Patriots look to contain Roethlisberger

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Patriots look to contain Roethlisberger

FOXBORO The goal for dealing with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is pretty cut and dry.

Hit him hard.

A lot.

But Roethlisberger, all 6-foot-5, 241 pounds of him, is no easy take-down.

His size, strength and ability to throw on the road is challenging enough.

When you toss in the potential roughing the passer call, which seems to be happening more often these days throughout the NFL, containing a quarterback like Roethlisberger has the potential to put the most quarterback-hungry defender in a bit of a quandary.

"Sometimes it is; it's hard," said Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. "It's definitely hard, especially when you have a bigger quarterback. You have these big quarterbacks and they're not calling the play dead until they're on the ground sometimes."

Patriots defensive lineman Shaun Ellis acknowledges that the potential for roughing the passer is always present, regardless of how big a quarterback may be.

But, he added, it becomes a much larger issue when facing a quarterback like Roethlisberger.

"Ben is a big guy in the pocket," Ellis said. "He's elusive in the pocket -- not fast, but he's deceptive; he can get away from a lot of things."

While this is true, Roethlisberger has also taken his share of hits as well.

In fact, he has been sacked 20 times this season.

Only St. Louis' Sam Bradford and Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears have been sacked more than Roethlisberger this season.

Even with teams seemingly finding ways to put him on the ground, the Patriots are wise enough to know that he's still a dangerous threat, even when a defender seemingly has him wrapped up.

"You watch film and there are a lot of guys falling off him," Wilfork said. "There are a lot of guys that think they have him, but they don't have him, where at the last minute he flicks the ball. This is the only guy that you have him wrapped up and he can flick the ball 30 yards down the field."

"That's probably the worst thing about being on defense against them; when he scrambles around and start breaking tackles," said Pats cornerback Devin McCourty.

That's when Roethlisberger has the ability to inflict the most damage on a defense.

"With him, you have to get him to the ground and keep him there," McCourty said. "When you get him there, you don't worry about anything except for trying to get him down and holding on to him. He does it so easily, just swims people by with one hand. You can't worry about penalties and stuff like that. You just have to get him down."

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.”