Exclusive: New England Patriots Alumni Club Doing Their Job With Community Mission
Photo Credit: New England Patriots Alumni Club
Do your job.
It is the New England Patriots’ slogan, and former players are coming together to do a job well done off the field.
In 2006, Pete Brock and a group of past Patriots came together to found the New England Patriots Alumni Club.
The qualification to become a member of the Alumni is that you must have been active at least one game to be considered eligible.
“We want to appeal to each and every player who was once a Patriot so they always know they have a home to come to,” Brock said. “We have a speakers bureau and we get [former players] involved that way. When people are asking for appearances and we get them out in their community, they get a taste of that.”
Brock when finding out players have retired, reaches out to them notifying them of the organization.
“I send an email out to guys when they retire. A lot of these guys it takes a couple of years to transition so money not withstanding you have been told most of your adult life where to go and all of a sudden you’re kicked out and a lot of guys have to search their way,” Brock said. “I give them a year or two and often times we hear back from them. So we try to keep them involved and at least informed that we’re out there.”
One of these players was three-time Super Bowl champion fullback Patrick Pass. After his retirement, his family decided to relocate to Rhode Island but was still upset with how his time on the gridiron concluded.
“I was living in Georgia and decided to move back to Rhode Island and I was looking for something to do to keep my mind busy,” Pass said. “[I had] just recently retired from football prematurely because of surgeries and stuff like that and it kind of stinks when you don’t retire on your own merit and you kind of feel down and depressed about the whole situation.”
That something came when one day, his wife told him about the Alumni.
“My wife brought it up and told me the Patriots had an Alumni and that it allowed former players to join and get back in the community to do stuff for the team,” Pass said. “One phone call and that’s all it took.”
Today, Pass serves on the board of directors and has been a staple of the Alumni for years. He is still recognized by fans who saw him play as one of the founding members of the team’s dynasty.
There was not supposed to be a board of directors or huge company. Just a reason for former teammates to come together. With the rapid growth, Brock felt it could be more special than that.
“At first it was just a reason to gather and lie about how good we once were,” Brock laughed. “Over time, our membership grew, and so did our mission a little bit so we decided to do something a little special than just that.”
And they have done just that. The organization itself holds numerous fundraising events that range from a fishing tournament in Falmouth to just appearances from players in general.
Brock saw a drop in youth football participants and decided that the organization needed to take action.
“In response to the steady decline in kids showing interest in playing youth football, we decided to make a spark in the community by starting the ‘Football for You’ program,” Brock said. “It’s a unique camp experience for kids, where we set up six drill stations and each represents a position on the football field.”
The Alumni’s mission was not only for kids who played football already to get something out of it. But also ones who may have not played yet.
“We set it up so kids that had never played football would [definitely] get something out of it and kids that have played football and were plugged into positions already like running back, receiver, etc.”
The Alumni not only wanted to inspire the kids, but the town they hosted the camp in.
“We wanted to take this anywhere that wanted or needed a boost,” Brock said. “Make it more than just a football camp so we make presentations for parents. We secured food vendors to feed the communities we were and we did one and it grew to three and we kind of outgrew our funding and decided we wanted to file to become a non-profit in the state of Massachusetts.”
Last year, the organization reportedly hosted 23 youth football camps all over New England from Massachusetts to Maine averaging 130 kids and climbing at each event.
At these events, Pass still gets fans that walk up to him who remember what he did on the field.
“The Dad’s of the kids [at the camps] say they watched me play and they always say the good things about how much they loved watching me run and catch the ball out the backfield,” Pass said. “I still have guys my age come up to me and they let me know how excited it was to play Madden and throw the ball to me out of the backfield.”
As well as the aforementioned fishing tournament, the Alumni hosts a shooting tournament called the Sporting Clays Classic. Which takes place a week before the yearly Patriots’ Hall of Fame induction.
But one of the biggest events that has become a staple with the organization is the ‘Game with The Greats.’
“It’s an away game viewing party that the Alumni hosts about 1,000 fans to come and watch the game,” Brock said. “We have the game played on all the jumbotrons and video boards inside the Putnam Club and have a small program.”
Even though the Tom Brady’s and Rob Gronkowski’s of the world are not at these events, fans still remember and come in droves. Brock and crew feel humbled every time.
“I think it’s great but I think it’s their grandfathers that remember us,” Brock laughed. “130 of us still live in driving distance of Gillette Stadium so it is a perfect way to stay connected to each other and the community and to be able give back to the families and the fans of New England that supported us for so many years.”
As the New England Patriots Alumni Club has gotten bigger, the six-time Super Bowl champion organization has taken notice.
Brock says The Kraft Group as well as the Patriots have welcomed them to games with open arms and have helped in any way they can.
“They link us to them and they’re excited about what we’re doing in the community,” Brock said. “The Krafts give at least 25 stadium access passes that allow the Alumni to come in. They activate us also and allow us to come in to do meet and greets, autograph sessions, and tailgates on the day of the game.”
On game days, members of the alumni still feel like they are a part of the team.
“In the words of Mr. Kraft, ‘Once a Patriot, always a Patriot’ and we’re all there in support of the team and of each other,” Brock said. “It still gives the guys that locker room attitude and they still feel a part of what it is that we’re doing.”