Patriots Q & A Session

Patriots Q & A Session

Ben Whelan

I recently got the opportunity to roam the Patriots locker room after a practice and ask the players some questions. It was a Friday, so a lot of the big names were gone, but instead I got to talk to some of the less-well known players that work behind the scenes to make this franchise what it is. Sure, guys like Brady and Harrison and Seymour get all the headlines, but there are tons of guys who muck it out every day, with little hope of ending up on Sportscenter, simply because they love the game and want to make their team better. So here they are: third year backup linebacker Eric Alexander, fullback Heath Evans, and (recently cut) defensive tackle Jonathan Sullivan.

MassMedia: At what point in your life did you realize you might be able to make a career out of playing professionally?

Jonathan Sullivan: Around my sophomore year…people started talking about me. People started talking about pro football and I had never heard anything like that before. I really hadn’t even started thinking about it because I only really started playing my sophomore year of high school.

Eric Alexander: When the Patriots signed me to the practice squad three years ago. I was just struggling trying to play in college, I wasn’t really thinking about the NFL.

Heath Evans: Well, I started telling people when I was 4, but when I realized it was coming true… probably when I got drafted. I mean, coming out my college career was good so you’re always thinking, but this is the NFL: the best of the best and you never know until you get here. I mean, I came out early, so you know and you don’t know.

MM: How do you feel about the college system and the way that athletes are compensated for playing in college? Do you think athletes should be paid?

Jonathan Sullivan: I think they should get paid; that’s the main reason they’re leaving early. I figure if they were getting paid they wouldn’t leave college early

Eric Alexander: Honestly, I think the system is fair and decent. Maybe the stipend they receive… maybe they should get a little more, because they are bringing the crowds and most people come to see them play at most big time universities.

Heath Evans: You know, I don’t know how you go about it, but I don’t think college athletes should be worrying about where their deodorant is coming from, where their shampoo is coming from, how they’re gonna eat this weekend… I’ve been out six years so I don’t know if it’s still that way, but I know when I was there I thanked God my parents had extra money to send me, cause with a lot of my teammates I was buying two-three dinners, two-three tubes of toothpaste, toothbrushes… something needs to be done about that.

MM: When you first entered the league, who played the biggest role in helping you adjust to the NFL from college?

Eric Alexander: All the veteran linebackers that were here when I first came, when we had a lot of older guys, so I just really tried to follow behind them and pick up stuff. Your coaches can only tell you what to do, but you teammates can show you what to do and how to do it.

Jonathan Sullivan: My rookie year, the whole defensive line did. They helped me catch up to the speed of the game and everything I did they coached me through it. Grady Jackson, Charles Grant, Darren Howard…all those guys.

MM: Who are some of the best on-field trash-talkers you’ve dealt with over the course of your career?

Jonathan Sullivan: Pretty much any offensive line you go against; they’re gonna be talking the whole game. They say all kinds of crazy things, they might even know your family.

Heath Evans: Fred Smoot. He’s a straight idiot, but he absolutely hilarious, yelling in the backfield all kinds of crazy stuff that I can’t repeat.

MM: How often do broadcasters and analysts really know what they’re talking about?

Jonathan Sullivan: 40% of the time.Eric Alexander: 20% of the time.