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The rise and fall of Jonas Gray deserves its own 30-for-30 episode

New England Patriots v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The New England Patriots 20-year dynasty has been well documented along the way and even since the Tom Brady-era concluded. Most recently, ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary series released “The Tuck Rule,” which dove into the famous controversial rule, and eventual destiny-changing moment, from the 2002 wildcard matchup between the Patriots and Oakland Raiders.

While most of the coverage have been focused on perhaps the major storylines throughout New England’s unprecedented run of success, perhaps one infamous story deserves it’s own 30-for-30 episode.

Flashback to November of 2014. It was, as always, a highly anticipated primetime matchup between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. But what was not anticipated was the star of the game. It was neither former NFL MVP Tom Brady nor No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, nor the plethora of other stars that included Rob Gronkowski and Reggie Wayne.

It was former undrafted free agent Jonas Gray, who entered the Sunday Night contest with just 32 carries on the year.

But what Gray did that night was next to remarkable. The Patriots offense unexpectedly ran through their running back, as Gray rumbled for 201 yards on 37 carries and four — yes, four — touchdowns (the first four of his career). Gray’s 24 total points in that game tied Marshawn Lynch for the most by any player in a single game that season.

As millions of people watched Gray make history that Sunday Night, it appeared the former practice squadder had finally made it. However, a good story doesn’t get much in the NFL, especially not in the greatest dynasty of all time.

Fast forward several days, Gray’s career performance earned him the front cover of Sports Illustrated. The headline read, “Jonas Gray … Because of Course.” But as magazines flew off the press and Gray’s stock seemed to be at all time high, the exact opposite was happening behind closed doors.

The reason? A phone charger.

The following Thursday, Gray was watching film for the Patriots’ upcoming matchup against the Detroit Lions. He then plugged his phone in to charge and fell asleep, but failed to notice the end of the charger dangling out of the wall.

The next morning the running back woke up to the rising sun instead of his iPhone alarm clock. He awoke at 8:30 a.m., one hour after Bill Belichick scheduled Friday’s team meeting began. By the time Gray got battery life in his phone, multiple texts from Patriot players and staff awaited him asking where he was and if he was OK.

Gray met with Belichick later that day to explain what happened, and the coach informed him there would be consequences. That’s exactly what happened, as Gray did not play a single snap against the Lions that week. Instead, LeGarrette Blount, who was resigned earlier that week after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers, led the team with 12 carries.

Throughout the rest of the season, Gray pilled up a measly 91 yards after his monster Week 11 performance against the Colts. He received over 10 carries just once — a Week 15 blowout over the Miami Dolphins — and was a healthy inactive for Super Bowl XLIX.

The following season, Gray was released by the Patriots in the preseason. After stints with Miami and Jacksonville, which ended after suffering a torn quad, the back has not been rostered by a NFL team.

In a dynasty full of Lombardi trophies and famous storylines, Gray’s one night hit may be one of the most “infamous” stories from the Patriots’ 20-year dynasty. And while Bill Belichick will note Gray’s retreat back to the bench as a part of the coaches doing what’s best for the football team, perhaps it truly was a phone charger that shaped Gray’s future in New England and in the NFL.

To watch “The Tuck Rule” or any other 30 for 30, please follow this link to subscribe to ESPN+.