FOXBOROUGH — During his short stint with Dallas, it took receiver Jesse Holley a year to have a full conversation with quarterback Tony Romo.
Following his first day with the Patriots, Holley figures getting to know Tom Brady will be easier. After all, they are only two lockers apart.
“Tom and I introduced ourselves, that’s pretty much it right now,” said Holley, signed by the Patriots on Monday after they released Chad Ochocinco. “I’m optimistic. He knows my name, hopefully. I know his. Hopefully I’ll be able to lean over and ask a couple questions. If he answers, great, if not I’ll ask again tomorrow.”
Learning, be it a new system or the requirements of making it with the Patriots, will be a recurring theme with the charismatic Holley, who held court with media for over 10 minutes following Tuesday’s mandatory mini-camp. His NFL story is one made for TV, which makes sense, given that he broke into the league thanks to a reality show.
In 2008, Holley, undrafted out of North Carolina and cut by the Bengals and the CFL’s BC Lions, was working multiple jobs, including an 11 p.m.-7 a.m. security shift, when he was accepted to Michael Irvin’s show on Spike TV, “4th and Long.” In winning the competition, Holley earned the final invitation to Cowboys camp.
After spending almost two seasons on the practice squad, Holley’s big moment came last season. In Week 2 against San Francisco, his 77-yard reception in overtime set up the game-winning field goal. He played in 28 regular season games over the past two seasons, finishing with seven receptions for 169 yards.
That got him in the door with Romo, too.
“I was a rock star,” he said with a smile. “I was bigger than Tony Romo for a week. We went to dinner and everything.
“I just came in, didn’t know anybody, he had his guys, but after that, once we warmed up to each other, after that we were having conversations. I got invited to his house, invited to the wedding, knew about the baby and all that. It took us a little while, but once we got acquainted we were good friends.”
Friendship aside, Holley knows that making the Patriots roster will be a tall order, especially with 10 other receivers listed as of Tuesday. He could be an asset on special teams with experience gained there in Dallas, and was optimistic after the practice session.
“You’ve got to learn fast, they require a lot of you,” said Holley, who had landed in Mexico for vacation when his agent told him that the Patriots requested a workout. “I’m ready for the challenge. Go back and watch some film, see where I can improve at, and continue to learn.”
As far as making the transition between teams?
“I found out via Twitter, some fans were unhappy I came to New England, but I guess they don’t realize it wasn’t my choice to leave Dallas,” Holley said. “Dallas broke up with me. It was shocking. It’s like you come home, everything’s gone, they leave a love letter for you, a goodbye letter.
“But that’s what it’s about. You mend a broken heart, you start a new relationship, you trust again.”