FOXBORO, Mass. -- Being benched by the coach is never an easy thing to swallow, but being deactivated and forced to watch the game on television at home while your teammates go to battle is enough to cripple someone.
"When your walking to your car after being deactivated, it's tough to have perspective," said linebacker Chad Brown, who after starting at middle linebacker to open the 2005 campaign saw his playing time slip until he was deactivated for the week eight game against Buffalo. "But I always try to look at the bright side of things."
Being deactivated can be a career-ending blow to someone with weak mental toughness. He's seen it before and decided he wasn't going to follow the same path as other veterans who hung up the shoulder pads for good.
"I've seen it on different teams. Guys get deactivated and kind of walk it in the rest of the season," Brown said. "Football is too special of a game to do that. Football is a game where once you're done, you can't put the pads back on again."
Brown played better toward the end of last season and seemed to play well enough to catch Bill Belichick's eye. The Patriots resigned Brown in time to get him on the field for yesterday's opening practice of training camp.
He's not wanted, he's wanted, he's not wanted and then wanted again. Sounds like a roller coaster only a professional athlete can ride.
"Sometimes, you'll be a pro bowler and sometimes you'll be deactivated," Brown said. "I've seen the game from both sides. I've seen it on the field, I've seen it on the sidelines and I've seen it on television while my team was playing."
Brown, along with fellow linebacker Monty Beisel, took a rash of criticism from fans and media alike at the beginning of last season when the Patriots defense wasn't playing up to the championships standards it set in the previous seasons.
Brown admits last season was a rough one for the former Seattle Seahawk, but he is ready and willing to work harder and bounce back to contribute to the 2006 Patriots in any way he can.
"I would like to, in a sense, re-stabilize myself," he said. "Last year was a difficult one on the field but I'm ready to bounce back. I think things will be easier to grasp this year."
After starting the season at middle linebacker, Brown moved to the outside when Tedy Bruschi recovered from his stroke. Brown collected eight tackles in the season finale against the Dolphins from the outside spot and had three tackles in the postseason. He also contributed on kick coverage units.
His versatility is definitely something that Bill Belichick likes in a linebacker.
"Chad played in a number of different spots for us last year," Belichick said. "He's got some versatility. We're going to use him in the spot where he best helps the team."
Aside from both having a last name that starts with the letter B, Belichick and Brown might soon have more in common than a consonant.
Brown said yesterday that when he retires from the NFL, he wants to coach high school football.
He doesn't want to be just a run-of-the-mill coach, either. He wants to start at the bottom and build a championship, similar to what Robert Kraft and Bill Belichck did with the Patriots.
" I wouldn't go somewhere that's winning. I want to build a team from the ground up," he said. "I want to build a program and see how it goes. I want to go someplace that uses manhole covers for weights."
Only fitting that the guy who has played football since he was six years old finishes his playing career and goes to the sidelines.
"This is the game I've played my whole life," Brown said. "I've never really had another job in my life except for a few weeks during the summer. This is a special game."
Jonathan Darling is a special contributor to Patriots Insider. Jonathan's articles can be found regularly here on Patriots Insider by searching for "Jonathan Darling" in the archives.
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