Belichick says Gronk has similarities to Bavaro

Belichick says Gronk has similarities to Bavaro

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick so reveres his '80s Giants, it became a running joke with former Patriot Mike Vrabel.

Belichick would bring up the halcyon days of Big Blue, Vrabel would rail about that team playing against a bunch of truck drivers and iron workers, Belichick would put a Giants helmet in Vrabel's locker. Big fun.

One of Belichick's favorites was tight end Mark Bavaro. The two-time All-Pro known for his athleticism, stoicism and incredible blocking ability has been a touchstone player for Belichick as the years have passed. The search for someone similar has hit several dead ends.

But Belichick made a surprising admission when asked by ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss (via a fan) about current Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's similarities to Bavaro.

"I'd say there are some similarities," Belichick said of his 6-6, 265-year old rookie from Arizona. "Good size, blocking, receiving, a little bit of the same body type and playing style."

Athletic as Gronkowski is for his size, Bavaro was equally so in his 6-4, 245 pound package.

Belichick cautioned that no one get too hasty putting anyone in Bavaro's class quite yet.

"That's a little stretch to compare anybody at that stage of their career to Bavaro," said Belichick. "Bavaro had a great career. He played against some of the all-time greats -- Reggie White twice a year, and White is playing 6-technique head up on the tight end and you really don't get any help. That's a pretty big assignment. I think I'd be reluctant to put anybody in Mark Bavaro's class.

"I don't mean that in any way to slight any of our players. He set the bar up there pretty high. He could block, he could catch, he could run, and run after the catch. He was a great competitor. Mark was there every single week," Belichick said. "That's a guy you could count on. We lined up every year at training camp and he could block Carl Banks and Lawrence Taylor. Not too many guys blocked them. You talk about competitive battles -- if you like football, that's about as good as you could find right there."

So far, Gronkowski has 32 catches for 390 yards and seven touchdowns. This weekend's game at Buffalo is a sort of homecoming for him. He grew up in nearby Amherst, New York.

"I'm excited to go back," he said Friday afternoon. "It's my first chance to play in front of my friends and family since high school. It's been a while - four or five years. I'm super excited to go back and see everyone."

Gronkowski's never played in Ralph Wilson Stadium. He did go to a few Bills games.

His favorite player? "Takeo Spikes was my favorite. His name was always cool. And also Eric Moulds. I got his old school jersey and everything. That was pretty legit."

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Brady to Amendola on Facebook: 'Paddle's fixed. Time for a rematch!'

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Brady to Amendola on Facebook: 'Paddle's fixed. Time for a rematch!'

When Danny Amendola told the world on Tuesday that he's better than Tom Brady at ping pong, the quarterback must have been listening. 

On his Facebook page, Brady published a snarling image of his face Photoshopped onto the body of a table tennis player. That paddle he broke after losing to Amendola three years ago? It's fixed, Brady explained in the caption. And he's ready for a rematch.

Talk about intimidation.

Wilfork embracing modeling, tells Brady to put him in touch with Gisele's people

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Wilfork embracing modeling, tells Brady to put him in touch with Gisele's people

Vince Wilfork will be one of many well-known athletes to strip down and pose nude for photographs in ESPN The Magazine's's Body issue, joining a group that includes Cubs pitcher Jake Arrietta, Broncos defensive end Von Miller and Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Judging by his latest tweet, the former Patriots defensive lineman -- who is listed at 325 pounds -- is getting pretty comfortable with the idea of becoming a model.

Now it's up to Tom Brady to play match-maker, it seems. Gisele retired from the runway last year so maybe her people are on the lookout for some new talent.

Belichick: Buddy Ryan a father to 'a great football family'

Belichick: Buddy Ryan a father to 'a great football family'

Bill Belichick released a statement on Buddy Ryan's passing Tuesday afternoon. 

"Today is a sad day in football due to the passing of Buddy Ryan," Belichick said. "It was always very challenging to compete against Coach Ryan, who was father to a great football family that carries on his coaching and defensive tradition. My condolences are with the Ryan Family."

Belichick is certainly very familiar with Ryan's legacy and the tradition Ryan passed down to his sons Rex and Rob. The Patriots coach has competed against all three.

Rex Ryan has squared off with Belichick during his time as head coach for the Jets (2009-14) and Bills (2015-present), and their matchups go back to Rex's days with the Ravens (1999-2008) when he was a defensive line coach and then defensive coordinator.

Rob Ryan, like his brother, got his first NFL break when his father was the head coach of the Cardinals in the mid-1990s. His second break, though, came from Belichick. He joined the Patriots staff during Belichick's first year as head coach in 2000 and coached linebackers for four seasons in New England. He has since competed against Belichick as a defensive coordinator for the Raiders, Browns, Cowboys and Saints. Rob joined Rex in Buffalo this year to serve as an assistant on the staff there. 

For Belichick's thoughts on the impact of Buddy Ryan's famous "46" defense, we dug up some of his comments from a 2012 press conference that you can find here. He called the combination of Ryan's scheme and the talented players Ryan had at his disposal as defensive coordinator of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears "pretty unblockable."