “Before we came to the game I go, “I’m going to make 12 look like Tom Brady again,’ and I went out there with my teammates and we made Tom Brady look like Tom Brady after you guys were criticizing him all week. The fans — everything it feels so good — he’s such a leader and he went over 50,000 yards [passing] today. He’s an unbelievable player and I am so glad to play with him.” — Rob Gronkowski on Oct. 5, 2014, speaking after a 43-17 win over the Bengals. Brady had taken plenty of heat over the course of the week following a nasty loss, and bounced back to play one of his best games of the season while leading New England to the win

5. “Nah, I ain’t changing that one bit. I’m going to go full speed when I’m out there and I’m going to keep smashing and dashing in everything I do.” — Gronkowski on July 25, 2014, talking about his post-surgery attitude

4. “He had me at hello.” — Wide receiver Julian Edelman on Jan. 23, 2015, speaking about his relationship with Brady. The two have grown extremely close, developing a tight bond both on and off the field

3. “He was just yappin’€™ at me the whole time, so I took him and threw him out of the club.” — Gronkowski on Nov. 16, 2014, talking about his in-game altercation with Indy’s Sergio Brown where he blocked him into a camera pit

2. “I’m just telling you what I know. I would not say I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car expertise area. I’m not a scientist, and I’m not a league official.” — Belichick on Jan. 24, 2015, at a surprise press conference where he talked about the burgeoning scandal involving under-inflated footballs, referencing Marisa Tomei’s character from the movie “My Cousin Vinny”

1. “We’re on to Cincinnati.” — Belichick, speaking just 36 hours after a withering loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City. Belichick uttered the phrase several times in the wake of a line of questions about the state of his team. The Patriots responded, beating the Bengals 43-17 the following Sunday night, jumpstarting a race to the Super Bowl

Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Mona Lisa Vito

Which teams have best shot at denying Patriots back-to-back Super Bowl titles?

02.04.15 at 12:33 am ET
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Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner could very well square off in Super Bowl 50 next February. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner could very well square off in Super Bowl 50 next February. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

After knocking off the Seahawks Sunday night and capturing the fourth Super Bowl in the history of the franchise, the 2015 Patriots will attempt to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since New England’€™s 2003-04 team. While it’s wildly early — there’ a lot of time between now and the start of the 2015 season — here are our five best bets when it comes to potential challengers to the Patriots, in no particular order.

Ravens: Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh and the rest of the Ravens are a perennial nemesis for the Patriots, having split their last four playoff meetings with New England since 2009. What has become one of the most underrated rivalries in the NFL should have a little extra spice, given the bad feelings that came out of their most recent postseason showdown.

Broncos: While the status of Peyton Manning is still up in the air, the Broncos appear to be as well-positioned as anyone in the AFC when it comes to trying to mount a challenge for AFC supremacy. Denver is stacked on offense with wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, as well as tight end Julius Thomas and running back C.J. Anderson. It’s a similarly star-studded defense, with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, edge rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. With or without Peyton, expect them to contend in 2015.

Cowboys: If Dallas can somehow finesse the cap to allow free agents stars DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant to return, the Cowboys appear to be in as good a shape as anyone else in the NFL. They have one of the stoutest offensive lines in the NFL, and a surprisingly competitive defense will get a boost from the return of linebacker Sean Lee in 2015. At the same time, quarterback Tony Romo turns 35 in April, and only five quarterbacks (Tom Brady, John Elway, Jim Plunkett, Roger Staubach and Johnny Unitas) 35 or older have won Super Bowls.

Packers: When it came to second half of the 2014 regular season, Green Bay gave the Patriots probably the best game of the year, knocking off the Patriots at Lambeau in November. Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers will almost certainly be a man on a mission in 2015, looking to avenge a bitter playoff loss at the hands of the Seahawks in Seattle. If Green Bay can do enough to stabilize its defense and manage to avoid some of the inevitable hangover that comes with a postseason defeat like the one the Packers suffered against the Seahawks, Rodgers and Company should be in the mix for a title in 2015.

Seahawks: There’s the annual Curse of the Super Bowl loser to worry about — of the 49 Super Bowl losers, only two won the big game the next season, with the last instance coming in 1972 with the Dolphins. But provided the Seahawks stay healthy and can retain their talent, there’s no reason to think that they won’t be part of the championship conversation in some form or fashion. They still have one of the best pass defenses in the game and few players are as dominant at their position as running back Marshawn Lynch. Meanwhile quarterback Russell Wilson and coach Pete Carroll will be looking for redemption after Sunday’s withering loss.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers

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