FOXBORO — Danny Amendola has no regrets about restructuring his contract to stay in New England. As a matter of fact, there’s no place he’d rather be.
The 29-year-old receiver made that much very clear Tuesday when he took a break from offseason workouts at Gillette Stadium to speak with reporters and explain why he signed a three-year, $12.75 million dollar deal that will carry him through the 2017 season.
“I love playing for this team, I love playing for these coaches, this organization,” Amendola said. “I’ve got family out here, this is home to me. I love playing for this team; it’s a great experience and I’d like to prolong that as long as I can. It’s been fun.”
“It’s a business and everybody treats it like a business. Obviously you love playing football, you love being around the locker room, you love being around your teammates, and that’s really the most important thing for me. I love the group we have here, I love the work ethic everybody puts in every week, I love being here, so that’s why I chose to come back.”
Last season did not start off well for Amendola and it affected his final numbers. He only caught 27 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown.
But something clicked in the playoffs. Against the Ravens, he caught five passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yard score thrown by Julian Edelman in a 35-31 win. After catching just one pass for eight yards in the AFC championship, he turned it on in the Super Bowl. Amendola caught five passes for 48 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that cut Seattle’s lead to 24-21.
“You know what, it’s been great. I have a lot of great memories from the game, it’s something we’ll all remember forever, but we’re really focused on moving forward,” Amendola said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces in the building and a lot of goals and a lot of hopes for this upcoming year; that’s really the only thing we’re focused on now.
“You know, we’re the hunted now, so we have to prepare that way. We’re working hard and we’re getting a lot of good work in right now.”
And to Amendola there’s no change in the team’s approach that he’s seen in the first two weeks of workouts.
“No, it’s the same,” Amendola said. “We’re still as hungry as ever, we want to go out there and prove a lot of things to a lot of people, so we’re working hard and we’re getting a lot of good work accomplished.”
Amendola looked relaxed Tuesday, even joking about his quarterback skipping out on the White House visit last week when asked about it.
“Yeah, he’s trying to get his bench press up,” Amendola said of Tom Brady, who reportedly stayed behind in Foxboro to work out. “I don’t know what he’s trying to do, but Tom’s our leader, Tom’s our guy. I don’t know what his political stance is.”
Asked if he were offended by Brady’s absence, Amendola added, “No. I don’t know what he was doing (smile).”
As for his own impression of the White House, Amendola said he appreciated the rare chance to meet a powerful man.
“It was nice. I got to shake the President’s hand, that’s pretty cool, nobody in my family’s done that before, so it was cool,” Amendola said. “We’re going to be working hard to hopefully get that done again.”
Amendola could forgive the President for his failed attempt at humor over Deflategate.
“You know, he’s a funny guy. I’m not going to go into inflation too much,” Amendola said. “It’s crazy; I’ve never been to the White House, I’ve seen a bunch of teams win championships and go, and always dreamt about going there one day, and it’s exciting. Everybody’s just working really hard to get that done again.”
Other Amendola takeaways from Tuesday:
On how important is OTA for team building: “It’s huge. Anytime you get the guys together, you get in the film room, you get in the weight room, out on the field throwing, stuff like that, it’s great.
“We show up to work and we have a job to do, whether it’s in the offseason, OTAs, whether we’re working out, running around running routes and stuff like that, so the only thing we’re focused on is coming in and getting our work done for each day, getting better each day, and going from there.”
On playing well in the playoffs: Everybody gets an opportunity to show what they’ve got and it’s something that I’m looking forward to next year. Going to try to make the team, obviously, like everybody else, and go from there.
On looking forward to this year after way you finished last year: I’m focused on the future. I have a lot of football to play. I have a chip on my shoulder still and I want to play good football for a long time.
On feeling better as he gets older: Yeah. I still feel really great physically, I feel young. I feel like I’m running around really well and like I said, we’ve got a great group of guys in the locker room and that’s what really drew me back to playing here and I’m obviously grateful for the opportunity to play here.
On personal offseason workouts as he gets older: “As you get older, you have to approach things differently. I take care of my body probably a little better than I did when I was 21, 22, but conditioning-wise I feel really good. We had a great day running today, probably the best conditioning day we’ve had as a team, and it was really awesome to see. Everybody feels really good.”
On his memories of the draft process and not being drafted: “It’s all about opportunity. I knew when I was coming out of college if I was to get a shot at camp then I’d have a shot, so that’s all I asked for. And here I am.”
Could this be a breakout year for Amendola? I think you’re reading too much into it. I’m going to put myself in position to be there for my teammates, that’s for sure.
On building on end of last year: “You always want to take the momentum of the last year into the next one. The goal of the season is to win the last game that you play, so we’re going to carry that momentum into next year. It’s all about getting out there and playing good football, so that’s what we’re focused on.”
On whether going undrafted fuels him: Absolutely: “It’s something that you’re labeled, so you’re going to roll with that your whole career. I wanted the opportunity and I got it back then, and just try to make the most of those.”
Can he use that to mentor other guys? “Absolutely. Getting older now, you’ve seen a lot of guys come in the league as rookies and need guidance one way or another, but for a guys that’s been through it a number of years now, drafted, undrafted ‘ it’s all about playing good football, all about being there for your teammates, and trying to win games.”
On Malcolm Butler: I remember when Malcolm got here his first couple of days of OTAs, making plays, he had a couple of interceptions in some drills that we had that personally I thought we pretty impressive and he’s a great athlete. There’s guys like that that go undrafted or drafted late even and not necessarily overlooked, but this is the NFL ‘ everybody is a good athlete whether you’re drafted or undrafted so it’s all about making the most of your opportunities and playing good football.
On whether he’s watched the Super Bowl: I haven’t even seen it. I’ve seen a couple of clips here and there, but I haven’t sat down and watched it. But it’s in the past, so focused on the future.
On CB Bradley Fletcher, former teammate: Fletch ‘ that’s my boy. He’s a great player. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s instinctive, he’ll come up and hit you too. As a cornerback that’s something that you like to see and it’s a great addition to our football team and he’s going to make everyone else better.
On WR Brandon Gibson (also former teammate): Brandon Gibson, that’s like my brother. We played together for four years in St. Louis, and he’s the type of guy that brings a lot of athleticism to the wide receiver position, he’s been around the game for a long time, and we’re all happy to have him in the room. He’s a great guy and a great football player too. We’re excited to have him.