It was last Sunday night (and way past my bedtime being 2am in Barcelona, Spain). I’ve stayed up and watched the grid-iron football AFC championship game last night and witnessed the NE Patriots demolish an awesome team from Pittsburgh. I couldn’t help notice one Patriot WR, Chris Hogan, is one of our own– he played 4 years of college lacrosse at Penn State University as a midfielder. In fact, one of the 2 TD passes he received could’ve been a textbook lacrosse play– an over-the-shoulder pass streaking away from a goalie. Hogan’s 2 TD catches were critical in the win on their ticket back to the Super Bowl.
For years in the lacrosse community we’ve known that Coach Bill Belichick (NE Patriots) is a lacrosse guy. You’d seen him hanging in the sidelines with Coach Petro at Johns Hopkins games frequently. I loved hearing how he had a practice lacrosse goal in the backyard of his house when he used to work for my beloved NY Giants decades ago. If you’re a NFL fan, you might’ve heard of Lawrence Taylor & Carl Banks– that was the team of NFL legends which he was on the coaching staff back in the good old days. He once spoke of those days in NY, any free time at home he used to mess around with his kids playing backyard lacrosse. He said he’d always used to win stick-checking the ball out of their sticks until they eventually got good themselves. The love for the sport continued with all his kids grew up playing elite college men & women lacrosse.
Then you hear about how Coach Belichick played lacrosse in his athletic days and have always loved the sport, having played at Wesleyan university serving as captain in his senior year. Steve Belichick (now a safeties coach for his dad with the Patriots) played college lacrosse at Rutgers against Chris Hogan in a heated rivalry not so long ago. Steve was also a 2-sport athlete playing defense / LSM in lax & a long-snapper for football. Obviously, it wasn’t a surprise to hear that lacrosse sticks are visible around the training grounds of the Patriots.
Why am I writing this? Well, just making small observations– 4 years ago, we saw the NCAA lacrosse finals played at Gillette stadium, which just was truly awesome for lax fans of for the scope of the facilities and the camera views from all angles (as you’d get from a playoff NFL game). Yes, Gillette Stadium is the home field of the NE patriots. It’s a no-brainer of “who” had made that call to the right people to help facilitate this event to actually happen. These small contributions were big for us in lacrosse, a minority sport which is at best a semi-pro level for most people involved. I was always appreciative of this to the Bilichick family and even felt mixed feeling when my Giants managed to take 2 Super Bowl wins from his Patriots on those magical years of past. Now, we have a new chapter opened in the story-line of this bromance of lacrosse & grid-iron football – we have 2 sport-players actually making big impacts– on the lacrosse field as well as the pro football field. I’m happy to hear this, and genuinely appreciative to the coach in giving a lax player a chance to showcase his talents. Hogan was un-drafted into the NFL and only had played 1 year of college football prior to arriving with the patriots. Now he’s a star player on the team– without a doubt, this is a nice feel-good story worth telling. =)
More on Chris Hogan: