Curran: Time to sign Mankins long term is now

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Curran: Time to sign Mankins long term is now

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Logan Mankins Watch 2011 is over.

It's time for the Patriots to ensure there's never another one. With the post-lockout era of good feeling descending around the NFL, it would be appropriate if the Patriots stopped with the platitudes and just paid the man. It's not enough that Bill Belichick andRobert Kraft genuflect at the wonder of Mankins the man, the football player andthe teammate. It's time to walk it like they talk it. If he is so tough, so selfless, so talented, so nasty -- as they say -- and he's on the hook for playing wet nurse to rookie first-rounder Nate Solder . . . give him his money. Not just the 10 million franchise tender. Give him the long-term deal you said he was going to get when the lockout mess ended. Mankins could have made things hard on the Patriots. He could have held out for a while, left the Patriots scrambling at left guard. With Matt Light an unrestricted free agent and Solder, Light's eventualreplacement at left tackle, still finding his way around the stadium, Mankins could have put the whole left side of the offensive line in disarray. Let them suck on some uncertainty. He has chosen not to. Just as he chose not to hold out as long as he could have in 2010 and still gain an accrued season (he reported after week seven, while he could have reported after week 10). Mankins could have been a bigger pain in the posterior as a plaintiff in Brady vs. The NFL like Vincent Jackson. He chose not to. Mankins spoke in May as if he was planning to play football in September. I asked him at Joe Andruzzi's charity golf event if he planned to sign his franchise tender."I don't know," Mankins replied."We have a lot of time. We don't even know if we'll have a season at this point. I'm hoping they get this resolved before the season so we can play football in time."At the time, the fact he referenced actually playing was a good sign. Pressing further, I asked if he thinks about staying beyond 2011. "I think about it every now and then, but I'm not putting any answers out there yet," Mankins answered. "We'll see when we get down that road."It seems like we're on that road now. The Patriots have a window to negotiate a long-term deal with Mankins that closes September 20. Mankins' relationship with Belichick and -- more importantly -- with Kraft seems stronger than it's been in sometime. Bury the hatchet, put it to bed, let bygones be bygones, make it water under the bridge. Pay the man and move ahead. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow 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.”