Fells: Patriots 'do things right'


Fells: Patriots 'do things right'

FOXBORO -- Daniel Fells' introductory press conference at Gillette Stadium almost happened earlier. Two years earlier.

"I was real close," he said Tuesday of the 2010 workout and near-signing. "Real close."

"I was able to come out here and just meet with the coaches and talk with the guys and see if it was a fit. It ultimately boiled down to a business thing. I let my agent handle things like that. All things happen for a reason and it didn't work out then, but things came full circle and it worked out for us this year."
New England marks the sixth team Fells has been with since 2006 -- defining him as a journeyman with each stop. Undrafted out of UC Davis, the tight end's average blocking and receiving skills have kept him afloat enough to provide roster depth at least.

Fells started 15 games last season in Denver -- a career best by far -- and caught 19 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the Broncos bringing in Peyton Manning, Fells found himself moving on. Again.

"You know what? It's one of those things you just take in stride. A lot of times people get discouraged by things like that, going to different teams.

"It's like the first day of school. You go to a different school and you're meeting new people with different personalities and you get a little anxious about it. But, like you said, I've done it so many times I just kind of take it in stride and I'm excited."

It was obvious Tuesday why Fells is enjoying Foxborough. He said the workouts are as brutal as you'd expect from a perennial Super Bowl contender; the attitude pervades every activity.

After stints in Atlanta, Oakland, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and Denver, Fells knows he's landed with the real deal.

"They do things right," he said of the Patriots. "From an offensive standpoint, they go out there and put up points and find the open man. And it's not just about one player. You have two good tight ends. There's not a lot of teams that use both tight ends and get them all kinds of catches, there's always just one guy that usually stands out. You have a bunch of players that stand out on this offense."

But is there room for three pass-catching tight ends? Fells described himself as primarily a route runner and it's hard to see him getting many touches in that capacity. Maybe Aaron Hernandez will find himself split out as a receiver and working out of the backfield more. Maybe Fells will have to get better with blocking.

Either way, he believes head coach Bill Belichick will make it work.

Every week you turn the TV on and you're seeing something different from this team, just the things that they were doing -- it is revolutionary as you say. I know that Bill is the type of guy he finds different ways to keep defenses on their toes, or keep them on their heels. They don't really know what to expect and they don't really know what's going on. He's an innovator in that sense."

Having a signal caller like Tom Brady doesn't hurt.

When asked if Tim Tebow is an NFL quarterback, Fells said yes, Tebow can be if given time.

Brady, as we know, doesn't need seasoning.

"I'm excited about that one. That's pretty much the best way to say that. It's Tom Brady. One of the greatest guys out there. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to be out there on the field with him."

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.”