Raised in upstate New York Darian Stewart Jersey , Chad Brown didn't root for the Bills, the Giants or the Jets when it came to football.
The 39-year-old from Mechanicville was a San Francisco 49ers fan. It was simple. He liked future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, although football didn't turn out to be Brown's sport.
Brown has become one of thoroughbred racing's top trainers, and his favorite football team now is the New England Patriots. It has nothing to do with Tom Brady.
It's all about Gronkowski, both of them. He likes tight end Rob and the 3-year-old colt named after him who will be a fan favorite Saturday in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
Whether Gronkowski can challenge Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify and prevent him from becoming the sport's 13th Triple Crown winner remains to be seen.
The name of the horse adds interest to the final jewel of the Triple Crown, of course.
"It works for him," Brown said of the name. "He is going to pick up a few extra fans and that feels good. I am happy people are rooting for him because of his name."
The Kentucky-bred colt has never raced in North America. He has had six starts in England, winning four races and finishing second once. An illness forced him to skip the Kentucky Derby.
Phoenix Thoroughbred Limited, the owners of Gronkowski, decided after the Derby to move the colt out of the barn of Jeremy Noseda in mid-May. Brown has spent the last three-plus weeks getting the colt ready to run again.
While Gronkowski arrived in good condition and has trained extremely well, Brown would have preferred a little more training time.
"If the horse has enough foundation behind him, he is the kind of a horse that can run a mile and a half on the dirt," Brown said Thursday after Gronkowski galloped. "Is he ready for Saturday? We'll see."
Brown said the owners of Gronkowski gave him the option of skipping the Belmont if he felt the colt was not ready. He elected to run.
Brown has an idea what will happen in the race. Gronkowski will run a little behind the leaders and grind out the first 1录 miles. It's the last quarter that's a concern for a colt that has never run longer than a mile in a race.
"This was a very unique situation," Brown said. "This was a horse that was on the Derby trail and then off, and now here on short notice. It really takes a special horse to be able to catch up to speed and be able to run in a race like Saturday. Based on what I have seen so far Devontae Booker Jersey , I do feel like he is up to it."
Rob Gronkowski, who is a part owner of the colt, is expected to attend. He's also excited.
"It's pretty wild," Gronkowski said Tuesday after a Patriots practice. "I heard about the horse like a year ago and I saw it, and I was like 'that's cool,' you know? Then all of a sudden it's like the horse is in the Kentucky Derby a year later. So it's pretty wild. It's a pretty cool scenario. Pretty cool situation. It just shows, name the horse my name and it's going to make it, baby."
Besides Gronkowski the horse, Brown also had another runner in his barn partially owned by three former or current Patriots. He has gotten the chance to sit down with Patriots coach Bill Belichick to discuss how their jobs are similar and how they manage elite athletes and people on their staffs.
"I have asked him for advice, particularly on leadership, winning, and how to get the most out of people," said Brown, who has 165 employees and 230 horses in his barn. "I find him to be and (have) great admiration for him now that I have had a couple of chances to really sit down with coach and pick his brain. I find him to be really brilliant, a deep thinker and very reserved and calculated about what he says or does. He has enormous experience how to get the most out of people."
For Brown Golden Tate III Jersey , this is a week in which he will discover just how much he got out of Gronkowski. At worst, it will be a learning experience. At best, Gronk scores big and upsets Justify's Triple Crown hopes.
Donte Moncrief is gladly gambling on himself.
The former Indianapolis Colts receiver signed a one-year, $7 million contract with AFC South rival Jacksonville on Thursday, believing he will prove he's worth a more lucrative, long-term deal.
"I love that deal," Moncrief said. "I know what I'm capable of, I'm back healthy and I'm going to go out here and show these guys what I can do, show the NFL and put everything on my shoulders and give Jacksonville all I got and help these guys win. I know I can."
The Jaguars are counting on Moncrief to help offset the loss of former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson, who signed a three-year, $42 million deal in free agency with Chicago.
General manager Dave Caldwell said keeping Robinson would have cost more than the team was willing to pay for a not-so-speedy receiver coming off knee surgery.
"It was difficult," Caldwell said. "Obviously we have a connection with A-Rob. We drafted him here. We saw him kind of grow into the player he was. ... We've tried to put our best foot forward and get him back here and it didn't work out. Obviously wish him the best, but once that happens, we go to Plan B and Plan C."
Jacksonville could have placed the franchise tag on Robinson. That would have guaranteed him a salary of $15.9 million in 2018, which would have made him one of the highest-paid receivers in the league.
The Jaguars clearly didn't think Robinson was worth it. Instead Robert Newhouse Jersey , they used the money to sign All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell in hopes of solidifying a ground game that stalled down the stretch last season.
The 26-year-old Norwell was the gem of Jacksonville's free-agent class. The former Carolina Panthers standout signed a five-year deal worth $66.5 million Thursday.
"Obviously we have a philosophy of how we're going to play and what we want to do and he fits all of those," Caldwell said. "Tough, nasty, run-blocker, very good pass protector. Started, been healthy and is the right age to invest into."
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, cornerback D.J. Hayden, safety Don Carey, safety Cody Davis and tight end Niles Paul also signed free-agent contracts with Jacksonville on Thursday.
Seferian-Jenkins visited earlier in the day and ended up with a two-year, $10 million deal.
"My No. 1 goal to accomplish with this team is earn my teammates' respect," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I'm going to let all that other stuff handle itself."
The Jags also re-signed receiver Marqise Lee to a four-year deal worth $38 million. It includes $18 million guaranteed.
"I weighed all my options," Lee said. "At the end of the day, when I really sat down and thought about it, a lot that played into my decision were the people around the building. The trainers, the equipment staff Ryan Kalil Jersey , my teammates, I enjoyed them for my four years, so as far as change, going somewhere else, I don't feel like it was necessary."
Lee, Moncrief and second-year receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole will be counted on to stretch defenses and create extra running room for Leonard Fournette. Westbrook and Cole showed promise during the regular season, but went mostly missing in the postseason.
"They're growing up," Lee said. "They understand what they got to do this second year and how much we're depending on them as far as getting their jobs done."
The same could be said for Moncrief, who had 152 receptions for 1,875 yards and 18 touchdowns in four years with the Colts. He missed 11 games the last two years because of shoulder and toe injuries.
He's healthy now and welcomes the stakes that come with signing a one-year contract. He feels it's a safe bet.
"They were just things that were holding me back," he said. "Now, I'm finally healthy and I know what I've got in me and it's on my shoulders and I'm ready to go."
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