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View from Above: Brown's not the first Steer to stampede in Foxboro

As an alumnus of the University of Texas, it's a proud moment to have a guy like Malcom Brown become a New England Patriot.  By all measures, he appears to be a solid player.  He's a family-man, a solid citizen, and I can't find anyone who has anything negative to say about him.  But he's not the first Texas-Ex, you know, to strap a Pat Patriot-emblazoned helmet onto his head.  

View some of the best photos of Patriots first round selection (32nd overall) DL Malcom Brown.

There have been others, most recently tight end David Thomas, who was a part of Texas' 2005 national title team and spent the 2006-08 seasons in Foxboro before moving onto New Orleans.  But as far as 1st round picks go, there have been only two other Longhorns selected by the Patriots in their team history – and their careers really couldn't have been more different.

Like night is different from day.  Or different from game day.

In chronological order, it was Raymond Clayborn who first set foot in Foxboro as an ex-Longhorn drafted by the organization in the 1st round.  Clayborn (from my hometown of Fort Worth, TX) was taken as the 16th overall selection in the 1977 draft, after a stellar career at Texas as a running back, defensive back and return specialist.  He was a one-time halfback in Darrell Royal's Wishbone offense.  But it was defense, however, where he excelled after his sophomore year in college; playing defensive back exclusively during his senior season in 1976, he earned all-SWC and all-American honors.  

Clayborn had an immediate impact as an NFL rookie, with a league-leading three kickoff returns for touchdowns in '77.  His career in New England spanned 13 seasons, where he earned three Pro Bowl honors and finished with 36 interceptions – still tied at the top of the team's career list with Ty Law.  And in a bit of an ironic twist, Clayborn finished his NFL career in 1990 and '91 in Cleveland – where he ended his playing days under then-Browns' head coach Bill Belichick. 

While Clayborn did have a rather infamous scuffle with former Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough in 1979, his otherwise noteworthy career has placed him as a finalist for induction this year into the Patriots Hall of Fame – along with Leon Gray and Willie McGinest.  Noteworthy, however, might not be the exact words a long-time fan or follower of this franchise would use to describe the Pats' other 1st round pick from Texas.

Star-crossed?  Disappointing?  Unfortunate?  Lackluster?  Whatever words one might use in describing defensive tackle Kenneth Sims, you'd probably have to include the phrase "game day" in there as well.  

I'll offer a disclaimer here – Sims was a one-time classmate of mine at Texas.  His career at UT was at least the equal of Clayborn's, if not a better one for his winning the Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman in 1981.  After the Patriots made him the #1 pick overall in the 1982 draft, Sims managed to play through eight largely unspectacular seasons in the NFL, with 74 games played and only 17 sacks.  He played the full 16-game slate just one time, in 1984.

Like Clayborn, Sims did take part in a Super Bowl season for the Patriots, in 1985.  But his notoriety comes from an incident following a particularly lackluster practice, explaining away his apparent disinterest by saying "I'll be there on game day."  Well, "game day" became a derisive tag that followed Sims the rest of the way, and on his way out of the NFL altogether in 1990, after the Patriots released him.

As mentioned above, Malcom Brown seems to be a great pick up for the Pats at defensive tackle.  He appears to be a talented, versatile player, and a good guy on and off of the field.  He comes from a powerhouse college program that has had a history of success in the NFL, 7th all-time in number of NFL draftees.  But what we know to be true on draft day and what happens thereafter are two completely different things.  

What we know for sure is that "The Eyes of Texas," as well as those of Patriot Nation, will be watching very closely…especially on game day.

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Momma don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys

Ok, so I mentioned I'm originally from Fort Worth, TX.  This means, naturally, that I grew up as a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.  Those were some great days in the '60's and '70's, following the exploits of Bob Lilly, "Dandy" Don Meredith, "Bullet" Bob Hayes, Lee Roy Jordan, Calvin Hill, Roger Staubach, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and so many other Hall-of-Fame caliber players.

Hey, I came by it honestly.  It was a family thing.  

I'm left scratching my head, however, over the present-day decisions in Dallas, which include the pick-up of Greg Hardy and the drafting of UConn CB Byron Jones and Nebraska DE Randy Gregory.  

Hardy's story is fairly well documented.  He'll be serving a 10-game suspension to start the 2015 season, for his role in a domestic violence case.  Hardy then followed up this past week with a Twitter response to a fan referencing the 9-11 tragedy, which – to say the least – was incredibly tasteless.  Cowboys' Executive VP Stephen Jones then said he wasn't disappointed in Hardy despite existing issues after the NFL found "sufficient credible evidence" that Hardy had engaged in conduct that violated NFL policies.

Say what?

Setting the Hardy issue aside, the drafting of NFL combine phenom Byron Jones and "Better late than never" Randy Gregory, who slipped from a potential Top 10 pick to #60 overall, stretches the bounds of sanity.  Jones played only seven games last season for UConn before a shoulder injury knocked him out, and he never made an all-conference team.  Yet his workout measurables were, in some instances, record-setting.  So were those of former Boston College star Mike Mamula back in 1995 and he managed just five years in the league with Philadelphia before sliding into oblivion.  Combine superstars don't necessarily equate with all-pro caliber careers.

Gregory became this year's poster boy for "persona non grata," by virtue of his draft slide.  Reportedly, he showed up late for pre-draft visits with several teams, and he failed a drug test at this year's combine.  As an already undersized defensive end, more than just a couple of NFL GM's felt there were more negatives than positives when considering Gregory for their own teams.

Did the Cowboys reach for talent?  Perhaps.  And maybe the Cowboys have the support systems and coaching in place to help these players realize their potential.  Whatever the case, these moves tell me the Cowboys (facing the Patriots on October 11th at AT&T Stadium) are in a "win now" mode, as QB Tony Romo is turning 35.  They're taking big chances.  And as an organization that seems more than willing to give multiple chances to players with off-field troubles, these moves may also signal the great days of yesteryear are long, long gone in Big D…and not returning anytime soon.

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Backing up the bus over Tebow's time

Oops.  Did he say that?

By now, you probably know that the Philadelphia Eagles are giving erstwhile Patriots' camp quarterback Tim Tebow another shot at the NFL, bringing him in to compete with Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez for a job.  Or maybe, to provide a "secret" weapon as an offensive option in two-point conversion attempts for Chip Kelly?  

Whatever the case, Sanchez certainly has familiarity with Tebow – having gone through the media circus previously in New York – so he should know what to expect, right?  

Exactly.  And Sanchez has already warmed up the bus, and started whatever actual competition there may be between the two, by backing said bus over his, um, teammate.

"He's obviously a great guy, he works hard.  And we needed another guy to throw while Sam's still recovering," Sanchez told Comcast Philadelphia.  "So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me."

Well then.  Correct me if I'm off-track here, but if Chip Kelly needed just another camp arm to throw to receivers, why would he ask Tebow to do the job?  He might (statistically) be the least accurate QB available.  No, Kelly has something else up his sleeve, and the Patriots might get an inside look at things when they face the Eagles in the regular season.

If Tebow is still on the roster come December 6th.  Or if Sanchez is either, for that matter.

*John Rooke is an author and award-winning broadcaster, and has been the Patriots' stadium voice for 22 years.  Currently serving in several media capacities – which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio – Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball for the past 26 years and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame.  *

Follow him on Twitter - @JRbroadcaster

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