Jerod Mayo remains quietly consistent for Patriots 'D'


Jerod Mayo remains quietly consistent for Patriots 'D'

By Mary Paoletti

SAN DIEGO -- The New England Patriots have shown some on-the-field inconsistencies.

Jerod Mayo isn't one of them.

Coach Bill Belichick discussed his linebacker's skill set during the week leading up to the matchup with San Diego.

"Jerod has terrific instincts,'' he said. "He had those in college and I think that's one of the impressive things about watching him at Tennessee just the way he was able to sort plays out, find the ball, get over trash, get past guys that are around his feet or in the pile in the way and get past that to make the tackle.''

Mayo did his coach's words justice on Sunday, recording 10 tackles in New England's 23-20 win.

He got involved in four different hits on San Diego's second drive to set the tone, setting up shop on both the left and right sides of the field and bringing down whichever wideouts and running backs dared to pass.

Mayo's instincts really came up huge with under five minutes to play in the first quarter. Teammate Brandon Spikes broke up a third-and-15 pass between Chargers QB Philip Rivers and Kris Wilson. Mayo recovered the third-down fumble to set his team up on the San Diego 22.

Five plays later, Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for New England's first touchdown of the game.

Mayo only continued to make his presence felt.

On San Diego's sixth first-and-10 of its sole third-quarter drive, he went one-on-one with tough cover running back Darren Sproles. Mayo, though slower, couldn't be fooled. He swallowed Sproles up.

But it didn't matter if it was Sproles, Ryan Matthews, Patrick Crayton, Mike Tolbert or the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Buster Davis -- Mayo got his man.

Safety Brandon Meriweather acknowledged his fortune of playing behind such a talent.

"Mayo's a great player. He's a very good player,'' Meriweather said. "He runs the defense. He's the one who keeps all of us composed and does all the little things that count when you're in big games. It's great for me to look in front of me and see Mayo. It helps me relax.''

Mayo has 72 takedowns now at Week 7.

The stat makes him the NFL leader in tackles. It also puts him in position to be the first Patriot to have three 100-tackle seasons since Lawyer Milloy's five-straight between 1997-2001. Impressive company.

Unfortunately, Mayo's stellar play might continue to fly under the radar. The drama of losing to one division rival (Jets, Week 2), flattening another (Miami, Week 4), and come-from-behind overtime victories (23-20 over Baltimore last weekend) and San Diego can overshadow the guy who's just doing what he's supposed to. Even if he's doing a tremendous job.

But that's the New England way, right?

"Just trying to go what's asked of me,'' Mayo said. "You know I have to give that Patriots answer. I'm just trying to do what's asked of me. It's something differentevery week andI just want to win games."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

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.”