By Tom E. Curran
The Patriots first rule for working out en masse during the lockout? Don't talk about working out en masse during the lockout. And that's why you'll see no accompanying video for this story. Or photos. Or quotes from any of the 16 players who've been going hard for over two months with respected trainer Brian McDonough. Initially, we thought we'd put together a nice little package. We'd go visit McDonough at Edge Performance Systems, located at the Foxboro Sports Center. Once there, we'd get some footage of players working out, talk with Jerod Mayo, who's been the ringleader and head organizer, and talk with McDonough.
Then, get the hell out of their way. But McDonough wanted his clients to decide on the level of coverage. So he put it to a vote.You are left withthis simple story. You can lock the Patriots out of their facility, but you can't rip the Patriots out of their Patriotic mindset. What we know? Four days a week for three-and-a-half-hours at a whack, a group of "anywhere from 12 to 16 guys" have been working with the 37-year-old McDonough. Who's he? McDonough'sa Milton native who now lives in Easton with his wife Shauna and daughter Lyla. He's trained more than 150 professional athletes since 2000. The first Patriots he worked with were Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri. Then it was Christian Fauria and Rodney Harrison. His intensity, preparedness and loyalty to his clients helped his reputation grow. Mayo began working with him in 2008 and, when the lockout hit, Mayo helped reel in the rest of the crew to work with McDonough. Who's there? We don't have a complete list but Matt Light, Dan Koppen, Rob Gronkowski, Brian Hoyer, Mayo and Patrick Chung are some of the regulars we're sureof. What are they doing? "We're covering all the bases from a strength and conditioning standpoint," McDonough said. "We have a turf field, a 40-yard sandpit, everything under the sun for strength, a network of people around me providing yoga, physical therapy, pool work, massage, everything I need."But McDonough readily acknowledged he can'tgive NFL players the soup-to-nuts football preparation they need to be ready for a season."With the absence of position coaches and a full coaching staff, there are certain things we can't cover," McDonough pointed out. "I dont have a playbook. I can't correct technique, for example. I can cover every base from a strength and conditioning standpoint andthis is such agood group of guys in terms ofworking their asses off and feeding off each other and pushing each other. But I think we're all anxious for them to get back to work with their coaching staff."McDonough's also cognizant of the pressure involved in training professional athletes during this lockout when team-sponsored health benefits are suspended. "I am very confident in what I do but, put it this way, there's an added bit of liability," said McDonough. "There are some younger trainers who work with younger athletes and they say to me, 'I'd like to train pro athletes like you.' Sometimes I look at them and say, 'Do you really?' There is a lot to it."It's foreign for the players too. "It's a pretty big shift in what they're used to," he explained. "Paying for health insurance, paying for someone to train you as opposed to having someone pay you to work out. Their mindset seems to be,'Let's control what is in front of us, what we can control. We'll be in the best shape possible and let everything fall as it will."McDonough said he wasn't able to take on any of the newly-drafted Patriots. He says the group is too far along with its conditioning andthathe'd "pretty much topped out" with the number of guys he could work with. Meanwhile, the core group that's showing up tries its best to replicate an NFL offseason. In April, there was a "Back-Seven" minicamp for the defensive backs and linebackers that Mayo hauled everyone in for. "He's one of the most pure leaders and respected people I've seen. Ever," McDonough said. "He's constantly communicating with them, holding everyone accountable. They all do, really. This group has a great dynamic."We'll have to take his word for it.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.