Pats practice a thrill for football youths

17 years ago

A week before the start of their own football practice, more than 20 Aroostook Football players, plus coaches and other adults, set out for Massachusetts Aug. 7 to attend a New England Patriots practice.     For some of the players, it was the first time they had been south of Bangor, let alone outside of the state of Maine. The trip was under the auspice of the Army National Guard, with Spec. J.P. Rodriquez acting as liaison for the group.
The Aroostook Football group was allowed to bunk at the Maine National Guard Armory in Portland, where cots were provided. The evening’s entertainment was a spirited flag football game on the floor of the armory.
The next morning, the group finished the trip to Foxboro, where they saw the local favorite professional team put through their paces in the final practice before its first preseason game. Ryan Jones of Presque Isle commented that some of the drills he saw the Patriots perform were the same as what his team does during its practices. Since this was the final practice before a game, the Patriots concentrated on perfecting the timing of their offense and working on special teams play.
After the practice, several of the Patriot players, including star linebackers Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi, were gracious enough to spend time giving autographs to the assembled fans attending the practice. Several Aroostook football players left the field proudly displaying their autographed programs, footballs and jerseys.