If I imagined my life at age 27, there’s not much more I could ask for. I’m paid to play the sport I love. I live in a great city (Nashville), have an amazing wife and a beautiful 2-year-old daughter, Liana. I’ve been blessed with health and an incredibly supportive circle of friends and family.
So I hope what I’m about to say doesn’t come across as ungrateful, or even greedy. But there is one void in my life, one thing that eats at me, that occupies my mind, that irks me to no end.
I’ve never been to the NFL playoffs. And it sucks.
January is always the hardest. When my season ended, I flew up to Foxborough to hang out with my twin brother, Devin. He plays for the Patriots, and let’s just say they’re usually playing at this time of year.
Since Devin had a bye, we spent a few days together. Our families rang in the New Year. We took Liana to the aquarium. We caught up, relaxed—it felt really nice.
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Yet this week, I’m visiting my mom in New Jersey to give Devin his space. Because while I’m in offseason mode—I wake up when I want, take care of my daughter during the day and go to sleep, well, whenever I want—Devin is preparing for his playoff game against the Ravens. I don’t want to be a distraction, and trust me, you probably wouldn’t want to be around him right now either.
Look, I’m extremely happy for Devin. There are few people who will root harder for him. I know how hard he works, how bad he wants it, and I want to see him reach his goal. I want to be in Arizona on Feb. 1 as he wins his first Super Bowl ring.
But every year, a part of me simmers with envy. I remember 2012, when the Patriots won the AFC Championship. A bunch of our teammates from Rutgers went up there to cheer Devin on. When New England beat the Ravens, the energy was amazing. Families started making Super Bowl travel arrangements. Friends and coaches who played a part along the way called with congratulations.
Right then, I saw what it looked to come within striking distance of the ultimate goal. Those smiles, that feeling—I wanted to experience that, too.
Brothers, inherently, are competitive, and twins take it to the next level. As close as Devin and I are—we truly are best friends—we are always trying to one-up each other. We inspire each other to improve, on and off the field. Our senior year of high school, I got more scholarship offers than Devin. I had the edge. Then at Rutgers, I left early and got drafted in the sixth round. Again, I was ahead. Devin stayed, had an amazing senior year, and got drafted in the first round. Edge, Devin. He was the first one to make a Pro Bowl. I was the first one to get a second contract. You get the idea.
Devin never gloats, but with our personalities it's almost 100 percent jokes. When my teammates are around, he’s always talking trash and lecturing me about what “winning football looks like.”
I throw my jabs back in there. Not every play is positive, so I get on him about any time he slips up (though it doesn't happen too often).
Obviously, I don’t have a ton to brag about, except for the fact that neither of us has a ring.
But the truth is, year after year, Devin is closer. I hate the fact that only once have I played in a Week 16 game that mattered (that was my third year, when we went 9-7 and were still in the hunt for a playoff spot; we didn’t get in).
A lot of people think athletes are only in it for the money, but when you play this sport, you play to win (Herm Edwards would agree). Those who become truly successful, those who are remembered as great? They win. The ultimate prize, no doubt, is a Super Bowl ring.
To put in that much work and get nothing, well it makes you so much hungrier. Six years of losing has definitely taken a toll, but I'm determined to continue to work hard and help my team achieve our goals. I think it’s important, no matter your profession, to never become complacent and always strive for greatness.
Right now, I’ll cheer for Devin. I hope he has a great playoff run that ends with him winning Super Bowl MVP, especially since he's going into free agency. My mom has a dream of us suiting up for the same team. Maybe I can pull him to Tennessee, and we can win a championship together.
Or, he can win a ring this year, then I tie him and surpass him. That’s when the real trash talk will begin.
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