Brady not playing Jets games until Sunday


Brady not playing Jets games until Sunday

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO Tom Brady is not in the mood this week.

The hype, the politics, and the mind games that Jets week comes packaged in: Brady's not interested. When he stepped to the podium Wednesday the force field was immediately activated.

Right out of the gate, he was asked about New England's 2010 playoff loss to Rex Ryan's crew. Does an early postseason exit -- at home, no less -- serve as extra motivation for this October match up?

"That was a long time ago, so that game doesn't have much bearing on this week," he said evenly. "We're a different team."

And that was the end of that.

According to the Patriots quarterback, this is a brand new chapter in a very old book. Anything beyond the Xs and Os is a distraction. It's superfluous -- not even amusing. Brady is settling in for a huge divisional game, one that's impossible to predict based on the past. The Jets' current 2-2 record, one that features back-to-back losses to the Bills and Ravens, means nothing to the Patriots.

"They're a tough team, very physical," Brady said. "They lead the league in a bunch of defensive categories. They're very challenging to play. They have been since -- it's always the Jets -- since I got here 10 years, 12 years ago. It's a fun game to be a part of. I hope we go out there and play better than the last time we played them."

New England lost last season's playoff bout with the Jets, 28-21. It gave Ryan's team the series edge for the year after a regular season split. And there was some sense in the result; New York was the overall better team last season.

But a few things have changed. The Jets are ranked No. 25 in total offense with 308.0 yards per game compared to New England's gaudy 507.5. Quarterback Mark Sanchez's 55.1 completion percentage (81-for-147) is well below the fold (Brady is 109-for-163, 66.9 percent). The Patriots also have a 13 to 6 touchdown advantage.

Brady: Don't care. Don't care. Don't care.

"They were good last year, they're good this year, they were good two years ago," he said. "I think as long as Rex is coaching that team, they're going to have a good defense. They've got a lot of good defensive players: David Harris and Bart Scott, good front, corners who can cover, safeties . . . it's a good team."

Even after they lost in Baltimore last week, 34-17? Yup.

"They still played pretty well defensively," Brady said. "I don't think Flacco threw for 50 percent. The Ravens had a bunch of scores -- defensive scores -- but that doesn't really affect me any. We're preparing for a very good defense; tough, physical style that's good in pass coverage. They lead the league in first down defense. They lead the league in third down defense. They're one of the best we play all year."

Flacco actually threw for 32 percent on 10-for-31 passing. It was ugly. As Brady mentioned, the Ravens scored, but got touchdowns on two fumble returns and a pick. The Jets defense isn't getting lucky on interceptions with a 325-pound tackle throwing up his hands at the right time, they're getting the plays from the guys expected to make them: linebackers Josh Mauga and David Harris each have one, safety Eric Smith has one, shutdown cornerback Darelle Revis has one, and his partner in crime, Antonio Cromartie, has two.

And Cromartie can't wait to visit New England.

He's expressed a vehement dislike for Brady in the past and set his sights on the Patriots QB while still in Baltimore. Brady is wary of the threat because he respects the talent.

"Cromartie's very good. Excellent player," Brady said. "They have two very good corners. They've got a bunch of good corners, actually. The two that are out there regularly on defense are very good -- both fast, both physical. They play well at the line of scrimmage. They're very disruptive. They lead the league in pass defense."

What Brady doesn't respect is the melodrama. As soon as the questions turned to the off-field games, to Cromartie's insults and yammering, he clammed up.

"I don't care what he says about me. I really don't."

The rest of the presser was lost. Even questions about game planning couldn't bring Brady out of his mood.

On adjusting to Revis? "We kind of just call our plays and wherever he lines up, he lines up on them. If a guy gets open, he gets the ball as we've shown, and if he doesn't, somebody else gets the ball.

On how much he's using receiver Wes Welker? "You throw to the open guy. If he's open, he'll get it. If he's not, someone else will get it. He's done a good job of getting open."

A third question about Cromartie's criticisms was the death blow.

"I really don't care what he says," Brady said. He gave a curt thanks and walked out.

To think the lack of engagement indicates a lack of bloodlust for the rivalry is all wrong. It's because this week is tremendously important to Tom Brady and the Patriots that they've put blinders on.The focus is ahead, it's on the future. And it's on the field.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

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 delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

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.”