Hoyer passes with flying colors against Dolphins


Hoyer passes with flying colors against Dolphins

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer didn't see his first career NFL touchdown pass. He was too busy getting slammed into the ground by Dolphins lineman Paul Soliai.

With the Pats leading 31-0, Hoyer took the team to the line of scrimmage with the ball at the Miami 42. He faked an end around hand-off to Julian Edelman,stepped back in the pocket, looked deep, and let it fly to Brandon Tate. Tate made an athletic, diving grab in the left side of the end zone.

But allHoyer witnessed was the official's call.

"I saw the ref put his hands up, that's what I saw because I got hit," said Hoyer after New England's 38-7 win over the Miami Dolphins. "I saw him put his hands up, so I was just so elated, I just sprinted down.

"That was a play that Brandon and I talked about before, and we just kind of had a good feeling about it, going into the game. He made a tremendous catch. You watch the replay afterwards, and he really went out and got it and made a great catch."

"That was real good, for Hoyer's first one," said Tate. "So we just went out there and I told him, 'If you've got a chance, just throw it up there to me.' So he trusted me, and he threw it up there for me and made the big play."

Hoyer said that he and Tate both have chemistry with that specific play, because they've run it many times before. But they ran it at practice, which is where Hoyer sees most of his playing time.

But with everything clinched that could possibly be clinched, and a 31-0 lead midway through the third quarter, Hoyer got the call to finish it out, and did so with a 7-of-13 performance for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Much of the talk heading into the game was about how much playing time Tom Brady would see. And it looked as if Brady was done in the second quarter, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided to put Hoyer into the game during the middle of a drive.

But Brady soon came back in, and as it turned out, Belichick was just testing Hoyer.

"Well, that could easily happen in a game, when a quarterback comes out, and the other quarterback has to go in," said Belichick. "That's what he did."

"It was just a thing where I was just standing there, and Bill Belichick was like, 'All right, go in.' And it was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing," said Hoyer. "He just said, 'You've got to be ready. You never know when you might have to just be thrown in there for a couple plays.'

"You don't play all year, and to get in there, it's just fun," said Hoyer. "You get in there and start making plays. I hit that quick slant to Taylor Price, and after that, I felt the comfort level come back a little bit. It's just fun to go out there and actually play."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

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.”