Saturday night, a few days after that discussion, Stallworth, now with the Ravens, broke his foot against the Giants, which will likely sideline him for Baltimore’s game against the Patriots in Week 6. I’d bet he’s disappointed about that, particularly because of the regard in which he holds the New England players and coaches, and how fondly he remembers his one year with the team, the 2007 undefeated regular season.
“That was a special year and a special team,” Stallworth said. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing football. Getting to learn from coach [Bill] Belichick and Josh [McDaniels], playing with and learning from the older guys there. It was just a real special year . . . Even though we didn’t win it all, I still carry that feeling that we did.”
Stallworth said he was touched by the amount of support he got from his ex-Patriot teammates during a trying time. In particular, he said his close friends Wes Welker, Sammy Morris, and Benjamin Watson helped, and he also got a lengthy email — most guys just texted — from Tom Brady that meant a lot.
As for that “special year,” Stallworth said playing with Brady left an impression. “Just seeing the way he prepares for the game, watching him work, the things he does, it’s easy to see why he’s such a great player,” he explained. “Obviously, he’ll be forever etched in there with the all-time greats.”
Before I let him go, I was interested to ask Stallworth about learning the offense — since the Patriots are breaking in a handful of young receivers. Stallworth said it’s not rocket science, so long as you do the work.
“It’s a lot of learning,” Stallworth said. “I think you put in more time with that offense. If you don’t put in that time, you won’t have an easy time with it. But if you put in the time, like with any offense, you’ll have an easier time grasping it. I felt like once I settled down, and knew what position I’d be at, what my role was, it was easier to grasp it.
“If you try and attack the who thing, it’s a lot harder to grasp. But if you know your role, and your position inside-out, you’ll be fine.”
I will say this: Stallworth has always struck me as a good guy, deep down, going back to when covering him early in 2007. And he certainly understands the ramifications of what he did, which is why he pursued a plea bargain rather than fight the charges.
So I’ll be interested to see him move forward with his life. But looking back, he seemed to appreciate very much the support the guys in New England gave him, and how strong a bond he was able to build in a place he only spent a year.
“When I felt like the world was coming to an end, knowing they had my back, that helped a lot,” he said.