FOXBORO - The first two questions posed to Tom Brady on Wednesday were tailor-made for odes to Peyton.
"Hopefully he'll be out there to say hi," was Brady's response to whether he'll miss Manning. His response when asked if the league misses the injured Colts quarterback was even more succinct: "I don't know."
What Brady does know -- and what he labored to make clear -- was that the winless Colts are dangerous. Dangerous despite scoring the second-fewest points in the league (150) and allowing the most (327).
"I think they've got some players that can really play," said Brady. "They've got Dwight Freeney. I wish he was out this week. He's a phenomenal player. If I could be a defensive guy I'd be like him. And Robert Mathis on the other side, those are guys who can really wreak havoc. Coach said this morning, Freeney's got like 99 career sacks and 43 forced fumbles. Almost half the time he sacks you he strips the ball."
Nicenumbers. But the breathless acts oforal persuasion aren't that effective no matter how earnest the Patriots want to make them.
The Colts are awful and they have no shot at winning. And, if they do win -- by some strange confluence of circumstances -- Bill Belichick will pop a vesselbecause good teams don't lose to 0-11 teams.
Although the one great late-seasonupset I remember during Belichick's tenurewas the Patriots 29-28 loss at Miami in 2004. The Patriots were 12-1 and the Dolphins 2-11 for that December 20 loss. And the Patriots still went on to win the Super Bowl.
But that is the kind of memory that Belichick and Brady can cultivate this week. They can also remind everyone how hard it is to be a successful NFL team.
"I think sometimes we take for granted here because(of our success)but it's hard to win an NFL game," said Brady. "Every team has talent. Every team can only spend to the cap . . . It's hard to win games. It really is. You never want to see a team have that kind of season because you know how miserable we are when we lose two in a row. At the same time, our job is to go out there and perform as well as we can against them this week."
In other words, sorry about this but, here is loss No. 12, Colts. Better luck next year. Against everybody but us.
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.”