Former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork is one of a handful of athletes who will appear in this year’s edition of ESPN: The Magazine’s “Body Issue.”

The big fella, who played in New England for 11 years prior to the start of the 2015 season, is part of a group of athletes posing for the issue, which will hit newsstands in early July.

Wilfork told Texans PR: “I know I don’t have the six-packs and the eight-packs and all that … but I’m perfectly fine with what I am. … If people can look at me, look at a guy that’s 325-plus doing an issue like this, I’m pretty sure they might have a little confidence after seeing that it’s OK to be who you are.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater has carved out a nice niche as the Patriots special teams captain. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has been a three-time All-Pro, emerging as one of the best special teamers in the game.

But his father, Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, said this week he tried to do everything he could to steer him away from the game at an early age.

“I did everything to discourage the football end of sports,” Jackie said on the Talk of Fame Network, “but he just kept gravitating back toward it. Basketball he played. Soccer he played. Those sports just weren’t exciting enough for him. He liked a lot of action.

“I just didn’t think he was big enough,” Jackie added. “When I was 13 years old I was six feet tall and I weighed 245. And I was wearing a size-42 in the waist and a 32 in the inseam. He wasn’t headed in that direction at all, and I’ve always seen football as a big man’s game — always felt a big man is better than a good little man.”

He said: “So I didn’t think he was going to be able to fit in, and I certainly wasn’t going to be able to help him as a little guy because I didn’t know anything about what he was doing. So it was just kind of my deal to discourage him and encourage him in a different direction.”

While Jackie is a Hall of Famer and one of the most respected players in recent NFL history, Matthew has been able to one-up his Dad in terms of Super Bowl wins. It’s one of several reasons he remains proud of his son and what he’s been able to accomplish in his eight-year career with the Patriots.

“If you had told me I’d be watching that young man do some of the things he’s doing,” Jackie said, “I never would’ve believed it.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Terrance Knighton is living the dream of any youngster who grew up rooting for the Patriots.</p>
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Unless something truly crazy happens, Tom Brady will again be the oldest guy on the New England roster this season. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Unless something truly crazy happens, Tom Brady will again be the oldest guy on the New England roster this season. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

1. Tracking the overall age of the Patriots roster is something we’ve had some fun with over the last few years at this point on the calendar, and with New England done with the spring portion of the offseason workout program, it’s a good a time as any to measure the state of the current Patriots roster, which sits at 89 players.

Let’s make sure we all understand one thing here: these numbers will change between now and the start of the regular season — the team-building process will inevitably bring some shuffling of personnel, while the roster has to be cut from 89 to 53 prior to the start of the year. But as things stand on the precipice of the summer break, here’s how things break down.

June 2016 — average age of Patriots roster: 25.6
June 2015 — average age of Patriots roster: 26.3
June 2014 — average age of Patriots roster: 25.3
May 2013 — average age of Patriots roster: 25.3

3 quarterbacks — average age: 28
June 2015 — 3 QBs, average age: 27.7
June 2014 — 3 QBs, average age: 28
May 2013 — average age: 28

6 tight ends — average age: 25.7
June 2015 — 6 TEs, average age 26.3
June 2014 — 5 TEs, average age: 24
May 2013 — average age: 25

15 offensive linemen — average age: 25
June 2015 — 14 OL, average age: 24.9
June 2014 — 14 OL, average age: 25.7
May 2013 — average age: 26

9 running backs — average age: 25.7
June 2015 — 8 RBs, average age: 25
June 2014 — 8 RBs, average age: 23.5
May 2013 — average age: 25

10 wide receivers — average age: 25.9
June 2015 — 10 WRs, average age: 25.3
June 2014 — 11 WRs, average age: 24.8
May 2013 — average age: 25

5 special teamers — average age: 27.8
June 2015 — 4 STs, average age: 27
June 2014 — 4 STs, average age: 25.25
May 2013 — average age: 25

9 cornerbacks — average age: 23.9
June 2015 — 7 CBs, average age: 25.3
June 2014 — 6 CBs, average age: 25.8
May 2013 — average age: 25

8 defensive backs — average age: 25
June 2015 — 9 DBs, average age: 24.2
June 2014 — 11 DBs, average age: 24.1
May 2013 — average age: 25

14 defensive linemen — average age: 26.4
June 2015 — 15 DL, average age 25.1
June 2014 — 16 DL, average age: 25.5
May 2013 — average age: 25

10 linebackers — average age: 24.9
June 2015 — 14 LBs, average age 25.2
June 2014 — 12 LBs, average age: 24.9
May 2013 — average age: 26

Here are a few things that stand out about those numbers:

2. The biggest changes in average age came on the defensive side of the ball. At corner, the decision to go after so many cornerbacks (either as draft picks or undrafted free agents) the last two years caused a dip in the average age at the cornerback spot, which now has the lowest average age of any position on the team. That could change once cuts come and some of the younger players are released. But the age difference at the corner position now compared to the last few years is pretty dramatic. Likewise for the defensive line position, which saw a spike with the additions of Chris Long and Terrance Knighton and the decision to deal Chandler Jones. That position saw the largest average increase in age at any position on the team when compared to last June.

3. This will mark the fifth consecutive year Brady will be the oldest player on the New England roster. (The last time Brady wasn’t the oldest player on the New England roster was at the end of the 2011 season, when offensive lineman Brian Waters, defensive lineman Shaun Ellis and running back Kevin Faulk were all on the team at the time, and all older than the quarterback.) As we noted here, the biggest age difference on the roster is between the 38-year-old Brady (who will turn 39 in August) and Cre’von LeBlanc, a 21-year-old who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on July 25th. To put that into perspective, LeBlanc was seven years old when Brady and the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI.

3. The Patriots have 11 players on the roster age 30 or older — including four defensive linemen (Rob Ninkovich, Alan Branch, Markus Kuhn and Chris Long), as well as three full-time wide receivers (Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Nate Washington) and one part-timer (Matthew Slater). That plus-30 number has vacillated wildly over the last few seasons: at this time last year, the Patriots had six players on the roster age 30 or older. In the spring of 2014, they had nine players 30 or older.

4. Two more notes when it comes to the news of Mike Lombardi and the Patriots deciding to go separate ways:

a) When Lombardi was with NFL Media before jumping back into the game to work as a GM in 2013, he was known as an unofficial sounding board for Bill Belichick. The two had a longtime friendship that dated back many years, and although Lombardi wasn’t technically working with him, it was well established that Belichick trusted his judgment and wisdom. With the news from Mike Reiss that Lombardi is expected to land a media job — likely with his old colleague Bill Simmons — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Belichick seek out Lombardi’s counsel from time to time in the same fashion that he did before he landed in Foxboro. (For what it’s worth, we fully endorse this move, especially if Lombardi returns to speak with Simmons on an occasional podcast. Lombardi was one of the best regular guests Simmons had on the old “B.S. Report,” and it would be especially great to hear form him now that he had two years working in direct contact with Belichick.

b) One Tweeter asked me Friday night when the news broke if the Patriots were going to fill the position with a new face. Belichick has occasionally sought out front-office veterans who he was close with to help provide guidance — prior to Lombardi, Floyd Reese was also on staff with the front office in a relatively similar capacity. From this viewpoint, this isn’t the sort of gig where the coach could simply hire someone who is available and have him do the same job. It has to be someone he respects, and someone he’s known for a long time. Taking a look around the league right now, on the surface, there probably aren’t too many of those types out there. But it’ll be interesting to see if he does bring in a veteran sounding board to try and serve as an occasional counterpoint moving forward.

5. Take it with a grain of salt, but according to this report, the Patriots will be wearing all red when it comes to their participation in NFL Rush in this season’s Thursday Night Football. New England will be playing Houston in Foxboro on Sept. 22 as part of its “TNF” obligation. Say what you will about the idea of an all red uniform, but from the Patriots’ perspective, it’s probably more palatable than the idea of all blue. The all blue uniforms were a brief experiment by the franchise in 2002, but they were quickly ditched. (The fact that New England lost both games in all blue likely hastened the demise of the idea.)

6. Jimmy Kempski, who covers the Eagles, has always been one of our favorite out-of-town writers for his sense of humor and his knack for finding interesting numbers. His latest looks at giveaways over the last five years, and according to Kempski’s list, the Patriots have the fewest number of giveaways over the last five seasons with 80, including just 13 in 2014. The Niners (83), Seahawks (90), Packers (95) and Panthers (106) round out the top 5. At the other end of the spectrum are the Eagles at 161, including a whopping 38 last season. The Jets (148), Bucs (145), Raiders (14) and Giants and Cardinals (both at 138) make up the back of the pack.

7. The Bill Belichick Foundation continues to see the results of its work spring up all over the globe. Amanda Belichick, the daughter of the head coach, Tweeted out this picture on Saturday of “Bill Belichick Field” opening in Uganda earlier in the week. Setting aside the fact that a member of the Belichick family has a working social media account, it’s a truly remarkable story; the program “Fields of Growth” was awarded a $10,000 grant in 2014 via the foundation to build a lacrosse field, and the group decided to name it in honor of the coach. The field was completed recently, and used for the first time just the other day. Last year, the foundation doubled its giving, distributing over $300,000 in grants and scholarships. When it comes to 2016, applications just closed, and this year’s winners will be announced in the late summer or early fall.

8. The Panthers wrapped up their offseason workout program this week, and one of the topics they addressed was the Curse of the Super Bowl loser. No team in the last 43 years who lost the Super Bowl came back to win it the next year. (The 1972 Dolphins were the last team to turn the trick.) In fact, the last team to lose the Super Bowl and even make it back to the big game the following year was the 1993 Bills. Carolina wasn’t haven’t any of that talk when the players and coaches met with the media this week at the conclusion of spring workouts. “We’re a very prideful bunch, and we know the ultimate goal wasn’t completed,” coach Ron Rivera told reporters on Thursday. “That more than anything else is what drives us. If you want to consider it a chip on our shoulders, then so be it. It’s very true. The ultimate goal is to win it, not just to get there, but to win it. We didn’t accomplish that.” The good news for Carolina fans? The last seven Super Bowl losers did make the playoffs the following year.

9. One of the staples of the NFL calendar at this time of year has been the rookie symposium, but the league has decided that things will be a little different this year. In years past, teams have sent all their drafted players to a central location in hopes of teaching rookies about the pitfalls that can come with playing in the NFL. (Of course, this is where the infamous Cris Carter-fall guy speech took place.) This year, teams are taking more of a lead in the transitional process. Teams have been asked to coordinate a series of on-site events in late June in place of the symposium, and individual franchises will be responsible for addressing players on things like social responsibility, respect at work, mental health, character and values and player engagement resources. That means locally, rookies will be part of a program in Foxboro as opposed to one held on a league-wide scale. For what it’s worth, the Patriots do much of the stuff that is part of a rookie training program earlier in the spring, which includes visits to the Patriots Hall of Fame.

10. No current Patriots appear in this promotional video, but given that former New England defensive lineman Vince Wilfork makes an appearance and it’s Father’s Day, this feels like a good note to end on. Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

#SnapFace > Last night, Tom Brady appeared on Gisele’s snapchat for the 1st time via @OnlyInBOS pic.twitter.com/sQJ03hHiWf

Mike Lombardi, who spent the last two seasons working as an assistant to the Patriots coaching staff, has decided to part ways with the franchise, according to a source.

Mike Lombardi spent two years with the Patriots. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Mike Lombardi spent two years with the Patriots. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Mike Lombardi, who spent the last two seasons working as an assistant to the Patriots coaching staff, has decided to part ways with the franchise, according to a source.

Lombardi was hired by Bill Belichick following a short stint as GM of the Browns in 2013, as well as a four-year stretch as a member of NFL Media (2008-2012). In addition, Lombardi spent a stretch of time in the Oakland front office as well (199-2007) as well as Philly (1997-98).

Over the last two years, Lombardi was thought to be responsible for helping bring in a few of role players who grew into important puzzle pieces with the Patriots, including running back Dion Lewis and defensive end Jabaal Sheard.

The news was first reported by Mike Reiss of ESPN.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Apparently Tom Brady is a fan of Steph Curry’s new “straight fire” shoes.

The quarterback posted a picture on Facebook Thursday night watching the NBA Finals with the shoes on and the caption: My straight [fire emoji] weapons of choice this week… Locked in to watch Curry and LeBron, two of the greatest, face off tonight! ‪#‎letsgoooooo‬

Curry and Brady are both Under Armour clients.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft is already synonymous with winning in football, and apparently he wants to expand his empire to include the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

According to a report on ESPN, Kraft is part of a group attempting to buy the UFC in a deal that could top $4 billion. The report, from business reporter Darren Rovell, said that Kraft and other investors have agreed to put up $25 million to $50 million each with WME-IMG in conjunction with Dalian Wanda Group. WME is co-chaired by Ari Emanuel, reportedly the inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold character on HBO’s Entourage.

A group of investors from China are also in the running for the wildly successful UFC, the brainchild of former Boston resident Dana White.

The UFC, which has made crossover stars out of fighters like Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Chuck Liddell, reportedly grossed over $600 million last year.

Bidding is drawing to a close and could be decided on Friday, ESPN reported.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Former Ravens defensive back Ed Reed was recently hired as an assistant coach by the Bills, which means things might get a little dicey in the Reed household twice a year.

Reed told the media Thursday that his son is a diehard Patriots fan.

“His mom is from Boston, though she’s not a Patriots fan. His grandmother lives up there, and the kid likes champions, man,” Reed said. “What can I say? I grew up in New Orleans, I loved my home [town] team, but I was a San Francisco [49ers] fan. I was a Joe [Montana] fan. So that’s just how it is.

“When you’re a kid and you’re watching sports growing up, who’s winning those championships? You tend to gravitate toward winners. Which is a good thing. It helps you from a work ethic standpoint, who you’re watching. Who wants to follow losers? Just saying.”

Reed said his son is “adjusting” to having his Dad work as an assistant coach for a division rival of one of his favorite teams.

“He’s adjusting, man,” Reed said. “When he came here, he left me some notes on the board. He’ll draw me some Bills stuff when I come home. It’s the best. But in his heart, I know.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price