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BostonGlobe: Receiver Kenny Britt believes this is a career restart with Patriots

January 11, 2018 08:36AM
Just thought his comments about his need for discipline were interesting.

January 10, 2018

Maybe Kenny Britt goes on the field Saturday night and authors his own perfect playoff story, making a handful of catches for a bundle of yards and lifting the team he plays for now over the one he played for first.

Maybe Saturday’s game between the Patriots and Titans will be the exclamation point to the story of Britt’s late-season arrival in New England, punctuating just how well a reclamation project can work when the project in question is as motivated to succeed as Britt has been since an ugly Cleveland divorce led to a hasty New England marriage.

But whatever the outcome of Britt’s NFL postseason debut, the turn into Foxborough already represents a decidedly good career stop for the 29-year-old wide receiver, and not simply for the obvious draw of Super Bowl titles and head coach/quarterback greatness or the selling point of what a 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound body can add to that Bill Belichick/Tom Brady offense.

In choosing to sign with the Patriots, Britt admitted to himself something that isn’t always easy to acknowledge: He needs discipline, he craves structure, and he plays his best when the most is demanded of him.

“That was my success at Rutgers, the discipline and Greg Schiano being demanding of us,” Britt said at his locker Tuesday, the hustle and din of playoff preparation swirling all around him. “I know Bill demands it of his players, too. Even though we’re grown men, he still expects us to do that.”

By all accounts, Britt is doing his part, a Week 14 arrival resulting in only two catches so far on the field but producing plenty of hard work in the meeting rooms and weight rooms, a desire to learn the Patriots’ complicated offense pushing him through extra hours on and off the field.

“He knows that it’s hard there, but when he’s in that environment, that’s when he thrives — he knows that,” Schiano said by phone, recalling one of the best players he coached across those 10 years building the Rutgers program.

“A lot of guys aren’t self-aware enough to realize that. And I’m happy that Kenny is, because I think if he’ll get in line — and he’s got some of his old teammates to help him, too — he’ll realize the way things are done.

“I haven’t studied him from a football standpoint to know what he has left, but he’s always been a physical monster. I think this is a great thing for him and I was hoping it would happen.”

That’s what happened at Rutgers, when Schiano’s heavy hand helped make Britt the school’s first-ever first-round draft pick, 30th overall in 2009.

That’s what happened his first two years in Tennessee, when Jeff Fisher pushed him past 700 receiving yards each year. That’s what didn’t happen when Fisher was fired in favor of Mike Munchak and Britt floundered, suffering a torn ACL his third year, getting himself suspended for the first game of his fourth season following one of numerous run-ins with police, and barely making an impact in his fifth and final season in Tennessee (11 catches, 96 yards).

That’s what did happen in an ensuing Rams reunion with Fisher, when Britt turned a long-shot, last-chance deal for 2015 into his best statistical output in 2016 (68 catches, 1,002 yards). But it’s what clearly didn’t happen early this season in Cleveland, when Britt never delivered on a four-year, $32.5 million free agent contract, ultimately cut after a Week 12 loss, one of the Browns’ 16 straight on the season.

“I respond to coaches that believe in me,” Britt said. “Man, right now, words can’t really explain what this opportunity means to me. My wife and kids are happier than they’ve ever been. I’m happy.

“And I remember when somebody asked me earlier this season in Cleveland what was the difference from last year and this year, and that’s what I said. I was just happy in life. It matters. Everything as an athlete, everything in life matters.”
Britt is with his fourth NFL team (or is it his third?)

An intersection with the 29-year-old father of three invariably begins and ends with smiles and laughter, stories of family and football told with infectious joy. That aspect of his personality is both his blessing and his curse; a passionate, all-in approach is perfect when applied to football, precarious when directed elsewhere. That he finally figured that out is why Britt believes he has found his football home, joining a franchise he always believed was his destiny.

That’s why you won’t find him saying he regrets signing with the Browns, even if a listing of his four NFL stops prompts this half-joking response: “Nah, it was just Tennessee, the Rams, and then here. There’s nothing else. We erased that [Cleveland] part; me and my wife erased that part of our life from 2017.”

What he does say about that time is more the reason to believe his growth curve is still trending up.

“What happens in life, good and bad, it molds you and changes you to the person you are today,” he said. “The experience happened, I’m here now, and it happened for a reason. I’m here for a reason.”

Right now he’s here to help the Patriots win a playoff game. To get that opportunity against the franchise that gave him his start might be a sweet subplot, but Britt is eager to look ahead rather than back, to permanently replace the immature kid who started out with the Titans with a wiser veteran on a Super Bowl run.

It was during the few months in Cleveland, when he was reunited with Jason McCourty, his Rutgers and Tennessee teammate as well as the twin brother of New England teammate Devin McCourty, that Britt admitted something to his longtime friend.

“We were talking about the ups and downs of my career, and I told him I got on my high horse a little bit when I first got in the league, being drafted in the first round, the first guy from my school to do that,” he said. “And then coming off a good rookie year, having more success second and third year, I wasn’t really focused on football on that time the way I should have been.”

Time is a most valuable teacher, however, and Britt used it to learn something important about himself. He needs the discipline. And here in New England, he believes he has found it again.

[www.bostonglobe.com]




SubjectAuthorViewsPosted

  BostonGlobe: Receiver Kenny Britt believes this is a career restart with Patriots

MamaRAMa328January 11, 2018 08:36AM

  9th year in the league and 29 yrs old........

21Dog112January 11, 2018 08:45AM

  It's why he is an underachiever

Blue and Gold96January 11, 2018 08:50AM

  Re: 9th year in the league and 29 yrs old........

MamaRAMa101January 11, 2018 08:50AM

  Re: BostonGlobe: Receiver Kenny Britt believes this is a career restart with Patriots

Steve84January 11, 2018 08:47AM

  In the unfortunate case that the Patriots go to the SB, I would love to see...

PeoriaRa86January 11, 2018 02:44PM

  coaching and surrounding environment can change results

Rams_8188January 11, 2018 03:37PM

  this is Britt's fourth "environment" in the NFL

21Dog90January 11, 2018 08:24PM

  I get what you are saying but Belicheck

Rams_8151January 12, 2018 01:17PM

  This year's version of Michael Floyd

Ram4973January 12, 2018 03:21PM

  SCRUB: no thank you

ferragamo7962January 12, 2018 03:30PM