ATLANTA -- I’ve had the great fortune to be able to tell a lot of stories about the Patriots this year. With the season set to end on Sunday, consider this list some of the stories behind the stories. In no particular order, here are a few of the most indelible personal memories I’ll take away from my time covering the 2018 Patriots.
1. It was hot. Really hot. And Danny Etling wasn’t coming off the field. The rookie quarterback kept throwing over and over and over again to fellow rookie Braxton Berrios. Practice had long since ended, but there was Etling, throwing and throwing and throwing. He finally finished, gathered up the pads for both Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer, and started wearily trudging off the field. I was one of the only reporters left, and as I saw Mark Robbins of Patriots’ PR approach Etling to gently steer him in my direction, you could see he had no interest in speaking with reporters. Not that he was standoffish or anything, but it was the end of a long, hot workout, and the last thing you want to do in that instance is talk to a reporter. But lucky for me, I was wearing an Indiana State T-shirt. Etling was born and raised in Terre Haute. (Coincidence? There are no such things as coincidences around Gillette Stadium.) Etling saw my shirt, came over and shook my hand. “I wasn’t going to stop for you,” he said with a smile, "but then I saw your Indiana State shirt.” He proceeded to talk for 20 minutes, and couldn’t have been nicer.
2. Isaiah Wynn was called out at the end of the in-stadium practice July 30. If you can catch a punt, he was told, the players will get two curfew-free nights.