Fells glad to focus on football
New tight end says scene in Denver was ‘a circus’
FOXBOROUGH - The one year Daniel Fells spent as a tight end with the Broncos, the season was devoured by Tebow Mania. He signed a three-year deal with the Patriots in March and is looking forward to the change in environment.
“It was a circus,’’ Fells said. “But just like any circus, there’s good and there’s bad. So it’s just something you took in stride.’’
The bad was obvious.
“The media frenzy all day, every day,’’ Fells said. “That can be somewhat of a distraction sometimes. But [Tim Tebow] is the type of person who just takes everything in stride, and he’s a truly genuine person. So he just kind of almost brushed it off. He didn’t let it get to his head.’’
Gillette Stadium has a reputation for being the NFL’s equivalent of the Pentagon. But beyond that, between mastermind Bill Belichick and his brain-on-the-field Tom Brady, they have a stronger reputation for winning that ultimately lured the 28-year-old Fells.
“This is a championship organization,’’ Fells said. “So I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s something that I saw and welcomed the open challenge to go to an organization like this and see how things are done right in this league.
“They do things right. From an offensive standpoint, they go out there and put up points. They find the open man. It’s not about just one player. You have two good tight ends. There’s not a lot of teams that use both tight ends and get them all kinds of catches.
“There’s always just one guy that stands out, [but] you have a bunch of guys that stand out on this offense.
Fells came “real close’’ to signing with the Patriots after visiting the team in 2010 when he was a restricted free agent but ultimately decided to re-sign with the Rams.
“I was able to come out here and just meet with coaches and talk with guys and just see if it was a fit,’’ he said. “It ultimately boiled down to a business thing.
“But all things happen for a reason. It didn’t work out then, but things came full circle and it worked out for us this year.’’
He will provide depth alongside Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski is coming off a record-setting 90-catch, 17-touchdown season, while Hernandez grabbed 79 passes for seven TDs.
“It was definitely something that every week you turn the TV on and you see something new,’’ Fells said. “Just the things they were doing, it is revolutionary.
“I know that Bill is the type of guy who finds different ways to keep defenses on their toes, or keep them back on their heels. They don’t really know what to expect. They don’t really know what’s going on. So he’s an innovator in that sense.’’
An undrafted free agent in 2006, Fells is now on his sixth team in seven seasons.
“A lot of times, people get discouraged by something like that where you end up going to different teams,’’ he said. “It’s like the first day of school - you go to a different school and you’re kind of meeting new people with different personalities and you get a little anxious about it.
“But I’ve done it some many times, it’s kind of I just take everything in stride, and I’m excited.’’
The Hall calls
When Troy Brown thinks back to the 2004 season, when he was released by the Patriots, out of football for weeks, and working in a Boys and Girls Club in West Virginia, it’s funny how things turn out, he said.
“I was planning to go back to school in January and finishing up my degree,’’ he said. “That’s what you have to do when you don’t have a job and you’ve been out for almost two months.’’
The player who replaced him was a friend, Ronnie Harris, and he remembered watching a game against the Jets in which Harris muffed a punt.
Then the phone call came, asking Brown to come back.
“I was blessed and I was lucky to get the phone call,’’ he said.
He ultimately put in 15 years with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls playing multiple roles. Now, along with Bill Parcells and Fred Marion, he is one of the 2012 finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Brown was there for the Parcells era, when he first sensed the franchise’s transformation, reaching the Super Bowl in 1997.
Before that, the only New England team to reach the Super Bowl was Marion’s 1985 team.
“I would say that run, that stretch we had right there was most memorable,’’ said Marion.
Though they played in different eras, Brown’s and Marion’s sentiments about the honor and how they’d like to be remembered were the same.
“I think I’ve said this before,’’ Brown said. “Maybe not the tallest or biggest or fastest or strongest or whatever, but just the best football player. Not the outstanding wide receiver or most outstanding punt returner, but I think overall pound-for-pound and everything else, best football player.
“I feel like I could do everything pretty well. It didn’t matter to me what coach asked me to do - if it was go in there and block, I just enjoyed playing the game.’’