Who Is Mike Vrabel? by Lisa Kelley

Loving the Patriots is part of who I am. My husband brought them into our marriage 35 years ago and I’m so thankful that he did. It’s a love we both share now.
My favorite players have always been on the defense. Starting out with Andre Tippett, then Ty Law, Rodney Harrison and Vince Wilfork. By the mid 2000s, my most favorite player was Mike Vrabel. My husband bought me his jersey for Christmas, and I was so happy! It’s the only jersey I’ve ever owned. To this day, it’s, by far, my favorite shirt.
I decided that it was time for me to go to one of their practices in the mid 2000s. I went down to Foxborough with my friend from church who was still in high school. He also loved the Pats and had never been. So this was new for both of us. We loved every minute of that day.
While we were sitting on the grass with lots of others watching the scrimmage, we were guessing about who we might get to see afterwards. I’m not one who ever wanted an autograph, and didn’t plan on looking for one, although I did bring along his jersey. All the kids near us had hats and footballs and sharpies ready for the players. I told my friend, Dan, I wouldn’t do that. I wasn’t going to chase anybody down. What would I do with an autograph? I’m a grown woman.
When the practice was over, the players spread out to the different sidelines. So many of them I loved, and loved the idea of being that close to them and maybe getting a good photo. Lo and behold, Mike Vrabel is walking directly toward me, not veering even slightly to the left or right.
I couldn’t believe it and even said, “Is that Mike Vrabel walking this way?” My heart even started pounding a little faster. We were not in the front row of the crowd, but we were close. Everyone was standing now, eagerly waiting for their autographs. Most of the people around us were young kids. When Mike was finally RIGHT there, signing anything people were thrusting in front of him one young boy said, “Who are you?” At that moment Mike and I caught eyes, and I felt bad for him, I mean how awful to hear that. I shook my head and grinned at him. It was at that moment I wanted him to know, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. I had his jersey in my backpack, on the slightest chance that I would even see him while NEVER expecting to be this close to him. I said, “Excuse me Mr. Vrabel, can you sign my shirt please?” and handed it to him. He took it, turned it over and I hope was pleased to see that it was actually HIS jersey. I still can’t believe it was him who came right to me. I get a weird butterfly feeling in my stomach when I even think about it. It was too good to be true. Definitely one of my favorite Patriots moments. I have many pictures of Mike from different games I’ve gone to.

Mike Vrabel caught this ball for his eighth and final touchdown (regular season) in a Patriots uniform. Vrabel and Brady connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass on October 28, 2007 in a 52-7 win over the Washington Redskins.
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