David Andrews was looking out the window Thursday at a blizzard that was enveloping Foxboro, Mass. Five days had passed since the biggest game of Andrews’ life, and he was feeling antsy.
“I feel like I’m behind,” he said. “Other people have had five weeks to work out.”
Yes, Andrews had just won a Super Bowl, starting and playing every offensive play for New England, and he still wanted to hit the weight room. Well, how do you think a supposedly undersized center, who was a three-star recruit and then an undrafted free agent, made it this far?
But first, Andrews took a few minutes to reflect on all this. The common background with the man he snaps the ball to, Tom Brady. What it was like playing against his home-state team, the Atlanta Falcons. Whether he’ll keep a low-profile when he comes home, rather than tick off Falcons fans.
And how Andrews has once again proven himself, against the odds. Actually, start there.
Six years ago Andrews was an unheralded offensive lineman coming out of Wesleyan, a small high school. He would go on to be Georgia’s starting center for three years, the heart and soul of a high-scoring offense … and despite that still wasn’t drafted. But the Patriots took a flyer on him, and he became their starting center.
It’s an amazing turn of events. Sort of like, say, a sixth-round pick going on to be arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter if you were a no-star or a five-star, if you’re playing in the Super Bowl you obviously did something right,” Andrews said. “Heck, look at our quarterback coming out, nobody ever thought he’d be anything. Now everybody’s talking about him being the greatest quarterback of all time. To me, at the time I thought it mattered, things like that. Once you start to realize it doesn’t really matter, it’s not how you start it’s how you finish, the old cliché, it just makes you appreciate everything a bit more, maybe.”
Brady was the 199th overall pick of the draft in 2001. He now has five Super Bowl rings. But even he was a bit taken aback at how Andrews got to the pros.
“He was kinda shocked I guess when he found out I didn’t go to the (NFL) combine or anything like that,” Andrews said.
So Andrews has been able to rub elbows with Brady. Not to mention snap him the ball. But he’s also been able to share this experience with a very familiar face: Malcolm Mitchell, who came to Georgia with Andrews in 2011. Since Mitchell was drafted last year in the fourth round, the two have gone to dinner together, swapped old Georgia stories, and helped each other adjust to the pros.
“It’s just unbelievable, two kids from Georgia, part of the Dream Team at Georgia, now Super Bowl champions,” Andrews said.
And it came against his home-state team. Though that didn’t hold any special allure to Andrews.
His uncle was once an assistant coach for the Falcons, but once he left, his nephew wasn’t really much of an NFL fan. David Andrews was just a Georgia football fan. So was it special, or weird, to play the Falcons in the Super Bowl? Not really.
“I guess for the story it’s kind of a cool story, kind of playing your hometown team,” Andrews said. “But it was just awesome to have a chance to play in that game. The biggest sporting game we have.”
About that big game, this is the part of the story that Falcons fans are free to turn away: The comeback. The events don’t need to be rehashed.
Andrews was in the middle of it, and asked to reflect on it a few days later, still sounds amazed.
“Man, it’s just a testament to the guys that we have. No one panicked. No one freaked out,” Andrews said. “Everyone just kept throwing punches. No one tried to be Superman and make it all up in one play. We just had to go out there and keep executing. … I’m just proud to be a part of that football team, and proud to share that moment with those guys.”
Andrews is engaged to his longtime girlfriend, a former UGA cheerleader. They’ve bought a house back home in Georgia. His plan is to come home Sunday, and from his tone it’s obvious he plans to spend as much as possible back home, worked around his obligations with the Patriots.
Given what happened in the Super Bowl, Andrews was asked if he planned to keep a low profile, lest he offend any Falcons fans.
“I know people are hurt by it,” he said. “That’s the NFL. That’s why people love the game, though, is the chance to be on the other side of the fence. I know last year we lost in the AFC championship, and man it was brutal. But that’s what makes you love the game, is the opportunity to play and win. There’s always next year now. Now you turn on the TV or radio stations or whatever, and people are already talking about teams and predictions for next year. That’s what makes people love the game.
“I’m excited to get home. Because Georgia is my home, and will always be my home.”