A Patriots cheerleader
Catching up with Mark Van Eeghen
He was a local product who starred out on the west coast, but had the opportunity to close out his career back home.
A native of Cranston, Rhode Island, Mark Van Eeghen enjoyed the majority of his NFL success running the ball for the Oakland Raiders (1974-81), but had the opportunity to play his final two seasons (1982, 83) with the New England Patriots.
I definitely enjoyed coming back to (New England) to play, said Van Eeghen. I went out to California and had a wonderful experience there, but that being said home is home. When things were winding down out there the opportunity became available here in New England and it just was an awesome opportunity.
Those were the Ron Meyer years and it was a chance to play with some truly great players and great individuals. Also, the ability to get into my car and be thirty minutes from home was a very good experience.
These days, Van Eehgen still resides in Cranston with his wife Nancy, who was his high school sweetheart. The two will have been married thirty years this April and have three daughters Brooke, 28, Kady, 26 and Amber, 24.
I moved to Cranston in 1960 and New England is an awesome area, said Van Eeghen. We lived outside San Francisco and we gave it a little thought about staying there, but then things changed abruptly for me. I was waived after my eighth year and we made our decision to go home. It was an easy decision and have never looked back.
Currently, like father, like daughter, his youngest daughter Amber has followed his footsteps and is a cheerleader for the Patriots.
I am exceptionally proud of her, said Van Eeghen. When she went to tryout for the first time two years ago there were 24 openings for over 400 people trying out. Not fearing to fail, doing her best and seeing what happens I am proud of her for doing that. She put it all on the line.
She is really enjoying the experience, not only enjoying the dancing which she has done all through her life, but the camaraderie with her teammates, the chance to travel and to represent the team. Shes been on the team two years and they have not lost a home game and shes been to two Super Bowls.
For work, Van Eeghen works in the Property Casualty insurance business for The Andover Companies located in Andover, Massachusetts where he is a field rep. He is responsible for the state of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts territories.
I like it a lot and its a great company to work for, said Van Eeghen. I like the business. I have been in the insurance business since 1983 and worked on the retail side working for an agency. Then in 1990 I started doing the same thing, except from the company perspective.
Van Eeghen played a total of 10 seasons in the NFL. He was very successful most notably starting in 1976, when he put together a string of three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. In 1976 he rushed for 1,076 yards, in 1977 for 1,273 yards and in 1978 1,080 yards.
Van Eeghen was also an integral part of the Raiders teams that played in five consecutive AFC Championships and won two Super Bowls.
Im very grateful to have been on some very good Raider teams, said Van Eeghen. They were dominate Raider teams and we had a level of excellence. Winning those championship games to go on to the Super Bowl a couple of times and wining there was a euphoric experience. That was real special.
As far as the current Patriots, Van Eeghen follows the team closely and is very excited about the team's third Super Bowl appearance in four years.
Im so excited and its been a wonderful thing to watch and develop from 2001 when they upset the Rams, said Van Eeghen. Little did we know back then they were laying the foundation for what has developed. The consistency is whats huge to me and they rarely lay an egg, especially in a game that means something. Thats a tough thing to do in sports, especially at that level.
In my opinion that always starts from the top down no matter what business you are in. Mr. Kraft has brought a winner and a first-class organization to the area. It started with him and will continue with him.