Just hours after learning that wide receiver Wes Welker accepted a deal to leave the New England Patriots and join one of their top competitors, the Denver Broncos, reports started emerging that the Pats are close to signing former St. Louis Rams receiver Danny Amendola.
The new guy — who could be the next Patriots star if he continues following the career path of Welker — should feel right at home in New England. And he knows Maine very well.
More on that connection in a minute.
Now, I don’t often drift into the realm of sports in this blog, but those who know me know I’m a huge Boston sports fan, and a rabid Patriots fan most of all. For those who aren’t so rabid, though, I’ll provide a little context for the above paragraph.
Welker has played in New England for six seasons, including five in which he caught more than 110 passes each, making him the first NFL player ever to do that. In just half a dozen seasons in Foxboro, he caught more balls than anybody else who’d ever played for the Patriots. So he’s a significant loss, and a significant gain by the Broncos, who are annually among the Patriots’ top challengers for conference supremacy, and who are quarterbacked by Tom Brady’s historical rival, Peyton Manning.
Danny Amendola is reportedly very close to signing a contract with New England, however, and Amendola figures to be Welker’s replacement. Amendola has so much in common with Welker it’s almost eerie. They’re both quick, elusive slot receivers who went undrafted after decorated college careers at Texas Tech, each having eye-opening seasons of sorts with mediocre teams (Welker with 67 catches at age 25 with the 6-10 Dolphins in 2006, Amendola with 85 catches at age 25 with the 7-9 Rams in 2010).
Welker’s 5-feet-9-inches tall and 190 pounds, and Amendola’s 5-feet-11-inches tall and 183 pounds. Welker didn’t do anything terribly amazing statistically until he reached New England and got a chance to play with Brady. Now we’re likely going to see what that same chance does for Amendola’s career.
For Amendola, this next phase of his career will bring him some familiar geography. While he certainly spent the majority of his formative years in Texas, he has family here in the northeast.
When Amendola was 1 year old, back in 1986, his father, longtime football coach Willie Amendola spent a season leading the Massabesic High School team in Waterboro. According to the Conroe (Texas) Courier, Massabesic was 3-6 that year, an upgrade over their 0-9 record the season before, and the elder Amendola returned immediately thereafter to coach back in Texas.
“It was cold enough,” Willie Amendola reportedly told the Courier about his Maine stay in a 2008 article.
Fast forward to less than a year ago, when Amendola was spotted in New England, reporters back in St. Louis hypothesized he was planning to sign on with the Patriots. They were a year early, as it turns out. Back in March/April of 2012, Amendola was simply in Maine to attend his grandmother’s funeral, and stayed in the Boston area because his mother and father have roots there.
Maybe when the ink is dry on the new contract, Danny can come back up to Maine for a less somber stay, maybe visit the Old Port or partake in the state’s myriad outdoor recreation opportunities.