Patriots

Former Patriots DE Chris Long wins Walter Payton Man of the Year award

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Former Patriots DE Chris Long wins Walter Payton Man of the Year award

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, a member of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LI-winning squad, was named Saturday night by the NFL as the winner of its prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award, honoring a player's humanitarianism and excellence on the field.

Long has garnered world-wide praise for his Waterboys foundation, which brings clean drinking water in underdeveloped countries, as well as the foundation's "Conquering Kili" program, which brings military veterans and NFL players together to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjiro, inspired by his first ascent of the world-renowned mountain years ago. Long also donated all 16 of his game checks this season to helping low-income children, essentially playing for free in 2018.

Long took time to thank the city of Boston in his acceptance speech, which closed out the awards show.

"I see it as more of a challenge than an accomplishment," Long said to the other 31 nominees in his speech. "To be who we say we are, not just on easy nights like this, but when nobody’s watching. For all the evils in the world, I think that apathy is the most dangerous."

Long, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, signed a one-year deal with the Patriots in 2016 on a cap-friendly deal and proceeded to win his first Super Bowl ring. He signed with Philadelphia the following season, and opposed New England in Super Bowl LII, which was won by the Eagles.

His ties to Boston go back a ways. Long's father Howie, one of the NFL's all-time greatest defensive linemen, was raised in Charlestown and attended high school in suburban Milford.

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Former Patriot Marquis Flowers tweets frustration over Super Bowl LII loss

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USA Today Sports

Former Patriot Marquis Flowers tweets frustration over Super Bowl LII loss

Marquis Flowers played just one season with the New England Patriots, and he's seems pretty frustrated it didn't end with a Super Bowl title. 

In Flowers' one season in New England, the Patriots (surprise, surprise) reached Super Bowl LII, but lost to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick surprisingly benched star cornerback Malcolm Butler in that game, and there's never been a great explanation for the decision. The Patriots defense, without Butler, had trouble slowing down Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns en route to a Super Bowl MVP award.

Flowers recently fired off some tweets about Super Bowl LII, and he clearly isn't happy with how the game unfolded. 

Flowers also reacted to a tweet about the final play of Super Bowl LII, where the Patriots' Hail Mary attempt fell short.

The Patriots bounced back and won Super Bowl LIII last season, but this loss to the Eagles is always going to hurt, especially for players such as Flowers who left New England before the 2018 campaign.

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Kyle Rudolph says there was never 'any real opportunity' with Patriots

Kyle Rudolph says there was never 'any real opportunity' with Patriots

Before Kyle Rudolph agreed to a contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings on June 10, many believed he'd wind up with the New England Patriots.

The Patriots needed someone to fill Rob Gronkowski's massive shoes at tight end, after all, and Rudolph played his college ball under former New England defensive coordinator Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.

But Rudolph insists there was no real merit to reports that he'd join the Patriots other than pundits simply connecting dots.

"I don't know how real those trade possibilities were,” Rudolph told the MMQB's Albert Breer. "But, like you said, I played for Charlie. So for me, I've kind of followed that organization from afar since 2008 when I got my first Notre Dame playbook and we watched cut-ups from the Patriots offense that we were running.

"I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for what they've done over the last two decades. But I don't know that there was ever any real opportunity there."

From a football standpoint, it appears Rudolph would have a had real opportunity to thrive in New England; the two-time Pro Bowler would have been quarterback Tom Brady's No. 1 tight end in an offense that leans heavily on the position. (Remember when Tim Wright caught a career-high six touchdowns for the Patriots in 2014?)

But it's unlikely the Patriots would have matched the four-year, $36 million contract the Vikings gave Rudolph, who clearly desired to remain with the team that drafted him.

That means New England must look elsewhere for tight end help after Benjamin Watson's four-game suspension, Austin Seferian-Jenkins' release and a failed trade with the Detroit Lions for Michael Roberts.

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