Jones eyes fresh start after 'one of the most challenging times in my life'

Jones eyes fresh start after 'one of the most challenging times in my life'

Cyrus Jones did not have the kind of rookie season he expected after being taken in the second round out of Alabama last year. He played in 10 games for the Patriots, saw 147 snaps in Bill Belichick's defense, and never got a handle on the returner role for which it seemed as though he was being groomed. 

His struggles in the return game seemed to snowball on him late in the season as he had difficulty juding punts against the Ravens in Week 13. One bounced off his foot, was recovered by the Ravens, and led to a Baltimore score soon thereafter. Another later in the game nearly grazed him again for a second fumble. 

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Jones returned one more punt in Week 16 against the Jets, but that was the last game for which he was dressed. He was not active for any of New England's three postseason games as both Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman were available as punt-returners.The team also had plenty of cornerbacks from which to choose with Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones rounding out the game-day depth chart. 

After never getting his feet underneath him as a rookie, Cyrus Jones posted to Instagram -- and apparently deleted all older posts -- on Sunday night, indicating that he was looking forward to getting a fresh start next season.

"Reflecting back on my rookie season, this was by far one of the most challenging times in my life," he wrote. "I experienced a lot of pain, disappointment, embarrassment and overall dissatisfaction with myself. But through this time, I learned many lessons that as a man I can say I truly needed to learn..'Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently' and the things I went through this year made me better and wiser.

"Regardless, I was blessed to be apart of something far greater than myself! I experienced the ultimate measure of success in this game we play...and did it with an even greater group of men and I'll never take that for granted. I was quickly reminded how much love and respect I have for this sport and also how much it means to so many people. So with that being said#patsnation , in 2017, 24 will be back and ready to work for the best fans in football! #revenge #godstimingnotmine#seeyallinyear2"

Jones could be in line for more work during his sophomore campaign since Ryan is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and Malcolm Butler will be a restricted free agent. Though it seems unlikely that Butler will end up anywhere other than New England, if Ryan receives an enticing offer elsewhere, Jones would appear to be one of the primary contenders to play in the slot for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

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.”