New England Patriots starting center Dan Connolly has had a long road to get here. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State as an undrafted free agent in 2005, and he joined the Patriots practice squad in 2007.
Now he is the starting center for the Patriots as they get ready to take the field for Super Bowl XLVI. Pro Player Insiders got the chance to catch up with Connolly in Indianapolis, while he got ready for the big game.
Off the field, he likes to spend his time doing something at the complete other end of the spectrum from knocking heads with nose tackles.
“I’m big into cooking,” Connolly said. “I have a brother who is a chef. Our whole family, we love doing it, so whenever I get the opportunity I like to spend a little time doing that.”
It does make sense – you don’t get to be 6-foot-4, 313 pounds without some good food, although that is actually considered undersized by offensive line standards.
As both an offensive lineman and an undrafted free agent, Connolly has general kept a low profile, but he hopes to have a big impact in the Super Bowl. He did have one highlight reel moment with the ball in his hands, as he holds the record for longest kickoff return by a 300+ pound lineman. See the video below of Connolly’s amazing run. Eat your heart out, Vince Wilfork.
Dan Connolly’s Amazing 71-Yard Kickoff Return:
PPI: What do you see when you look at the Giants front four on film and how do you guys prepare for that?
DC: They are a very tough front, and they present a lot of issues and problems. They’re tough, they’re fast, they’re not normally the typical defensive tackles we go against, so we have our work cut out for us with them.
PPI: Everybody is talking about Rob Gronkowski, and a lot of the talk is catches, yards, touchdowns, but he also had a physical element too. Can you talk about how he might be able to offset some of that pass rush?
DC: Having a big tight end in there is like having extra offensive linemen. He’s a tough, strong, guy that can help against those pass rushers.
PPI: Do you guys look at the tape from a few years ago, in the Super Bowl and take anything away from that from what you can prepare differently this time?
DC: We’ve seen it. I know as an offensive line we need to prepare better and play better. We are focused on what these guys have done this year and the problems they present for us in this upcoming game.
PPI: Is there anything different that you’re planning on doing this week, in terms of preparation and what you have done before?
DC: No, aside from the other things that go along with being in the Super Bowl, it’s important to just try to keep it as ordinary as possible, going through my same routines that I normally would.
PPI: Revenge factor. Does that give you any extra incentive for Sunday?
DC: No, you know, we’re always wanting to win the game and that’s the most important part. It’s the last game of the season, good one to win that one.
PPI: You offensively line guys are a little bit different, you have to be to play the position. Do you have any interesting pregame rituals either personally or as a unit to get ready for these games?
DC: I do not. I’m boring when it comes to game preparation. I put my clothes on, I get dressed, and I go out and do my warm-up.
PPI: How about something to eat? Do you guys get anything different to eat before the games?
DC: Umm, no. Just usually eat some spaghetti. Need those carbs.
PPI: Outside of football, what kind of things do you enjoy doing?
DC: I’m big into cooking. I have a brother who is a chef. Our whole family, we love doing it, so whenever I get the opportunity I like to spend a little time doing that.
PPI: In terms of music, what is on the top of your playlist?
DC: Recently I’ve started listening to a lot more country. I never was a fan of it but lately I’ve started to become fond of it.
PPI: These questions have been pretty tame so far. Have you had any weird ones today?
DC: No, I mean, somebody asked me how big of a fan of Carrie Underwood I was.
PPI: What was your answer?
DC: “Love it, love her.”
Mike Donitzen contributed to this piece.
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