Shane Vereen is a household name in New England. He spent four years with the Patriots, and played a key role in helping them win Super Bowl XLIX versus Seattle.
For Vereen, it was a long buildup to get to that point as he recently told Pats Pulpit.
“I went on the second day; I knew I would not go in the first round but thought maybe there was a chance based off the guys drafted ahead of me,” said Vereen in cooperation with safebettingsites.com. “I spoke maybe five to ten words because I was extremely nervous, so I did not really say much.”
The nerves were relieved when the house phone rang, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick was on the other end of the line. Vereen came off the board in the second round, 56th overall to the Patriots.
Soon after, he packed a bag and flew to New England where he knew it would be hard to get on the field as a rookie.
“It was extremely tough, because as rookies you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what you don’t know,” said Vereen. “You're learning a lot in a short period of time.”
To make matters more challenging, Vereen was selected in the 2011 lockout year. As a result, the did not have the benefits of a normal offseason preparation to get up to speed: no OTAs, no minicamp.
This meant learning important things about the NFL in a shorter period of time rather than other rookie classes and earning his way on the field in a traditional fashion.
“One thing I respected and loved about playing there was you had to earn your playing time,” said Vereen. “Just because I was drafted in the second round did not mean that they were going to play me, so it made me earn it.”
He finally earned this playing time after battling through some injuries. His first NFL score came on Monday Night Football back in 2011 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Just a year later, Vereen started having a larger role in the offense and had one of his best games in the 2012 playoffs against the Houston Texans; a three-touchdown game in the divisional round.
“There wasn’t a ton of tape on me, especially in the route game, so one thing that stuck out to me was that they had a linebacker covering me,” said Vereen on his breakout performance. “I thought after my first catch they would put a nickel on me or something, but they left a linebacker on me, and I could exploit that coverage.”
Vereen’s college coach would refer to linebackers as “neckrolls” and he had a lot of confidence when they were covering him. Just a few years later he was in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks and had another productive game.
Was it because he had linebackers on him again? No.
“Those were different type of neckrolls” said Vereen jokingly. “That was Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, they were solid and part of the best defense in the league two years in a row.”
Vereen played a massive role in that game and had 11 catches for 64 yards in a back-and-forth battle. The game ended on the infamous Malcolm Butler interception which was a roller coaster of emotions for the players.
“Once we finally won and the confetti fell it was just tears and a burst of emotions,” said Vereen. “Finally being able to hold up that trophy, there is absolutely nothing like it.”
The following offseason, Vereen signed with the New York Giants where he played his final three seasons. He later also had a short preseason stint with the New Orleans Saints but called it a career in 2018.
Despite being away from football for four years, he is still connected to the game today.
“I stay in contact with former teammates, and I do watch football because I do NFL radio, I do radio for college, but I also do Sirius XM radio for NFL,” said Vereen. “That keeps me close and hopefully eventually I can call games in the booth, that’s where I want to get to now.”