Patriots Notes: Tight Ends In The News

A look at the Patriots including; Gronkowski's TV gig, Daniel Fells' thoughts and more...

Gronkowski has summertime TV gig

   Tight end Rob Gronkowski, According to Entertainment Weekly, is among those taking part in FOX's new celebrity dating show "The Choice." Other notable NFL names to appear include Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp.

   The show, which has already been taped, debuts on FOX on June 7, just a few days before New England's veteran mini-camp in Foxborough. Five episodes will include male celebrities, such as Gronkowski, going on dates with female contestants. One episode will feature female celebrities, including Carmen Electra.

   --LB Rob Ninkovich, Team IMPACT and Tufts University's football team got together for a special day for South Hadley, Mass., eight-year-old Riley Roman May 2.

   Roman, who's been living at the Ronald McDonald House as he undergoes treatment for a brain tumor, struck up a strong connection and friendship with Ninkovich when the linebacker visited the Dana Farber Cancer Institute last year.

   Team IMPACT (goTeamIMPACT.org) is a non-profit that's committed to connecting children with life-threatening illnesses to a team-based support system. The charity has four Tufts alumni on its board of directors, including International Forest Products President and CEO Dan Kraft.

   Roman's dream day included a "Combine" at Tufts, camera crews, a pep band and cheerleaders as the boy was made an honorary member of the Jumbos football team, including his own No. 64 jersey.

   "Rob's not doing this for the TV cameras or the notoriety," Kraft told ESPNBoston.com. "He's doing it because there's a real close affection and affinity between them."

   Team IMPACT, which celebrates its one-year anniversary on Mother's Day, hopes to continue to build similar relationships between college athletic teams and children in the future.

   "A big part of the concept is to provide the support, team camaraderie and the connection that you get through the vibrant, youthful teams and offer this to Riley through his battle," said Jay Calnan, another Tufts graduate and Team IMPACT board member. "Riley is a shining example of how this program works."

   --Though the deals were not made official prior to New England's May 10-12 rookie mini-camp, various reports indicated that the Patriots had reached contracts with undrafted free agents including Rutgers' defensive lineman Justin Francis, Kentucky wide receiver Matt Roark, Iowa tight end Brad Herman, Iowa tackle Markus Zusevics, South Florida offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren, Miami defensive tackle Marcus Forston and Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden.

   --Patriots Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett will be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Birmingham on May 12. Tippett was born in Birmingham and lived there until he was seven before moving to New Jersey. He also spent many summers with family in Alabama.

   --TE Daniel Fells met with the New England media for the first time since signing a free agent deal with the team earlier this offseason. Fells is a fifth-year veteran who spent last season in Denver, where he started 15 games and 19 passes. He'll offer the Patriots a legitimate backup to All-Pro Rob Gronkowski and budding star pass catcher Aaron Hernandez, something the team lacked a year ago. While Gronkowski and Hernandez will remain focal points of the offense, Fells feels like he can find a role for himself with his sixth NFL team.

   "Traditionally, just looking at this offense, Tom's going to find the open man," Fells said. "That's definitely something that appeals to everybody.

   "From an offensive standpoint they go out there and they put up points, they find the open man, it's not just about one player, like you have two good tight ends. There's not a lot of teams that use both tight ends and get them all kinds of catches. There's usually just one guy that stands out, and you have a bunch of players that are standing out on this offense."

   --WR Troy Brown joins former FS Fred Marion and Coach Bill Parcells as the three finalists for the Patriots team 2012 hall of fame induction. The final inductee will be decided by a fan vote on Patriots.com between now and May 31. Brown, a fan favorite in his 15 seasons in New England as a wide receiver, punt returner and even a defensive back, is likely to get the call.
   Having gone to five Super Bowls with the Patriots and owning three title rings, how does the versatile Brown hope he's remembered?
   "I think I've said this before," Brown said. "Maybe not the tallest or biggest or fastest or strongest or whatever, but just the best football player. Not the outstanding wide receiver or most outstanding punt returner, but I think overall pound-for-pound and everything else, best football player. I feel like I could do everything pretty well. It didn't matter to me what coach asked me to do -- if it was go in there and block, I just enjoyed playing the game."

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "There is no asterisk." -- Former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel in response to Baltimore coach John Harbaugh's recent comments about New England's three "tainted" Super Bowl titles

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