It only took the St. Louis Rams 21 seconds to go 45 yards to tie the New England Patriots at 17 apiece in Super Bowl XXXVI following Kurt Warner’s 26-yard pass to Ricky Proehl with 1:30 remaining in the game.
Adam Vinatieri, the Patriots’ kicker at the time who had previously missed two field goals in that game, turned to everyone around him, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Welp, looks like I’m going to have to kick the game winner” and calmly turned to the kicking net to began his practice kicks.
The rest is history.
One of the people on the sideline with Vinateiri was current New York Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie, who described himself as ‘just a fly on the wall’ for that historic Super Bowl moment.
Now a two-time Super Bowl champion himself, DeOssie has family ties to the Patriots organization — having grown up in North Andover, Massachusetts and attended head coach Bill Belichick’s high school alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy.
An avid Patriots’ fan growing up and quarterback on his high school team, DeOssie was selected by Belichick prior to the 2000-01 season to be one of the ball boys for the season, as he regularly did with athletes from his alma mater. He spent the summer between his junior and senior year bunking with the players he idolized in the Bryant University dorms, something he described as a “ridiculous experience”.
“I was the quarterbacks’ guy because I played quarterback in high school, so I would just help them warm up – or pick up their jocks,” he said.
Just how big of a fan was he?
DeOssie recalled a story when he was returning from a basketball game in Connecticut the night of the infamous “Tuck Rule” game against the Oakland Raiders. With his car left at a pit stop near the junction of I-90 and I-84, DeOssie had his team bus drop him off — in a blizzard no less — so he could make it to the game by the start of the second quarter to see the Patriots close out Foxboro Stadium in grand fashion.
So it’s easy to understand the irony when DeOssie, bred a Boston boy, was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of 2007 and faced, who else, but his beloved — and, more importantly, then undefeated — Patriots in Super Bowl XLVII in Indianapolis.
His allegiance to the Patriots as a kid didn’t stop him from reveling in the moment of playing against the guys who used to throw him their jocks.
“You can imagine being a ball boy, picking up jocks until my senior year of high school and five years later these guys are screaming at me, ‘Get me a Gatorade DeOssie! You’re going to mess this snap up!’ They were trying to get in my head. It was fantastic,” he said.
DeOssie had the Giants in his blood long before he fetched the Patriots Gatorade, however. His father, Steve, was a Super Bowl-winning linebacker/long snapper with the Giants before reviving his career with the Patriots and his former Super Bowl coach, Bill Parcells. The elder DeOssie has lived in Boston most of his life and since 1996 has been the voice of Patriots coverage on local radio and TV.
“Blood is thicker than anything,” Steve told the Newark Star Ledger in February of 2012.
The blood bond between the DeOssie’s young and old grew stronger following the Giants upset Super Bowl XLVII victory, where they became the first father-son tandem to win a ring with the same franchise. No one, not even friends of the family who texted Steve following 2012’s championship games with “[Bleep] you and your son. The Patriots are going to kill them!”, can take that away from them.
“He’s a Boston guy. We’re a Boston family,” DeOssie said in regards to his father. “He knew he was going to receive flack if the Patriots won or lost the game, but all that pales in comparison to the feeling of a father and son reaching the pinnacle on the football field.”
Dating back to 1990, three of the Giants’ four Super Bowl victories have come with a DeOssie snapping the ball.
“First of all to follow in his footsteps and second, to play in the same organization he won a Super Bowl with … That’s awesome. There are no words to describe that feeling. Every father and son share that father-son connection. To have something so rare, so special — it’s something only he knows the true meaning of. It’s ridiculous. We couldn’t be happier. We’re proud that the DeOssie’s have three rings,” the younger DeOssie said.
DeOssie admittedly still roots for the Patriots, whom he has the utmost respect for as an organization, as long as ‘they don’t interfere with his Giants’ plans.
As for the other Boston sports team, his fanhood is evident in the locker room at the Giants’ Timex Performance Center. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound DeOssie, with a black and gold B emblazoned across his chest in support of the Bruins who began the Stanley Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, proudly showed off some Boston sports momentos ranging from a Red Sox beer mug to an array of Celtics garb that would make Bill Simmons jealous.
DeOssie’s prediction for the Stanley Cup outcome? He’s got the Bruins in five games, as he asked if that was a real question.
I should’ve known. After hoisting two Lombardi trophies triumphantly over his hometown Patriots, DeOssie still says he’s “all things Boston … except when it comes to football, of course”. Of course.
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