Although my time in New England wasn’t ideal, it was pivotal. I signed with New England going into the eighth year of my NFL career. Things started great and started fast. I thought my eighth year would be my year, the year I would finally break through. Having an awesome opportunity to play the game, I envisioned something pivotal. Unfortunately, after a great training camp, great feedback, and scoring a regular season game touchdown for the first time in what felt like a couple of years, it all came skidding to break when I tore my rotator cuff. I took on the injury against Miami and I tried at all costs to avoid surgery and continue playing, but instead, my first season in New England was cut short.
I fought hard to come back, to stay, to fight. After about five months of rehab, I got healthy enough to slowly come back on board with the team. Running, catching, running drills–of course, there was an adjustment period with my shoulder and getting things back to normal, but I felt like myself again. I felt like my second year in New England would be everything I had hoped for in the first and even more.
...sometimes an early recovery is still too late.
But– an injury. After the first day of training camp, I received awesome feedback. I was told I had nothing to prove. I just needed to stay healthy because I missed all last season. Unexpectedly, I collided with a teammate and friend of mine. We went knee to knee, which inflicted a fracture in my kneecap.
I found myself back in recovery fighting the demons that come with that. But I was assured that after 4-6 weeks I’d be back. I did everything I could again. I knew this mental game and I fought to recover optimally with some trainers even telling me I beat their timeline. I came back fully healthy and ready to go, but sometimes an early recovery is still too late.
The NFL is a competitive business, and I was released from the New England Patriots then. After the final pre-season game before the start of the season, I was signed back to the practice squad and then, eventually back onto the active roster before the first game. After the wave of transitions, I went out with a renewed mindset and a new attitude towards the game. I wasn’t trying to prove myself or earn some big contract. I wanted to enjoy the game I love because I didn’t know how much longer I had left.
This season, I stayed healthy, and for that I’m grateful. But with limited opportunities, high-level competition, and the reality of my past injuries I was released following the 13th game of our season.
This is the first time I’ve ever been released mid-season. In nine years of football, I had never been cut until training camp. And now I’ve been cut twice.
This wasn’t my plan. I have to be honest about that. But although my time on the field didn’t go as planned, my time in New England was nothing short of transformative. I met some amazing people playing and working for New England. From the front office to media relations to the cafeteria to the field – there are so many names I could list off of people who impacted me. So many have had a deep impact on me and who I am becoming. To my coaches and training room staff, I’ll forever be grateful for my time in New England.
I’ll continue to do work here in the community.... I plan to do some work with teen shelters and foster homes in Brockton and Boston and I’m hopeful for the future.
My life has completely changed because of this team. I’ve met the love of my life from living in New England. I’ve learned so much about off-the-field business and opportunities from meeting people in this city. My life wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for my time here and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I’m grateful to the organization, to Robert Kraft, and to everyone who had a role in bringing me here. My life will never be the same. Thank you to New England for embracing me–there was nowhere I went that I wasn’t treated with love, kindness, and hospitality. I’ve made lifelong connections here. It’s a stunning city to represent, and I’ll continue to do work here in the community. I have some things planned for the future that are from here and for here. I plan to do some work with teen shelters and foster homes in Brockton and Boston and I’m hopeful for the future.
Thank you and I love you, New England.
Ps…Due to the holiday season and my reverence for family time, this will be the final blog post this year. I wish everyone a happy holidays! See you next year with some exciting news!