Philbin: Patriots in class of their own in AFC East

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Philbin: Patriots in class of their own in AFC East

FOXBORO -- The 8-3 Patriots can clinch the AFC East on Sunday with a win over the Miami Dolphins.

So you would think that Dolphins coach Joe Philbin would have had a message to his team this week. Something like, "Don't let them come into our building and win the division!"

Not so much. At least, Philbin hadn't planned on doing that, until he was informed that New England could clinch, in a conference call on Wednesday.

"Believe it or not, this is the honest to God truth, I didn't even know that," said Philbin when asked about Sunday's stipulations. "I'm not surprised, looking at what they've done the last five weeks.

"We're not worried, necessarily, about that. We're worried about how well they're executing in all three phases of the game. But as far as the standings, right now, that's not really a focus of ours."
Like his coach, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill also didn't know that the Patriots can clinch the division with a win in Miami on Sunday, until asked about it on Wednesday's conference calls.
"I had no clue, until you just said that," said Tannehill. "So, I don't think it's anything that we're talking about in the locker room thus far. We're obviously just focused on a good Patriots team that is going to come in and play hard and play well."
Philbin is a Massachusetts native, so he's aware of how dominant the Patriots have been in the AFC East, even though he's in just his first season as the Dolphins coach.

"I think it's a good, competitive division," said Philbin. "Obviously there's some good rivals that we have, with all three teams. The three of us are a work in progress at this stage, and one team's playing very, very well."

While competitive, he acknowledges that the Patriots are in a class of their own, mainly because of their turnover ratio.

"Plus-24 is what I see," said Philbin. "That's a great place to start, if you want to talk about winning football games in the National Football League. It's a great credit to their players and their coaches. These guys do a fantastic job. I mean, we're minus-10, and that's not very good. And they're plus-24. That's outstanding. That's a tremendous place to build your program around. So I would say that's the one thing that jumps out at me."

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.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.