Lacrosse's Connection to NFL Free Agent Frenzy
Don't discount the power of a lacrosse relationship.
When reports surfaced Thursday that NFL free agent cornerback Brandon Browner would be visiting the New England Patriots to talk about joining the franchise, it made perfect sense — from a lacrosse perspective.
Browner's agent, Peter Schaffer, is a former Franklin & Marshall player who is a regular on the men's club ball circuit, playing in Vail, Colo., and an event in Las Vegas in November most recently. And just last week, for a future Lacrosse Magazine story, he talked about his relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, one that is centered on lacrosse.
"He's very reluctant to talk football, with anybody," Schaffer said. "I think that's because he's so intelligent and he has so many secrets. But if you really want to have a conversation with him, he'll talk lacrosse all day: the growth of the game, the strategy of the game, all kinds of stuff. That's really what our relationship is based on.
"We're both in the same place because of football, but the conversation is always about lacrosse," he said. "I love it. I take no greater pride than when I see him working out in the Marriott workout room at the Senior Bowl, or at the NFL Combine, and he's wearing a Rutgers Lacrosse dri-fit, or a Hopkins Lacrosse sweatshirt. That's cool."
Browner, the ex-Seattle Seahawks cornerback, had been suspended by the NFL indefinitely for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but was reinstated by the NFL last month. Schaffer, who runs his own representation company based in Colorado and was at one time the agent for NFL Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, led the charge. As part of the deal, Browner will sit out the first four weeks of the 2014 regular season without pay.
"His career was going to be over," Schaffer said. "Everybody told me I was crazy, but we stood up and we said, 'No, we're not going to take it.' And then we finally worked out a deal which got him back in the league this year. You feel real good about the fact that you saved a guy's career and made sure he had a better life, in a real sense. It's something that's really tangible. You just didn't get him money, do a big contract. Everybody said that he wouldn't play again and you found a way to get him to play again."
Now it looks like the Patriots could be welcoming a lacrosse client, so to speak, into the fold. For what it's worth, reports say Browner is also supposed to meet with the Washington Redskins. It's not an out-of-nowhere concept for Belichick and the Patriots, however. The team in the past signed former Maryland and Notre Dame attackman Will Yeatman to a free agent contract.
Belichick, likely a future Pro Football Hall of Fame coach, has led the Patriots to five Super Bowl appearances. He also played lacrosse and football at Annapolis (Md.) High and Wesleyan University, where he was captain of the lacrosse team as a senior. Belichick's daughter, Amanda, is now the head women's lacrosse coach at Wesleyan and his son, Brian, currently plays at Trinity College. Another son, Stephen, played lacrosse and football at Rutgers. Belichick is close friends with Johns Hopkins men's coach Dave Pietramala.