Patriots

Ben Watson: Rob Gronkowski's retirement didn't factor into Patriots return

Ben Watson: Rob Gronkowski's retirement didn't factor into Patriots return

FOXBORO -- Benjamin Watson is back with the New England Patriots, and he arrived at a good time.

The Patriots are in a transition period at tight end after the offseason departures of Rob Gronkowski (retirement) and Dwayne Allen (released). They didn't select a tight end in the 2019 NFL Draft and haven't added a top-tier tight end via trade or free agency. Watson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are New England's two most notable tight end additions since Gronkowski retired. 

Watson was among the tight ends at Thursday's OTA session at Gillette Stadium, and he was asked if Gronkowski's retirement influenced his decision to return to the Patriots.

"No, I was retired. I considered myself retired," Watson said. "I was processing as such and moving forward as such until late in April. That wasn’t a factor for me."

Watson said he started looking at different opportunities after retiring, including roles in player development and broadcasting, but he ultimately chose to put himself back on the market, and there were only two teams he gave real consideration to signing with.

“I was retired. I was done for a few months," Watson said. "Around I would say, late April, early May I started thinking about it and made myself available. There were really only two places I would consider playing, coming back here and playing in New Orleans. Once I made myself available I got a call, and I thought it would be an interesting opportunity.”

Watson spent the first six seasons of his career in New England after the Patriots drafted him at the end of the first round in 2004. His quarterback then was Tom Brady, and nothing has changed in that regard despite nearly 10 years passing since Watson left for the Cleveland Browns. Brady was not present at OTAs on Thursday, and Watson had absolutely no issue with that. 

"Look, what is it? Is it May? Yeah, it's May. We have plenty of time. This is just the beginning," Watson said. "There are going to be guys who are in and out. I'll be in and out. We've got family things. We train different places in the offseason. It's still very early. Everybody is trying to compete and compile their best team right now, 32 cities around the league. We have plenty of time here, but while we're here, we're definitely trying to get better."

Watson and Brady will be back together in action when the Patriots hold mandatory minicamp June 4-6.

Observations from Thursday's Patriots OTA session>>>

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Patriots legend Richard Seymour opens up about poker career

Patriots legend Richard Seymour opens up about poker career

When athletes retire from the sport they've played their whole lives, it's natural for them to miss the competition. That feeling is no different for former Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour.

The Hall-of-Fame hopeful, though, has chosen a unique way to get the competitive juices flowing. On July 11, he finished an impressive 131st at the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas, taking home $59,295. 

"Once you’re done playing football you still have a competitive drive,” Seymour told Yahoo! Sports. “Poker is an outlet for me where I have a competitive drive, you have to be very cerebral. It requires a lot like it did for me in football – I have to be patient, I have to know how to pick my spots, pay attention to guys’ tendencies. It was just a natural progression after leaving sports at a high level.”

Seymour, according to Yahoo! Sports, learned how to play poker from his father and picked it up at a competitive level shortly after he retired from the NFL in 2012. In last week's WSOP, he peaked at $3.6 million. Seymour said he's used his Super Bowl ring as a chip holder to intimidate competitors at the poker table. He also said he takes advantage of his status as a football legend, often bluffing when opponents assume he'll be an aggressive player. 

“Some guys play me differently because they say, ‘If I knock Richard Seymour out it’s a cool story to tell my buddies’,” he said. “Which I don’t mind that, it just depends on how I’m feeling that day...“My temperament fits poker well; I’m naturally kind of reserved, I’m not super emotional one way or another, so if bad things happen, which they’re going to in poker, it’s about how do you respond?”

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Patriots involved in 3 of top-10 most-watched sporting events of 2019

Patriots involved in 3 of top-10 most-watched sporting events of 2019

Hate them or love them, America has watched the Patriots more than any other team — in any sport — in 2019.

According to sportsmediawatch.com, all 10 of the most-watched sporting events of 2019 were NFL games. No World Series, Stanley Cup Final or NBA Finals games made the list. Of the 10 highest-rated events, three of them included the Patriots. 

Unsurprisingly, the Super Bowl matchup between the Pats and Los Angeles Rams topped the list with more than 100 million viewers including online streams (in parentheses). Both New England's AFC Championship game against the Chiefs and its Division Round contest with the Chargers also cracked the top-10. 

The television ratings suggest that the NFL is still head-and-shoulders above other leagues in popularity, and the Patriots are leading the charge. 

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