Pats’ Meriweather goes back to school

Posted April 01, 2009, at 11:08 p.m.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — It may have been a typical Wednesday at school for Jocelyn Tozier, but the first-grader at the Miles Lane School surely got the rock star treatment.

As part of the National Football League’s “Play 60” campaign, Tozier was accompanied to school by New England Patriots defensive back Brandon Meriweather, one of 34 players participating in the league’s “Take a Player to School” activity. And this was no April Fools’ joke.

“I think she looked more excited [Tuesday] when she met me at the airport,” said Meriweather, who picked up Tozier for school in a limousine.

Tozier was one of 34 youths in 32 NFL markets and two non-league markets who were selected winners in the NFL’s Take a Player to School sweepstakes.

She and her classmates were awarded with an ultimate NFL Physical Education class.

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“I think she looked more excited [Tuesday] when she met me at the airport,” said Meriweather, who picked up Tozier for school in a limousine.

Tozier was one of 34 youths in 32 NFL markets and two nonleague markets who were selected winners in the Take a Player to School sweepstakes.

She and her classmates were awarded an ultimate NFL Physical Education class.

After taking some time to meet Tozier’s classmates, Meriweather interacted a bit with members of the Bucksport football team, then helped lead the first-grade students in a variety of PE activities, which the kids seemed to enjoy.

Especially the third-year safety out of the University of Miami, who admitted he felt like a kid again.

“I haven’t had fun like this in a long time. It’s usually all business when I get to do things like this,” Meriweather said. “With little Jocelyn, and to see the joy on the kids’ faces, is just a good thing.”

Tozier and her classmates all received NFL Play 60 T-shirts and footballs courtesy of JC Penney Afterschool, which presents the Take a Player to School program.

Young Jocelyn was so excited she didn’t even think to bring her school supplies with her.

“I forgot all about [my backpack],” she admitted.

She said her favorite part of the experience was riding in the limo, and she enjoyed the car’s unique lights.

Tozier and her classmates were certainly having the time of their lives, tossing footballs around and jumping rope among other things in PE teacher Larry Clement’s class, and even trying to tackle Meriweather, which, according to Tozier’s mother, Michelle, wouldn’t have sat well with coach Bill Belichick, as she playfully cautioned the energetic group of first graders to be careful.

Meriweather certainly enjoyed his first trip to Maine.

“It’s very spacious, but it’s cool, it’s laid back. Everyone that I met was extremely nice,” he said.

Meriweather feels the Play 60 program, which encourages youths to get 60 minutes of exercise a day, is an essential one league-wide.

“It’s very important because the kids are going to be the next people that we’re watching,” he said.

To say that Tozier and her family bleeds Patriots red, white and blue is an understatement.

Michelle and her husband, Dale, are season ticket-holders and own a cat named Bruschi and a dog named Tom in addition to a “Fathead” wall hanging of veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi at their home.

So it was pretty obvious that Jocelyn, who adorned a blue Meriweather jersey complete with a white “Play 60” armband, is a huge fan. When she was asked if she was, she simply smiled, giggled and nodded her head.

Meriweather never got to meet the Tozier’s second dog, but with one being named after Tom Brady, the other certainly could’ve emulated the quarterback’s favorite target.

“The other dog, that would’ve been Randy,” he said, referring to wide receiver Randy Moss.

Even though PE eventually came to an end and Jocelyn had to return to the world of learning for the rest of the day, she certainly has someone to cheer for every time she visits Gillette Stadium this season.

“Jocelyn is my new best friend,” Meriweather said.

rmclaughlin@bangordailynews.net

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