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

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Tomlin apologizes for language, calls Brown's actions 'foolish' and 'selfish'

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that stunts like Antonio Brown’s Sunday night video are the kind that get good players shipped out of town.

“He's a great player, respected largely in the locker room but incidents such as this don't help him in that regard,” said Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette and others at a Tuesday press conference in Pittsburgh. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team. Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.” 

Tomlin, who referred to the Patriots as “a--holes” after the Steelers beat Kansas City in a Divisional Playoff game, apologized for his profanity and the other off-color comments made in the 17-minute broadcast.

“Like to say the language on the video is regrettable, by me and by others,” Tomlin stated.” That's why we go to great lengths to preserve certain moments and interactions between us. As a parent, as a member of the community I take that very seriously. I issue an apology in that regard.”

Tomlin added that he has “absolutely no worries on the video's effect on the game, on the Patriots, on the Steelers. Game is too big.”

Returning to Brown – who has yet to address why he thought this was a great idea – Tomlin said, “It was foolish of him to do that, selfish and inconsiderate. It was violation of our policy, league policy. He has to grow from this. He works extremely hard, he's extremely talented and those things get minimized with incidents like this."
 

Where is Roger? Not in Foxboro . . . again

Where is Roger? Not in Foxboro . . . again

After speculation and “Do it; you won’t” cries from Patriots fans as to whether Roger Goodell would show his face at Gillette Stadium for the AFC Championship, we’ve now got our answer: When the Patriots and Steelers kick off Sunday in Foxboro, the commissioner will be 1,045 miles away. 

Goodell will reportedly attend the NFC Championship Sunday in Atlanta, continuing his absence from Patriots home games since the start of Deflategate. For those inclined to call it merely a coincidence, Goodell was in Atlanta last week for the Falcons and Seahawks. This will be two straight weeks of Atlanta -- with a trip to Kansas City for Chiefs-Steelers mixed in -- and still no New England. 

Tom Brady, whom Goodell suspended for four games over the ball-deflating scandal, was asked on WEEI Monday about the possibility of Goodell attending a game in New England. 

“He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do,” Brady said on Kirk and Callahan. “If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come.”

Asked if he wanted Goodell at the game, Brady replied, “He can go wherever he wants to go. Whoever is at the game is at the game.”

Equally popular as the will-Goodell-ever-go-back-to-Gillette discussion has been that of how Patriots fans would react. Last week, something of a light feud between Michael Felger and Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy took place over what kind of behavior towards the commissioner is acceptable. 

That all remains a moot point, however, as Goodell won’t need to worry about being berated, spit on or anything else. Any of that will continue to be put off for as long as he stays away from Gillette.