Patriots

Ricky Jean Francois thrilled to be with Patriots in 'Dunkin Donut heaven'

Ricky Jean Francois thrilled to be with Patriots in 'Dunkin Donut heaven'

FOXBORO -- If you like Dunkin Donuts . . . and you like football . . . New England isn't a bad place to be. That might explain all the smiling from Ricky Jean Francois in his first back-and-forth with Patriots reporters Thursday afternoon. 

"Believe me," he said. "That was one thing that popped in my mind. As soon as I got off the airplane it was like every block I hit I saw a Dunkin Donuts. I was like I came to Dunkin Donut heaven up here."

Jean Francois, a veteran defensive lineman who signed with the Patriots this week, is the proud owner of 30 Dunkin Donuts franchises. He said he hopes to one day own 50. He doesn't own any near the company's original location in Quincy, Mass., but his locations are concentrated along I-95 from Savannah, Georgia to Hilton Head South Carolina, he explained. 

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About three years ago, Jean Francois said he started to realize the importance of setting yourself up for life after football, and so he turned to Dunkin Donuts. 

"Everybody," he said, "drinks coffee."

The glazed-donut lover now shares a locker room with one of the most recognizable Dunkin Donuts pitchmen, Rob Gronkowski. 

"I love him because he’s got business booming now," Jean Francois said. "I tell him, every time I look at that commercial I smile. Every time you see it and I see Gronk, I’m like, "I’m making a whole lot of money just for seeing his pretty face.' "

"Yeah, I've got to take orders from him," Gronkowski said. "He might have to take orders from me. Maybe I'll bring in some coffees for him. I don't know. We'll figure it out but I did bring that up to him. Super cool and super neat."

Jean Francois may need a steady flow of caffeine in order to pick up the Patriots defensive playbook before Sunday night's game against the Broncos. When he entered the Patriots locker room late on Thursday afternoon, he did so with Lawrence Guy, who is among the new teammates helping him to learn Bill Belichick's system.

"That’s the biggest thing," Jean Francois said. "Anything can happen. They can throw me in that fire and if I don’t know that playbook, I don’t want to mess up something they have already going. That playbook is my best friend right now. That’s my wife, my girlfriend. That’s my everything."

The 30 Dunkin Donuts franchises that will surely give him some immediate cred with Patriots fans hooked on the stuff? Those will get his attention at a later date.

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Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

Chris Long doesn't put stock in Brady-Belichick drama. "It took everything to beat them."

In an interview with The Big Lead, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke on the drama surrounding Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

It's safe to say he doesn't put much stock into it

I just think any NFL team, any NFL locker room under a lot of stress over a year period, there are going to be storylines people can choose to kind of blow out of proportion or not pay attention to. I think everyone’s going to pay attention to sometimes really small issues. Whatever people are alluding to going on up there hasn’t affected their play, it hasn’t affected their bottom line. It hasn’t affected how they executed on Sundays. 

Long played with the Patriots during the 2016 season and won Super Bowl 51 with them before signing a two-year contract with the Eagles. The Eagles then went on to beat New England in Super Bowl 52. If anyone outside of the Patriots' locker room has an idea of the culture inside the past two years, Long has to be one of them. 

It took everything for us to beat them. It took a heroic performance by Nick Foles and we had to play our best game. So while everybody likes to always point to the Patriots as being under duress or there’s some drama in the locker room, there’s drama in every locker room that you could blow out of proportion. They’re just on top and those stories sell because they’ve been so great.

ESPN's Seth Wickersham released a story detailing some of the issues that arose in New England over the past few years in January, and with Brady missing almost all of the Patriots' voluntary workouts last month, some have started to wonder whether this is the end for one of both of Brady-Belichick. 

While their hasn't been much public acknowledgement from either side about the drama, but Long certainly doesn't see much substance to the noise. 

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Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction draws response from Tom Brady

Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction of the Jacksonville Jaguars taking over the AFC title from the Patriots and facing the Green Bay Packers in Atlanta in SB53 drew a response from Tom Brady on Instagram.

The NFL's official Instagram account posted a photo of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the prediction of Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys QB now the analyst on CBS' No. 1 NFL broadcast team. Here's a screenshot, complete with Brady's comment:

Appearing on the NFL Network earlier this week, Romo said rumors of a rift between Brady and coach Bill Belichick are overblown. “I think they probably squabble just like any married couple for 20 years, and then they also love each other.

“I just think when you work together for 15 to 20 years, whatever it is, I think that whenever you have the success that they have, people have to come up with stuff,” Romo said. “I also think that I’ve been upset with my coaches before, and then you come back and you’re fine. And then you get upset with them, and you come back and you’re fine. It’s a part of sports.”

Brady and the Patriots report to camp on July 26.

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