Make of Brandin Cooks’ on-field performance what you will. But there’s much more to the New England Patriots wide receiver than what fans see between the lines.
That’s true for many NFL athletes, whose journeys to success often are marked by hardships we never hear about. Cooks’ path to the league was made public Sunday, however, as ESPN’s Jeff Darlington delivered a feature on the 24-year-old that aired on “Sunday NFL Countdown” ahead of New England’s showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The six-and-a-half minute clip is well worth your time, as it details how Cooks persevered despite losing his father to a heart attack when he was just six years old and seeing one of his four brothers spend much of his childhood in jail.
That’s some pretty emotional stuff, regardless of if you’re a Patriots fan or not. Cooks also posted the video on his Twitter account.
Arguably the best part of this feature is video taken of Cooks when he was 17 years old, in which the Stockton, Calif., native vows to outwork everybody by adopting an awesome mindset.
“I don’t want nobody working more than me,” Cooks says. “I’m about to start being on Hong Kong time. … It’s day here, it’s night there, I’m still up. It’s night here, it’s day there, I’m still up.”
That around-the-clock work ethic clearly paid off. Cooks thrived as a three-sport star at Lincoln High School in Stockton to earn himself a scholarship to Oregon State, where he put up huge numbers to get selected No. 20 overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Cooks faced a tall task this offseason learning the Patriots’ complex offense after being traded to New England, but it appears his relentless preparation has served him well yet again: The fourth-year pro enters Sunday ranked 11th in all of football with 924 receiving yards.