Many football players joke that NFL really stands for “Not For Long”. The average playing career for a player is 3.3 years…hardly a career. Patrick lasted 6 years, a stat I’m so proud of him for because he really wasn’t supposed to play in the league at all.
While playing college ball at Duke University, Patrick was a part of a team that won 4 games in 4 years. Wrap your head around that! 4 games in 4 years!!! Though I’m sure frustrating, he kept working and playing hard. In his senior year, he started to get some looks from a lot of perspective teams to draft him. He was told he could be selected as high as the 3rd or 4th round. But that all changed when he tore his ACL…a brutal season ending, and most likely career ending injury. He battled back from it though, and when The Draft rolled around he was hopeful he could be taken in one of the later rounds.
On the final day of The Draft, Bill Parcels, GM of the Dolphins at the time, called Patrick’s agent and said he would be taking him in the next round, but when the next round rolled around, he selected someone else and again promised the next round, but again, didn’t come through. Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin, was also calling, telling Patrick’s agent he would not be drafting Patrick, but he was one of their top priorities to pick up after The Draft. If you know Patrick, you know how big he is on “your word”. When he says he’s going to do something, he does it. When others do the same respect to him, it stays with him. That Draft, Miami took zero linebackers, Pittsburgh took two. He had every reason to choose Miami. They had at least showed interest in drafting him, and he had a better chance of making the team and playing in Miami. But he chose Pittsburgh because Coach Tomlin was upfront and honest with him. That day he told him, “We only want competitors on our team, and we see you as a competitor.” and that really meant something to him.
God works in mysterious ways. He choose Pittsburgh, and I was in Pittsburgh. What adds to the story though is that I had interviewed with the Steelers to do sports reporting there. One of my college friends who worked there had encouraged the interview, and I thought it went really well! I was extremely bummed out and confused when I didn’t get the job. Had I gotten the job, I would have met Patrick, but I never would have been allowed to date him as that is frowned upon in the business. I truly believe God worked in His amazing ways so that we could meet and start this wonderful life together!
Patrick had a great preseason and felt good about making the team, but was ultimately cut and then placed on the Practice Squad. After a few weeks, he got called up for a couple weeks, but got injured, so they placed him back on the Practice Squad for a week. Once he healed, he spent the remainder of the season on the active roster, and even earned the teams Joe Greene Top Performing Rookie award, also known as R.O.Y. or Rookie of The Year!
That first year, 2008, was the year the Steelers went to Super Bowl XLIII! How amazing for a Rookie to go to the Super Bowl! So many players spend their entire careers just trying to get there, and Patrick was lucky enough to make it there his first year in the league! This was the nail biter of a Super Bowl…the one where Santonio Holmes made the game winning catch in the end-zone in the last moments of the game! Patrick contributed to the win with a solo special-teams tackle! It was a pretty big stop.
I’ll never forget the moment when the ref raised his arms signaling that final touchdown! Just pure bliss and joy! After the game was over, I followed Patrick’s brother James, while the rest of his family went another way. James and I must have went the right way because we found ourselves on the field partaking in the celebration!
There was a victory party at the hotel after the game. I feel like I hardly remember it it, but that’s probably because I thought I was in a dream! I do however remember seeing Snoop Dogg there lol how many times can you say you were at the same party as Snoop Dogg?! I also remember getting to meet Kevin Colbert, GM of the Steelers. This was super cool for me as he and I went to both the same high school and college. I thought it was amazing and encouraging that someone who had the same education background as myself was so successful!
The next day, we flew back on the team plane. The Lombardi trophy was passed around to all the players so they could get pictures with it. I was that close to it and didn’t touch it…why didn’t I touch it?! Still so cool to have been that close to one!
It was an amazing experience being at the Super Bowl, watching your hometown team win, and having your boyfriend playing in it! I rank it as one of the top moments in my life! It’s hard to believe it was six years ago!
It’s also hard to believe that the rest of Patricks playing career in Pittsburgh and then in Tennessee, he never even made it back to the playoffs let alone another Super Bowl. It truly puts into perspective what a unique experience we had and how lucky we were to get to live it!
This year, we’ll be watching and just hoping for a good game and even better commercials! We know players on both teams so we wouldn’t mind seeing either team win. I hope whichever team wins savors the moment, because so many times it’s a once in a lifetime expereience!