Schadenfreude helps ease the pain of Pats loss

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Schadenfreude helps ease the pain of Pats loss

Theres a certain type of medical treatment that fans in New England thrive on after a difficult Patriots loss. Unfortunately, the antidotes not readily available after every defeat. In fact, its been almost a year since it was even on the market.

But last night in Atlanta, it was re-released to the public to rave reviews. And while the packaging might look different, the name remains the same. Its simply called: Watching Peyton Manning throw interceptions.

Come on, admit it, seeing Peyton come back to Earth last night eased at least a little bit of your Patriots pain. As did watching the Jets get waxed by the Steelers on Sunday (although would have been nice if it wasnt the Steelers) and the Ravens choke down the stretch against the Eagles. Sure, none of that will help heal Aaron Hernandezs ankle, uncover the truth behind the Welker nonsense, teleport Brian Waters from his Texas ranch or give Gostkowski another chance from 42, but even in our darkest moments, NFL Schadenfreude serves as an undeniable source of happiness.

And the truth is, through two weeks, very few of the Pats AFC rivals have escaped early season hardship. As of today, there are only two undefeated teams remaining in the conference Houston and San Diego. Both have been dominant so far, with the Texans outscoring opponents by a combined 57-17 and the Chargers up 60-24 in their two contests. Then again, neither team has been challenged. Youd assume that more than a few teams would start 2-0 against the likes of Jacksonville, Miami, Tennessee and Oakland.

Then again, youd have assumed the same about a team that drew Tennessee and Arizona. Regardless of whom theyve played, Houston and San Diego have done the job and deservedly sit atop the early standings. Meanwhile, reality intervened with the Pats, leaving them at 1-1, in a horde among nine other AFC teams (including their three division foes and other presumed contenders like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Denver). But whatever, its early. We know how much things will change over the next 15 weeks. We know that a 2-0 start guarantees nothing except no worse than a 2-14 finish. Take last year for example. After two weeks, the Bills, Jets and Redskins all stood at 2-0. They finished out the season a combined 11-31.

Starting today, we'll put Week 2 behind us the heartbreak against Arizona, the joy of watching the Jets, Raven and Broncos fall flat on their face and turn our attention to Sunday night in Baltimore, a match-up that will either bring New England a glorious natural high or send us into a depression that will make this week look like a breezy day at the beach. We can only hope for the best. But if the best isn't in the cards, here's hoping that vitamin Schadenfreude is still available in bulk.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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.”