--LB Andre Tippett is less than a month away from finalizing his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his induction Aug. 2 in Canton. During a recent conference call held with the national media the former sackmaster recalled his two previous trips to Canton. The first came when Super Bowl XX runner-up New England played in the Hall of Fame Game during the 1986 preseason. The most recent occurred this spring when his role in the current Patriots organization saw him lead this year's rookie class to the Hall for a tour.
"Comparing it from '86 to now, the place is amazing," Tippett said. "And when you go through there, you talk about history and you have your history, know your history and respect the history of the people that have come before you, you have nothing but respect as you walk through this place and see the evolution of this game and how it's changed.
"It really truly is a great place. I kind of equate this place; I love golf, so I have seen the Masters and I recently just received my (Hall of Fame) jacket and my wife was laughing at it; she said, 'That looks like a Masters jacket.' I said, 'It doesn't cost a lot of money to get it, but this thing is really priceless.'
"And I think going through the Hall of Fame for me as a new inductee; it's priceless, and I'm just honored to be part of this."
--LB Mike Vrabel has always been an active member of the community, dating back to his days as a star at Ohio State. The All-Pro visits the school each offseason, part of the time spent working with the 2nd & 7 Foundation he formed with fellow former Buckeyes Ryan Miller and Luke Fickell. The foundation, established in 1998, promotes literacy in the central Ohio area.
"We were just trying to find something that was a little unique to help out kids with their education," Vrabel recently told the NFL Players Association website. "Our research showed the second grade as being the most effective age to have an impact [on literacy].
Through the program OSU students visit second grade classes each week to read to the students, discuss literacy and pass out books. This year, to mark the foundation's 10th anniversary, they published a book entitled "The Hob Mollies and the Pickle Pie Party." During the upcoming school year the foundation will distribute 50,000 copies of the book that teaches the value of leadership through cooperation and offers hope to disadvantaged students. The hope is that the book is the first in a yearly series.
"We will be going on different adventures in each book to teach children the importance of a different value," Vrabel said.
The Pro Bowler also hopes his work and the growth of the 2nd & 7 Foundation will inspire other athletes to try and give back.
"My goal would be to get more players and student-athletes to give back," Vrabel said, praising his alma mater. "It is so easy to do, especially with the help of your former college."
--QB Kevin O'Connell led an impressive performance by New England's rookie class in the "Ultimate Rookie Challenge" trivia contest at the three-and-a-half day NFL Rookie Symposium. The team's draft picks won the contest that included 32 questions on things like their NFL benefits package, some of the seminars on finance and life skills held at the event, as well as some general NFL trivia. Individual scores on the quizzes were then totaled for a group score, with the Patriots seven picks topping those of the 31 other teams' rookies.
Each pick was awarded a 32-inch flat screen TV for the effort, while O'Connell also earned an iPod for finished fourth overall among 252 players in attendance.
--LB Bo Ruud's rookie deal with New England, officially announced July 1, is a four-year pact for the sixth-round pick. Scout.com's Adam Caplan confirmed that the Nebraska star will earn minimum base salaries of $295,000, $385,000, $470,000 and $555,000 for 2008 through 2011 respectively. Ruud also received a signing bonus of $84,900.
They Said it: "It's a known fact that I've been referred to as the LT of the AFC or AT is the LT of the AFC; to me, it's all the same. I have so much respect for Lawrence Taylor. ... He was an amazing athlete, and I have nothing but respect for Lawrence Taylor, and I think that when it's all said and done, I think it just goes down as Lawrence Taylor was one of the greatest and Andre Tippett was one of the greats and one of the greatest, so it really doesn't matter now because we are all in the same place." -- LB Andre Tippett on being compared to Lawrence Taylor, who'll he join in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 2.