Week 17 milestones in sight

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Week 17 milestones in sight

The Patriots need a win against the Dolphins on Sunday. They also need the Broncos andor Texans to lose, in which case the Pats will earn a first round bye and maybe JUST MAYBE home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Of course, chances are that this won't happen, and the Pats will host either the Colts or Bengals in the Wild Card round, but you never know. Either way, here are a few milestones that the Pats will be playing for in Game No. 16.

Thomas Edward Brady:
Brady needs 11 pass attempts to set a new career high with 612 for the season.

He needs 23 completions to set a new career high with 402 for the season.

He needs 90 passing yards to pass Drew Bledsoe for ninth on the all-time list and a much less realistic 478 to become the ninth QB in NFL history to throw for 45,000 yards in his career.

Wesley Carter Welker:Welker needs 14 catches to set a career high with 124. That would be the second best reception total in NFL history, behind Marvin Harrison's ridiculous 143 in 2002.

With 10 catches, Welker will finish with 120 and own three of the top eight reception seasons in NFL history.

Brandon Matthew Lloyd:
For all the drama and criticism surrounding Lloyd's season, he needs only five catches to set a new career high with 78.

He needs 98 yards to break 1000 in a season for only the second time in his career.

In that case, Lloyd will become the 10th receiver in Patriots history to break 1000 yards, and the fifth to do so with Brady (Troy Brown, Randy Moss, Welker and Gronk are the others; Deion Branch missed by two yards in 2005).

Also, Welker and Lloyd could become the fourth set of Patriot teammates to surpass 1,000 yards in the same season, along with Welker and Gronk (last year), Welker and Moss (2007-2009), and Stanley Morgan and Harold Jackson (1979).

Stevan Todd Ridley:Ridley needs 39 yards for 1228 on the year, and that would be the fourth best single season rushing total in Pats history behind Corey Dillon (1635 in 2004), Curtis Martin (1487 in 1995) and Jim Nance (1458 in 1966).

Dillon and Martin both fumbled five times during their big seasons. Nance fumbled seven times. Heading into Sunday, Ridley has only four fumbles.

And let's wrap this up with a guy on the other side of the ball, one . . .

Vincent Lamar Wilfork:Vincent has already set career highs this season with six passes deflected, four fumble recoveries and three fumbles forced. That's a pretty solid trifecta. With two sacks on Sunday, he'll set a another career high with four on the season. Obviously, that's unlikely but at the end of the day none of this really matters.

Not as much as a win.

Which in turn, probably doesn't matter as much as a Texans andor Broncos loss.

But hey, good times.

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.”