Gronk to strip down for ESPN The Magazine's 'Body Issue'

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Gronk to strip down for ESPN The Magazine's 'Body Issue'

NEW YORK Rob Gronkowski, Maurice Jones-Drew, Tyson Chandler and Abby Wambach are among the athletes who will strip down to pose nnude in ESPN The Magazine's fourth annual "Body Issue."

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, New York Rangers forward Brad Richards and WNBA star Candace Parker will also appear in the July 13 edition.

With the London Games this summer, the list announced Wednesday is heavy with Olympians, including gymnast Danell Leyva, sprinter Carmelita Jeter, decathlete Ashton Eaton and members of the U.S. women's volleyball team.

The magazine's editor in chief, Chad Millman, says they try to pick athletes who "just recently popped."

Gronkowski is a classic example of that. The New England Patriots tight end emerged as one of the NFL's biggest offensive stars this past season and it doesn't hurt that he has a penchant for appearing shirtless in photos. The magazine had a commitment from him way back last fall.

Athletes featured in previous years have included Blake Griffin, Hope Solo and Jose Reyes.

Patriots first pick understands social-media landminds

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Patriots first pick understands social-media landminds

Watching Robert Kraft refer to Cyrus Jones by Jones’ twitter handle “Clamp Clampington” was the perfect confluence of amusing, surreal and awkward.

Like when my father used to complain about the kids “making donuts” in the intersection outside our house in the middle of the night, or anybody over 30 combining the words “epic” and “legit,” it just hits the ear wrong.

Social media has bridged the communication gap between the generations. Or at least made “old” people privy to conversations that -- throughout the course of recorded history -- kids haven’t wanted them nosing into.

This newfound access doesn’t allow us to merely appropriate and make others cringe. It also allows people -- in the context of professional sports -- to consume, judge, interact and drop consequences on athletes because of their social media persona.

Employers, fans, owners and media members now have unprecedented access to players’ personal lives. And the player who forgets that, or decides he doesn’t care and marches on without asking “How will this reflect on me?” is courting disaster. Or at least a level of irritation.

No player drafted in 2016 will ever forget the impact social media can have on a career. Even though Laremy Tunsil didn’t tweet out a video of himself smoking a bong while wearing a gas mask in front of a Confederate flag (social media hat trick), he paid the price. His draft drop cost him millions because, even though he didn’t actually tweet it, the video called into question Tunsil’s decision-making, off-field habits and the circle of people around him. That’s a lot of judging off of one tweet, but that’s what the deal is.

I asked Mr. Clampington – whose twitter feed shows he’s a Sagittarius who’ll go back at people who offer critiques – what his philosophy will be now that he’s in the NFL.

“Social media is one of those things where you gotta control and discipline yourself to not pay too much attention to it,” said Jones, the Patriots second-round pick on Friday. “As you get older, people tend to stray away from social media and I’m already starting to. At least trying to. And being more aware of what I put out there and knowing that I can’t respond to everything somebody says. That’s definitely something that myself and fellow rookies have to understand . . . We’re not just representing ourselves but our families and this organization. “

Jones -- based on the 10 minutes we spoke to him and the conference call from last Friday -- seems sharp enough to know where he ought not tread. In case he doesn’t, he and the rest of the rookies will get an indoctrination.

Cyrus Jones: I was scared of Tom Brady growing up as a Ravens fan

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Cyrus Jones: I was scared of Tom Brady growing up as a Ravens fan

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady has struck fear into the hearts of many a cornerback during his 15 years as a starter. Apparently that includes corners who haven't even entered the league yet. 

Cyrus Jones, a corner out of Alabama and New England's second-round pick in this year's draft, grew up in Baltimore as a staunch Ravens supporter. When his team squared off against the Patriots over the years, he said that Brady never allowed him to feel confident. 

"I grew up a Ravens fan so anytime we played the Patriots, I definitely was scared of Tom Brady," Jones said after being introduced to reporters by Patriots ownership. "But obviously, you know, he's one of the greatest quarterbacks to step foot into this league, and I'm just honored to be a part of his team.

"He's a winner, and everybody likes winning. I consider myself a winner so I'm looking forward to working with him and trying to get to another Super Bowl and winning."

Jones now joins a cornerback group that will compete against Brady regularly in practice that includes Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts and EJ Biggers.

Jones ready to follow in Revis, Law's footsteps with No. 24

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Jones ready to follow in Revis, Law's footsteps with No. 24

FOXBORO -- For the Patriots, the No. 24 is held in high esteem when it comes to the cornerback position. Ty Law, a team Hall of Famer, wore those digits for 10 years. Darrelle Revis played just one season in New England, but he helped the team to its fourth Super Bowl title with No. 24 on his back. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft announced on Friday that second-round draft pick Cyrus Jones, a corner from Alabama, would be the latest to sport the number. 

"Cyrus will be wearing a special number to our family, No. 24," Kraft said. "There's a lot of good karma that goes with that number."

Jones was just two years old when Ty Law began his rookie season in 1995, but he said he understood Law's historical significance to the franchise despite their age difference.

"I knew who Ty Law was before I came here," Jones said, "and watched him as a young kid still trying to learn the game. Definitely remember him making a lot of plays on TV."

Of course there have been others who have worn No. 24 since Law and before Jones, including Kyle Arrington, Bradley Fletcher, and most recently Rashaan Melvin. But what Revis did for the Patriots in 2014 is still fresh in Jones' mind, having beaten Jones' hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens, in the Divisional Round of the playoffs before helping the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX.

"It's definitely a lot of history, guys like Ty Law, Darrelle Revis," Jones said. "Great defensive backs and great players. Two of the greatest players ever to step foot in the National Football League. There's definitely a legacy behind the number, and I want to make my own legacy with the number."