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From Division 3 Tufts to NFL? QB Alex Snyder looking for chance to prove it can happen

04.21.17 at 1:16 pm ET
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Former Tufts QB Alex Snyder is looking to make it in the NFL. (Photo courtesy of Jenkins Elite)

Former Tufts QB Alex Snyder is looking to make it in the NFL. (Photo courtesy of Jenkins Elite)

It’s not too often a Division 3 quarterback can make the jump to the NFL, but former Tufts quarterback Alex Snyder is looking for a chance to prove everyone wrong.

In his junior and senior seasons with the Jumbos, Snyder passed for 1,964 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but after graduating early last December, he’s been focused on football for the last four months and hoping to get a shot with a NFL team.

Snyder went out to Colorado and worked with former NFL quarterback Tim Jenkins, as part of his quarterback training program. He wasn’t the only quarterback there either, as he worked along side P.J. Walker out of Temple and Austin Apodaca out of New Mexico.

For 12 weeks it was all quarterback training, ranging from weightlifting, on-field work, film study, nutrition, etc. Snyder came away a much better quarterback.

“He took a giant step,” Jenkins said. “A lot of it has to do with the consistency of doing something for eight-12 weeks where he’s doing it six days a week and he’s getting more work every day. He is getting on the field every day and I really saw him mature into the player he should have been his whole college career.

“I think anyone who takes a shot on him — as a free agent, minicamp — that type of kid. He could really turn into a kid who can stick around on the practice squad and one day battle for the 53.”

Standing 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, his size is a definite strength and could potentially make him attractive to a NFL team, especially after how he’s been able to grow in the last few months.

“I mean, honestly, I can feel I have made tremendous strides and I think that is just from the coaching I was exposed to in the last few months to the past couple of years,” Snyder said. “That isn’t a knock on my coaches [at Tufts], it’s just Division 3 — they just didn’t know what they didn’t know. I can’t blame them. It’s just a different perspective.”

Through his agent, Snyder hooked up with Tim Tebow one day this spring and the meeting gave him great inspiration to one day be like him.

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Patriots might now have to pay Aaron Hernandez’s estate millions of dollars

04.21.17 at 10:20 am ET
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Aaron Hernandez's family donated his brain to Boston University for CTE research. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Aaron Hernandez’s death was officially ruled a suicide Thursday. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Thanks to an obscure legal principle, Aaron Hernandez is now an innocent man in the wake of his death. That means the Patriots might owe his estate money.

Massachusetts is one of the states that recognizes “abatement ab initio,” which says a defendant’s convictions are void if he didn’t exhaust all of his legal appeals upon his passing. Since Hernandez was in the process of appealing his first-degree murder conviction for the 2013 Odin Lloyd shooting, the court’s ruling is erased –– as if the trial never occurred. The disgraced ex-NFL star was acquitted last week for a 2012 double murder.

Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell early Wednesday morning after a suicide attempt, officials say. Since Hernandez was the first active NFL player to ever be convicted of murder, and also the first player to kill himself while serving his sentence, this is an unprecedented legal situation. Attorney William Kennedy, who represented the families of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, the victims in the aforementioned double murder, told CBS Boston the Patriots might be obligated to pay Hernandez’s estate the $3.5 million signing bonus they voided following his arrest in 2013.

“At the time of his original arrest in the Odin Lloyd case, my understanding was that there was a $3.5 million bonus that we’ve made a subject of an action in the Superior Court,” he said. “We got a commitment from the Patriots that before any of that payment would be made they would notify the court to give us a chance to deal with that.”

The Abreu and Furtado families and Lloyd’s mother are all planning to pursue wrongful-death suits against Hernandez’s estate. In addition to the $3.5 million signing bonus, the Patriots could also owe Hernandez $2.5 million in guaranteed base salary.

But since the Patriots and Hernandez settled a grievance over the lost earnings in 2014, the case is likely considered closed. Attorney Joel Corry told the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin grievance settlements are seldom overturned.

“Typically when there’s a settlement, there’s some sort of catch-all language: ‘This will resolve all claims known or which could be known in the future,’ ” he said. “I haven’t seen too many settlements which don’t have some type of form of that kind of language.”

Hernandez will still be able to collect the minimum NFL pension, though it’s unknown who’s listed as his beneficiary. The former tight end collected roughly $10 million of the $40 million contract extension he signed in August 2012.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots,

Patriots 2017 Hall of Fame finalists announced

04.21.17 at 10:17 am ET
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Mike Vrabel is a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Mike Vrabel is a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

After the 20-person nomination committee met a few weeks back, they have decided on three finalists for the 2017 Patriots Hall of Fame — Raymond Clayborn, Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel.

Clayborn is a finalist for the fourth straight year, Vrabel is a finalist for the second straight year, while Seymour is a first-year eligible finalist. Fans have until May 15 to vote on Patriots.com for the former Patriot most deserving of Hall of Fame enshrinement. The winner will be announced that week.

Seymour spent the first eight seasons of his 12-year NFL career with the Patriots and played an important part in delivering six division championships, four conference titles and three Super Bowl championships to New England. He was named to five straight Pro Bowls with the Patriots (2002-06) and earned four straight first team All-Pro honors (2003-06). His five Pro Bowl berths are the most by any Patriots defensive lineman since the 1970 NFL merger.

During his eight-year tenure in New England, Vrabel played a major role in the Patriots’ run of three Super Bowls in four years (2001, 2003 and 2004). He started at both inside and outside linebacker positions during his Patriots tenure, regularly lining up on offense in short-yardage and goal-line situations and continuing to make valuable contributions on various special teams units throughout his career.

Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowl player (1983, 1985, 1986) for the Patriots during a career that extended from 1977 through 1989.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Mike Vrabel, Raymond Clayborn, Richard Seymour,

5 initial thoughts on 2017 Patriots schedule

04.20.17 at 8:09 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will open the 2017 year at home against the Chiefs. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will open the 2017 year at home against the Chiefs. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Get your fall and winter calendars ready, the 2017 Patriots schedule is out.

Key games are the season opener on Thursday, Sept. 7 at home against Chiefs in the annual NFL Kickoff Game, and then a Super Bowl LI rematch on Sunday Night Football Oct. 22, also at Gillette Stadium.

At first glance, this is a much tougher slate than they had last season, as there are no layup games against the Browns, 49ers, etc. They have nine games against teams that finished with above .500 records last year.

Here are five initial thoughts on the schedule.

1. Late division games. The biggest thing that stands out is how many division games the Patriots will play so late in the year. Five out of the last six games will be against AFC East opponents. The only exception is Week 15 when they play at Pittsburgh, which will be far from easy. The first division game the Patriots will play is Week 6 against the Jets. In recent years teams have played the final two games within the division, but five out of the last six is very unusual. New England will be home the last two weeks of the season meaning it won’t need to travel on Christmas Eve or New Years Eve. Fortunately for the Patriots, historically they play their best football after Thanksgiving and should be ready for this stretch.

2. Back-to-back altitude games. Following the bye, the Patriots will play at Denver in Week 10 on Sunday Night Football and then in Mexico City the following Sunday, Nov. 19 against the Raiders. This seems like a perfect opportunity for the Patriots to spend a week out west to avoid a lot of cross-country flights. The team did this in 2014 when they stayed in San Diego and went very well. Another factor is both games will be played in higher altitudes, so maybe a week in Denver could be in store in between the two games. This will help the Patriots get used to the altitude, as well as avoid multiple long trips.

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Patriots 2017 schedule features tough 2nd half slate, season opener vs. Chiefs

04.20.17 at 8:03 pm ET
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The Patriots' 2017 schedule is out. (WEEI.com)

The Patriots’ 2017 schedule is out. (WEEI.com)

The 2017 NFL schedule has officially been released.

The biggest game on the schedule for the Patriots is the season opener hosting the Chiefs, which had been rumored over the last several weeks. A Super Bowl rematch will be Oct. 22 on Sunday Night Football at Gillette Stadium.

The biggest thing that stands out is five out of the last six games will be division games.

Here is the complete schedule.

Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 7 vs. Chiefs, 8:30
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17 at Saints, 1:00
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24 vs. Texans, 1:00
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1 vs. Panthers, 1:00
Week 5: Thursday, Oct. 5 at Buccaneers, 8:25
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15 at Jets, 1:00
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22 vs. Falcons, 8:30
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29 vs. Chargers, 1:00
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12 at Broncos, 8:30
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19 at Raiders in Mexico City, 4:15
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26 vs. Dolphins, 1:00
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3 at Bills, 1:00
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 11 at Dolphins, 8:30
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17 at Steelers, 4:25
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24 vs. Bills, 1:00
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31 vs. Jets, 1:00

Aaron Hernandez death officially ruled suicide, notes found in cell reportedly to fiancée, daughter

04.20.17 at 4:42 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez's death officially has been ruled a suicide. (Pool photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)

Aaron Hernandez’s death officially has been ruled a suicide. (Pool photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)

According to the Worcester DA, Aaron Hernandez’s death officially is a suicide.

Per a release Thursday afternoon, Hernandez was locked in his cell at 8 p.m. Tuesday night and no one entered the cell until a correctional officer observed him at 3:03 a.m. and forced his way into cell as the door was blocked with cardboard jammed into the track.

Upon entry investigators found three hand-written notes next to a bible. There was no sign of a struggle and Hernandez was the only person in the cell.

Hernandez’s brain will now be released to BU’s CTE center for investigation, per a family request.

According to Chris Villani of the Boston Herald, the notes were letters to his daughter and fiancée, saying he loved them and would see them in heaven.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Years ago, Tom Brady told Tim Tebow he was concerned about Aaron Hernandez

04.20.17 at 2:46 pm ET
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Tom Brady played with Aaron Hernandez for three seasons. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady played with Aaron Hernandez for three seasons. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

While it’s apparent the Patriots were largely ignorant of Aaron Hernandez’s turbulent off-field life, Tom Brady expressed concern about the deceased NFL star years ago.

In an NFL SoundFX video from 2011, which the New York Post recently unearthed, Brady is seen talking with Tim Tebow at the conclusion of a Broncos-Patriots matchup that year. At one point, Brady brings up Hernandez and linebacker Brandon Spikes, both of whom played with Tebow at the University of Florida.

“I’m trying to watch over Aaron and Brandon,” Brady said to the Heisman Trophy winner.

“I appreciate that, too, man,” Tebow replied. “They’re good guys.”

Before they separated, Brady said the two troubled players were “a lot to handle.”

While he was playing in college, Hernandez was questioned in connection to a shooting in Gainesville, Fla. He also allegedly punched a bouncer, despite Tebow’s reported efforts to stop him.

After falling to the fourth-round in the 2010 NFL Draft, Hernandez enjoyed three successful seasons in New England, landing a $40 million contract extension. But then it all went south.

In June 2013, Hernandez was taken into custody for the Odin Lloyd shooting. He was convicted of first-degree murder in the case and sentenced to life in prison. On Wednesday, five days after Hernandez was acquitted of a separate double murder charge, he was found dead in his prison cell due to an apparent suicide. In a statement, the Massachusetts Department of Correction said Hernandez hanged himself with a bed sheet attached to his window.

An investigation into Hernandez’s death is ongoing.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady,

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