FOXBORO, Mass. — Safety James Ihedigbo has an extremely unique perspective of the intense rivalry between the Patriots and Jets. He also received a harsh reality check from his family when he crossed over to the other side.
Ihedigbo, who grew up as a Pats fan in Amherst, Mass., and starred at UMass, signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2007. Who did his family root for when they played New England?
"I always heard, 'I'm not going to be a Jets fan, but I'll root for you,'" Ihedigbo said. "Those were the things that I heard. Even still now, everyone is excited that I'm here. I'm excited that I'm here. Now I've just got to make it work."
Ihedigbo's Jets were 4-5 against the Patriots during his four seasons in New York, so his family was typically happier after those games than he was. Now that he's with the Patriots — and hoping to make the team — his family might not feel as guilty about their New England allegiance.
And Ihedigbo has been absolutely thrilled to stay within the rivalry by signing with his hometown team.
"It's a rivalry game," Ihedigbo said. "Plus, it's an AFC East rival, so you're fighting for the same thing. So you always circle that date on the calendar, either side. It's like, 'OK, this is when we're playing the big game.' It's the NFL. Some games mean more than others, but at the end of the day, you want to do your part to help your team win."