MMQBA sultry breeze rolls off the Yazoo River, and it looks like Malcolm Butler might drift with it … into a slumber. It’€™s Saturday afternoon, nearly three weeks since his goal-line interception in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLIX, and the Patriots’€™ rookie cornerback is lounging on a red rocking chair on the porch of a 150-year-old bed and breakfast in his hometown.

His is the hero’€™s journey told anew. Before he became an instant star in the Arizona desert, he was a once-cut JUCO player who went from working at Popeyes for $7.25 an hour to an undrafted free agent in the NFL. …

And yet Butler, who made the rookie minimum of $420,000 last season, will find himself fighting for a roster spot in August. That’€™s the cold reality of Bill Belichick‘€™s NFL, even after you find yourself taking a selfie with LL Cool J and getting Jamie Foxx’€™s cell number at the Grammy’€™s. That’€™s why Butler says he’€™s dedicating himself to four pillars: staying humble, being appreciative, remaining focused and continuing to work hard. But today is all about celebrating the past. …

In Vicksburg, Miss., February 21 is Malcolm Butler Day. …

Within the hour, the mayor of Vicksburg began preparing to throw Butler a parade. Twenty days later, the brunch crowd of 150 became nearly 3,000 locals lining the streets. … Vicksburg hosts five parades a year, and each usually features about 50 entries such as floats, bands, and festooned cars. Malcolm Butler Day has 127 entries. …

“€œWow,” Butler says from atop his perch. He wraps his arm around his mother’€™s shoulder. “Can you believe this?”

Speechless, she wipes her cheek.

The best line in this story — and I can’t recommend you read it strongly enough — is the part about Malcolm Butler being on a hero’s journey. His story really is like something out of Joseph Campbell’s epic tome about legends and myths, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

Now I can’t lie to you and pretend I’ve read the book. My reading is more limited to 50-page erotic Rob Gronkowski fan fiction, but I understand it inspired George Lucas to make “Star Wars” and that I am familiar with. And you can see the similarities. Butler is Luke Skywalker — an unknown kid from humble beginnings who goes on an epic quest and when the moment comes, he finds something inside himself to do great things and save the universe. More or less.

And by all accounts, it sounds like all this sudden fame and success couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid. I admit we never truly know pro athletes, and if I’m being perfectly honest I’ll admit that I’d still be perfect happy Butler made that interception if he really was a bigger phoney-baloney, whore-chasing jerkstore than Warren Sapp.

But the fact that he isn’t? That he’s this beloved by people who know him, that his hometown threw him the biggest parade they’ve ever had? And that it made his mom cry? That is two-tissue Patriots porn right there.

Of course we don’t know whether any of this will matter next training camp. A few weeks ago Butler was in a photo finish for the last defensive back roster spot with Daxton Swanson. For all we know they’ll draft another depth guy or sign a free agent and he’ll be gone. But at least nothing will ever take this cool story away from him. In the words of Norman Dale, “You know, most people would kill to be treated like a god … just for a few moments.”

Hopefully Malcolm Butler’s few moments won’t stop any time soon.


Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton
Alex Rodriguez is so hated in New York he can't even show up early without taking heat for it. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez is so hated in New York he can’t even show up early without taking heat for it. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

TAMPAWith two strikes against him and little margin for error, Alex Rodriguez still managed to find a way to irritate the Yankee brass when he arrived at spring training Monday — two days earlier than expected.

Wearing a green University of Miami workout suit, Rodriguez arrived in Tampa Monday morning, which was news to the Yankees, leaving Brian Cashman and the team’€™s media relations staff scrambling for answers.

The Yankees, who had expected him to show up on Wednesday, had no issues with A-Rod arriving on Monday, but team officials were fuming that he hadn’€™t alerted them to his plans.

“He’€™s learned nothing,” said one baseball executive. “He’€™s the same old guy. He just did what he wanted to do.”

This is return of A-Rod is already a huge disappointment.

I’m not talking about for him personally. I don’t have space to list all the ways I don’t care how it is for him. I mean that this is disappointing strictly for Bostonians. I mean, how can we enjoy A-Rod’s comeback when his own team hates him more than we do? When the atmosphere in New York is so toxic for the hamburger helper-gloved one that he can’t even show up to work early without them getting all cheesed off at him, where’s the fun in hating him?

Not that this is going to make him a sympathetic figure by any means, but when we’ve got to get in line behind his own organization and wait our turn to hate him, it does kind of take the bat out of our hands a little bit.

And the reason it’s so disappointing is that more than anything else in this town, we need a villain. For all the spoils of victory we’ve enjoyed these last 15 years, for all the titles, the unforgettable moments, the great players and the pyramid of skulls we’ve made from vanquished opponents, there is a void there.

Call it the law of unintended consequences. All that success has left the people of New England without a bad guy worthy of our true hatred.

A-Rod right now is a shadow of his former despicable self. He’s a relic of an earlier time. Hating him now is like hating Cuba. You know there’s some historical bad blood there and at one time it was a big deal to your parents’ generation, but now it’s just more sad than anything you can get worked up about.

At this point, who do we have left? Peyton Manning? Forget it. The Tom Brady vs. Manning debate has been settled for years. After this last Super Bowl, comparing the two would be like doing a “Tale of the Tape” between an ant and a shoe.

Lebron James? OK, I suppose. He is pretty insufferable. But, he’s in Cleveland now with the Celtics we don’t even know who’ll be on the roster by St. Paddy’s Day, much less next year. I’m afraid having a villain is a luxury reserved for championship contenders only. You don’t worry about the neighborhood bully when you can’t even get out of bed.

I guess the closest thing we have to a pro athlete we can rightly call a villain is P.K. Subban, I guess? But even that doesn’t work because there’s not a man, woman or child among us who wouldn’t carry him onto the Bruins’ roster on that giant throne they used to cart Xerxes around in “300.”

A-Rod was our last, best hope for a real wrestling heel-type of bad guy, and now he’s being vilified by his own people for the sin of coming to work two days early. If you’re a fan of good, quality, old fashioned hatred, this is a sad day indeed.


Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton

By way of full disclosure, I don’t smoke pot. Not out of any moral objection on my part, it’s just not my jam. Personally, I prefer to keep my vices to be brewed, distilled, or in the form of my health plan-approved two cigars per month. But, I don’t judge. I’m about as libertarian on these things as your likely to find.

Besides, there are real people out there with real medical issues and if smoking the occasional blunt or putting a little of the Mary Jane into their Snicker Doodles helps with their treatment, who are we to stand in their way?

That said, the marijuana culture is hilarious, and recreational pot smokers are some of the nicest, most self-deprecating cats out there. (Hey, Mikey Adams.) So there was no way I was going to let an event like the New England Cannibas Convention come to town without getting to know a few of them.

Thanks to all who participated, and to the few who awkwardly said, “Gee … no thanks” to my interview requests? I understand. Peace.


Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.

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[0:05:19] ... now but people. Don't we need you to people's out of the box office numbers were spot you know seven of the eight. Didn't do a lot of bills now I'd like to I don't think ...
[0:08:47] ... anything else rob and yet a careful. I want you terrible this Al Sharpton story. Pretty good ideas. Move it sort of with the proceed with the dollar up shot selection and through her defense. I ...
[0:10:01] ... the 33% 295. How. Is any charges that BT's muddy deputy chairman Richard John Davis. 30000 dollar pay it in unused sick time to run up at that you know Sunday's Carol's got as that seen ...

Welcome to Tuesday’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 Tuesday’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.

NHL: Canucks at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Flyers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Boston College at Pittsburgh, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Providence at Villanova, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Wisconsin at Maryland, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Texas at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: LSU at Auburn, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Florida at Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Creighton at DePaul, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: New Mexico at Boise State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Barcelona at Manchester City, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— An outwardly contrite Alex Rodriguez showed up at Yankees spring training Monday, two days earlier than expected, but reportedly still managed to upset a team that has lost patience with him.

According to the New York Daily News, Rodriguez did not inform the club that he would be showing up in Tampa early, and the team’s media relations staff was not prepared to deal with the increased attention.

“He’s learned nothing,” an unnamed baseball executive told the paper. “He’s the same old guy. He just did what he wanted to do.”

Rodriguez, however, insisted he wants to make amends for his sordid past, which includes the longest drug-related suspension in baseball history.

“I cringe sometimes when I look at some of the things I did, but I paid my penalty and I’m grateful that I have another opportunity,” Rodriguez told reporters. “No mistake that I’ve made has any good answer or justification. It’s unexplainable, and that’s on me. I’ve dug a big hole for myself and paid a price. I’m fortunate for a lot of people — especially the commissioner’s office, the players union and the Yankees — to give me an opportunity to play the game that I love.”

The Yankees have made it clear that they do not want to have to play Rodriguez $30 million in bonus money should he break MLB’s home run record — which would be in addition to the $61 million remaining on the final three years of his contract. He admitted that he isn’t sure if the Yankees are on his side anymore.

“I don’t know; you’d have to ask them,” he said. “I created a big headache for a lot of people, so I don’t blame whoever is made at me. I understand.”

Rodriguez did not answer questions about performance-enhancing drugs except to deny that he’s currently using any. He also indicated he knows his status on this team is uncertain, especially with the Yankees planning to move him from third base.

“It feels great to be back,” he said. “Obviously it was a rough year, but I’m very excited that’s behind me and I have a chance to hopefully make this team.”

— More details have emerged about why the University of Louisville dismissed guard Chris Jones from the basketball team. According to a university police report, Jones sent a woman a text last Tuesday threatening to “smack” her.

Jones was suspended from the team on the same day, reinstated late last week after missing one game, then dismissed for good on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, we’ve got to move on,” coach Rick Pitino said Monday night. “They’re like your children. You don’t like to see anybody be hurt. But there’s also accountability and doing the right things. He didn’t. He didn’t. Now he’s got to get his life together, get on with life.”

The woman said in the report that she did not want Jones prosecuted, just that someone talk to him about his behavior.

Jones had been leading the 17th-ranked Cardinals in assists (3.7 per game) and was the team’s third-leading scorer (13.7 ppg).

— Michael Sam is dedicated to landing an NFL job, but the openly gay linebacker apparently is willing to have a diversion. According to TMZ Sports, Sam will be part of Season 20 of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Sam, who was drafted by the Rams last year, was one of the team’s last preseason cuts, then sat on the Cowboys practice squad for a few weeks before being waived, is planning to take part in the NFL’s inaugural veterans combine March 22.

“Dancing With the Stars,” which has a history of featuring NFL players, also begins next month.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 24, 1917, which Red Sox legend was sold to the Indians?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Yoan would’€™ve gone to the Yankees, had the Yankees beaten everyone else. He liked the Yankees. He liked the Dodgers. He liked San Diego. He liked all these teams. When you like every team, and one is like, ‘€˜We’€™re going to offer you $1 million more, or $2 million more, or $3 million more,’€™ it’€™s kind of a no-brainer.” – David Hastings, agent for Yoan Moncada, on why the 19-year-old Cuban chose to sign with the Red Sox

STAT OF THE DAY: 14 – 3-pointers made by the Celtics in Monday’s 115-110 victory over the Suns, a season high

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Sixers guard Isaiah Canaan makes an acrobatic play, jumping in the air, grabbing a loose ball and tossing up a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock buzzer against the Heat.

LeBron James Jr. shows off his skills at the John Lucas All-Star Weekend, leading the 10-and-under Gulf Coast Blue Chips to the tournament title.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Star pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, who was switching positions to the outfield

SOOTHING SOUNDS: George Thorogood was born on this day in 1950.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Mike Lupica joined us to discuss his new book and said that the Yankees are going to be sold soon.

[0:11:27] ... year. Should I predicted like he Yankee lineup. Brett Gardner Jacoby Ellsbury Carlos Beltran. Brett Brian McCann and yet at cleanup. Then Teixeira had leaked Garrett Jones at in in seventh as your DH a Stephen Drew and DD grew Gore's. Yeah that's a timeless and Alex slightly faster what you get for 200 million its 200 million I've ...
[0:14:34] ... is usually and a bestselling knot out it did the island in new book it's it's a love letter to baseball it's called the only game it's Som. It's about a boy who has lost his ...

The guys discussed Michael Sam on Dancing with the Stars.

[0:00:22] ... and slid into a missed ten years which your favorite reasons for. Emmitt Smith. Jerry Rice who will mean they always Warren Sapp was audit Warren Sapp that's very Mayweather. Or Mayweather who is here Erica junior. That's all right your adjective to describe. Poser. Which yours that's on ...
[0:04:16] ... if that's Johnny meant Zell as a mother was felt throughout public Brady Quinn waited forever in the green room with his girlfriend would not we it would have been it would he would have been ...
[0:05:02] ... why what happens why it he said about seeing what happens when Brady Quinn finally got I am in the hall. Correct I think you made up with a problem yet and I don't go and seventh round and I and I know he went wherever and I don't slip like that. And Uga the seventh round you are just lucky to get drafted right brightness that's an error has worked because it would be cameras on somebody like that some of that would be and he was to work and with Oprah and making a documentary there would be against that would give that Michael's ever envisions himself as. And it can happen another Michael. He thinks he can be Michael Strahan wrapping up please look at I could beat Michael Strahan put Japan heard about a secret he's not is he what is. Glib as Michael Strahan can't be Strahan he can't play him and Strahan would never have the job as. This is what he's trying to get ...

The guys opened the show discussing the Moncada signing.

[0:09:59] ... I think it's totally fair and I he's OK so Adrian Gonzales Carl Crawford. The jury obviously is still out on sent a ball handler mirrors what routes because steel. Seven and grew only two million ...
[0:15:56] ... whole theater would you agree the problem. Might be a problem as Dustin Pedroia pointed out he was the three hole hitter. You know when they won the World Series. He was bragging about that you ...
[0:18:31] ... you believe the manager they don't need equate Joseph they don't need Cole Hamels he has five number ones not necessary rate. Rug right it's not to be honest with it's not new play you know ...
[0:24:53] ... Irish and he showed up to a great. One of these years David Ortiz is not going to be right. At least now that's that's a legit now what I 47 years old right in reality ...

Today we talk about some of the moments that forever changed our lives as Boston sports fans.

[0:05:28] ... had eight. Seventeen to three lead that quickly became 1717. And if Tom Brady and Charlie Weis and Bill Belichick has done. What John Madden asked him to do and I'm not jumping on mat in the mean you look you look at the circumstances that have ...
[0:06:46] ... a period. You had. Out of those twenty years seventeen years of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. As your head coach of course. I think how could you not how could you not be transformed. Having two hall of ...
[0:10:12] ... of famers all that stuff. Think how it changed the legacies of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I mean those guys alone yeah the hole while it won't what's at target target target target you know all I ran ...