Making an Impact
Four men. Four lives in football. Four futures still left to play.
(page 6 of 9)
A Super Catch
The play was zero counter three-two-oh pass out of a goal line set. “When we put it in the week before, I had a funny feeling in my stomach that it would be called in the game,” says Ben Patrick. “Then, when we got down to the 2-yard line, I was sure of it. When Kurt [Warner] called the play in the huddle, it’s kind of the moment you dream of.”
Patrick, a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals, made the most of it. Out-jumping a linebacker for the pass from Warner, he scored the Cardinals’ first touchdown in the 2009 Super Bowl, a game eventually won in dramatic fashion by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-23.
That catch is perhaps the highlight in a career that has had plenty of them. At Jenkins High School in Savannah, Georgia, Patrick was the stereotypical all-around athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football. Named Southeast Georgia Player of the Year in 2001, he was one of the country’s top-rated tight ends, as well as a fine student.
As he sifted through dozens of scholarship offers, the NFL never entered his mind. He was looking for academic excellence. He found it at Duke University, earning a degree in African-American Studies while leading the team in receptions in 2004 and 2005. With a year of eligibility left and a growing passion for football, he transferred to UD in 2006, then became the school’s first first-team All-American while topping all Division I-AA tight ends in receiving.
Taken by the Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2007 draft, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Patrick has established himself as a solid backup for the defending NFC champs, and he was fighting for the starter’s job this year.
Off the field, his lifestyle contrasts sharply with the flamboyance of some NFL stars. He has an apartment in Phoenix, and his older brother, Freddie, who works for Bank of America and acts as Ben’s manager, lives in a nearby apartment with their mother, Jacqueline.
Page 7: A Super Catch, continues...