Jack Berringer was having the best day possible last week at Patriots Training Camp. Until he wasn't, that is.
Imagine you're a 12-year-old boy from New England who loves football. You just finished watching practice and now you're up against the ropes hoping to get an autograph from some of your favorite players. By chance, franchise cornerstone Devin McCourty picks you out of the crowd and gives you his cleat.
That's how the afternoon played out for Jack, but before he could even process what just happened, a grown adult male ripped the shoe out of his hand and took off.
Now, imagine you're his mother.
"I couldn't really see -- there was a lot of people between he and I, but I could keep track of his shoes," said Jack's mother Ann. "I kept hearing all these other people saying, 'Oh, that poor kid. That poor kid.' I didn't think anything of it until he came back and he looked so upset."
Ann was sitting back from the crowd, and on such a hot day, she understandably didn't want to join her son in the sea of fans hoping to get a selfie of a signed ball. She also felt that this was something for children, not adults. If only the culprit felt the same way.
Seeing her son walk over upset, she asked him what was wrong.
"(Devin) was running by and he gave me a cleat," Jack explained. "As soon as I got it, somebody reached over me and grabbed it. And, well, they ran. I was really angry about it. Not cool."
Frankly, Ann couldn't believe someone would do that. The more she thought about it on the way home, the more upset the situation made her. She's not big on social media, but does have a LinkedIn profile she took to express her frustration in hopes to right this wrong.
"My 12-year-old son went to the field to have an autograph signed," Ann's post read. "He didn't get one, but what he got instead would have been better, had it not been ripped from his hands. Devin McCourty handed Jack his shoe! And as he was pulling it in to hug to his body like the prize that it is, a man behind him grabbed it and ran. My son is devastated."
It didn't stop there for Jack.
Adding injury to insult, he broke his wrist the following Thursday while pulling down a one-handed catch at his own football tryouts. It was a brutal week for Jack, but fortunately, things got better.
Ann's LinkedIn post crossed the desk of the Patriots' community relations team, who along with McCourty, wanted to make it up to Jack. His mom kept the secret for a little while, but surprised him the day before with news that he was invited back as a guest of the team for Monday's practice.
And the best part? Jack's best friend, his paternal grandfather, got to come along this time.
"He just wanted to make sure that his best friend, Papa, was invited to come with us," Ann said.
The family took in the practice, once again, and when it was over, Jack got to go on the field and meet Devin. The team captain signed his ball and gave him two signed gloves to take home this time around.
The two chatted and posed for pictures, and Jack told Devin that despite breaking his arm during practice, there was no way he was not getting back on the football field as soon as it was healed.
"That's what I'm talking about," Devin told him.
Ultimately, the unfortunate circumstance made for a day that Jack and the Berringer family won't forget. It may have even been worth being outmuscled by an adult in the first place.
"It's so much fun. I got to get signed gloves, a signed ball, see the players practice and meet Devin," Jack said before leaving.
"Let's just say it turned my frown upside down."