Former New England Patriot and Baltimore Raven cornerback Kyle Arrington is not just the last Hofstra player to win a Super Bowl, but one of its last football players in general.
For Arrington, who went undrafted in 2008, he made it out just in time. The school announced it was shutting down its program on December 3, 2009. Arrington said it is a bittersweet feeling to be one of the last.
“It’s humbling and it’s unfortunate in the same breath,” Arrington said. “Guys like myself, Marques [Colston], Stephen [Bowen], Willie Colon and even before us we had a lot of talent to come out of that school.”
Arrington who is not a fan of his alma mater having a gridiron absence, understands why the school did cut the program. But believes if the school could make it happen, it should be back up and running.
“If you ask me it’s almost un-American to not have a football team,” Arrington said. “I get it there’s always extenuating circumstances whatever the situation is for a school and hard decisions have to be made but come on now football is the most popular sport in America. Hopefully they reinstitute a football program but until then we’ll just keep hope alive.”
Arrington did not receive the infamous NFL Draft call and was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent.
“I got my shot there and it really didn’t work out there by the end of training camp,” Arrington said. “And then I went to Tampa [Bay], basically went through the same cycle but in my second season there I made the 53-man roster and they cut me right after the first game.”
The third team proved to be the charm.
“I got the call from the Patriots and the rest was history,” Arrington said. “I ended up playing seven games when I first got called up [to the active roster], I lead the team in Special Teams tackles. It was one of those situations where I looked at it where this is a business where you seldom get second or third opportunities and this one I had to make the most of it.”
Arrington admitted that he was far from the most talented player or defensive back. But it was his work he put in that he wanted to stand above anyone else.
“I wanted only my talent to speak for itself, but also my work ethic,” Arrington said. “That’s the biggest contributor to my career lasting nine years. There were a lot of guys that were naturally more talented than me at the game and at the craft but my mentality was that I wasn’t going to let them outwork me.”
His best came in 2011. Arrington was one of the lone bright spots on one of the worst statistical defenses to ever make a Super Bowl. The Hofstra alum was the league’s co-leader in interceptions tied with Charles Woodson and Eric Weddle at seven.
“If you’re not firing on all cylinders as a unit, it’s pretty frustrating and I know statistically we were to put it as blunt as I can abysmal,” Arrington said. “The one thing I liked about the guys that year was that every week it was back in the lab wondering how we could get better and we were determined, we weren’t just one of those teams that just showed up. We worked really hard on our craft.”
Three years later, Arrington finally won his first Super Bowl ring against the Seattle Seahawks.
“It’s kind of ironic because it’s bittersweet because you wanna win that’s the most important thing but at the same time I myself did not play very well,” Arrington laughed. “As a competitor, it’s one of the things that haunts me more so a bitter taste in my mouth I just wish I could have played better but at the end of the day we won and I can’t say enough how proud that we were part of one of the most epic games in Super Bowl history.”
Arrington broke down what unfolded when he was pulled from the 2014 Super Bowl and how he used it as fuel to the fire with next team.
“I gave up a few big plays and that was pretty much the writing on the wall and I was accepting it myself,” Arrington said. “To take Bill [Belichick’s] motto, I didn’t do my job so I don’t have any excuses whether it’s good or bad and it definitely motivated me, I don’t care what it is I take everything personally.”
Arrington took the fuel and had a solid 2015 with the Ravens recording 28 tackles and a forced fumble.
Today, Arrington works with his wife Vashonda on EVOLVE. An organization that, ‘Aims to empower and help growth in the youth in unprivileged communities.’
“I asked the question to myself ‘What kind of lasting impact do I want to leave in this world,'” Arrington said. “If I can make a positive impact in this world whether be for man, woman, or child particularly children, that’s what gives me fulfillment and purpose.”
The organization offers programs in subjects ranging from career readiness, entrepreneurship, nutrition, meditation and even yoga.
“We are just trying to give them all the tools and opportunities necessary to be anything that they want to be,” Arrington said. “We just want to raise the bar and we realize that foundations are very specific in what they do and that’s fine but we don’t want to be specific when it comes to educational aspects, empowerment, and really don’t want to leave any stone unturned as far as the impact that we can have on our youth.”
Arrington continues to use football to try and help motivate the youth through a football camp that he hosts with former defensive tackle Phil Taylor whom he also went to the same high school with.
Their fifth year running it, the pair had over 800 kids registered in last year’s camp and are expecting an even bigger turnout this year.
The previous outing, alongside he and Taylor was former All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman who is from the same county.
“We like to pride ourselves on our accessibility to the kids as well,” Arrington said. “Some guys may only give an hour for autographs and photo ops, we make sure every kid has a ride and that their parents come to pick up their kids at the end of the camp and it’s one thing we definitely pride ourselves on.”
The Super Bowl champion makes sure that he gets face time with every kid, signing whatever is in front of him. Because he knows he can make a lasting impact even in life after football.
“I think of it as if the shoe was on the other if it was me or it was my kid asking for someone’s autograph, I would want that person to be cool about it,” Arrington said. “I’d hate for my kid to go up to somebody they look up to for an autograph or a picture and just not be the role model you would hope because these kids look up to you and we are role models whether we realize it or not as professional athletes and I always carry myself that certain way and we always like to teach in our foundation that character goes a long way.”
One thing fans may not have noticed was Arrington changing his number from 24 to 25 before the 2013 season. At first when All-Pro safety Adrian Wilson asked for it, Arrington was hesitant but then was given an offer he just could not refuse.
“When he signed, with him being a surefire hall of famer and him wearing the number his whole career, I knew the phone call was coming,” Arrington laughed. “When it came, I was a little hesitant and he made a first offer and I was like, ‘I don’t know man,’ And then we came up with the offer for the pampers for the entire year, and I looked at my wife and we were thinking we just had our first born and we understood how much pampers we were going through. We had just had the baby shower and we had already run through those and we were going to the grocery store and buying pampers and so I thought to myself and said, ‘Hey that might be hard to pass up on.'”