FOXBORO - In 2001, one of the stories that personalized the September 11 attacks locally was that of Joe Andruzzi. The Patriots' guard was from Staten Island, New York and his three brothers - all New York City firefighters - were involved in the response. There was uncertainty, sadness, relief and mourning from Andruzzi that week. Earlier this week, the 11th anniversary of the attacks arrived and another Patriot from Staten Island, safety Steve Gregory, recalled the event with a story similar to Andruzzi's. His parents are both retired police officers in Brooklyn. "It's one of those days, it's so clear to remember," Gregory said Wednesday. "I was in college (at Syracuse)and I can just remember sitting in class when I heard about it and I went into a dining hall and there'sa TV there and there were hundreds of people just standing there watching in silence. "Nobody could believe what was going on and then, as we're watching it, the secondplane hit live. And then it was just crazy, man, people started screaming and running all over the place."Everyone, it seemed, knew someone at least tangentially involved in what was going on. Gregory knew many someones. "Up in Syracuse, a lot of people were from the City area, they had family and friends that were down there so there werereal personal relationships that a lot of people had up there in Syracuse," Gregory recalled. "The buildings came down and then my father went down to Ground Zero to help out. He was down there every day from the time the building went down for...a while. It was just a crazy time. You'd hear all the different stories of people on my block... The girl across the street from me, she might have been two years older than me, she was lost in one of the buildings, she had just gotten a job there. Family members, firefighters, all these different stories."Gregory's father, now retired from the force, got a call from Steve on Sunday. "I talked to him," said Gregory. "He watches the stuff when it's on TV and he's said to me, 'I don't even really want to watch it anymore because it brings back all those memories that were so horrible that day. Being down there and just trying to help out as much as you can and you see some horrific things.' Every year, to keep reliving that experience is hard I feel for him in that way." We seem a long way from the post-attacks unity we all experienced, I said to Gregory. "It's crazy how in that time of turmoil and the threat of terrorism, we all came together for that one cause just to stick together and be united as we should be," he agreed. "You wish that it could always be that way. There are so many people in the world, we'll never be truly united but if we could just try our best to understand that we are all one country, we all need to stick together and help each other out. That's the main goal of this country, right?"
Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe.
The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.
“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”
Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.
Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.
“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”
Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.
Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.
Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children. He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.
Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.
Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004. He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.
The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993.
In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.
“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”