Chase Farris was with the New England Patriots for less than 24 hours when he was “introduced” to quarterback Tom Brady.
Farris, an Elyria High graduate, had just signed to their practice squad Oct. 5 and was practicing for the first time.
“I had a quick crash course of the offense,” Farris, an offensive lineman, told The Chronicle-Telegram by phone Sunday. “I’m running a scout team rep and he walks into the scout team huddle. I’m like, ‘Whoa. Oh, man, that’s Tom Brady.’
“I think everybody has that moment.”
Farris said he hasn’t really talked to Brady during their time together but “he seems like a really cool guy.” And he’s taken Farris to Super Bowl LI as a rookie.
The Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Houston, and Farris will have a front-row seat. He made the trip with the team Monday, will practice all week and has heard he’ll be on the sideline for the game — a departure from the rest of the season for the practice squad.
Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, will play in his seventh Super Bowl. Farris has yet to play in a regular-season game but is one win from getting a diamond-encrusted championship ring.
“Man, I’m ecstatic right now,” he said. “I’m still in awe.”
Farris remains on the 10-man practice squad, which spends the week with the 53-man roster in practice and meetings but is ineligible to play in games. Walter Rock with the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII in 1973 is the only other Elyria High graduate with Super Bowl experience.
Elyria Catholic graduate Matt Wilhelm, a national champion at Ohio State like Farris, won Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers in 2011.
“It’s really surreal,” Farris said. “You grow up watching the game and then in college, the only football left on is the Super Bowl. Now in my first year out of college and to be part of the process is definitely surreal.
“A week or so ago, I walked outside and was talking to someone and I’m like, ‘It’s the third week of January and I’m still wearing shoulder pads. How many people get to do this, honestly?’”
The way his season started, the Super Bowl wasn’t a likely destination.
Farris was signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent and spent training camp with them. He was cut Aug. 29 and signed to their practice squad Sept. 9. He was cut Sept. 21 and returned to Columbus to train.
He soon had workouts for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and the Patriots, who signed him to the practice squad. As often happens in the league, he was released three weeks later on Oct. 26 but re-signed Nov. 1 and stuck around.
“Honestly, it’s just been a blessing,” he said. “Just to get here in the fashion I did just shows God works in mysterious ways. You never know what he has in store for you.”
The Patriots are on a dynastic run, led by coach Bill Belichick and Brady. This will be their seventh Super Bowl in the last 16 years, and they’ve won four.
“We know the older guys will make sure the younger guys know there’s no greater feeling than being where we want to be at the end of Sunday night,” Farris said.
But he found it difficult to encapsulate the Patriot Way.
“It’s just different,” he said. “Things are done differently. You’re expected to do your job and put the team first. That’s how things go around here.
“There are a lot of similar characteristics to Ohio State and how the programs are run. But I’m now in a business.”
Farris also struggled to describe Belichick, who’s considered among the greatest coaches in NFL history.
“It’s just different,” he said. “I can’t describe it really.”
Is that a good thing?
“It’s definitely great to be around someone who knows the game as well as he does,” Farris said. “It’s definitely a great opportunity.
“To be able to learn the game of football while playing it, it’s almost like a bonus. I don’t know how they do it other places, but here I’m actually learning about football in general. Not just my position or offense. Football as a whole.”
Farris (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) finished his Ohio State career at right tackle after playing defensive line earlier and has been mostly at right tackle for the Patriots, although he’s been used at both guard spots. He must be doing something right, because he was named one of their Week 13 Practice Players of the Week.
“I couldn’t tell you what I did differently that week,” he said. “To be recognized that week and know my efforts were noticed to get accolades was really cool.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to prepare guys for games.”
Farris’ family won’t make the trip to Houston because his sister, Chelsey, is playing basketball for the Pioneers. He said his focus this week is getting the regulars ready for the Super Bowl and he isn’t worried about whether he has a future with the Patriots.
He has no doubt he has a place in the NFL.
“Of course, I do,” he said. “If you don’t have the confidence to think you can play, you won’t play.
“I definitely feel I can play in this league. Just patiently waiting.”
Despite not playing a single snap in the regular season, Farris views his rookie season favorably.
“I would never look at this year as disappointing,” he said. “If anything, I look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn and grow as a player and man and individual in the league. Especially the opportunity to be in an organization like this. The players have been around so long, just to see how they go about their business, see how pros work.
“After every season, I think what can I do in the offseason to make the next one a better one. I see it as a blessing and get back to work.”
Hopefully with a Super Bowl ring and a story to tell for the rest of his life.
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