Once spurned by Eagles, Patriots' Amendola ready for spotlight

By Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange
New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola speaks to the media at Super Bowl LII Opening Night Monday at Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, Minn. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola speaks to the media at Super Bowl LII Opening Night Monday at Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, Minn. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Danny Amendola tweeted a picture on Christmas Day of him standing beside a hung picture of John Lennon with one of his own framed jerseys, waiting for its place along a wall in his home.

Amendola could fill a room with special jerseys, should he desire. Maybe ones from his days at Texas Tech or his first NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, on which he spent a season on the practice squad but never played a game.


There was success with the St. Louis Rams and, of course, his two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots.

This jersey, midnight green with the No. 11, was a gift from a friend and holds other meaning. It's an actual practice jersey Amendola wore in his short time with the Philadelphia Eagles.


"He found it, framed it up, sent it to me and he said, 'This is a daily reminder of how far you've come and don't forget that they cut you,'" Amendola said Monday night as his Patriots prepare to play Philadelphia in the Super Bowl. "So, it's definitely a chip that I like to have on my shoulder."

Amendola said he was thankful for his opportunity with the Eagles, calling it a "cup of coffee, so to speak."

Philadelphia signed Amendola after his practice-squad contract with Dallas expired. He spent the 2009 summer with the Eagles before being waived during final cuts. He re-signed to the team's practice squad before St. Louis came calling a few weeks later.

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Now, Amendola is a key member of the Patriots' offense and a proven playoff performer. He has 18 receptions for 196 yards in two playoff games this year, including two touchdown receptions in New England's come-from-behind win over Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game.

Throughout his career, Amendola has received plenty of comparisons. He followed Wes Welker at Texas Tech and later with the Patriots. He helped replace Julian Edelman this season when Edelman was lost for the year to injury.


"I don't want to compare him to anybody else. I think I respect him enough to let his ability stand on its own," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "He's had a great career. He's a tough guy to handle. He's quick, he's fast. He runs good routes. I don't know how much or how many other positive things I could say about him, but he's a good player."

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Amendola could also draw comparisons to the player he idolized growing up.

"I had one poster on my wall growing up and it was Wayne Chrebet, a guy that played for the Jets," Amendola said. "Actually got the opportunity to meet him and it was a dream come true because he was pretty much my idol."

All the comparisons are lofty, but Amendola has earned his own place. He was undrafted out of Texas Tech despite having 109 receptions in his senior season. Of course, there was his 5-foot-11 frame, but height didn't keep Welker or Edelman from success, and neither would it Amendola.

He broke through with 85 catches in his second season in St. Louis and has continued his climb with New England. With Edelman out, Amendola became quarterback Tom Brady's safety blanket. He was third on the team in receptions -- behind tight end Rob Gronkowski and big-play receiver Brandin Cooks -- during the regular season with 61 for 659 yards. He leads the team in receptions and receiving yards this postseason.


When the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2014, Amendola had 11 catches and three touchdowns in three playoff games. Last year, he had 10 catches and one touchdown in another three playoff games.

"What he does in the most critical situations in the game makes him who he is," New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.

"That's a guy that's dependable, that does whatever the team needs of him, whether it's a punt return, a critical catch, blocking somebody down the field on a screen play. Danny does everything to the best of his ability and he wants to win and he competes hard and he's a tremendous, tremendous teammate."

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