Patriots

Harmon embraces Patriots 'swagger' and non-complacency

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Harmon embraces Patriots 'swagger' and non-complacency

FOXBORO -- A familiar refrain was heard across the National Football League this spring: are you bleeping kidding me? The Patriots got that guy?? Bleep. Whether it be Brandin Cooks or Stephon Gilmore or - to a lesser degree - the likes of Kony Ealy, Mike Gilislee and Rex Burkhead, the Pats offseason activities made the defending Super Bowl champs a more talented team, at least on paper. 

“That just shows that this is a team that’s always looking to get better,” Duron Harmon told me. “The players aren’t complacent. The coaches aren’t complacent. The organization isn’t complacent, and I just think when you have that type of mindset coming from up top, coaches, players, the organization, it is easy for the players not to get complacent. We know we have to continue to get better, continue to work. We gotta do everything we did and more last year to try to do what we want to do again this year.”

Harmon has a terrific perspective on the how the operation is run. He has consistently improved, to the point where he was a fairly well sought after free agent. But his first choice was to return to Foxboro, and the two sides made it happen. Was there more money elsewhere? Yes, but the steady Harmon embraces being a Patriot and embraces those around him. 

“When you have a good group of guys, I think that’s what makes playing this sport for this team even better, that’s what makes me even more excited,” he said. “Being able to go out there with a great group of guys, guys that I love and depend on {and} they depend on me… when you have that type of chemistry, that brotherly love, it makes playing football more fun and easier.”

Easier is an interesting word choice. There’s nothing easy about being a member of this team, this organization. Forget about expectations outside the building, the ones inside are far greater, and more pressure-filled than anything we could cook up. That said, the continued success provides an obvious ground floor for the players to build off - hey, you’re Super Bowl champs - and that wealth of experience in all sorts of situations breeds confidence.

“We get the swagger more so from the work we put in,” said Harmon. “If you look at how we practice, how hard we practice, how much work we put in with the weights, the film room, iI think that’s what gives us our swagger because we really believe - I believe - no teams, or very few teams, put in the amount of work we put in. That gives us the type of confidence so that when we got out there we say we’ve seen this before, we’ve been thru this before so let’s just go out here, play by the rules and everything will be fine.”

Coaches and teammates alike point to Harmon as one of the steadiest voices heard throughout the season and certainly at halftime of the Super Bowl. Listening to him talk tells you exactly why.

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

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Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

PHILADELPHIA - Chris Long is donating the rest of his year's salary to increase educational equality.

The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end already gave up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, he's using the next 10 to launch the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign.

"My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality," Long told The Associated Press. "I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million guaranteed. His base salary in 2017 is $1 million.

The charitable initiative encourages people to make donations to improve equal education opportunities. Long began his career in St. Louis in 2008 and played for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last season. Long's foundation has selected four organizations whose missions focus on making education easily accessible to underserved youth while also providing students the support they need to develop strong social and emotional character.

The four organizations are based in the three communities in which Long has played during his NFL career. The city that raises the most money during the season will receive an additional $50,000 donation.

"There's a lot of opportunities to help out and they're wonderful organizations," Long said. "We have such a great platform as football players and hopefully fans get behind it."

Long grew up in Charlottesville and starred in high school at St. Anne's-Belfield before going to the University of Virginia. He was moved to start the scholarship program following the violent protests in Charlottesville in August.

"Our hometown is a wonderful place and I feel like people got the wrong idea about what the residents of Charlottesville are all about," he said.

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Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski's never suffered a break like the one Gordon Hayward did on Tuesday night, but he has been through enough to know what lies ahead as the Celtics forward stares at a lengthy recovery period.

"I saw it. I mean, I wish him nothing but wellness," Gronkowski said on Wednesday. "Hopefully he heals ASAP. You never want to see that with a player in any sport. When my friend showed me that last night, you get that feeling in your body, like, your heart drops. I wish him well.

"I can't wait to see him back. I know he's going to bounce back. Being here in Boston, he's going to be a hard worker it feels like. I can't wait to see him back."

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Multiple back surgeries, a plate in his arm, a surgically-repaired ACL . . . Gronkowski has put in his share of rehabilitation work. Asked if he'd give Hayward any advice as he embarks on his road back to normalcy, Gronkowski's message was simple.

"Just go into rehab just like you go into anything else. Dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you're 100 percent . . . He wouldn't be where he is now if he wasn't a hard worker. I don't know the guy. Never met him. But it's not something you want to see as an athlete happen to anyone else."

Gronkowski acknowledged that in his experience, one of the biggest hurdles following an injury like that is the mental one. You quickly go from being a powerful athlete to a patient in need of help with even the smallest of tasks. 

"There is a big mental challenge, definitely, with that," Gronkowski explained. "It's not just not being able to be with your teammates and all that. It's outside of football, too. Because it takes away your whole life, going out like that . . . You can't do anything. You can't walk. You gotta have people do [things for you]. You get really frustrated. You just want the people around you to help you out and keep you in the best mindset throughout the whole process."

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