March 15, 2013

Steve Solloway: Amendola's Patriots jersey would be the right topping

To some, the football jersey hanging on a wall in the Yarmouth sports bar seemed out of place. It was St. Louis Rams property and this town is most definitely New England Patriots country.

"Best pizza ever," read part of the scrawl on the uniform top, endorsing the signature product of Pat's Pizza. Nice sentiment, but the No. 16 didn't register with strangers. Neither did the name: Amendola.

"I called (owners John and Chris Kyle) and told them they'll have to replace that jersey," said Bill Goddard, enjoying the moment Thursday. Danny Amendola has signed with the New England Patriots. He's the pass-catcher who will replace Wes Welker on the turf if not in the hearts of Patriots fans.

Uncle Bill got the second text message sent by Amendola with the news. His father, Willie Amendola, got the first.

That's right, you can adopt Amendola as one of your own. He's practically a Mainer by some measures. He breathed Maine air for a little bit when he was a baby. Willie Amendola was the Massabesic High head football coach in 1987, the season that school moved to Class A.

"Danny's gonna run a kickoff back 100 yards on opening day and that will be the end of Wes Welker," said Goddard, a long-time Yarmouth resident and married to Joan Amendola, Willie's sister. No, Goddard wasn't dismissing Welker, who earned the affection and respect of Patriots fans with his 100-catch seasons and his durability.

Yeah, he dropped a poorly thrown pass in last year's Super Bowl and couldn't make a key catch in January's AFC title loss to Baltimore. Some of you turned Welker into the Patriots' version of Bill Buckner, who let the baseball roll under his glove in the 1986 World Series. Get over it.

Goddard's on board with Amendola. Of course he is. He followed his nephew's career at Texas Tech where Welker played years earlier. Same position, almost the same diminutive size. Listed at 5-foot-11, Amendola may be a couple of inches taller than Welker. Same mental strengths.

Not the same physical toughness. Injuries have put Amendola on the shelf too often.

Welker and Amendola even look a bit alike, facially. Will they play alike? Bill Belichick thinks so. He doesn't care if you have doubts. The NFL is big business and Belichick will play back his time-worn response when you ask why he let Welker go.

Coach Bill was acting in the best interests of the franchise. He let three-time Super Bowl hero Adam Vinatieri walk. And Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour and Asante Samuel. The list goes on and on.

No one in New England should shed tears for the Baltimore Ravens fans but c'mon, that franchise traded away Anquan Boldin. No Boldin, no Super Bowl victory. He wanted to retire as a Raven, but he's gone to San Francisco. Business decision.

Welker won't get to sit at the table with Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi and Kevin Faulk and retire as a Patriot. Yes, Welker didn't start his NFL career with New England but as a football player he grew up as a Patriot and that makes all the difference.

Now it's Danny Amendola's turn to make a difference. This being Maine, the big state with the tiny population, it's OK to look at Amendola as family even if it's only through an uncle's eyes.

At Massabesic High on Thursday, John Morin reminded colleagues that Danny Amendola's father walked the school halls, even if it was some 25 years ago. Morin was an assistant football coach at Thornton Academy then, before coming over to Massabesic to become its head coach, stepping down just this past season.

Willie Amendola and his sisters grew up in Scituate, Mass. He moved to Maine because Joan lived here, says Bill Goddard. He doesn't know why Willie Amendola left after only one year at Massabesic. The elder Amendola is now the head coach at Dekaney High in the Houston area. Dekaney won a Texas state championship in Cowboys Stadium recently.

Joan Amendola Goddard died last March. She was 57. She and her husband were avid Patriots fans although there were opportunities to fly to St. Louis to watch Danny.

Bill Goddard will see his nephew soon. He needs a Patriots jersey with Amendola's number and name on it to replace the St. Louis jersey in Pat's Pizza. This one won't look out of place.

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway

 

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