FOXBORO, Mass. — After each New England Patriots training camp practice, the fields behind Gillette Stadium flood with children — the sons and daughters of players and coaches who had just spent the previous two hours sweating in the midsummer heat.
Some run around and play catch with their dads. Others — especially the ones who are too young to walk — simply lounge around on the perfectly manicured grass, enjoying a few minutes of family time amid the Patriots’ jam-packed summer schedule.
Wide receiver Chris Hogan is enjoying that experience for the first time this year.
Hogan’s wife, Ashley, gave birth to twins in March, just over a month after the wideout helped the Patriots win their fifth Super Bowl title in 15 years. Ashley and the two youngsters, Chase and Parker Hogan, made the trip to Foxboro this past weekend to watch training camp.
“It was a very cool experience for me to come off the field this past weekend and see them,” Hogan said after Tuesday’s practice. “You always see all the families and their kids running out. (Mine) aren’t running yet, but I’m sure they will the next time I see them. But it was cool. It was tough leaving them, but this is a big part of my job, training camp, and they know that. They’re there to support me. It’s fun getting to see them after practice.”
In the months before and after the twins’ birth, Hogan would drive three hours to the family’s home on Long Island on every Patriots off-day, often spending three days a week there during organized team activities and minicamp.
“My priorities have definitely changed,” he said. “I always put my family first, but now that I have two kids and a wife, I’ll always put them first. But this is what I play for. I come out here every single day and I grind out these long training camp practices for them. And every single Sunday when I put on a jersey and go out there, that’s who I’m playing for.
“My mindset definitely has changed. When it gets a little hot out here and it’s pretty hard, I can just remember why I’m out here and dig a little deeper.”
Hogan is part of an immensely talented Patriots receiving corps, and he’s enjoyed a strong camp thus far. There have been a few hiccups — Hogan scrapped with cornerback Cyrus Jones last week, and he slammed his helmet down in frustration Saturday after a pass to him in the end zone fell incomplete — but he knows it’s better than the alternative.
“I think I’ll take this over diaper changes,” he laughed.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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