Armed with enough film to watch "for five years" and working out here in Massachusetts instead of at his college, Florida, or in his home state of Georgia, Jermaine Cunningham has kept things pretty simple during his first NFL offseason.
He joked that the strangest thing he's done is "a lot of sprints," not the kind of traveling some of his teammates have done or media appearances others have taken part in.
"This is where Iím going to be playing Ė if it wasnít for the lockout this is where Iíd be, so Iím just trying to treat it like a regular season, be ready for when the season does come," Cunningham said today.
The linebacker spoke to kids at the New England Patriots Alumni Club's "Football for YOU" event at Madison Park High in Roxbury this afternoon, using many of the same words with the youngsters who sat before him as he heard when he was a kid in suburban Atlanta - make good decisions, surround yourself with good people, and have a dream to pursue.
"Itís always good. When you look at them, you can just think back and see where you came from, knowing that you did the same stuff and the same things and itís always a blessing having someone in the same shoes that you want to be in talking to you," he explained. "Anytime a pro athlete or college athlete came to talk to you, it was good, real good."
Current 49er Takeo Spikes, a 13-year veteran who is from the same area in Georgia, is one player Cunningham remembers hearing from growing up.
After signing dozens of t-shirts and posing for pictures with kids this afternoon, Cunningham, wearing a white polo shirt with the Pats' logo, said he plans to do more events like today's.
"I'm trying to branch off and just help kids out. Like I said, it's where I came from. It's always a blessing having someone above you that you look up to come and talk to you."
Photo courtesy New England Patriots