By TomE. Curran
DALLAS - If Chad Ochocinco ever did play for the Patriots - and that's a titanic "if" - he believes Bill Belichick would let him continue to be the same outrageous, entertaining, real-life cartoon he's turned himself into. "(Belichick) knows if have a different style," Ochocinco said Tuesday during the closing moments of Super Bowl Media Day. "He also knows when it's time to play the game, I'm down to business. He knows that. Now my style is completely different than those others and he knows that."Despite Belichick knowing that, did he believe Belichick would attempt to rein him in and make him more Chad than Ocho?"I think he would allow me to be myself because when I'm allowed to be myself I'm at my best," he professed.
So far this offseason, Ocho's tenuous relationship with head coach Marvin Lewis has fractured further. Last week, he also swiped at Bengals owner Mike Brown, insinuating on Twitter that the employees in Cincinnati care more than the business owner about success. Ocho tried to cover his tracks on that front with his answer to my first question about Belichick. "We're very fond of each other," Ocho said of Belichick. "I have respect for him. It's out of my control. I have the utmost respect for Mike Brown and the organization. They are the ones that gave me my chance. They're the ones that gave me the chance to be in the NFL and wear those stripes. "While I'm under contract, I don't want to rub anyone the wrong way but I do have tremendous respect for Bill," Ocho added. "Not just him but everyone I've come into contact with or had the opportunity to speak to on a personal level. That's why we have such a fond respect for each other. Bill and I had a chance to meet in Hawaii. We had conversations that had nothing to do with football which is why our relationship is at the point it is now. People don't even understand."Probably not. ButOcho's constant flirtations - amusing and news foddery as they may be - are eventually going to get somebody's wrist slapped.Tom E. Curran canbe reached at email@example.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
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.
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."
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."