Earlier this week, the Bryant community came together to welcome Patriots star Danny Amendola to campus. Amendola, now taking some much-needed time off after helping the Patriots climb all the way to the Super Bowl, sat down for a moderated interview with Tristan Hobbes in front of the Bryant students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community. He was asked about his college career, the lessons he learned from his parents, as well as shared some funny stories of other Pats favorites like Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady. He also spoke of his heavy participation in community service both with the Patriots and prior to his NFL career. The audience then got a chance to participate and ask some questions of their own. Questions ranged from asking if Amendola has time to reflect on his successes to if Danny would join students in a ping-pong tournament in one of the halls later in the evening.
While a large portion of the campus was able to witness Amendola’s answers to the moderated questions, we here as the student newspaper representatives wanted to provide a deeper look into who Danny Amendola is and what advice he has for college students in particular. With the gracious help of the Bryant Student Programming Board and the Athletics Department, The Archway was able to arrange a 15-minute interview with Amendola prior to his moderated Q+A here on campus. Though we already know Danny for his passion and success on the field, it is not every day that our Patriots-loving campus gets to interact with someone from an NFL background. Considering our responsibilities to provide the most complete coverage for Bryant students, we were excited to gain a first-hand look at Danny off the field and a glimpse at his personal life. Here is our conversation we had with him:
KG: What made you want to come and speak at places like Bryant? Do you normally come and speak at colleges?
DA: I love doing this stuff and coming and sharing stories. I’ve done a handful of these and they are really fun. The questions are all unpredictable. I’ve been to a couple of colleges. I’ve been to Maine, I’ve been to Connecticut. I’ve been to another university in Rhode Island as well.
HW: What advice can you give to a college student who wants to strive competitively in any field they desire to enter?
DA: I would say to worry about what you can control. You’re going to face adversity in whatever aspect that is but just worry about what you can do. You can be prepared, you can be there on time, you can listen, you can take notes, you can control all of these things. Everybody faces adversity, so it is just a matter of going in prepared and having the ability to adapt.
HW: Sure, it’s almost how you go into almost every football game I’m sure!
DA: Absolutely, making a team is almost the same as interviewing or getting a job. Like for our process, we go through training camp for eight weeks, like when you are starting off a job or interviewing. It’s not much different.
HW: What in your youth and in general can you attribute to your overall success and who you are now?
DA: Specifically, one thing that has contributed to me being in this league as long as I have is to play good football, but also I’ve been around the game for a long time. My dad was a high school football coach for another team in our district, so it set the foundation when I was young and kind of propelled me through my career. I actually played against him when I was younger! I lost against him one time too. We beat him two out of the three times though, but who’s counting?! But my dad prepared me for off-season workouts, how to prepare for a season, how to prepare for a game.
KG: Does your dad get to go to a lot of games?
DA: He does. But funny, he literally likes to watch it on TV so he can see it better. Plus, that way he can avoid the cold in December and on.
SS: So, I get to ask you a fun football question. So when Edelman went down in the preseason it was heartbreaking for everyone. Did that make you prepare any differently mentally or physically for the role you had to step into?
DA: Actually not really! Julian is a great player and he has done a lot for our team, so when that happens everyone kind of rallies around that player to fill the gap and make the plays he won’t be able to make. That’s really the only change. But it’s still the same mentality and workload every week.
SS: Obviously, tough loss for the Super Bowl. You all played your hearts out though. So, how do you prepare mentally for what just happened and stay focused on next season?
DA: You know, you got to take a strong vacation! It’s important to get time to relax. I’m on third base for my vacation right now, but then after that it’s full steam ahead.
KG: Do you guys train together?
DA: A lot of us do, yeah! A lot of us were training in California or anywhere where it’s hot so you can get out and play. Texas, California, Arizona, anywhere past Mississippi really. But, yeah! As much as we can. It’s hard to get us all together, but a few times a year wherever we are at least.
KG: Besides the training in the offseason, what do you look forward to doing the most?
DA: Oh I love travelling! I love spending as much time as I can on any beach. The Northeast is a lot of snow and cold weather. Everyone migrates to warmer weather.
SS: Do you have a favorite place to travel?
DA: The Bahamas. I have to get sunburnt for the first couple days but once I’m over that, it’s great. I actually went to the Dominican for a couple days after the season but it rained three of the four days I was there so I didn’t get that sunburn I wanted.
KG: Where are you going next for vacation?
DA: I’m going to Exuma in the Bahamas with a couple of friends of mine. There’s pigs in the water which I think I’ll do, but you can also swim with nurse sharks. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that. There’s no protection or anything! If I even see a fish I’m swimming the other way!
HW: At Bryant the students here are really accustomed to working in a team to prepare them for the professional world, so what do you think makes the Patriots so successful as a team?
DA: I think it starts at the top really. We have an amazing owner who works well with our head coach who works well with our QB, so it’s really those three pillars. They’ve worked the best since long before I’ve been there, and working with other teams I’ve seen the differences.
KG: There have already been a lot of changes on the team, so what can you expect when you guys get back together in the summer?
DA: Expect the unexpected. It’s a business, so guys are coming in and coming out. Even myself, I’m an unrestricted free agent so it’ll be based on what’s at stake. But everyone is just embracing this month off!
SS: When the team heard that Malcolm Butler wasn’t starting at the Super Bowl, what were your thoughts?
DA: To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know that he wasn’t starting until the third quarter. I didn’t even know until I saw him not playing. But I’m not the coach. He’s a great player. I know that because I play against him every week.
KG: What are your thoughts about how the NFL treats concussions and CTE and related injuries?
DA: Regardless of the negative talks, the NFL has done a great job initiating rule changes, independent doctors on the sideline and in the booth. That’s something we didn’t even have five years ago. Even helmet technology is improving. I can tell a difference. I have taken some hits this year where if I was wearing a helmet from five years ago it would be different. But, I mean, I know I signed up for this, so I know what to expect.