Julian Edelman and the Patriots will still be playing in February.</p>
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It Is What It IsBelichick also reflected on his younger days when he strapped on the skates and went for a spin.

“We didn’€™t have a lot of ice in Maryland but skated at Andover, skated at Wesleyan, played in the old ‘€œhuff and puff’€ league when I was in New Jersey with the Giants,” Belichick said.

What exactly is the ‘€œhuff and puff’€ league?

“It’€™s 30, 40-year-old guys playing at midnight [because] it’€™s the only time you get ice time,”€ Belichick said. “€œDrive 45 minutes to get out there and fall around and slash each other.”

Bill Belichick. Is there nothing he cannot do? Coach. GM. Genius. Boat captain. Hockey player. The nation is lousy with football coaches who pride themselves on their 20-hour work days and nights spent sleeping on a couch in the office. Here he is, about to hop a flight to Miami with nothing less on the line than home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and he still finds time to have a skate around with Claude Julien. Just two great coaches, sharing a moment like they share championships.

I’d be shocked if during one of those laps around the rink Belichick didn’t brainstorm a new wrinkle for the blitz package or scheme up another ineligible receiver play for the NFL to outlaw this year. And that just being together with Julien their Wonder Twins power will activate and they’ll both be better coaches, just by osmosis. If the NHL is smart they’ll put the Winter Classic at Gillette every year. Not just because it’s the one NFL stadium where they’re guaranteed a playoff bye week, but because no coach in football is enjoying this much.

@JerryThornton1

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NHL When it came time to create a mask for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1, Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon had one obvious request as a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots: a tribute to the NFL team he grew up rooting for.

Condon left the front of his Winter Classic mask to Swedish painter David Gunnarsson but made sure the artist included four key elements on the back plate.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, four Super Bowls, and the team motto: Do Your Job,” Condon said.

Gunnarsson, of DaveArt Studios, captured all four in black and white on the back of the Winter Classic mask. …

Belichick, the Patriots coach, is on the left side of the back plate with his famous hoodie pulled over a headset, and Brady, the quarterback, is on the right, preparing to throw a pass. In between are the four Super Bowl trophies they have won together, and below them is the motto attached to the Patriots logo.

I don’t know when I’ve ever been more conflicted about a single hockey game. There’s not a more contemptible, easier team in all of sports to hate than those pretentious, 911-calling, maple-guzzling princesses from Stripperville. But on the other hand, they not only have a local hero between the pipes, he’s pandering to the Patriots like no other athlete in any sport ever has.

The Pats can’t get their own opponents to give them a subatomic particle of respect, and yet here’s the Canadiens goalie turning his mask into “Do Your Job, Part II?” It’s like that tired old joke about the definition of mixed blessing is seeing your mother in law drive off a cliff in your car. I still want to see the Bruins win, obviously. But watching the puck go past Condon while he’s rocking the Patriots tribute is going to be tough.

@JerryThornton1

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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Canadiens-Bruins Winter Classic Alumni Game, 3:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Kings at Flames, 9 p.m. (NHL Network)
College football: Peach Bowl, Houston vs. Florida State, noon (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
College football: Orange Bowl, Clemson vs Oklahoma, 4 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
College football: Cotton Bowl, Alabama vs. Michigan State, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
College basketball: Xavier at Villanova, noon (FS1)
College basketball: Creighton at St. John’s, 2 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Drake at Wichita State, 2 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Providence at Butler, 2:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: BYU at Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

— It’s been a rough end to 2015 for Peyton Manning, but at least he’ll start the new year back in uniform.

The Broncos announced Wednesday that Manning’s torn plantar fascia in his left foot has improved to the point where he will serve as Brock Osweiler’s backup for Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

Manning has not participated in a full practice since Nov. 13. He worked out with his teammates doing seven-on-seven drills and running the scout team on Dec. 17, but he had a setback that limited his participation afterward. He said he’s looking forward to taking this next step.

“I’m happy to be more of a part of it now than just being in street clothes and kind of quarantined in the indoor facility and work on out on my own,” he said.

Osweiler said he appreciates being kept in the starting role as the Broncos look to clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye.

“Obviously it means a lot,” Osweiler said. “It shows that Coach believes in me. … It feels good, but I have a job to do this week and that’s where my focus is.”

Meanwhile, Manning continued to deny having used HGH following an Al Jazeera story that implied a connection.

The NFL has said it will investigate the allegations against Manning and other players, including Packers stars Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, and Manning said that was “appropriate,” adding: “I’d be glad if they came in here tonight and tomorrow and do it and get it over with.”

Said Manning: “The report wasn’t true Sunday. It’s not true today and it won’t ever be true. And I’m still angry about it. And if the league has to do that, I’ll cooperate. The sooner the better, though, if they’re listening.”

Asked about pursuing legal action against Al Jazeera, Manning said: “I don’t want to deal with that until after the season.”

— Ravens receiver Steve Smith has changed his mind about retiring, announcing Wednesday on Twitter that he plans to “defy the odds” and return from a torn right Achilles tendon that ended his season on Nov. 1.

Wrote Smith: Making a comeback, returning to the Baltimore Ravens ready to play football in 2016.

Smith, 36, has played 15 NFL seasons — the first 13 with the Panthers. He is 39 catches short of 1,000 and ranks 11th on the league’s career yards list with 13,932. This season he had 46 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns.

While Smith had not let on publicly that he was considering a change of heart, some of his teammates indicated they expected him to fulfill the final year of his three-year deal in Baltimore.

“I’m not surprised at all. He’s not the type of guy to go out like that,” Ravens left tackle Kelechi Osemele said. “Obviously, we can’t wait to have him back. I know he’s going to come back in the best shape of his life and he’s going to dominate, because that’s the type of person he is.”

Said cornerback Jimmy Smith: “I kind of already knew he was coming back. He’s a great, tremendous leader for us and obviously we know what type of player he is. That can only help us.”

— Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel apparently will not play in his team’s final Sunday, but it’s not because the team disciplined him for his latest off-field issue. Manziel was placed in the league’s concussion program after complaining of head and neck pain Wednesday and being evaluated by a doctor.

Manziel ran 11 times for 108 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, and he took a few hard hits in the process, including a legal helmet-to-helmet hit from linebacker Josh Mauga in the second quarter.

“I just saw the hit the other day, and I was obviously concerned because it was a pretty tough lick,” said fellow injured quarterback Josh McCown, who was concussed in the first game of the season. “We follow the steps in how you feel and you know your body better than anyone else.”

Manziel is the 14th Browns player to be diagnosed with a concussion since the start of training camp.

“I know the number has been high here in Cleveland even going back a couple years,” Pettine said. “Our training staff is already looking at those and pulling individual clips. Hopefully we will have better answers as to the why as the offseason moves on.”

Backup Austin Davis is expected to start Sunday against the Steelers, who need a win to have a chance at the playoffs.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 31, 1978, in the Patriots’ first-ever playoff game in Foxboro, New England lost 31-14 to which team?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I wish I could do more to show my gratitude to them. It’s a weird feeling walking across center court, looking down at that logo. I tried to cherish it as much as I can.” — Retiring Lakers star Kobe Bryant, after helping his team to a 112-104 victory over the Celtics before an appreciative TD Garden crowd Wednesday night

STAT OF THE DAY: 3 — Games Bruins forward Brad Marchand was suspended by the league for his clip on Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki in Tuesday’s game

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): In a bizarre moment after Memphis’ 31-10 loss to Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl, Memphis defensive back Reggis Ball fights with an Auburn equipment staffer and runs off with a pilfered football. Ball was suspended from the team.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart soars in and dunks a rebound against the Lakers.

Bulls guard Jimmy Butler tips in an alley-oop pass to beat the Pacers with one second left in overtime.

Flyers forward Claude Giroux scores right off a faceoff against the Sharks.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Houston Oilers

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Boston native Donna Summer, who died in 2012, was born on this day in 1948.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Peter King of Sports Illustrated calls in to talk to Dickerson and Price about his comments on whiney New England fans and Peyton Manning's link to HGH in the Al Jazeera documentary.

[0:04:50] ... that. There is this immediate reaction. That you hacked you'd be clear. Peyton Manning guilty because of some. Circumstantial evidence that. May or may not be true. Based on right now some evidence. That appears to ...
[0:05:54] ... portrayal of meanings allegations compared with how the media. Has handled handled Tom Brady in the wicked flee to. Okay. And that's a very. Logical question good question and here's how I would prepared. Okay. So ...
[0:07:55] ... four years old. That does not. Charge or find any evidence. That. Peyton Manning or any player or even his wife actually took HCH. But find evidence that HEH. Was mailed. To Peyton Manning's wife. Take so. There is certainly. Room to investigate this there's certainly room to look into that and it should edit the ...
[0:10:24] ... is a very healthy skepticism. Of a lot of people even though Peyton Manning who's. Was very good in his defense I I guess the though the one name that people are brought to be quite ...






Peter King of Sports Illustrated calls in to talk to Dickerson and Price about his comments on whiney New England fans and Peyton Manning's link to HGH in the Al Jazeera documentary.

[0:04:50] ... that. There is this immediate reaction. That you hacked you'd be clear. Peyton Manning guilty because of some. Circumstantial evidence that. May or may not be true. Based on right now some evidence. That appears to ...
[0:05:54] ... portrayal of meanings allegations compared with how the media. Has handled handled Tom Brady in the wicked flee to. Okay. And that's a very. Logical question good question and here's how I would prepared. Okay. So ...
[0:07:55] ... four years old. That does not. Charge or find any evidence. That. Peyton Manning or any player or even his wife actually took HCH. But find evidence that HEH. Was mailed. To Peyton Manning's wife. Take so. There is certainly. Room to investigate this there's certainly room to look into that and it should edit the ...
[0:10:24] ... is a very healthy skepticism. Of a lot of people even though Peyton Manning who's. Was very good in his defense I I guess the though the one name that people are brought to be quite ...






"The Playmaker," Michael Irvin, calls in to talk to Chris Price and Greg Dickerson about Peyton Manning's link to HGH, Chip Kelly getting fired, and all things NFL.

[0:02:00] ... how you feel Michael. Well let's let's not let's start off with Peyton Manning first of all we knew we you first heard the allegations. In this story. About Peyton Manning. What were your first thoughts and then on top of that. Do you think the media had its. Has treated this story with Peyton Manning. The way they treated Tom Brady and the first few days of deflate it last the last January. That's very trusting and nobody that when you look at ...
[0:03:34] ... gonna view things through going on prism and we're gonna look at Tom Brady in what he went through over the last year and understanding that there's two vastly different scenarios. Do you think that's. Tom ...
[0:10:30] ... choke bet that the most important. By I adding to the 2001 Super Bowl Bluetooth as Super Bowl 36 he would go on the road for the EC championship game Pittsburgh you know it. Brokers there are correct remember broker a quicker but Butler. War I think momentum is very important to remember now. We use a moment important territorial. What you give there last week you really cute and who we speakers or your outlook are all really. In any Jimmie Johnson used to do this with thought he would not even a lot. How much we're planning. Because you wonder preparing. The whole ...
[0:12:09] ... not going quickly enough for me like I gotta get to a Super Bowl and two were three years or owners being too impatient. On an open you've been in two accretion here and I think ...






"The Playmaker," Michael Irvin, calls in to talk to Chris Price and Greg Dickerson about Peyton Manning's link to HGH, Chip Kelly getting fired, and all things NFL.

[0:02:00] ... how you feel Michael. Well let's let's not let's start off with Peyton Manning first of all we knew we you first heard the allegations. In this story. About Peyton Manning. What were your first thoughts and then on top of that. Do you think the media had its. Has treated this story with Peyton Manning. The way they treated Tom Brady and the first few days of deflate it last the last January. That's very trusting and nobody that when you look at ...
[0:03:34] ... gonna view things through going on prism and we're gonna look at Tom Brady in what he went through over the last year and understanding that there's two vastly different scenarios. Do you think that's. Tom ...
[0:10:30] ... choke bet that the most important. By I adding to the 2001 Super Bowl Bluetooth as Super Bowl 36 he would go on the road for the EC championship game Pittsburgh you know it. Brokers there are correct remember broker a quicker but Butler. War I think momentum is very important to remember now. We use a moment important territorial. What you give there last week you really cute and who we speakers or your outlook are all really. In any Jimmie Johnson used to do this with thought he would not even a lot. How much we're planning. Because you wonder preparing. The whole ...
[0:12:09] ... not going quickly enough for me like I gotta get to a Super Bowl and two were three years or owners being too impatient. On an open you've been in two accretion here and I think ...






Before we close out a year where weather was the major story, from the havoc it wreaked on our lives to what it did to our footballs, it’s only fitting to pay tribute to our meteorological warriors. Those gods and goddesses of the green screen. The titans of the Telestrator. Our TV weather people, the one remaining reason anyone under the age of 80 watches local TV news any more.

Anybody can be a weather hero when things are going well. When there’s a storm bearing down on the region or a hurricane barreling up the coast or whatever the cliche is supposed to be. But in the TV meteorologist game, where you earn your money is when things go sideways on you. Come for the weatherlady who pops out of her dress (at the 1:15 mark), stay for the geeky guy getting molested by his own dog.

 

@JerryThornton1

DraftKings DraftKings has your shot to play for FREE in the $1 Million Fantasy Football Contest THIS SUNDAY! First place takes home $100,000! FOR FREE ENTRY, CLICK HERE.

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Jerry Thornton