FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Robert Ortiz is going to remember this job interview for the rest of his life.
After meeting with the management at Athletic Fitness, a gym near Ortiz?s native San Diego, he was given a message that he had an urgent call from his fiancée. She told Ortiz she just spoke with his agent, who was also trying to track him down.
?My girl says, ?You?ve got to call your agent. You?re flying out tonight,?? Ortiz said Wednesday. ?I?m like, ?Where am I going?? She?s like, ?I don?t know.??
As it turned out, Ortiz had a one-way ticket to Boston, and he was about to make his third stint with the New England Patriots.
?I was on a job interview,? said Ortiz, who was applying to be a personal trainer. ?The [manager] was like, ?This has never happened before.??
Ortiz jumped on a red-eye flight from San Diego on Tuesday night and arrived in Boston on Wednesday at 7 a.m. He went straight from the airport to Gillette Stadium for a positional meeting and then got back on the practice field.
After graduating from San Diego State in 2006, Ortiz signed with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent, but he was cut before the regular season. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks prior to their 2007 training camp, but was again cut before the season. It was the same deal in 2008 with the Patriots, who released him before training camp. Ortiz quickly signed with the San Francisco 49ers, but he didn?t make that squad, either. Ortiz was with the Patriots earlier in their 2009 camp, but they cut him July 23 before re-signing him Wednesday.
When asked if the Patriots told him to keep his phone close, Ortiz responded, ?Yeah, but every team tells you that, so you?ve just got to be ready for anything. Not just necessarily the Patriots, but any team could come calling. You just stay in shape, keep working on your technique and hopefully someone calls.?
In the last month, Ortiz spoke with the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns, but nothing ever panned out. He hoped Belichick?s connection with Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels and Browns head coach Eric Mangini would help him assimilate to their respective offensive systems in the event he earned a contract.
?It didn?t work out,? Ortiz said. ?It worked out for me to come back here, so I?m just happy to be here.?
Ortiz watched both of the Patriots? preseason games on the NFL Network replays, and he said he did so with a studious eye. He paid attention to the wide receivers? tendencies to learn how they pulled off certain moves, sold certain routes and deked coverages. Even though Ortiz was thousands of miles away, his heart remained in New England with his friends and former teammates.
?I was rooting for these guys all the way through,? Ortiz said. ?I got to watch my [training camp] roommate Julian [Edelman]. I got to root for him when ran that punt back, so I was hyped about that. I was just staying close just in case [the Patriots] brought me back. I know what they did, and I?ll be able to jump right in and blend right in.?