BANGOR, Maine — Woodrow Hamilton said it is, “kind of hard to explain the feeling you get” when you are a Super Bowl champion.
The 24-year-old Hamilton, a defensive lineman who appeared in two games for the New England Patriots last season and was also on their practice squad with former University of Maine star Trevor Bates, was one of the clinicians at the New England Patriots Alumni Club’s free non-contact “Football for You” clinic at Husson University in Bangor on Thursday.
It was the second straight year of the clinic for boys and girls ages 9-14.
“Where I come from, being given an opportunity to be a part of something as great as this is beautiful thing,” said Hamilton, a Mississippi native and former University of Mississippi standout. “I feel blessed to have been given a chance and I did something good enough to make it (on the roster/practice squad).”
It was the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
“Coach (Bill Belichick) always tells us to never give up,” said Hamilton. “To see everybody as poised as they were and not panicking was amazing. Everybody was ‘OK, let’s make a play. Let’s do the stuff we normally do.”
Hamilton, a 6-foot-3, 315 lb rookie free agent, had a tackle and an assist in a 33-13 win over Cleveland on Oct. 9 and had an assist the following week in a 35-17 triumph over Cincinnati.
He signed a futures contract with the Pats on Feb. 7 and understands he has a healthy challenge ahead to get more playing time this season.
“My main focus is to try to be better,” said Hamilton. “I’m always trying to get better. I’ve learned to work hard and never give up on anything, keep grinding.”
He said professional football is a business but added that “being in an organization like this one always influences you in a positive direction because they are strong believers in character and being a good person.”
Two other clinicians, former Pats linebacker Vernon Crawford and running back Harold Shaw, were on Belichick’s first Patriots team in 2000. Even though the Pats went 5-11, they knew Belichick was a special coach. The Pats went on to win their first of five Super Bowls the following year.
“[Belichick] could take care of all the little things,” said Shaw, who had first played for current Seattle Seahawks coach and executive vice president Pete Carroll, who was New England’s head coach for three years.
“Pete Carroll was a rah-rah coach,” said Shaw, who added that Belichick was more businesslike.
“[Belichick] said, ‘You do this’ and you did it. There wasn’t any laughing or cheering,” said Shaw. “You ran everywhere on the field. You didn’t walk.”
“[Belichick] is a teacher. He found different ways to get things done. You knew everything about your opponent. He is very detailed about everything he does. That’s who Bill is,” said Crawford, who is the head coach at Seekonk High School in Rhode Island.
“That’s the one thing I instill in myself. Knowing the details and coaching the little things and not the big things. The big things take care of themselves,” said Crawford.
Pete Brock, who played every offensive line position during a 12-year career with the Patriots before retiring in 1987, is the president of the Patriots’ Alumni Club, and said the way the team rallied in the Super Bowl was one for the ages.
“What a terrific way of putting a stamp on a great franchise. To be able to overcome those adversities and win that game was unbelievable,” said Brock, who organizes the clinics.
Brock was pleased to see the turnout at the clinic. It swelled from 230 kids last year to over 300 this season.
They are putting on 25 clinics across New England, four more than last year.
And the players enjoy doing the clinics.
“It’s great to give back to the kids in the community,” said Hamilton.
“It’s awesome,” said Crawford.
Brock feels with the off-season acquisitions the Patriots have made, they “look stronger than they did last year.
“There’s no question they are the team to beat. As long as No. 12 (Tom Brady) is in the huddle, they’ll always have a shot (at a Super Bowl),” said Brock.
Brock knows Brady personally and said he is a “great guy.”
“He is what you want him to be. He is very humble and very well-centered. I knew him before he was Tom Brady (five-time Super Bowl champion) and he’s the same now as he was then,” said Brock.