A lot of athletes don't get to leave the game the way they want to. Not everyone can walk off the field for the final time hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy like John Elway. It was beginning to look like Troy Brown's last season as a Patriot was going to be a forgetful one. He started the year on the physically unable to perform list and with New England completely healthy at the receiver position, there was no guarantees that Brown would return to the team.
But the speculation ended on Nov. 26 when the Patriots announced that Brown was activated to the 53-man roster. With New England sitting at 11-0 and the favorites to win the Super Bowl, there's a chance Brown will get an opportunity to walk off the field for the last time as a champion after all.
Tom Brady hasn't had a shortage of weapons to throw to this season but no matter how many options No. 12 has in the passing game, he's always happy to have a leader like Brown back in the fold.
"It's great. It's great to see him. I know he's excited," Brady said. "He's been working very, very hard. He's played a long time and it's great to have him up and available. I sure hope he makes a big impact on the team. He always does, just with his leadership, his ability to bring people together and he always has positive words. He's a great leader. He's a great teammate and everybody loves having Troy Brown."
The question moving forward is what role Brown will have on the Patriots. In the past, Brown has killed defenses over the middle coming out of the slot but that job now belongs to Wes Welker. Through 11 games, Welker ranks second in the NFL with 81 receptions. As a whole, the Patriots receivers have caught 215 passes on the season, and in this offense there just aren't enough balls to go around.
Still, Brown is the kind of versatile player Bill Belichick will always find a place for. In the past Brown has also been a big contributor on special teams and as a reserve defensive back, in addition to receiver.
Belichick wouldn't commit to Brown playing on the defensive side of the ball but didn't rule out the possibility either.
"We'll determine that on a week-to-week basis, same as we always do. Troy is a versatile guy for us," Belichick said. "He's done a lot of different things around here. He's played on offense, defense, special teams and obviously (is a) very experienced player, a guy that has done a lot of different things, and I think has the opportunity to fill different spots for us. We'll see how that works out on a game-to-game basis and that's the way it's been here for a while. That's the way it will be this week, that's the way it will be next week.
"I wouldn't rule anything out. Anything is possible. We'll do whatever we need to do. I'm not going to sit here and say we're not going to do something we think will help us win. Whatever it is, we'll do it. That's what we're here for. It's possible he could do anything that we need him to do to help us win."
Brown said it was tough not being with his teammates on game day but the fact that they're winning helped ease the pain of being a bystander.
"I've had a chance to be around these guys and see how much fun they were having and it's been a joy for me to watch; this team has been doing really well," he said. "It's always a little easier to watch when the team is winning. If we were losing it would be a different story."