He looked fresh, despite having arrived at dawn on a red-eye flight from Arizona.
N’Keal Harry, the Patriots’ top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, came to midfield at Gillette Stadium, accompanied by team owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft, to be presented with his ceremonial No. 1 jersey in front of a crowd of media.
He’d been here twice before, for an official pre-draft visit and immediately after the reigning Super Bowl Champions selected him last month. Since then, he’s been keeping in physical and mental shape while getting accustomed to the fact that he’s now a professional football player.
“It definitely took a couple of days. It was so surreal to me,” Harry confessed. “It didn’t feel real when it first happened. But it’s pretty sunk in at this point. Loving what I see. It’s beautiful up here. I’m just excited to get up here for good.”
Harry and his fellow Patriots rookies are coming together for their first practice sessions as teammates, a rookie minicamp scheduled for this Mothers’ Day Weekend. He made it a point to acknowledge publicly Thursday that he wouldn’t be where he is today without the love and support of his family, particularly his grandmother.
Born in Toronto but raised on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Harry came to the United States with his grandmother (with the blessing of his mother) to have a chance at a better life. Now on the verge of inking a lucrative NFL contract, the wide receiver proclaimed that he won’t forget the sacrifices made by others on his behalf.
“Definitely help my family, help some people on the island. With this platform I’ve been given, it’s my duty to do something good with it,” he maintained. “God has blessed me to be in this position. It would be a disservice if I didn’t give back and show appreciation.”
In order to do that, however, Harry understands that he needs to succeed on the field where he met with the media Thursday. That starts with working hard off the field to learn the New England offense.
“I still have to prove myself,” he continued. “I haven’t done anything in the NFL yet. It’s my job to put in the work and perform and live up to expectations. I want to get coached hard… I need to work more on my technique. We’re all held to a higher standard. Everybody in the building That’s what everybody needs to progress and advance.
“I’m looking forward to it. It means the world to me. This is a great organization. I’m learning from the best of the best. I’m excited to get to work and soak in as much information as possible. I’m an extremely hard worker. I want to be the type of player that comes in and can be accountable from Day 1.”
He seems to be off to a good start.