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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Von Miller lists 3 Patriots as toughest he’s ever faced; NBA, NBAPA reach new CBA

12.15.16 at 8:12 am ET

Good morning, here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

NHL: Anaheim at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Chicago at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: New York at Golden State, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NFL: Los Angeles at Seattle, 8:25 p.m. (NBC; NFL Network)
College basketball: Appalachian State at NC State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Texas-Rio Grande Valley at Texas, 8 p.m. (Longhorn Network)


Von Miller

Von Miller

— In his piece in The Players’ Tribune published on Wednesday, Broncos linebacker Von Miller lists “The Five Toughest Guys I’ve Ever Faced,” and three of them are Patriots.

Miller lists Tom Brady as the toughest quarterback, Rob Gronkowski as the toughest tight end and Bill Belichick as the toughest head coach.

“What makes him the best isn’t just his accuracy throwing the ball. His presnap vision is the best I’ve ever seen, bar none,” Miller wrote of Brady, adding: “The biggest challenge in playing the Patriots is simply getting off the field. You’re never worried about Brady hitting you for 70 yards, but he’ll chip away at you and keep drives alive, which wears you down. … Getting a consistent first step on a 15-play drive is pretty much impossible.”

Of Gronkowski, Miller wrote, “This term is almost overused in the media now, but Gronk really is a true game-changer. He’s almost like LeBron James in that his body type and skill set has never been seen before at his position. The NFL has never seen anything like his combination of size, speed and hands.”

As for toughest head coach, Miller said he likes Jack Del Rio, too, but “with Belichick, his genius comes from the fact that he always gameplans based on the personnel he has. He’s had Hall of Famers like Randy Moss, and he’s also had guys who you never heard of before, and no matter what, the Patriots are always contenders. Some of the packages we see from the Patriots, I’ve never seen before on a football field.”

Chris Ivory as toughest running back and Trent Williams as toughest offensive tackle round out the list.

— The NBA and NBAPA announced on Wednesday they have reached a tentative agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement.

The seven-year deal guarantees 13 consecutive years without a lockout and labor peace through the 2023-24 season.

Some of the main points of the deal are a 45 percent increase in all minimum salaries for the first year of the deal, “liberalized” trade rules, and fewer restrictions on first-round picks. The season will start earlier and the schedule will extend by seven days to reduce back-to-back games and injury risk.

There also is a “comprehensive” program to handle domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault with a process for investigating these situations.

Draymond Green, for one, apparently is not happy with the new deal:

ICYMI: Seven year-old Will Erickson wrote a letter to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow last week begging him not to trade outfielder George Springer. “Please don’t trade George Springer these are the reasons. 1. He is my favorite player. 2. I get my hair cut like his. 3. He is a team player,” Erickson wrote in the letter. On Tuesday, Luhnow responded with this tweet:

Erickson said he wrote the letter to Luhnow because he heard the Astros might need to trade Springer to get pitching this offseason. He did not expect a response from Luhnow “because he’s busy,” he said and was happy with the attention he got from his classmates after Luhnow tweeted his letter.

“They called me famous,” Erickson said.

Erickson has not met Springer but is pretty sure of how he would react if he did.

“If I saw him I would faint,” Erickson said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Well, he is a special young man. Just to have a chance to know his story has been very humbling and certainly gives me a lot of perspective, and certainly all of us a lot of perspective on the very difficult challenges a lot of families face, and certainly that he has faced.” —Tom Brady, on Logan Schoenhardt, a 10-year-old boy with brain cancer whose story of admiring and meeting Brady was featured before the Patriots game on ESPN on Monday night 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rodney Harrison (44), Mo Vaughn (49)

Read More: Bill Belichick, George Springer, rob gronkowski, Tom Brady