FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — We watch Tom Brady lead the New England Patriots to come-from-behind victories, we see Rob Gronkowski make leaping, twisting catches, we marvel as Devin McCourty leaps high in the air to swat a ball away from an opposing receiver.
We see finely tuned professional athletes and we watch with wide eyes at what they can do on a field.
We sometimes forget that not so long ago, they were just kids. Kids who wanted candy. Kids who loved Halloween night.
“We had the perfect block for it,” said Brady of his childhood neighborhood in San Mateo, Calif. “Even now, my parents probably open their door at 4 o’clock and don’t get a chance to close it until 10 o’clock at night. So it’s a great neighborhood to go out.”
When it comes to Halloween, the Patriots are just like you and me.
They like to dress up, as evidenced by the costumes they wore to their team Halloween party this week. Photos leaked out on Twitter, if you missed any.
There was Tom Terrific and his wife, Gisele, costumed as the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz. Matthew Mulligan, the West Enfield native, dressed up as Bane, the Batman villain.
The only thing they miss these days is actually going out to trick or treat.
“That,” said Mulligan, “would be a little different.”
Yeah, just imagine a 6-foot-4, 270-pound Bane knocking on your door. Not sure I’d answer it.
But to the Patriots, Halloween was a special night, no matter where they lived.
“Yeah, me and my brothers would ransack the neighborhood,” said second-year defensive lineman Jake Bequette, who grew up in Little Rock, Ark. “We’d get as much candy as we could. Take no prisoners.”
Brady’s favorite candy to get was Rolos. But as long as he didn’t get cheated, he was happy.
“I liked the people who gave the full-sized bars,” he said. “Those were the best. The worst were the raisins and crap like that. You want the candy.”
Uh-oh. Think Brady will hear from the raisin lobby?
But Brady’s not alone when wanting the candy.
From Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to Milky Ways to Nerds — yes, Nerds — to Gushers to the 100 Grand bar, the Patriots craved their sugar. In fact, defensive back Kyle Arrington still buys and eats Gushers, a fruity snack that he laments he never received in his trick or treat sack because “they never came in the fun size, like the candy bars.”
Baby-faced punter Ryan Allen, who looks like he still could still pull off trick or treating, is the one who liked Nerds, those tiny pieces of sugar and candy coating. But he now admits, “Now they’re not nearly as good. I don’t know why.”
Those treats pale to the one Maine’s Mulligan loved most. “Caramel-covered apples,” he said, his eyes taking on a far-away look. “My aunt used to give them to us when we went to her house.”
Mulligan and his older brother, Jared, would hop in their parent’s car and go up and down Dodlin Road in Enfield. “We’d just basically go and get candy from any house that had its light on,” he said.
Allen grew up in Salem, Ore., in a neighborhood that encouraged trick or treating. “We were in the middle of two, three neighborhoods meshed into one,” he said. “It was a great place for Halloween.”
Defensive lineman Marcus Forston grew up in Miami. He would usually dress up as Batman. But, he said, in his neighborhood you’d either be Batman, Superman or a Power Ranger. “It was kind of hard for the parents to know who we were,” he said.
Andre Carter had to be a ninja every year. “I think I drove my mom crazy,” he said. “Every year she’d ask me, âDon’t you want to be something else?’ Every year I’d say, âNah, I want to be a ninja.’ ”
If you watch him play the defensive line, you might notice some ninja-like moves.
Brady’s favorite costume was when he dressed up as Will Clark, the retired first baseman for the San Francisco Giants, his favorite baseball team.
Allen’s first memory is of an “extremely cheesy dragon costume, made out of cotton.”
Fullback James Develin’s mother, Donna, used to hand-sew his costumes. He was a devil one year, a king the next. “She put jewels on the crown,” he said.
But Halloween, of course, is about more than just costumes and candy, right?
There’s a certain degree of mischief involved and your Patriots weren’t immune to it, even Mr. Brady.
“Yes, we egged and TP’d (toilet-papered) houses,” he said, a smile creasing his face.
Arrington, who grew up just outside Washington, was at first reluctant to talk about his mischievous streak.
“There’s no double jeopardy, right?” he asked, wanting to make sure he wasn’t going to get in trouble.
“OK,” he said. “Now I don’t want to sound like a delinquent or anything, but we used to egg cars. We’d hide and egg cars that passed by.”
Sometimes the mischief in the Arrington family was simply to provide a good Halloween scare.
“Oh man, we used to go all out,” said Arrington. “My dad would do the decorations. And he would go so far as to scare everybody who rang our doorbell. He would wear a wig and a cape, and he would sneak up on anybody who rang our doorbell and scare them. Mothers were leaving their kids at one point.
“He finally had to stop. But it was fun. Those were the days.”
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:[email protected]Twitter: MikeLowePPH