Most of the time, coming up with the intro to an article is the hardest part. Some days, though, the Pats Pulpit team comes through with something so perfect that you’ve gotta just roll with it.
In this case, our venerable SlotMachinePlayer put it about as succinctly as anyone could:
“Running a marathon couldn’t be any harder than this”
And you know what? Although as someone who’s been training for a marathon myself, I have to say it boiled my blood a bit, SMP probably has a point.
For those who may not know James Develin’s, let’s call it, unusual path to the NFL and eventually winning 3 Super Bowl rings, he had to sign on with a pair of AFL teams called the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz and the Florida Tuskers to get the attention of the Cincinnati Bengals, converting from defensive end to fullback in the process, and finally got to sign with the New England Patriots in 2012. The rest — the bulldozing throwback run-blocking that was ol’ reliable for more than a few Patriots teams — is history.
Like pretty much every player besides Tom Brady, though, at some point your body generally just decides it doesn’t want to play the game of football anymore. So after retiring due to concerns over a nasty neck injury in 2020, James picked up a new challenge in 2021, for the same reason any of us decides to run a marathon, really:
“Man, that would be a really good opportunity.”
Ok, fine, that’s not really why most people sign on to run a marathon, but it certainly sounds badass to just nonchalantly refer to a feat that less than 1% of the United States population has actually accomplished like it’s just something cool to do, so, there’s that.
There’s a couple solid writeups on Develin’s preparation for the race, like the long runs hours before the sun rises and “having the mental fortitude to suffer for 4+ hours” in the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, so check those out for a fun taste of The True Life of Retired NFL Players.
Then on Marathon Monday, Jimmy Neckroll laced up his running shoes and hit the course to raise money for Joe Andruzzi Foundation. It didn’t take long before the people noticed a Pro Bowl fullback rumbling down the road:
And to confirm that Develin crossed the finish line, his successor in the Patriots backfield was there to dap him up.
His time wasn’t half bad either; James finished the 26.2-mile course in 4 hours, 27 minutes, and 17 seconds. And a few of his old teammates dapped him up on the socials for braving the famously brutal race and pushing himself to finish...including fellow undrafted stud David Andrews:
And a fellow Patriots alumni that’d probably also be playing until he was 50 if his body allowed him, Julian Edelman:
And of course, it helps having the most important teammates of all on the sidelines cheering you on: the family.
All told, James raised over $10,000 for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a fellow widely-beloved Patriots alum whose foundation provides grants to help cancer patients with mortgages and rent, utility bills, and other day-to-day expenses while they’re undergoing treatment. In the foundation’s own words, “This relief allows the Foundation’s grant recipients to focus on their fight against cancer and not on the financial distress that comes with it.”
And not only that, but Develin also joined a very exclusive club in the process — fellow Patriots players and Super Bowl champions Tedy Bruschi and Ryan Wendell have also earned the bragging rights to call themselves marathon finishers after successfully completing the Boston race.
Good on James for continuing to push himself in his retirement and raising a big chunk of change for a worthy cause in the process.