The countdown to training camp is officially underway. The New England Patriots sent out an e-mail last Thursday in anticipation of their 50th training camp in team history, which begins July 30 at the Gillette Stadium practice fields. All practices are open to the public until camp closes Aug. 18.
Here are a couple more quick hits involving the Pats:
Linebacker Pierre Woods grew up in Cleveland worshipping one of the most common football gods, longtime San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.
In fact, Rice inspired Woods to start playing football, and he originally wanted to play wideout when he stepped onto the gridiron. Apparently, it didn’t take very long for him to figure out he was better at hitting guys than catching passes, and a linebacker was born.
By chance, Woods met Rice prior to Super Bowl XLII in Arizona.
“It was a shocker,” Woods said. “I started collecting football cards in the second grade, and [Rice] has always been my No. 1 player. I always wanted to wear No. 80 and all that, but it didn’t happen. I can’t really catch. But hey, he’s still my favorite football player of all-time.”
Woods admitted it was a rare occasion for him to get star struck, which is fairly important considering the A-list athletes he sees on a daily basis.
“The reason why I started playing football is because of Jerry Rice, period,” Woods said. “We were in the Super Bowl. I shook his hand, like, ‘Wow.’ I was amazed. There are only two people I would do that for, Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice. I’d be amazed if I shook their hand. But in [the Patriots’] locker room, you’ve got Hall of Famers. If I walked in there amazed like, ‘Wow, Tom Brady or Richard Seymour. There goes Tedy Bruschi. Or Randy Moss, that’s the Freak.’ Even Bill Belichick, that’s a Hall of Fame coach. Come on now. You appreciate it. When they give you some type of advice, you take it and put it in your memory bank.”
New Brady in the bunch
Quarterback Tom Brady couldn’t hide his excitement when discussing his current state of affairs. After all, he’s back on the football field for the first time since September, recently married supermodel Gisele Bundchen and reportedly has another child on the way.
“I’m a very optimistic person, so I cherish those moments,” Brady said. “There have been great things happening in my life for a long time. Certainly, this year was no different in different areas of success, with marriage and with children. It’s a great part of my life, and so is work. I’m excited for all those things coming together. I think I’m a happier person when I’m working.”