Patriots players agree: Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal

Patriots players agree: Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal

Pretty rare for a backup quarterback to be one of the most talked about players as we enter the NFL offseason, especially one with about six relevant quarters under his belt, but everywhere you turn these days, people are talking about Jimmy Garoppolo. When will the Patriots trade him? What will they get for him? What should they get for him? Should they even trade him at all? That noise hasn’t bothered Garoppolo, who was repeatedly asked about it during Super Bowl week.

“I can’t control it. I can’t control any of it. I can just control myself,” he told me at one point. And then he smiled. Jimmy is always smiling, even on the practice field, where he’s done most of his work.

“He can ball,” said Duron Harmon. “He’s not afraid of anything.”

“Oh man, Jimmy is really good. Lot of times, you can’t tell the difference (between Garoppolo and Tom Brady),” Malcolm Butler added, echoing something Bill Belichick said late in the year, catching many off guard.

Garoppolo and Brady? Well if Garoppolo is the sponge they say he is, and he absorbed three years worth of intel from Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, then maybe he can at least be a good player in this league for a long time.

“I learned a ton, a ton (from Brady and McDaniels),” said Garoppolo. “The knowledge between the two of them, they’ve been doing it for 17 years in the same offense. It’s helped me a ton and it will only help me going forward.”

Julian Edelman gets to be on Garoppolo’s side for many a practice, and was in the huddle at the start of the season when the 3rd year pro had to step in for the suspended Brady. He told NFL Network that the Eastern Illinois product has something you can’t coach.

“I’m not a paid GM, so I don’t know the whole value thing, but as far as a guy I get to play with every single day, Jimmy Garoppolo, the guy’s a stud,” Edelman said on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access." “He went out and played in the regular season, and he played very well. He’s got that kind of gunslinger kind of confidence, that Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers-kind of confidence. He practices hard, he prepares hard, he’s a good kid, he’s young. I think he’s a good player.”

That may have pained Edelman to say. His bromance with Brady is well-documented, but the wide receiver is no dummy. Edelman saw what his teammates saw, what his coaches saw, and what the Pats are banking other team saw as they search for a franchise quarterback.

“I want him on our team,” said McDaniels, adding that that was a decision he doesn’t get to make. “He’s a professional now. He’s not a rookie anymore. He’s learned. He knows how to handle himself. He can play, and play at a high level.”

“Man, I don’t know, but I know he’s good. I know he’s great,” said Butler.

“Jimmy can play in this league and play for a long time,” Chris Hogan offered. “To go into to [the season-opener in] Arizona, and play like he did tells you a lot.”

Garoppolo wouldn’t get into all that, repeating his familiar refrain, “Just being in the NFL is a privilege, it's a hard thing to do. Whenever you get the opportunity to play you've got to take advantage of it.”

He did -- and now the Patriots and Garoppolo may both reap the rewards.

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.”