Patriots

Patriots HOFers Brown, Harrison back on the field in Foxboro this week when training camp begins

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Patriots HOFers Brown, Harrison back on the field in Foxboro this week when training camp begins

As the Patriots return to training camp this week, they'll be plenty of familiar faces getting back to work and some new additions. 

Among those who know they're way around the fields in Foxboro and will be out there again are a Patriots Hall of Famer and soon-to-be Pats HOFer, Troy Brown and Rodney Harrison. 

Brown, the former versatile receiver inducted into the team's Hall in 2012, will be on the field working with receivers again, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. While not officially on the coaching staff, Brown worked with first-round pick N'Keal Harry, free-agent signee Maurice Harris and veteran Julian Edelman, along with other receivers at minicamp in June. He's lent a hand to Bill Belichick and special teams coach Joe Judge, who is also doubling as receivers coach after several staff departures in the offseason. Brown's former teammate Jerod Mayo is on the staff and will work with linebackers.

Harrison, who will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame at a Gillette Stadium ceremony on July 29 along with late offensive lineman Leon Gray, is scheduled to arrive on Thursday, when the team begins practices. While not coaching, Harrison, the former hard-hitting safety who now works for NBC as an NFL analyst, will be a visitor on the field and is never shy about sharing his insights and opinions, such as going into the Pats Hall means more than being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall in Canton.

"To get named a Hall of Famer to the greatest organization in sport ever, it just means so much to me," Harrison told Reiss. "I'm still stunned. I can't believe I'm in the Patriots Hall of Fame. All I can do is shake my head at this point."

As for the current edition of the Patriots, Harrison expects them to be in a familiar position:  "I know Kansas City is really good...but I still think the Pats are the best team in the AFC."

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NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

Love 'em or hate 'em, the New England Patriots garner the attention of the masses.

That was evident during last year's AFC Championship game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, when an average crowd of 53.9 million people tuned in to watch the Patriots win in an overtime thriller and advance to Super Bowl 53.

To put that into perspective, this year's late-window matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers drew only 42.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily.

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Of course, much of that discrepancy has to do with Pats-Chiefs being far more competitive than Packers-Niners. Plenty of viewers likely tuned out of the latter matchup when San Francisco led Green Bay 27-0 at halftime.

Even so, it just goes to show how much more attention is paid to the NFL playoffs when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England is involved. This year's AFC Championship featuring the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs marked the first without the Patriots since 2011, and it was the smallest audience (41.1 million) for an AFC title game in 11 years.

In comparison, the early game in 2019 (Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints) averaged roughly 44 million.

The Chiefs and 49ers will meet in Miami for Super Bowl 54. It'll be interesting to see how those ratings compare to last year's Patriots-Rams matchup.

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George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle had a little fun with his quarterback after the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game to clinch a berth in Super Bowl LIV.

The All-Pro tight end showed up to his postgame press conference with a custom t-shirt that included a shirtless photo and autograph of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Check it out in the tweet below:

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Garoppolo was asked by reporters about Kittle's shirt, and he couldn't hold back his laughter.

“I got him earlier in the week with a shirt, showed it to the media and everything, so he had to get me back a little bit," a smiling Garoppolo said, per 95.7 The Game. "I thought it was a nice shirt he had on. Maybe we’ll get them in the team store soon.”

Garoppolo is no stranger to the Super Bowl. He made two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, and in two weeks he'll make his first start on that stage.

The 49ers quarterback hasn't had to play at an elite level for his team to reach the Super Bowl, but that should change in Miami on Feb. 2. The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs have an offense that looks unstoppable right now, so Garoppolo likely will need to play one of his best games as a pro to give San Francisco a strong chance to win its sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

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