Patriots score top marks at NFL Rookie Symposium

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Patriots score top marks at NFL Rookie Symposium

SI.com's "Monday Morning Quarterback" column was written by a different hand this week: Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener.

Fleener stepped in for a vacationing Peter King to detail the weekend's NFL Rookie Symposium in Canton, Ohio. The Stanford graduate chronicled his time -- what he called "a four-day mini-camp unto itself" -- from a question and answer competition, to a Hall of Fame visit.

The Patriots popped up a few times in Fleener's narrative.

Beginning on Day 1, the rookies were asked eight questions and had 10 seconds to answer each. New England's group took the top spot, winning iPads for the effort. Fleener jokingly asterisked the the first place finish, writing "Further investigation pending." The results were announced Friday.

"After dinner, the "Challenge" results were announced. I have to say that while I was suspicious as to how the Browns got their answers in so quickly, I was equally skeptical of the Patriots' dominance throughout the competition. Either way, I was probably just being a sore loser."

New England special teamer and sometimes-receiver Matthew Slater spoke as part of a players panel. His message made an impression on Fleener.

"Slater talked about his epiphany that not every NFL player will become a star, and how he now does what he can, in his role, to help his team win."

Things got serious on Day 2. A Patriot from the past shared some wisdom with the new kids.

"After a few more skits portraying real life situations, another panel took place consisting of NFL Director of Player Security Services Deana Garner, former linebacker Mike Vrabel and Freeman. The group emphasized taking the proper precautionary steps to avoid getting into troublesome situations."

Saturday marked a trip to the NFL Hall of Fame. One Patriot honoree -- not much older than Fleener -- made his presence felt in a special way.

"Seeing equipment and memorabilia of players such as Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski from different record-setting moments. Shoes, jerseys and footballs were displayed in cases with information about them on a card nearby. There were a lot more, but (naturally!) I wanted to highlight the tight ends."

Study ranks Patriots fan base as second-best in NFL

Study ranks Patriots fan base as second-best in NFL

A scholarly blog from Emory ranks the Patriots as having the second-best fan base in the NFL. 

Compiled by professor Mike Lewis and favoring in numerous statistical data, the list ranks the Patriots first in terms of “social equity,” third in “fan equity” and fifth in “road equity.” The Cowboys hold the top overall spot. 

The following graphic is from Lewis' report. 

Lewis allows for the possibility that many of New England’s fans may be bandwagon fans, but that the league’s Deflategate scandal boosted engagement from Patriots dans on social media. 

Click here for the full report.