FOXBORO — David Andrews, a critical cog on two Super Bowl championship teams, was caught flat-footed when he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs last summer, effectively ending his 2019 season before it began. Without one of their offensive captains, the Patriots struggled to move the ball effectively.
Andrews is set to return to work this year and spoke Tuesday with reporters about his journey back:
DA: I know there’s a lot of interest in what was going on with my health and things that happened last year. It was definitely an interesting situation. I’m very fortunate that I am able to continue playing this game. I’m very appreciative of all the support I received from my family, my friends, my wife, but really the organization as a whole from the Kraft family down to Coach [Bill] Belichick to Josh [McDaniels], Scar [Dante Scarnecchia], all the coaches. And then obviously all the doctors, our medical staff, strength staff continuously working with me, to the doctors I had to deal with, the time they spent with me, the questions, a lot of phone calls, our team doctors. So, very appreciative for all that, appreciative that I was able to – as most of you all know, saw me around the building last year and there was some talk about how I was trying to contribute and do whatever I could to help the football team. But, now it’s kind of in the past, I’ve kind of said what I wanted to say on that and I’m just really looking forward to moving forward and getting back to being a football player again. I’m really excited to get back out there whenever we can.
Q: Are there any restrictions for you going forward? What have the doctors told you about the potential of a recurrence?
DA: I’m not really sure if there’s a real restriction on anything. I haven’t been told that. Part of it was the medicine I was on and I’m off that medicine, so I can go about living my normal life. The recurrence thing, that’s something unfortunately you can’t really pin down, so I’m just going to go about my life, keep playing this game and doing what I can, stay as healthy as I can. I think it was just kind of a freak accident thing.
Q: What was it like for you when you were told you could return to playing football? How much relief was that for you?
DA: I mean, it’s great. That’s what I want to do. I came here to play football, and not being out there – anybody that’s hurt, not being out there, even if it’s just for a week or whatever it may be, it’s tough on an athlete. We want to compete, we want to be out there, and so when you can’t do that, it’s obviously frustrating and tough. So, it was great to finally get that. Like I said, I just want to move forward now and look forward to 2020.
Q: You just called this an accident. Can you explain to us exactly what the root cause of your health condition was and what makes you think this is not going to happen again? Are you restricted at all as far as altitude games or things like that?
DA: I’ve kind of said my peace on what I want to say about that. I don’t necessarily feel like all my medical information needs to be out there. We have a great medical staff; we have great doctors. I have some great doctors I’ve worked with. I’m cleared to play football. I want to move forward with that and talk about football going forward. What happened, happened. You can’t live your life in fear if it’s going to happen again or not. It’s a violent game and things happen – there’s a lot of things that happen. That’s just life, and so I just want to move forward through that. And like I said, I’ve kind of said what I want to say on my injury and what I dealt with.
Q: Would you say this situation changed you at all? Do you have a different outlook on life or football going through everything?
DA: I think anytime you miss a season – and unfortunately that happens every year to guys through injuries – it makes you take a step back and miss and enjoy the grind a little bit. I still came into work every day, but I wasn’t out there competing with the guys. I wasn’t out there working with them, and you miss that. You miss that part of it. It makes you appreciative of the times, and that’s tough. You’re definitely appreciative you get to do what you want to do. Sometimes, I think we take health and things like that for granted, so it definitely makes you appreciative. It also kind of allowed me to look at the offense as a whole and pick up some new things, where I wasn’t really focused on a game plan each week. I kind of got to look at it from a big picture. It’s such a grind and it’s such a rush from playing on Sunday’s, to getting the film corrected, and then moving forward to the next team, and you’ve got a short week or things like that. It’s just a jumping around of a season. To be able to just kind of take a step back and look at the game as a whole and kind of watch football from a different perspective, yeah, there was definitely some good things about it, some fun things. But like I said, as a competitor and a guy who wants to play football, it sucks not being out there.
Q: Can you reflect on what Dante Scarnecchia and Tom Brady have meant to your pro career?
DA: It’s always tough, it’s a tough business, because there’s always turnover. I kind of learned that very quickly in my NFL life, and that was Dave [DeGuglielmo]. Coach Guge was my first NFL coach and that was my first coaching change in pretty much my whole life of football, so that was a different change. And every year, it’s kind of being somebody changing and someone leaving, adding players, different coaches. We’ve been pretty fortunate on the offensive side of the ball to have a lot of the same coaches, but it’s just part of the business. Scar has meant so much to me. He taught me so much and still means a lot to me. I’m thankful for – it’s kind of weird saying it now – but I guess the friendship that we have. Scar will always be around and he’s someone that that relationship extends to more than football. Just to get the chance to play with a coach like that is an unreal experience. Obviously, Tommy is who Tommy is. What a great experience it was to get to play with him. I’m appreciative of him and our friendship that we have. That was the longest quarterback I’ve ever played with in any of the stages of my football career. It’s always a special bond and we will remain friends for life.
Q: How different will it be to have a new center-quarterback combination and how much will you have to work on that when you guys return to football? Also, how much do you pay attention to the fact that some people are writing you guys off due to the departures this team has had?
DA: No, I mean, I’m pretty fortunate. I’ve worked plenty with Brian Hoyer. I’ve had a lot of experience with Brian. He’s been around for a while. And then I went all last spring with Jarrett [Stidham] and six weeks of training camp, or whatever I made it in training camp, to work with him at times. There’s always a new challenge in the NFL, whether it was coming in after my rookie year and having Joe Thuney play next to me, or a couple years later, Trent Brown next up. There’s always a new challenge as a part of this business, part of this league. And all the stuff about whatever anyone wants to say, everyone has an opinion. All we can do and control what we can control. It started this past week or so or however long it’s been of the offseason program, and just kind of in the same boat here. So, control what we can control, make the most out of each day and kind of put your head down and look up where you are later.
Q: As one of the leaders on the team, how much have you been able to get a feel for how all the veterans are leading as you transition away from one of the most iconic players in the league?
DA: I think you don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I think leadership – sometimes you can kind of see through it if there’s some B.S. in it. Be who you are, do what got you here, just do it better and do it more. I think it is what it is. It’s being in the NFL. It’s part of this business. There doesn’t need to be a superman anywhere. We just need to go out there and do our jobs collectively as a group, provide good leadership – even if he was here or wasn’t here – whoever is here. So, that’s our job and that’s what we’ll try to do.
Q: Considering what the country and NFL may be going through going forward, do you feel a sense of disappointment that you’ve been cleared and now may have to wait to return to football? Or is there a feeling that once you get back in, you’ll have an added appreciation for being in the facility and with the other players once again?
DA: I think both. This has definitely been a tough time, not only for everyone in our country but the world. I’m fortunate to be healthy and my family to be healthy, but I can’t really do anything about it right now, just take each day at a time. I’m ecstatic to when we are able to get back, being with the guys in whatever way we can. That’s always fun. By the end of the season, everyone is kind of sick of each other and everyone needs a break. And then it’s kind of like the first day of school, that offseason program – it’s so great to see everyone, you’ve missed everyone, you’re refreshed. Definitely excited to get back to it and be a team, but it just is what it is and we’ll take it one day at a time.
Q: How are you physically preparing yourself for the upcoming season?
DA: How the offseason would usually work, we wouldn’t be doing really football drills right now anyway. We’d just be kind of working out and meeting. So, there’s really nothing that you can do rather than that that much. We’ve got turf fields and grass fields. You know, get out in your yard, run and do some drills on there. The way the offseason is set up, that’s kind of what we’d be doing right now anyways. So, no reason you can’t go do that, and guys are being creative, finding ways to work, whether it’s in your garage or whatever it may be. You’ve got to take it one day at a time. Everyone is in the same situation as us. It’s not like every other place, they’re at the facility working out or anything like that, so everyone’s kind of in the same boat.
Q: Have you been able to connect with some of your younger teammates, for example some new draft picks on the offensive line?
DA: I haven’t yet. They’ll come in here soon. That’s kind of how the process is always. The vets are back working a couple days, and we’ll reach out to them and talk to them once they get joined in here. They’ve got a lot of loose ends to tie up and getting ready to move here, so we’ll see them soon.
Q: What is your relationship like with Jarrett Stidham? If he is given a significant role this year, how do you feel like he would handle it based on what you do know of him?
DA: Yeah, Jarrett is a great kid. I was still able, especially during the season at times, we would hang out a lot and stuff. Whatever quarterback is in that room, I try to build a bond with them, whether it’s Jimmy [Garoppolo], Brian [Hoyer], Danny Etling. Whoever is in there, you try to build a bond because it’s obviously one play away from anyone playing. That’s just the way it is. I look back on my rookie year and can remember the growth I saw from my rookie season to my second year and how the games start to click a little bit and make sense a little bit more. So, that for all those players is just a natural thing coming from that first to second year. Your first year is such a whirlwind. It’s such a long year from going from bowl games to training to combine to pro day to OTAs, minicamps, all that, to training camp. For a year, it’s nonstop. The growth from your first to your second year is so huge. So, we’ll bring in great players, Coach Belichick brings in great football players, and we have a lot of great guys in this locker room that are committed to winning. So, that’s the tradition from guys and how they handle situations.
Q: With the departure of Coach Scarnecchia and Tom Brady, how nice is it to have the continuity of the same core guys up front on the offensive line coming back this year? Also, are you in Georgia right now or are you in New England?
DA: First, I am in New England. Me and my wife stayed up here this offseason. She was in some esthetician school, so she was doing that and I was just being up here and hanging out. So, we’re up here. The first part of that – it’s great having those guys, especially the four. You know, Marcus [Cannon], Shaq [Mason], Joe [Thuney] – I’ve played a lot of football with them. I obviously didn’t play much with Isaiah [Wynn] last year, but I played a lot of football with them. A lot of those guys have played football [together], and now it’s going into Isaiah’s third year in the league. And also, Cole Popovich and Carm [Carmen Bricillo], it’s not like these are someone that they brought in and a lot of us haven’t even met. These are guys that Cole’s been there for a while and Carm’s been there since last year. So, pretty much every one in the room right now, other than the rookies, have a relationship with those guys, are familiar with them, so I think that helps a lot having those guys that we’ve been around for a long time and have been in our system helps a lot because there’s a lot of continuity there.
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