Several members of the Patriots traded in their shoulder pads and helmets for shorts and sneakers as they participated in the first annual Lawyer Milloy Foundation Celebrity Basketball Game Saturday afternoon. Milloy and his teammates took on members of the Boston Police Department in front of about 2,300 enthusiastic fans at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center.
The proceeds from the day's events were split between Milloy's foundation, which he established last year, and the Boston Police Kids at Risk Programs, as well as various summer youth programs. In addition to the basketball game, the players participated in a 3-point contest and signed hundreds of autographs throughout the day.
On hand helping Milloy's cause were Tom Brady, Troy Brown, Ted Johnson, Kevin Faulk, Tebucky Jones, Otis Smith and Leonard Myers. All took part in what soon became a rather competitive game with the Boston cops, who eventually won the contest with some sharp shooting and an interesting defensive approach.
"They brought out a zone defense in a charity game," Milloy laughed following the game. "But they were a really good team. It's still competitive out there, we're all athletes and it's all for a great cause."
Milloy refused to answer any questions regarding football, instead choosing to stick with the topic of the day, which was his foundation. With the veteran Pro Bowler and Jones on hand, they represented two-thirds of what became a rather crowded safety contingent since former San Diego standout Rodney Harrison signed last month.
Jones, who was designated as the team's franchise player just before the start of free agency, has been the subject of several trade rumors, most involving the New Orleans Saints. Ironically, the game could have been his last of any kind with his current teammates. Taking his cue from Milloy, Jones wasn't answering any football-related questions either.
Jones has been absent from the Patriots offseason program since it began in the middle of March. Johnson actually teased him about the subject on the court while they were warming up before the game, playfully asking if his teammate "had gotten the memo" indicating that workouts were underway.
Several members of the media were on hand hoping to speak with Milloy and Jones about their futures in New England but neither cooperated. Milloy made it clear through a foundation spokesperson that any questions he received were to be about the foundation and not in any way dealing with football.
Milloy also has been mentioned as a trade possibility although not nearly as often as Jones. Since Milloy is scheduled to receive a $2 million option bonus before the start of the 2004 season and his base salary will jump significantly in the coming years, there were reports that perhaps the Patriots would look to deal him rather than Jones.
Milloy is a year older than Jones and will turn 30 during the upcoming season. He's been on hand for the team's workouts but has denied any interview requests thus far this spring. His silence has been odd since he's always been known as one of the team's leaders and generally provides his thoughts.
But there was little light shed on the subject at the event, which consisted only of smiling faces and some occasionally entertaining basketball, highlighted by a terrific alley-oop dunk by Jones on a perfect feed from Faulk.