Louisiana has jazz. Florida has oranges and sunshine. Massachusetts has history and clam chowdah. According to Patriots tackle and Alabama native Wesley Britt, Alabama has the three F's--faith, family and football.
Growing up in Cullman and playing his college football at the University of Alabama, the 6-foot-8-inch, 320-pound Britt understands the three F's and what they mean to those who hail from the Yellowhammer State.
From an early age, Britt's life revolved around the three F's. Wesley and his siblings spent their days either playing football with their friends, in church or spending time with family.
"It was a community where you could trust your neighbors," Britt said. "Our parents didn't have to worry about where we were or what we were doing. They had more parents looking out after us, and that was a good thing, a great community, just a family atmosphere."
Britt's parents centered their lives on faith and taught their children to do so as well. Wesley's brother, Justin, is thankful that his parents made worship such an important part of their childhoods.
"We're blessed to have great Christian parents," Justin said. "They had to drag us to church, but now I'm blessed and grateful for the fact that they did and every little bit I got out of it."
The Britts also made sure family came first. Between endless days of football and time well spent in church,Wesley, Justin and their other brother, Taylor, became very close. The three brothers have created a strong support system. They rely on each other for assistance and guidance. Justin credits Wesley for keeping him in check early on in life and helping him understand his faith.
"Wesley has shown me the right way to do things," Justin said. "I could have very easily strayed away from that, but Wesley has shown me to use Jesus Christ in my own way."
After a stellar football career at Cullman High, there was no doubt where Wesley would play college ball. At the University of Alabama, he found the three F's in practice, with the line separating two of the F's -- faith and football -- sometimes difficult to discern.
In Tuscaloosa, 92,000 ardent fans pack the stadium on Saturdays in the Fall.
"It's ridiculous. Starting on Wednesday, you start seeing RVs come in on campus and you start seeing the Alabama flags raised," Britt said. "It's a big deal."
Britt had the third F--family--at Alabama as well. Both Taylor and Justin attended and played football for Alabama, with the three brothers even sharing an unforgettable year in 2004 when all three played on the same team. For Justin, now a senior on the Crimson Tide's offensive line, his first game with his brothers was a once in a lifetime experience.
"I'll never forget it," said Justin. "Wesley gave me a big hug and we all had a big chest bump. It was incredible."
Britt was also able to extend his family through Alabama's "AClub," a support group through which the school's players, both past and present, gather at events and dinners throughout the year to talk football and offer each other advice.
Former Patriot and Alabama alum John Hannah is a member, and the Pro Football Hall-of-Famer believes that the football fraternity is rooted in Alabama's storied tradition.
"Whenever you go through what we went through and you come out the other side, there's loyalty there," said Hannah. "There's a special connection with Alabama boys that went through that program."
It was through the A-Club that Hannah noticed Britt, and when the Patriots acquired Britt from the San Diego Chargers in January 2006, Hannah started following his progress. The two have exchanged e-mails and occasionally meet up when Britt and Hannah are home in Alabama.
"He's always hustling," Hannah said of Britt. "When you see the play develop and run away from him, he's still chasing people down. He's just a good, solid, hard worker."
Britt appreciates the support from this invaluable member of his football family.
"It seems like I've been hearing about John Hannah since I started playing offensive line," Britt said. "Just the way he played, the type of tenacity and the heart, that's what everybody always says, 'Just play with that heart.'"
Britt and Hannah share a home state, the three F's and they have both pulled on the Patriot uniform. They also share another trait. Hannah also had two brothers who played for the Crimson Tide.
With the support of his family, Hannah and the State of Alabama, Britt is hoping to build on a solid showing in 2006, when he appeared in 10 games for the Patriots and recorded his first career start. In that game, Britt provided solid protection for Tom Brady and contributed to a running game that totaled 424 yards, leading the team to a 38-13 victory. For Wesley, the successful start was all in a day's work.
"I just want to get better every day and anytime I get an opportunity I want to be ready to take advantage of it and play the best that I can," Britt said.
This article originally appeared in the August 30th edition of Patriots Gameday.