The day after announcing his retirement, James Develin checked in with the media and reflected on his football career and pondered his future in the game. At the start of the call it was announced that Develin had been named to the Patriots All-Decade team as the fullback on the roster, a well-deserved honor that served as a nice compliment to his retirement.
The rest of the 2010's All-Decade team will be announced on Wednesday.
"That's awesome," smiled Develin, when his place on the team was revealed. "It's an honor, I know the level of play it takes to perform for the Patriots. To get that kind of recognition along with some of the guys I am sure are on that list. It's an awesome thing to be able to show my kids down the road when they can understand what it means."
Develin suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of the 2019 season that landed him on Injured Reserve. It was complications from the injury that eventually led Develin and his family to make a hard decision about his playing career.
"My injury last year exposed some things that posed a potentially risky situation continuing to play the game of football," said Develin. "That's really what led to my decision. It was a tough decision, one that took a lot of emotions and time to talk through with my wife and I. It was made with my families best interest in mind."
As for what comes next, Develin's love for the game of football was apparent. After playing defensive line in college at Brown, he spent three seasons in the football minor leagues, with stops in the Arena League, United Football League and finally practice squads in Cincinnati and New England. Develin admitted he felt like he wasn't done with the game.
"I'm considering any kind of possibility that comes my way," said Develin. "It'd be an honor to provide support for the team albeit in a different way. I have an innate sense in me that I have to give back to this game that gave me so much. Any kind of capacity that I can do that in I'd be interested in doing."
Develin was grateful for the special opportunity he got with the Patriots. He recognized that Bill Belichick's team provides special opportunities for unproven players like he once was.
"The ability of the Patriots to say 'it doesn't matter where you came from, doesn't matter how you got here, it's all about what you do when you're here, at practice, showing you're able to learn, to play, and produce.' It's an incredible opportunity for anybody to walk through those doors and I've been thankful for my opportunity."
As for what his favorite memory was, Develin struggled to pin one down, understandable considering he has three championship seasons to consider. But the last championship play stood out.
"It's hard to look past the last Super Bowl down in Atlanta, having Sony right behind me score that touchdown to win the game," reflected Develin. "That's something I'll show my kids down the road."
But it was really the off-the-field camaraderie that Develin thought he'd miss most.
"Honestly, those championship-type moments, those special games we won were awesome and they were something that I'll never forget but honestly just the mundane moments we went through as teammates, just being in the locker room, just messing around and just being guys. Those are the moments I'm really going to miss. Those are what it's all about. As much as I went to work every day to provide for my family I also went to work everyday for my teammates and coaches and to provide whatever they needed from me."