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Doug Kyed, NESN.com:

Hey guys, my name is Doug Kyed and I’m the president of the New England chapter of the PFWA so I was the one who organized the Ron Hobson Good Guy Award this year. It’s presented to the player who handles the media with class, responsibility, the most helpful player to the media. I don’t know Ron, but Chris [Price] does who’s the vice president of the New England chapter so I wanted him to be able to say a couple words about Ron Hobson before we start.

Chris Price, Boston Sports Journal:

Ron covered the team for 50 years and when I say he was present at the creation, he was a guy who was here for a very, very long time. You can still see him around every so often. He’s on the Patriots Hall of Fame nominating committee. He’s a great reporter, great writer, he was also a great resource for other writers, younger writers like myself. When a young ‘slappy’ like me needed a little help and guidance as a reporter, as to who to talk to, Ron was the guy to speak with. In that spirit, Stacey [James], myself, the rest of the folks here decided to name the award in honor of Ron. So just a few quick words on Ron Hobson and his background as a member of the New England sports media.

DOUG KYED, NESN:

So I’m sure as a lot of you guys can guess at this point, the award is going to James White. He’s always willing to handle the media with a smile on his face, always available, always great in these news conferences. So I wanted to present the award to you, James.

PATRIOTS RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE

Press Conference

JW: That’s awesome, I appreciate you guys. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. That was definitely a surprise. I just try to be the same person every day, walk in with a smile on my face. I know you guys have a tough job to do, tough getting answers from guys like us. So appreciate you guys for sure for the award.

Q: What does it mean to finally get to work now after the bye week and how excited are you guys to get back to work?

JW: It’s an exciting time of year. This is what you play for, to play in moments like this, this is why you play in the NFL, this is why you’re here, to be a Patriot and to win games like this. We have a tough opponent in the Chargers, just got to have a great week of practice, started off good today, just got to keep that same intensity throughout the whole week. They’re going to be ready to go. They have a playoff win already and they’re a tough football team so it’s going to take our best effort.

Q: Did you know you were getting the award because you have a fresh haircut?

JW: Good thing I did get a haircut yesterday. I had no clue.

Q: How hard is it to slow down that front of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa when they’re getting after the quarterback?

JW: It’s tough blocking those guys. Those guys are explosive, they get sacks, they’re disruptive in the run game. But it’s not just them – they have a good secondary, good linebackers and whatever they decide to do, whether it’s seven DBs on the field or if they decide to play their linebackers, they just go out there and get the job done. They’re a smart football team, don’t give up big plays so it takes your best effort.

Q: What can you tell us about your relationship with Melvin Gordon going back to college?

JW: He’s like a little brother to me. Since he stepped foot on the Wisconsin campus, we were always tight, all the running backs there were. He’s a good football player, good person. I wish him nothing but the best of luck but I hope he doesn’t do too much on Sunday.

Q: Since they won their last game, have you been in touch with him at all?

JW: I haven’t yet, no.

Q: Do you plan on doing that?

JW: I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.

Q: Can you talk about the excitement at this time of year? How do you guys in the locker room channel that excitement in the right way?

JW: It’s an exciting time of year, just try to live in the moment, don’t take the opportunity for granted. Just don’t want to have any regrets and you’ve just got to put your best foot forward not just on game day, from today throughout the rest of the week. High intensity, pay attention to the little details, watch as much film as possible, try and know your opponent as much as possible if you want to come out with a win on Sunday. It’s going to take a lot of effort in all aspects of the game. So definitely have fun but at the same time, it’s just a game at the end of the day but you want to have your best effort.

Q: Why do you think you guys have been able to win at this time of year in the past?

JW: It’s just everybody paying attention to the details, knowing what’s at stake. You never know what play’s going to matter the most so you’ve got to capitalize on your opportunities whether it’s one play, whether it’s 60 plays or whether it’s cheering your teammates on, on the sideline. It’s going to take everybody – practice squad, coaches – everybody makes a difference.

Q: How much of a challenge is it to you coming out of the backfield with the Chargers shuffling around their players in terms of who you have to block and who’s covering you?

JW: It challenges your communication as an offense. They decide to play seven DBs or whatever it is or they switch up the looks every other play, you just got to communicate what defensive personnel is in the game. It just amplifies the communication that we have to have on offense. They did a good job of that last week in stopping the Ravens with that so if they happen to play that, we’ve got to handle that.

Q: Where would you pinpoint the growth in Melvin Gordon’s game?

JW: He’s always been able to do everything. I think he’s gotten better as a pass-catcher. He’s one of the top yard-after-catch guys in the league so he’s been getting better and better with that each year. But he’s a guy who can do everything in the backfield – catch, run, block, whatever they need him to do. It’s going to take full effort to stop him.

Q: Where have you seen Sony Michel grow the most since he’s joined this team?

JW: It’s kind of all aspects. Just coming in here from Day One, you’re kind of clueless and then him, he doesn’t really talk too much, kind of reminds me of myself. Just putting his head down and working, taking the coaching. Your rookie year can be tough. It can be long and he’s just been putting in the work each and every day, getting better and better each week and having him on our team has been a big boost for us this year getting the run game going, him and the offense line, receivers, JD [James Develin], tight ends. It’s been a big boost to have him.

Q: How about the growth that you’ve had this year as a leader, especially in the running back room?

JW: For me, I just try to help guys as much as possible. I try to learn as much as I can so if anybody has questions, I can spread the knowledge that I have and vice versa, learn from them too. So that’s kind of my way of trying to help those guys out and I think we’ve been growing as a group, as a whole. I think we complement each other well in the backfield, anybody can do anything, Coach [Josh McDaniels] can call any play. So I think we have a good, talented backfield.

Q: How important was the bye week for you?

JW: Just good to have it for sure. We’ll see if we took advantage of it if we come out with a win on Sunday so that’s all I can say about that.

Q: What does it mean to you to win the Ron Hobson award?

JW: It’s definitely an honor. Like I said, I definitely wasn’t expecting it. Like I said, I just try to be the same person every day. I know you guys have a tough job to do, try to keep a smile on my face and answer your questions to the best of my ability, give you as much detail as I can. It’s definitely an honor for sure.

Tom Brady Jersey

Chris Hogan is still getting acquainted with his new team and teammates with the Carolina Panthers, but one thing has already struck the wide receiver about his new quarterback and his pervious. While speaking to reporters in the aftermath of inking his one-year deal with Carolina, Hogan was asked about going from Tom Brady being his quarterback in New England to now having Cam Newton throwing him the football. In his comments about jumping from one former MVP QB to another, Hogan said that he’s noticed a similar competitive fire between both Brady and Newton.

“I’m really excited about it,” Hogan said of his new quarterback. “I’ve been in the building for just a short period of time, and everyone that has talked to me about Cam has said he’s just the ultimate competitor and wants to do whatever he can to win football games. Him and Tom are very similar in that respect. I know I’m going to enjoy getting to work with him and being on the same field as him. He’s an incredible athlete. I’m really excited about the opportunity.”

Hogan was with the Patriots dating back to 2016 when New England inked the then-restricted free agent to a contract. Upon arrival, Hogan was a solid contributor in the receiving game, but did seem to fall off in his chemistry with Tom Brady last season. Once Hogan hit free agency, it didn’t seem like the Patriots were all too interesting in trying to retain him. While there was some interest reportedly from the New York Giants, Hogan’s market was relatively quite, especially with New England seemingly out of the mix.

For the sixth time in franchise history, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions! Take a second to sign up for our FREE Patriots newsletter!

“You know, it’s a business,” he said of the Patriots not re-signing him. “I can’t really read too much into it because at the end of the day they’re trying to run the team the way they see fit. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and I understand that. I’m just really excited about this opportunity that the Panthers have given me. I’m really excited to get to work.”

He added: “This was a whole new experience for me and my family – I’ve never been an unrestricted free agent. I didn’t really come into it with too many expectations. We didn’t think it was going to last as long as it did, but I’ve been enjoying my family time. Getting some time to spend with the kids has been nice. And then when I had the opportunity to come down here and sign with Carolina, I was just really excited about the opportunity and really grateful they gave me the opportunity to come down here. My family is excited and I’m excited.”

In his three years with the Patriots, Hogan was able to put up 107 catches for 1,651 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“I really pride myself on my route running, my detail running routes, and I’ve always been a guy that runs everything 100 percent and does everything 100 percent,” he said. “I’ve played special teams every single year of my career. I’m just willing and able to do whatever I can to help the football team win. I’m just excited about this opportunity to be down here with the Panthers.”
Stephen Gostkowski will be back with the Patriots for the 2019 season and beyond. The veteran kicker inked a two-year deal with the Patriots last week, securing his status in Foxboro after what was a prolonged stay in free agency.

While speaking with ESPN’s Mike Reiss about his decision to ultimately stay with the Patriots, Gostkowski, who was experiencing unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career, revealed that New England was truly the only place he wanted to be.

“I’m extremely grateful and excited for the opportunity to keep playing, especially for this team,” Gostkowski told Reiss, via ESPN.com. “Having had to wait 13 years to be a free agent kind of put a different spin on things for me, because I’m in a whole different place in my life and career than a lot of people when they first have a shot at free agency. The things I had to think about and go through, and decisions I had to make of whether I would stay or leave, are completely different from what I would have had 10 years ago when I could have had a chance at free agency.”He added: “But having the extra time, and waiting and taking my time, really made me know that I was 100 percent wanting to be here. I’m so blessed to have a chance to play 15 years in one spot. I know my position is different than most. But even in my position, guys that have played it this long, have probably already been with two or three different teams. We love it here. My family loves it here. It would have been a lot to leave.

“You have to make decisions based on a multitude of factors, and every time I thought of what it would be like somewhere else, I always came back to how much I love it here. It’s a weird business, and you have to explore every option, but it was really tough for me to think I was ever going to leave. I’m excited it worked out and just thankful for another opportunity to have a crack at playing for the Patriots.”

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As for the deal that kept Gostkowski in Foxboro, Reiss reports that it’s a two-year deal worth a total of $8.5 million. He also had a signing bonus of $2.4 million. In 2019, Gostkowski will see a guaranteed base salary of $1.1 million, a roster bonus worth up to $750k and a cap hit of $3.05 million. For the 2020 season, Gostkowski will earn base salary of $3.5 million ($200k guaranteed), $750k worth of roster bonuses and have a $5.45 million cap hit.

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Aventura, FL – The Miami Dolphins held the annual Nat Moore Endowment Fund Golf Classic at JW

Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa’s Soffer’s Course on Monday, March 18, 2019. Funds raised from

the golf tournament benefited the Nat Moore Endowment Fund, which serves as the education pillar of

the Miami Dolphins Foundation and provides graduating high school seniors in Miami Dade, Monroe,

Broward and Palm Beach counties with the financial resources needed to pursue avenues of education and

training for employment readiness.

“In our second year of the Nat Moore Endowment Fund as part of the Miami Dolphins Foundation, we are

constantly looking for ways to help more kids go to school, educate themselves and give them a chance

to be successful in whatever it is they choose to do,” Miami Dolphins Senior Vice President of Alumni

Relations Nat Moore said. “This is something that has been near to my heart for as long as I can

remember so I am very excited to see everyone come together for this event and raise funds that will

give the youth of our community a greater opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

Celebrity guests teed off for a round of scramble-golf on the world-famous Soffer Course, home to a

number of LPGA and PGA events including participation from former NFL and NBA athletes Dick Anderson,

Donny Anderson, Otis Anderson, Hank Bauer, Bobby Bell, Otis Birdsong, Ronnie Brown, Bob Brudzinski,

Keith Byars, Ki-Jana Carter, Mark Clayton, Richard Dent, Parnell Dickinson, Troy Drayton, Mark Duper,

Irving Fryar, Darrell Fullington, Jimmie Giles, Andrew Givens, Jacob Green, Bob Griese, Lorenzo

Hampton, John Harris, Ted Hendricks, Sam Jones, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Brian Kelley, Terry Kirby, Sam

Madison, Dan Marino, Leonard “Truck” Robinson, Sterling Sharpe, Duane Starks, Lawrence Taylor, Jim

Thornton, Darryl Williams and Gus Williams.

2019 Nat Moore Endowment Fund Golf Classic Winners

 

Hotel & Casino

This event is a follow up to the Nat Moore Scholarship and Vocational Grant Endowment open application

announcement made earlier this year and is in its second year under the Miami Dolphins Foundation.

Last year, five graduating seniors were the first recipients awarded the fund and were selected

through an application process that showcased community service, leadership, financial need and

academic standing. This initiative aligns with the Miami Dolphins mission of “Teamwork at Work” —

an effort to level the playing field through the power of teamwork to inspire a healthier, more

educated and united South Florida community.

The fund is a continuation of the Nat Moore Foundation, which started in 1998 to serve the youth of

South Florida through education. The Miami Dolphins Foundation through the Nat Moore Endowment Fund is

committed to raising $10 million in 10 years to fund educational opportunities for South Florida

youth. This commitment will foster the next generation of industry and community leaders by providing

students who are achieving academically and who give back to their communities with the opportunity to

attain their educational goals. Application for the Nat Moore Vocational Grant are accepted on a

rolling basis. For more information and to apply, please CLICK HERE.

John Hannah Jersey

Leon Gray is the 28th man selected into the New England Patriots’ Hall of Fame, as the club announced yesterday. A third-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 1973, Gray joined the organization off waivers that same year and went on to establish himself as one of the best left tackles in football: he appeared in 80 games for New England over the course of six seasons and became a core member of what is now a legendary offensive line.

One of the voters responsible for bestowing the honor upon the former Patriots starting left tackle, who passed away in 2001 at just 49 years old, is the club’s current football research director, Ernie Adams. Revisiting some previous comments made by Adams about Gray tells just why he and his brethren decided on including the late offensive lineman in the exclusive club as the third ever senior inductee.

“Leon Gray was everything you had wanted as a left tackle,” Adams told patriots.com back in 2013, when Gray first came up as a candidate for the Hall. “There are very few teams in the history of the National Football League that have run the ball over the course of a season for 200 yards a game: the ‘76 Patriots and the ‘78 Patriots were two of those teams. A lot of that was Sam Cunningham running behind Leon Gray.”

As Adams mentioned, Gray and his teammates helped the Patriots average more than 200 rushing yards — 210.6, to be precise — over the course of 1976’ 14 regular season games. Two years later and following the NFL’s switch to a 16-game regular season format, Gray and the rest of the Patriots’ offensive line paved the way for 3,165 rushing yards. The number still stands as an NFL record today and will likely never be broken again.

Gray’s excellence extended beyond his run blocking, though, and was only one reason why he was voted to two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team in his six years in New England. “You never had to worry about having Leon Gray pass block for Steve Grogan at left tackle,” said Adams about the former waiver wire pickup that turned into one of the NFL’s premier offensive tackles of the 1970s.

The man in question — long-time Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan — also spoke glowingly about Gray six years ago. “Leon was smart, he had great feet, good hands. You just knew that he was going to do his job,” said Grogan, who himself was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 1995. “The success we had during the mid-’70s, wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for a guy like Leon Gray playing left tackle for us.”

Despite some outstanding play throughout his Patriots tenure and being voted to the organization’s team of 1970s, however, Gray is not the biggest name on New England’s outstanding offensive lines of the decade: the unit’s superstar was and still is Pro Football Hall of Fame guard John Hannah, who played shoulder-on-shoulder alongside the left tackle for all six of his seasons with the Patriots.

“Hannah could very well be the best offensive lineman in the history of the league. Everybody remembers John,” said Adams before pointing out that the man playing on his left also needs to be recognized for his performance wearing the red, white, and blue. “I think John would probably be the first one to tell you a big part of the reason he was so good was he knew he was going to get great play from left tackle.”

Indeed, Hannah named Gray as a reason for his success on the gridiron. Speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman in 1981, the player dubbed as ‘the greatest offensive lineman of all time,’ also spoke about his relationship with the man playing alongside him. “Having Leon Gray next to me all those years helped so much,” Hannah said. “We got to know what each of us could do. We ate together, studied films together. I knew the air he breathed.”

The formidable duo was not built to last, however: New England traded away its stalwart left tackle to the Houston Oilers in a cost-cutting move just prior to the 1979 season — a decision criticized by Hannah at the time and in the years that followed. “When the Patriots traded Leon… well, I never wanted to sign another contract with them,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1981. “I still haven’t gotten over it.”

Hannah, of course, played out the rest of his career in New England before retiring after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss in 1985. At that point, Gray was already retired: after spending three years in Houston and earning two more Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections each, he was traded again. After two years with the New Orleans Saints, the then-32-year-old decided to hang up his cleats at the age of 32.

His legacy in New England still lives on, though, even beyond his untimely death during what would turn out to be the Patriots’ first championship season. “[Gray and Hannah] together, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better guard-tackle combination anywhere that I’ve seen in the league,” said Adams, who saw both perform first-hand during his initial coaching tenure in New England from 1975 through 1979.

“When you think of left tackle you think of someone like Leon Gray and somebody who plays the position like that.”

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“We (also) had Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri,” he continued. “That was a long time ago. I don’t think back. Temporarily it bothered me. I’d probably do things differently now if I had to do it again.”

So you see, even though three declining seasons under Pete Carroll followed his tenure, the core of the first Super Bowl championship-winning team was already in place. He knew it then; we know it now.

And there has been contrition for his actions at the time, too.

“I was absolutely too headstrong,” he told USA Today six years ago. “And (Robert Kraft) might have been a little headstrong, too. I think both Kraft and myself, retrospectively, would have done things a little differently.”

That situation has also been explained by Mr. Kraft. “Look, I was a new owner,” he also told USA Today. “I had a lot of debt. I had stardust in my eyes. I had a Hall of Fame coach. I was green and new. And I don’t think Bill had ever dealt with someone like myself.

“He had a contract that said he’d coach year to year,” Kraft added. “And that didn’t make me feel secure. He was coaching year to year, making personnel decisions. He used to drive down to Jupiter, Florida at the end of the year and he’d say he’d decide whether he was coming back to coach.

“That didn’t inspire confidence in me.”

The way Bill Parcells left the Patriots certainly didn’t leave a positive feeling about his tenure overall, despite the rebuild and the second all-time Super Bowl appearance in team history. But as we all know, time has a way of healing wounds or correcting fault. Perspective changes. Truth usually wins out in the end.

And the truth here is, Parcells helped this team – this franchise – become what it is today. With him, the Patriots became a contender on the field and a stronger business entity off of it because of his ability to coach, and also his ability to inspire confidence in others both on and off the field.

League-wide respect has since followed. Without him, who knows?

We may not have a Patriots Hall of Fame to discuss today. We may be talking about ‘what might have happened’ if the Patriots had relocated to St. Louis 26 years ago.

But we’re not, and for that we’re thankful. Whether as a coach, a contributor or a veteran presence, Bill Parcells’ arrival in New England helped change the course of history around here. And as the Hall of Fame is a museum which showcases history – both the good and the not-so-good – leaving a significant piece of history out of the franchise’s story simply isn’t an accurate account.

It isn’t right. He has been a candidate for induction into the Patriots’ Hall three times previously.

It’s time to remember what Parcells’ arrival and tenure meant to football in New England. He belongs in this Hall, too.
And the nominees are…

I was both happy and humbled to have been asked to serve on the nominating committee this year, and not at all surprised that 13 players and coaches from the Patriots’ past were named for potential inclusion.

You simply could not go wrong with anyone who was nominated. Ultimately, you have the honor of electing the 2019 choice into the Patriots’ Hall, which is a fantastic way for all Patriots to celebrate the history of the team together. Our task was simply to decide upon the three finalists for you to consider.

The nominating committee included a 10-person senior committee of Patriots’ Director of Football Research (and one-time assistant under Chuck Fairbanks) Ernie Adams, Ron Borges (Boston Globe/Herald and a Canton voter), Ron Hobson (Quincy Patriot-Ledger), Jim Donaldson (Providence Journal), Bill Burt (Lawrence Eagle-Tribune), Mark Farinella (Attleboro Sun-Chronicle), Glen Farley (Brockton Enterprise), Carlo Imelio (Springfield Union News), Matt Smith from Kraft Sports Productions and our own Paul Perillo from Patriots.com.

The remainder of the committee included Patriots’ Hall of Fame Executive Director Brian Morry, Pro Football and Patriots’ Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, Patriots’ Hall of Famer Steve Nelson, Butch Stearns of WFXT (Fox 25), Patriots.com’s Fred Kirsch, radio play-by-play man Bob Socci and producer Marc Cappello (98.5 The Sports Hub), ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Boston Sports Journal’s Chris Price, the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride, the Boston Herald’s Kevin Duffy and NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry, along with yours truly.

That’s some company. And quite the brain trust through the years.

The nominees, in no particular order of importance:

Richard Seymour
Mike Vrabel
Rodney Harrison
Bill Parcells
Julius Adams
Fred Marion
Mosi Tatupu
Russ Francis
Chuck Fairbanks
Lawyer Milloy
Randy Moss
Larry Eisenhower
Tim Fox

The senior committee’s election of offensive tackle Leon Gray is timely and warranted. Other players and coaches, obscured by the glare of the Kraft Championship Era, will someday follow and deservedly so.

My support this year was thrown behind the candidacy of Richard Seymour and Mosi Tatupu, in addition to Coach Parcells. Seymour was the best at his position during his time here as a four-time all-Pro and three-time Super Bowl winner, and he remains a strong candidate for eventual inclusion into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame.

No brainer? Probably.

Tatupu, who passed away in 2010, made his name as a crowd and fan-favorite mostly for his work on special teams. What you might not know is Tatupu, as primarily a fullback, also once led the NFL in single-season rushing yard average, running for 5.5 yards per carry in 1983.

What you might also not know is that he was the consummate teammate – beloved by his fellow Patriots in the locker room for his leadership, ability and dedication to the game and to his family.

And shouldn’t that be a big part of what the ‘Patriot Way’ – and the Patriots Hall of Fame – is all about?

John Rooke, an author and award-winning broadcaster, is entering his 27th season as the Patriots’ stadium voice. Currently serving in several media capacities – which include hosting “Patriots Playbook” on Patriots.com Radio – Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for more than 30 years and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio & Television Hall of Fame and RI’s Words Unlimited Hall of Fame.

Tedy Bruschi Jersey

Every November, just before their challenging journey to train for the Boston Marathon begins, the runners for Tedy’s Team — the foundation created by Tedy Bruschi and his wife, Heidi — meet for the first time at the team’s kickoff dinner. This year, they convened at Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy.

And it’s there that, for many of them, they have the outlet to talk about their experience for the first time.

In some way, every runner that’s run for Tedy’s Team has been affected by stroke or heart disease. Whether they’re a survivor, a caregiver, or running in honor of a loved one, they all come together for a common purpose, and the stories are emotional.

For Bruschi, this is the most rewarding part of what’s now been a 14-year journey; meeting his runners for the first time, and listening to their stories. It’s exactly what the former Patriots linebacker envisioned shortly after he survived a stroke in 2005 — to build a support system that may have otherwise not existed.

“That’s why the team is in the name,” Bruschi said. “That’s what I wanted to create. To give them an experience and to feel a part of a team, and feel like they’re not alone through this. Because it’s hard to talk about sometimes after you go through something that’s so devastating like stroke or heart disease.”

The stories have been so inspirational that Bruschi decided to take more action this year. He’s running the Boston Marathon for the third time this Monday after doing it in 2012 and 2014, and he’ll toe the starting line in Hopkinton alongside 48 of his Tedy’s Team teammates.

“It’s tough to be around the type of people our runners are and not get inspired,” Bruschi said. “Every single year, the stories of the stroke survivors, the heart survivors, the people who are running for their loved ones, their stroke or heart heroes, their motivation for running. These people are incredible people, they’re motivated people, they live with purpose, and it inspires me. …

“I’ve tried to form a group, a group where people can get together that have suffered adversity in their lives through stroke and heart disease, and talk about it, and run for it, and run for people, or run for themselves if they’re survivors, to be inspired by others. I think that’s what this group is. This group is very strong in that aspect, so I’m proud of what Heidi and I have created.”

Bruschi’s story is well-documented. He had just won his third Super Bowl in February 2005 when one day, he suddenly started experiencing severe headaches, loss of vision and numbness down the left side of his body — all what he later found out were classic symptoms of stroke. He was admitted to Mass. General Hospital, and after eight months of rehabilitation, he miraculously rejoined the Patriots and resumed playing football.
Bruschi played until 2008, but felt a calling and responsibility to bring awareness to stroke. He’s now been on a 14-year mission to educate on the warning signs, including the BE FAST acronym that’s become a critical teaching tool.

“I realized there’s a stigma with the word stroke sometimes,” Bruschi said. “It’s people sort of (say), ‘Whoa.’ They’re taken back when they say stroke. They thought that was just for your grandparents or the elderly, so people, they don’t really understand what it is. I think me having a stroke when I was 31 and having just won a Super Bowl, it opened a lot of people’s eyes as to what’s really possible, so I wanted to just bring awareness to it.”

Along with Tedy’s Team, he’s done just that. The group had humble beginnings in 2005, starting with just five runners, but it’s continued to grow. The team’s 49 runners have raised $537,337 of their $575,000 goal as of Tuesday, ninth-most of all Boston Marathon charities.

Bruschi is happy with the growth. He said he’s declined opportunities for bigger expansion over the years because he just wanted to slowly grow. The team has expanded to participate in the annual Falmouth Road Race, and they also do a travel marathon every year. This year, it’s the Duke City Marathon in New Mexico.

“I didn’t dream of it being huge,” Bruschi said. “I wanted to make a difference one person at a time, one survivor at a time, or one caretaker at a time. …

“I’m OK with slowly growing. It’s OK, because I learn every year about ways to make a difference through my runners and through survivors and caregivers, and what’s important to them, so it’s something I’m really proud of.”
Bruschi will also be proud to join his runners at the starting line again. After posting a time of 5 hours, 26 minutes with Heidi in 2012, then a 4:47 in 2014, he’s hoping for a 4:30 this year. He’s not sure if he’ll run it again, but he’ll certainly cherish it before heading to the Lenox Hotel after the race to celebrate all of what his teammates have achieved, too.

“My little motto has been three rings, three medals,” Bruschi said. “I don’t know how motivated I’ll be after this one. You say that before because you’re coming towards the end of it, but three rings, three medals, and that’s a heck of a ride right there.”

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It was a busy Monday for a handful of Louisiana prospects in the 2020 and 2021 classes as they picked up new scholarship offers ahead of the spring evaluation period. Here’s a look at some of the prospects who landed new scholarships to kick off the week.Holstein has officially busted through the Power 5 window with his first Southeastern Conference scholarship offer this week, with Missouri being the first team from the conference to join the race for his services.

The Missouri offer comes after a strong junior season for Holstein where he upped his completion percentage from 58-percent as a sophomore to 72-percent as a junior. He finished the year with 3,854 yards passing on 245-of-342 attempts with 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a QB rating of 139.8. In-state offers are in from Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech, and out-of-state offers are now in from Missouri, Cincinnati, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky. Holstein is ranked as the No. 21 pro-style quarterback prospect in the country on the 247Sports Composite.The 6-foot-4, 265-pound rising senior out of North Louisiana has been a bit of a sleeper on the recruiting trail, but don’t expect him to be labeled as that much longer.

Colleges are beginning to take notice of the Stonewall native, the same hometown as former LSU linebacker Devin White. Mitchell has some impressive film coming off his junior season and was able to reel in an offer from Tulane on Monday. His first college offer came a couple weeks back when the Southern University staff made a move on the unranked prospect. He’s also coming off a junior season where he was a two-time state champion in track and field. At the LHSAA/All-State Sugar Bowl Track and Field meet last May, Mitchell won the 4A title in shot put (52-10.75) and discus (152-7.). Here’s a look at some clips from his junior year.It’s been an eventful month for Green, who had a nice showing at The Opening’s regional event in New Orleans last month and has added a handful of offers this spring. Southeastern became the latest team to offer him a scholarship when the Lions made its move on Monday.

Offers are now in from Tulane, Air Force, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nicholls State, Baylor, Southern and Southeastern. Green was part of a U-High team that won a state title in December, and he’s set to be back as a starter for the Cubs as a senior in 2019. At The Opening, Green measured in at 6-2.5, 303 pounds and recorded a 5.11 40-yard dash, a 4.88 shuttle and a 26.2-inch vertical jump. He was the lone offensive lineman to break 40-feet on the powerball toss, putting his SPARQ score at 97.14, the highest mark of any offensive lineman at the event.The Arkansas commitment out of New Orleans landed an offer from Louisville on Monday, and now his scholarship total has grown to 15 teams after committing to the Razorbacks in February. Vance is certainly one of the state’s top defensive backs in the 2020 class, and he’s ranked by 247Sports as a Top 25 overall prospect in Louisiana this cycle. Vance, who is coming off a strong junior year at Edna Karr, had a great showing at The Opening in New Orleans before going down with an injury. While he scratched his 40-yard dash time, Vance checked in at 5-foot-10, 152 pounds and clocked a 4.25 shuttle and a 34.7-inch vertical jump.

Ryan’s rise from his junior season through The Opening’s event in New Orleans has been well-documented. Ryan was a key member of LCA’s state title team in December, and he posted the best the highest SPARQ score (122.5) of any underclassmen in the country up to that point. At 5-foot-10.5, 193 pounds, Ryan clocked a 4.45 40-yard dash, a 4.37 shuttle and a 36-inch vertical jump. The following day, Colorado and Tennessee became his first two college offers. Then came a huge offer from LSU, which Ryan said certainly changed the outlook on his recruitment moving forward. Ryan’s uncle, Trev Faulk, and cousin, Kevin Faulk, were both standouts in purple-and-gold. Virginia also joined the fold, and on Monday, Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan reached out to the South Louisiana native with an offer. Ryan is expected to be one of Louisiana’s top prospects in the 2021 class.

Steve Grogan Jersey

Leon Gray is the 28th man selected into the New England Patriots’ Hall of Fame, as the club announced yesterday. A third-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 1973, Gray joined the organization off waivers that same year and went on to establish himself as one of the best left tackles in football: he appeared in 80 games for New England over the course of six seasons and became a core member of what is now a legendary offensive line.

One of the voters responsible for bestowing the honor upon the former Patriots starting left tackle, who passed away in 2001 at just 49 years old, is the club’s current football research director, Ernie Adams. Revisiting some previous comments made by Adams about Gray tells just why he and his brethren decided on including the late offensive lineman in the exclusive club as the third ever senior inductee.

“Leon Gray was everything you had wanted as a left tackle,” Adams told patriots.com back in 2013, when Gray first came up as a candidate for the Hall. “There are very few teams in the history of the National Football League that have run the ball over the course of a season for 200 yards a game: the ‘76 Patriots and the ‘78 Patriots were two of those teams. A lot of that was Sam Cunningham running behind Leon Gray.”

As Adams mentioned, Gray and his teammates helped the Patriots average more than 200 rushing yards — 210.6, to be precise — over the course of 1976’ 14 regular season games. Two years later and following the NFL’s switch to a 16-game regular season format, Gray and the rest of the Patriots’ offensive line paved the way for 3,165 rushing yards. The number still stands as an NFL record today and will likely never be broken again.

Gray’s excellence extended beyond his run blocking, though, and was only one reason why he was voted to two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team in his six years in New England. “You never had to worry about having Leon Gray pass block for Steve Grogan at left tackle,” said Adams about the former waiver wire pickup that turned into one of the NFL’s premier offensive tackles of the 1970s.

The man in question — long-time Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan — also spoke glowingly about Gray six years ago. “Leon was smart, he had great feet, good hands. You just knew that he was going to do his job,” said Grogan, who himself was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 1995. “The success we had during the mid-’70s, wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for a guy like Leon Gray playing left tackle for us.”Despite some outstanding play throughout his Patriots tenure and being voted to the organization’s team of 1970s, however, Gray is not the biggest name on New England’s outstanding offensive lines of the decade: the unit’s superstar was and still is Pro Football Hall of Fame guard John Hannah, who played shoulder-on-shoulder alongside the left tackle for all six of his seasons with the Patriots.

“Hannah could very well be the best offensive lineman in the history of the league. Everybody remembers John,” said Adams before pointing out that the man playing on his left also needs to be recognized for his performance wearing the red, white, and blue. “I think John would probably be the first one to tell you a big part of the reason he was so good was he knew he was going to get great play from left tackle.”

Indeed, Hannah named Gray as a reason for his success on the gridiron. Speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman in 1981, the player dubbed as ‘the greatest offensive lineman of all time,’ also spoke about his relationship with the man playing alongside him. “Having Leon Gray next to me all those years helped so much,” Hannah said. “We got to know what each of us could do. We ate together, studied films together. I knew the air he breathed.”

The formidable duo was not built to last, however: New England traded away its stalwart left tackle to the Houston Oilers in a cost-cutting move just prior to the 1979 season — a decision criticized by Hannah at the time and in the years that followed. “When the Patriots traded Leon… well, I never wanted to sign another contract with them,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1981. “I still haven’t gotten over it.”

Hannah, of course, played out the rest of his career in New England before retiring after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss in 1985. At that point, Gray was already retired: after spending three years in Houston and earning two more Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections each, he was traded again. After two years with the New Orleans Saints, the then-32-year-old decided to hang up his cleats at the age of 32.

His legacy in New England still lives on, though, even beyond his untimely death during what would turn out to be the Patriots’ first championship season. “[Gray and Hannah] together, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better guard-tackle combination anywhere that I’ve seen in the league,” said Adams, who saw both perform first-hand during his initial coaching tenure in New England from 1975 through 1979.

“When you think of left tackle you think of someone like Leon Gray and somebody who plays the position like that.”

Drew Bledsoe Jersey

It’s time for my favorite “hobby” inside my job as an NFL Draft analyst — pro comparisons.

Most people hate them. I love them. They provide perspective into the type of player a team will be getting in the draft.

However, it’s important to remember NFL comparisons for draftees don’t factor into team situation or fit, and as a whole, don’t act as a guarantee a prospect will have the identical career to that of his pro counterpart.

In this series, starting today with quarterback, I’ll run through top prospects at every position and give my NFL comparisons — some current players, some former. In some instances, a prospect will be compared to two pros as a way to represent a “range” or a ceiling and a floor for that prospect. Oh, and these comparisons are not based on size nor race.

They’re almost solely stylistic.

(Prospects are listed in the order they appear in my draft rankings.)
Drew Lock, Missouri

NFL comparison: Matthew Stafford

Lock is a cannon-armed pocket passer capable of making the jaw-dropping throws down or across the field who plays the game with “shooter’s amnesia.” If he makes a bad decision or throws a pick, it doesn’t impact his aggressiveness on the next play or series. He can effortlessly throw from a variety of arm angles, and the arrow is pointing up in terms of his pocket patience and presence, although hiccups in those areas are still present. He won’t run away from many NFL linebackers but can pick up yards with his feet when needed, and his accuracy downfield is more impressive than his touch on short passes. Sounds a lot like Stafford.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

NFL comparison: Steve Young

Here me out on this one. Young was an ultra-efficient, frightening dual-threat quarterback at the collegiate level who could win from inside the pocket and could erupt with his legs thanks to high-level athleticism. That is Murray to a T. Young wasn’t the biggest quarterback either at around 6-foot-0 and 210-ish pounds. It wasn’t until Young landed with the 49ers that he reached his full potential — and became a Hall of Fame signal-caller. He sat behind Joe Montana for his first four seasons in San Francisco and didn’t become the starter until his age 30 (!) season. Murray’s going to be starting for whichever team drafts him just a little earlier than that. Anyway, I’ll admit I wasn’t scouting Young when he came out of BYU after the 1983 season. In fact, I wasn’t alive yet. But I do remember the way he could take over a game with pinpoint accuracy or as a scrambler in the NFL. Murray only showed it for one year in college, but I truly believe he has “take over the game” type skills as a refined passer and runner. Young was pretty unique. So is Murray.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

NFL comparison: Drew Bledsoe

When I think of “pure” pocket passers — and in this case that comes with a touch of a negative connotation denoting a serious lack of mobility — Drew Bledsoe is one of the first quarterbacks who comes to my mind. Bledsoe was statuesque in the pocket; he just wanted to live there and fire rockets all over the field. Yes, there was an occasional step up away from pressure, but most often Bledsoe either delivered the football from inside the pocket or was hit or sacked inside the pocket. I see a lot of that with Haskins, a slow-footed, pure pocket passer. He’s a little more athletic than Bledsoe was, but Bledsoe had a stronger arm. I wasn’t scouting Bledsoe when he was a prospect in 1993. I was scouting bad guys Power Rangers had to fight. But I do have vivid memories of Bledsoe in the NFL. Haskins can read the entire field, is mostly accurate, and wants to set up shop between the tackles on every snap. If protected well, he can be an awesome quarterback in the NFL. Like with Bledsoe, I’m worried about Haskins when he faces pressure.
Ryan Finley, NC State

NFL comparison: Ryan Tannehill

Finley and Tannehill are stylistically so similar it’s scary. From their throwing motions to their strengths and weaknesses, Finley is a Tannehill clone. At NC State, Finley had elite-level outings in which he made a handful of high-degree-of-difficulty tosses that needed plenty of anticipation and accuracy. He also had his fair share of stinkers, games in which he looked completely out of sorts against blitzes and/or complex coverages and his lack of arm strength was very apparent. Both Finley and Tannehill are quietly effective as scramblers too.
Brett Rypien, Boise State

NFL comparison: Marc Bulger

Another throwback, and it seems perfect. Bulger was an intelligent quarterback who had a brief stint as one of the most efficient passers in the league who got it done with his mental processing, accuracy, and quick release from inside the pocket without having standard NFL size, athleticism, or arm strength. While watching Rypien’s illustrious career unfold at Boise State, I got that same vibe. Rypien actually takes hits and sacks at times because he doesn’t notice pressure. He almost always keeps his eyes up to scan the field. Love that attribute; many passers have a tendency to drop their eyes when they initially don’t like what they see or feel pressure. Rypien has a decent, not great arm, consistently throws with anticipation, and you don’t have to worry about him misfiring to any portion of the field.
Will Grier, West Virginia

NFL comparison: Andy Dalton

Dalton was a second-round pick out of TCU in 2011, and his effectiveness in the NFL has largely been contingent upon the talent around him: Offensive line and receivers. Grier seems like that type too. When kept clean, Dalton, who isn’t big for the position and doesn’t have a huge arm, can make any throw. Under pressure he typically crumbles … another way Grier is just like him. At West Virginia, when he was out of harm’s way, Grier was accurate and knew where to throw the football. Under pressure … not so much. If he lands with a team that has an impressive collection of receivers and a good line, Grier can be a mid-level quarterback in the NFL, capable of high flashes. If that’s not the situation in which he lands, Grier’s likely to struggle.
Daniel Jones, Duke

NFL comparison: Josh McCown

I don’t know if Jones will ultimately stick around for as long as McCown has, but they seem like similar quarterbacks. Smart, good arms, decently accurate to all levels but antsy under pressure and can be somewhat easily baited into making bad decisions. Jones is a plus scrambler, yet the team that drafts him likely won’t be installing designed runs for him, although he was used on those at Duke. Anyway, Jones is a West Coast Offense signal-caller who you don’t want holding onto the ball for too long.
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo

NFL comparison: Colin Kaepernick

Jackson measured in as the biggest quarterback in combine history and had one of the most athletic showings ever at that position. Kaepernick was no slouch athletically either, and while he’s not quite as big as Jackson, he was listed just under 6-5 and 233 pounds as he entered the league in 2011. In college, Kap repeatedly threw fastballs all over the field. That’s Jackson too. Kap was probably a little more accurate on short passes than Jackson, but the Buffalo product is more competent stretching defenses deep. Kaepernick was “projecty” and so is Jackson. Like Kap, in the NFL Jackson will need to get faster going through his reads and calmer staying inside the pocket.

Rob Gronkowski Jersey

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When it comes to the history of the NFL and where players rank among the all-time greats, Gil Brandt and Ernie Accorsi provide a unique, credible perspective based on their longevity, success in evaluating personnel and résumés of helping build competitive teams.

So when it comes to Rob Gronkowski …

“If I were to put him where he belongs, if you take the top five tight ends ever, he is probably right there in the middle at three,” said Brandt, the longtime vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys (1960-1988) who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019. “I think [Tony] Gonzalez is probably better. I think [Kellen] Winslow is probably better. But I think when we hash it out at the end, he’ll be right up there with the top three to five players.”Brandt, whose scouting-based contributions to football have been praised by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick as being Hall of Fame-worthy, puts Mike Ditka and John Mackey in the top-five conversation, as well.

Meanwhile, Accorsi didn’t hesitate elevating Gronkowski into the elite ranks.

“I don’t know where you put him — there’s always opinions — but he’s one of the greatest to play the game, if not the greatest. There’s no question about that,” Accorsi said before noting the similarities between Gronkowski and late Green Bay Packers tight end Ron Kramer (1957-1967).

“Same type of player — ran over people. If you go back and look at the film of the 1961 championship game when the Packers beat the Giants 37-0, [Kramer] was the hero of that game, scored two touchdowns,” Accorsi said. “Gronkowski [6-foot-6] is a little bigger. [Kramer] was 6-3 and an all-around athlete who won nine letters at Michigan. He’s in the College Football Hall of Fame and could be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was so much like Gronkowski.”

Accorsi said some of the things that separate Gronkowski from others are his performance in the clutch, the matchup issues he presented defenses and how he was open even when he was covered.

“His last big catch, in the Super Bowl, defines who he is to me,” said Accorsi, who served as an assistant general manager or general manager from the mid-1970s to 2007 with the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants. “It was a sluggish offensive game, nobody could really get anything done, and it was no surprise to anyone that [Tom] Brady is going to come up with a touchdown to win it, and who makes the play? Gronkowski almost willed himself down the field to make that catch that set up the winning touchdown. That’s him.”The great ones, to me, are Mackey, Ditka. But Mackey was shorter. Mackey was probably faster but didn’t have the hands Gronkowski had — even though he never dropped the ball. He knew he was a body-catcher, and that was keeping him out of the Hall of Fame for a while. Winslow, who was more of a receiver. Gonzalez, obviously, caught a million passes, and he’s in there, too. Ron Kramer.”

This year, Gonzalez became the ninth tight end to earn induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Dave Casper (1974-1984), Ditka (1961-1972), Mackey (1963-1972), Ozzie Newsome (1978-1990), Charlie Sanders (1968-1977), Shannon Sharpe (1990-2003), Jackie Smith (1963-1978) and Winslow (1979-1987).

The list serves as a reminder of how the tight end position has changed over the years.

“Gonzalez played a long time and caught a lot of passes. Winslow came along, and he brought the new era to the tight end,” said Brandt, who compares Gronkowski’s style of play most to Ditka’s. “We looked at Mackey — and yeah, he was a tight end and caught a touchdown pass to win a game against the Cowboys in the Super Bowl — but he was really, No. 1, a blocker first and a receiver second. I think in Gonzalez’s case, he was a receiver first and a blocker second.”Gronkowski is unique, because if you graded on a scale, you’d give him the same grade for receiving as blocking. In Winslow, as an example, he’d have a higher grade for receiving, lower grade for blocking. [Gronkowski] in his prime, he was a cut above everyone else [in his era]. He was bigger, faster, more talented, more athletic than other players at that position.

“It’s hard comparing [Gronkowski] to John Mackey, because we throw the ball so much more to tight ends. We do so much more to get them open than ever before. The tight end used to line up at the end of the line, and really, his first job was to be a blocker, not a receiver. Now, we play two tight ends and both of them can be equally as good as blocking and receiving, and it destroys the tendencies that the defense has of playing strongside and weakside.”

No one, arguably, has fit that bill more than Gronkowski.

“I don’t have a vote, but to me, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer and there’s no question about it,” Accorsi said. “With all the great plays he’s made, I love people who make the play with the championship on the line. I just think that last catch typifies his career.”