After taking over for Wes Welker at Texas Tech, Danny Amendola spent his first NFL season (2008) with Dallas on the Cowboys practice squad before joining Philadelphia's practice squad in the postseason that year. He was with the Eagles during 2009 training camp, wound up on the practice squad again, but was signed to the St. Louis Rams active roster at the end of September 2009. Amendola wound up starting two games and appearing in 14 for the Rams that season. He was with St. Louis until this past March, when he became a free agent and signed with the Patriots.
What's your earliest football memory?
I remember my first practice, from Pee Wee football when I was, like, 10, and I didn't know what was going on. My dad's a high school football coach in Texas. He took me out in the back yard with another teammate of mine who lived on the same street. My dad taught us tackling drills so we wouldn't show up on the first day and not know anything.
What was your first job?
I worked at a batting cage, picking up baseballs and making sure the pitching machines worked, sometimes giving lessons or helping out with camps and stuff. I was 14, 15.
What was your first car?
A 1992 Mercury Tracer. It was a piece! I got it for free when I was 16, from my baseball coach who I worked for, actually. Then I ended up giving it back to him because he needed it back (laughs). I drove it for three years, but my dad had passed his down to me.
Did you find it hard letting go?
No, hell no. It barely worked. I always drove the crappiest cars out there.
Who was your first crush?
I think I had a babysitter that lived down the street when I was 5 or 6 who I thought was super hot. My most recent celebrity crush is Olivia Wilde.
A lot of guys say they're afraid to fly? Are you?**
Yeah, I don't like it at all. Because I like being in control, and if I'm not flying the plane, I feel uncomfortable. Same with driving.
Would you ever consider getting a pilot's license?
I've thought about it, just for fun. If I learn more about it, maybe I'll feel more comfortable, but that's later in life.
So, how do you deal with flying now when we go on road trips?
It's easier for me to fly with the team, just because all the guys are together. If I were to be on a long flight cross-country, you know, by myself, it's a little more nerve-racking.
If I could give you any skill or talent you don't have, what would you want?
I wish I could play Blackjack really well. I don't even really play much, but if I were to learn how to count cards like that really quickly, it would be nice.
If we made your life story into a movie, who would you cast as Danny Amendola?
Probably James Franco.
Now, if you could play a character in a movie, who would it be?
Ben Affleck in "The Town." That's what I would be. It's awesome.
If you weren't playing football for a living, what would you want to do?
Probably try to play baseball or some other sport. I can't sit behind a desk. If athletics wasn't an option, I'd probably work at like a surf shop in Hawaii on the beach, just dishing out surf boards.
Have you ever been star-struck?
(laughs) Recently, yeah. One night a couple months ago, before the season started, I saw Leonardo DiCaprio at a late-night social event. I was like, "That's Leo DiCaprio, the biggest actor in the history of the world." I don't really get star-struck for athletes, but for actors or actresses, they make a bunch of money doing a bunch of cool stuff.
Did you say anything to Leo?
No, I mean, I wouldn't know what to say!
If you could meet anyone from any point in history, who would it be?
My grandfather. My dad's dad. He died before I was born. I heard he was awesome. He was from Boston, Italian guy.
Are you a full-blooded Italian?
Half-and-half. My mom's Irish. My mom and dad are both from Boston. Growing up, I visited here all the time, yeah. My mom's been living here the past 10, 15 years. My dad still lives in Texas, but I still have family here, so, it's made the transition easier.
If I could grant you three wishes, what would you ask for?
You've got to ask for more wishes, right? That's the third one … (laughs). The first one would be something like, a turkey dinner, because number three's gonna be more wishes, so, I'll get more anyway. The first one is more immediate. A big feast would be one, having everyone I love around me would be two, and more wishes, three.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I do have a sweet tooth. Chocolate chip cookies. Lately, it's been vanilla Oreos. I would say that would be number one.
Is the cookie part vanilla?
Yeah, instead of chocolate, but it still has white in the middle, kind of like…
Exactly like that! Only Oreo style.
Aside from your playbook, what's the last book you read?
"Lone Survivor," by Marcus Luttrell. It was about Navy Seals. Seal Team 10 in Afghanistan, and he was the only survivor.
Do you have any nicknames? Or have you ever?
Yeah (smiles). I was "White Lightning" in St. Louis. [Defensive end] Chris Long came up with that one. That's pretty much it.
OK, with your Italian heritage, do you call it "gravy" or "sauce?"