Curran: Patriots, beware of Ochocinco


Curran: Patriots, beware of Ochocinco

By TomE. Curran
So let's get this straight. Bill Belichick was so pissed at Wes Welker's veiled swipes at Rex Ryan that he sat him down for the first series of a playoff game. A PLAYOFF game. Wes Welker. Aguy who battled back from a blown ACL in order to be ready ahead of schedule for this regular season. A guy who's caught 466 balls and 24 touchdowns in 65 games (including playoffs). A guy who generally wouldn't say s if he had a mouthful. And he gets punished pretty severely for a one-time verbal wobble? Compared toChad Ochojohnson, Welker is talkative as a window sill, inflammatory as a dandelion.
Yet we're all speculating on the possibilitythat Ochojohnson -- a man more brand than football player -- is legitimate quarry for the Patriots?It's the slow season. Chad's got his shortest, tightest skirt on and is stepping off the sidewalk to stick his bald head in the window of every passing car.But how plausible is this notion? I know the respect Belichick has forChad's game (can I call him Chad? I'm going withChad).Between both press conferences and normal conversation, I'veheard enough to know that Chad was -- at one point -- the receiver Belichick most admired. For a five-season stretch - 2003 through 2007- he caught 462 balls (92 per season) for an average of 1,374 yards and 43 touchdowns. ThenChad turned 30. In the past three seasons, he caught 192 balls (64 per season) for an average of 793 yards and 17 total touchdowns.He's on the decline. Not useless, not at all. Look at whatTomBrady did forDeion Branch, a playerseeminngly washed up whenhe arrived in New England back in October. But can Belichick convince Chad to give up cold turkey his"look at me" persona andbe a football drone?Just as important, can Brady? Forget the outward bouquet-tossing. He'd had all he could stand of Moss by the time Moss was dealt. The need to be fed the ball, the tepid effort on balls that needed extra effort, the resultant interceptions when he didn't compete . . . all of it came to a head against the Jets in Week 2. Moss saw four passes his way in the next two games and went buh-bye. Chad's every bit as demanding. And a helluva lot more verbal about it on Twitter and in the locker room. Or at least he has been. Will Brady -- coming off another surgery and a soul-crushing playoff loss -- be excited about having a high-maintenance receiver in his huddle after finding all the success he did with a bunch of team-first guys?Seems a stretch. Then of course there's the fact that Chad is UNDER CONTRACT AND CAN'T BE TAMPERED WITH!Already, this seems lost on one coach. Hue Jackson, the new man in charge of the Raiders, claimed Chad is his "son." We'll see what Rex Ryan says in response to Chad and Terrell Owens both saying they want to play for the Jets. Bengals owner Mike Brown can do vindictive. Think he'll want to release Chad so he can go sign where he wants? Or that he'll deal Chad to a place he's openly whored himself out to? At this rate, Ocho's probably piled up enough comments to get one of those "conduct detrimental to the team" punishments and get his posterior put on ice. Which is another dynamic to watch for. I'm hesitant to dismiss out of hand the idea that Belichick would want to coach Chad. Look at the track record -- no coach has made more unconventional personnel decisions than Hoody. But look at the makeup of the Patriots, their youth and need to keep maturing. Look at the recent history of how things went with a high-maintenance wideout with a me-first attitude. Consider the seriousness of Tom Brady and the grabassery Chad is constantly involved in.
When you look at it, it hardly seems logical. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

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.”