Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories as we close out the week.
Solder Pens Emotional Letter to New England – Nate Solder has become one of the most beloved Patriots over the years and his departure this offseason to the Giants was disappointing, primarily because of who he was as both a player and what he and his wife have gone through with their son Hudson, who is battling kidney cancer. But a letter penned by Solder in “The Player’s Tribune” really painted a better picture of who he is and the struggles he’s dealt with during his final seasons with the team.
In his letter, Solder thanked his former teammates, coaches, Robert Kraft, other people in the organization and the fans, essentially everyone who supported him during his time as a member of his now-former team.
The former Patriots left tackle told the story of what he and his family have been through, especially over his final couple of seasons here. He explained about the heartache, sleepless nights and the fears and frustration he battled through as a husband and father during his son’s diagnosis and treatments.
But the story of how he and Lexi endured the initial news was tough to take, and anyone with children can certainly relate those feelings.
“The doctors immediately sent us to Boston Children’s Hospital,” wrote Solder. “They offered us a ride in an ambulance, but we decided to drive ourselves because … I don’t know. I guess we thought that needing an ambulance would make it feel more serious. More real. So we decided to drive ourselves.”
“Lexi and I cried the entire drive. Hudson was our first child. So Lexi and I were still brand new parents. You can understand our grief. But for me, I was overcome by guilt as much as anything. I couldn’t shake the idea that I was Hudson’s father. It was my job to protect him from everything, at all times. And I felt like I hadn’t done that.”
“I felt like I had failed my son.”
It was a difficult time but Solder explained that both Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels were completely supportive, pointing out that the two coaches allowed him to be there for his family whenever he needed and that “they treated me like a human being instead of a football player or a left tackle.”
“My relationship with Josh really took off from there,” wrote Solder. “In a cutthroat business where guys are always getting released and winning is everything and it’s all football all the time, I really appreciated the fact that he took the time to say, “Nate, what you’re going through with Hudson … that’s more important than football.” He told me that if I ever needed to dip out of a meeting because the stress got to be too much, nobody would ask any questions. Coach Belichick told me the same. He said that if I ever needed to miss practice or a meeting, it was totally fine.”
“‘Whatever Hudson needs,’ he said.”
Solder talked about a lot about the things he’ll miss in New England, like the pregame prayer meetings, which he said were special times because of the bond among his teammates, although he wrote that change is “just a nature of the business.” But he admitted that part of what played into his decision when he became a free agent was making sure whatever team he went to would be located in a city that would also have the necessary medical facilities for Hudson to continue his treatments. New York gives him that, and Solder said “my family and I are excited to start this new chapter”.
He closed out the letter thanking everyone within the organization and the region for the “warmth and kindness” everyone provided to he and his family, saying he’ll definitely miss everyone.
“Thank you, Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, and especially Josh McDaniels, who became much more to me than just a great coach — he became a great friend as well. Thank you for all your support. Thank you to my O-line coach, Dante Scarnecchia, for always treating me like a human being, and for never letting what was happening with me off the field impact the way you treated me as a football player. Thank you to my teammates for always being there for me whenever I needed you. Thank you to everybody Lexi and I have worked with in the community, and to everybody who had even the smallest hand in Hudson’s treatment over the last few years. The warmth and kindness you’ve brought into our lives will stay with us forever. Thank you to the incredible fans who supported this team and me and my family, even during tough times.”
“Thank you, New England. I’m going to miss being a Patriot. I learned a lot about life over the last seven years, and I also learned a lot about winning — mostly, that it’s not everything.”
“There’s so much more.”
Best of luck to Nate and his family in their next chapter and hopefully Hudson continues to get the care he needs as Nate and Lexi begin another era for their family in New York.
Brady is currently in Qatar doing work with his charity, Best Buddies. (USA TODAY Images)
Brady Heads Overseas For Charity – Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is usually among the first on hand for the team’s offseason program, but it looks like he may be a little late this year – but for good reason.
The MMQB’s Albert Breer reported Thursday that Brady left for Qatar on Thursday to do work with his best buddies charity foundation.
According to the foundation’s website, Brady will join the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Qatar Museums and Best Buddies participants in Qatar at Khalifa International Stadium to launch the new partnership between the organizations as they incorporate individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the organization of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.
“Tom Brady has served as an exemplary Global Ambassador for Best Buddies since 2003, and has helped bring an even greater awareness to the infinite abilities people with intellectual and developmental disabilities possess,” said Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Best Buddies International. “Tom has proven himself to be a committed advocate for individuals with disabilities, always going above and beyond the call of duty to help promote a world of inclusion and opportunity for this population. Tom’s work in Qatar on behalf of Best Buddies will change lives for the better.”
Also joining Brady is his wife, Gisele Bundchen, as well as their two children.
While he’s there, Brady will have some prestigious company bringing him around as hostess, with the release saying that Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani will be with Brady and his family during their visit and will also attend the opening ceremony of the Qatar National Library. She is the sister of Qatar’s ruling Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and daughter of the country’s Father Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
— Salam Al Shawa (@salam_shawa) April 12, 2018
— Gisele Bündchen Daily (@giseledaily) April 12, 2018
Brady won’t miss much time, as he’s reportedly expected to return late Monday.
Kraft Sends Flowers to Humboldt Family – The Humboldt tragedy was obviously hard to imagine but Robert Kraft recently did something to at least try and lift the spirits of one family that was affected.
According to ESPN, Kraft sent flowers to one of the families whose son killed in the accident and was a Patriots fan. Tyler Bieber was a 29-year old broadcaster for the Broncos and was among the 16 killed in last Friday’s bus crash.
Beiber and the others died when a tractor trailer struck the bus, which was on its way to a playoff game in Saskatchewan.
It’s a nice gesture by Kraft, who also reportedly left a voicemail for his mother on Wednesday, expressing his condolences.
There’s also a gofundme set up for those who would like to donate.
Didn’t sleep. Waves of grief. Played against several of these boys on the national team. This is my province, these are our boys. What can we do? Well not much now but no reason we can’t raise a million. The families will all need it. Join me in donating. https://t.co/yGR9W1HXoU
— Hayley Wickenheiser (@wick_22) April 7, 2018
Garcia Making Progress – With the tackle position being a position of focus this preseason, many have wondered whether or not last year’s draft pick, Tony Garcia, might factor into the mix.
Garcia, who missed all of last season with blood clots in his lungs and had reportedly dropped a significant amount of weight, had left many wondering whether or not he’d be able to get back to his target weight and be in the mix to compete. However, it sounds like things are going better than many had thought.
According to Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal, Garcia is already back up to 290 pounds and told him this is the “Best I’ve ever felt,” saying “I’m ready to go”. Garcia also denied losing 40 pounds and right now is just under his combine weight, which should give him more than enough time over the next few months to be ready to go by the time camp begins.
That’s good news for a team still looking for an answer at one of their most important positions and this latest revelation at least takes a little bit of pressure off of them heading into the draft.
Former Bills receiver Jordan Matthews is excited about his opportunity with the Patriots. (USA TODAY Images)
Matthews Enjoying the Challenge – Jordan Matthews knows he’s got a tough road ahead of him if he plans to earn a role as a receiver in New England, but it sounds like, so far, he’s embracing that challenge.
Matthews actually told reporters Thursday that part of the reason he chose to sign with New England was because it was such a huge challenge, and he’s looking forward to it.
“I feel like in my life, in my foundation of what I believe in my faith, I believe I’m called on not to be comfortable,” said Matthews. “I believe that it’s so easy for us as people to say, ‘OK, what’s the easiest road and what’s the path of least resistance?’ And then we look up at our lives and we’re 80 years old and we haven’t done anything great.”
He’s hoping to do great things this season. One nice touch is the fact that he’ll be wearing Danny Amendola’s old number, which will give him big shoes to fill given Amendola’s clutch play. Matthews told reporters that he actually reached out to Amendola to make sure he was O.K. with Matthews wearing his old number, showing you who he is as a person.
“Yeah, 80. I actually talked to Danny [Amendola],” said Matthews. “That’s my guy. I knew Danny. Yeah, I met Danny at Sam Bradford’s wedding, so that was the other one. So I talked to Danny about it; he said I could have it. I’ve got a lot of respect for his game.”
Matthews has reportedly been at the stadium every day at 6 a.m., working out and trying to get a jumpstart before the offseason program begins on Monday. Matthews said that so far it’s been fun and joked that “you can’t beat free food”, which he laughed has made it worth the hours he’s put in so far.
For now, he’s planning on doing whatever he’s asked and he’s looking forward to meeting the rest of his teammates.
“I feel like we have a group of lot of guys who are not just competitors but we also have production in the league, (guys who) are proven. So it’s not just, ‘Oh, there a lot of potential.’ There’s a lot of production. That’s one thing to really be excited about. But also there’s a lot of great guys. I’ve spent some time around Julian [Edelman], talking to him, so I can’t wait to meet the rest of them.”
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Notebook