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?"
Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.
More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."
“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.
Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice.
"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.
Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.
"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."
The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire.
The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead.
On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.
Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.
Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season.
The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.
The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.
The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are.
* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.