FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Hall of Fame presenter pick: When former Patriots cornerback Ty Law is officially inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in early August, his longtime friend Byron “Book” Washington will be his presenter. For the player with 53 career picks, this 54th pick was an easy one.
“My best friend in the world, like a biological twin brother, from when we were 1 year old,” Law said. “We grew up across the street from one another. Any experience that I had, closer to anyone in my life, he knows everything — all the good, where all the bones are buried. That’s my guy through thick and thin.
“If my grandfather was alive and here, it would be a no-brainer, as far as the impact in my life, but I couldn’t think of anyone else who knows me like Byron does.”
Their bond traces to Wykes Street in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, when Law would race kids around the neighborhood and most often beat them handily. They played together on the Little Quips football team, and when Law’s roommate moved out his final year at Michigan, Washington relocated to Ann Arbor and moved in because Law didn’t want to live with anyone else.
As kids, they dreamed of one day playing in the NFL, and becoming Hall of Famers. So when it actually happens Aug. 3 for Law, 45, it’s fitting that “Book” will help him write the final gold-jacket chapter.
“It’s like we share the same blood,” Law said, “because we share the same thoughts.”
2. Suspension created split between Edelman and dad: The thing that stood out the most to me from Julian Edelman‘s “100%” documentary, which aired Friday on Showtime, was that he went 81 days without talking to his father, Frank, after the Patriots receiver had been handed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy. Father and son are close — with that relationship at the heart of the documentary — but the suspension and its aftermath put a temporary wedge between them. When Julian called to apologize on the 81st day, they came together again, and Frank (who always pushed his son hard) was instrumental in helping him stay sharp during the suspension.
3. Leftovers from Edelman’s premiere: A few things of note from Edelman’s red-carpet premiere at Showcase Cinema in Foxborough on Thursday:
Robert Kraft, here on the red carpet to support Julian Edelman. pic.twitter.com/zWEhbFFZyg
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) June 27, 2019
Edelman said filmmaking is one of his passions, with the documentary providing a preview of what he might pursue in his post-playing career. “We have some stuff in the making coming up. I’m definitely interested in getting into the producing game.”
Edelman’s father, Frank, couldn’t make the trip from their native California as he is recovering from hip surgery.
Snoop Dogg was a celebrity guest, and he pointed out how he first met Edelman at the Patriots’ Super Bowl party a few years ago, and they connected over their California roots and the idea that both are underdogs.
Snoop Dogg, on the red carpet, talks about the time he first met Julian Edelman at the Patriots’ Super Bowl party a few years ago. pic.twitter.com/aZ6CPaKxDd
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) June 27, 2019
4. A first after Patriots’ sixth title — no White House visit: After the Patriots won their first five Super Bowls, they visited the White House on the following dates:
April 2, 2002
May 10, 2004
April 13, 2005
April 23, 2015
April 19, 2017
The club hasn’t visited this year, and now that April and May have passed, it makes a sixth visit more of a logistical challenge, in part because players and coaches are taking final vacations before the start of training camp.
That might be a disappointment to some who would cherish the experience, but at the same time, it eliminates some of the recent hubbub involving teams from all sports in which who attends or doesn’t attend becomes a bigger story than the actual White House visit itself.
5. Coaching staff bears watching: One of my takeaways from spring practices — in which former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk and receivers Troy Brown and Deion Branch were on the field to help run drills — was that coach Bill Belichick is still exploring how best to comprise/finalize his staff. For example, when special-teams/wide receivers coach Joe Judge devotes himself to a special-teams drill, who is working with the receivers at that time? Anyone who has watched a camp practice knows there is little wasted time, and it’s not as if receivers not involved in special teams would simply sit idle. So if Branch, Brown or Faulk are ready to make a jump into professional coaching — which is a significant time investment and major change from what they have been doing — it seems like a spot is waiting for them in a year when Belichick has more coaching roles to fill than the norm. That coaching-staff picture should become more clear in the coming weeks.
6. Bond between Gilmore and Law grows: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Law were part of Kraft’s trip to Israel earlier this month, providing a springboard for them to strengthen a growing bond. At one point, Kraft was explaining to Gilmore how many big plays Law made — specifically referencing his 47-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI — and at another point Gilmore made reference to how Law should be talked about in the same sentence as Deion Sanders. The respect that Gilmore showed Law — especially as he talked about wearing his No. 24 — was meaningful to the soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer.
“You never know what people think of you. It means a lot that he is respectful and enjoyed watching me play,” Law said. “We talk over the season and he’ll ask questions. He’s one of the top cornerbacks in football, and his willingness to learn and want to talk about football — and how he can get better — that shows you the character he has. And how humble he is.”
7. Filling Easterby’s void: The departure of team development/character coach Jack Easterby to take an executive vice president position in Houston — as well as his contributions in helping create a positive locker-room culture and helping Josh Gordon, among other things — has been well documented. But similar to a situation with a player leaving in free agency, the show must go on in New England, and recent weeks presented a good example. Patriots rookies took their annual visit to Children’s Hospital (in 2018, the image of Easterby swaying side to side with rookies as they sang “Stand By Me” was indelible) as part of the program in which the club helps them transition to life as a pro. From the looks of it, the Patriots are filling Easterby’s void with a combination of staff members.
8. Did You Know: Tom Brady has started every game in 15 different seasons, which is third all-time for a quarterback. Only Brett Favre (17) and Peyton Manning (16) have more.
9. Williams a reminder that “safe” picks still come with risk: Belichick and Nick Caserio would be two of the few who could confirm this, but I feel confident saying that Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams (No. 11, Bengals) was one of their top-rated players in this year’s draft from a “safe pick” standpoint. Williams was dependable and durable in starting 44 games, had strong intangibles, and would have appealed to New England because he hardly ever made a mental mistake. So news from this past week that Williams will likely miss the entire season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder was a reminder that even the safest picks come with risk, and why building depth across the roster — a Belichick staple — is so crucial.
10. One more spot to fill: The Patriots have 90 players on their roster, but fullback Jakob Johnson doesn’t count against the limit because he was assigned to the club as part of the NFL’s International Pathway program. Veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer‘s retirement (because of a prior hip injury) contributed to the opening, so adding one more player is one small piece of business for the Patriots to handle before rookies report July 21 and the first public training-camp practice July 25. Tight end is one position that could use a depth boost, even if it’s a rookie free agent to help reduce the workload on Matt LaCosse and Benjamin Watson atop the depth chart.
Extra point: The next quick-hits piece is scheduled for mid-July.