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Trent Brown ‘never had more fun playing football’ than with the Patriots

Related: Trent Brown took a sizable pay cut to return to the Patriots

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Brown spent only one season with the New England Patriots, but it apparently left a lasting impact on him. The big-bodied offensive tackle, after all, spoke in the highest of terms about his 2018 campaign with the club during a recent media conference call — his first since returning to the Patriots via trade.

After spending the last two seasons with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, he returned to New England two weeks ago: the Patriots and Raiders swapped Day Three selections in the 2022 draft to return Brown to his former stomping grounds. Along the way, he also restructured his contract and took a sizable pay cut.

Brown wanted to return, and it is not hard to see why.

“When I became a Patriot — I’ve always loved football, but I think I began to appreciate what it takes: the actual time and effort and sacrifices you have to make,” he told reporters earlier this week.

“And, really, it was fun to me. Some people don’t like it, but I loved it, honestly. I just think that it’s where I need to be. I’m happy. I’m happy with the organization. I was happiest when I was there. I’ve never had more fun playing football in my life. So, glad to be back.”

Brown originally joined the Patriots via trade from the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 draft and quickly established himself as a starter along the offensive line. Replacing long-time starting left tackle Nate Solder, he went on to play in all 19 of the team’s games that year. When all was said and done, he earned his first ever Super Bowl win and set himself up nicely for the following free agency period.

It turned out to be a lucrative one for the former seventh-round draft choice. Just nine minutes into the legal tampering period, the Raiders and Brown had agreed to join forces on a record-breaking four-year, $66 million contract.

His tenure with the organization proved to be a challenge, though. Brown missed 16 of a possible 32 games due to a variety of ailments, and never quite lived up to the promise he showed in his first season as a Raider.

“Honestly, I just felt like ever since I left, nothing has gone right for me. I’ve been experiencing little nagging injuries. I’ve had to experience a lot of time without ball. And I wasn’t really feeling the place of work, I guess you could say. No hard feelings to them or anything, but I guess you could just say it wasn’t a good fit,” the 27-year-old said.

“And I felt like I wanted to be back somewhere where I — I’ve worn a lot of jerseys in my life, but I’ve never been more proud than when I put on a Patriots jersey.”

Now back in New England, Brown is projected to take on a starting role once again. While it remains to be seen whether he slides into his old position on the left end of the line, or moves to the right side he also played with the 49ers and the Raiders, he seems to be happy about how things shook out.

So, why does Brown hold the Patriots in such a high regard?

“I think it was the first time where they just let me be me,” he said. “I wasn’t just being, like, harassed, I guess. They let me be me. They weren’t trying to make me be somebody I’m not on a day-to-day basis. They allowed me to be me as long as I came to work and put my best foot forward. That was really it.

“The kind of guys — there’s no egos in the locker room, like I always said last time. But the kind of guys that are in the locker room, as well as the coaching staff, you have no choice but to be a better man than when you walk in the door when you leave every day.”

Safe to say that Brown enjoyed his first stint with the Patriots. Don’t tell Lane Johnson or Cassius Marsh, though.