When Adrian Phillips stepped in front of the microphone to answer questions after Tuesday’s training camp practice, he was not alone. The New England Patriots safety was joined by his 10-month-old son, Dylan, who sat on his right arm throughout the nearly seven-minute interview session.
The 30-year-old answered questions about the Patriots’ defensive performance, their safety corps, and tight end Devin Asiasi, among others. Ultimately, though, the conversation started to center around Dylan and the impact he has had on Phillips’ perspective on football and life in general.
“It’s a whole new outlook,” he said. “I was always in it for my family, like me, my wife, and I wanted to do it for the name on my back. But now understanding that I have a literal mouth to feed, it takes it to a whole other level and it lets me know that I can never take a day off because I want to set my son up for success, set my future children up for success. It just puts a fire in me that’s never going to die. I love it.
“Until you become a father, you never really truly understand unconditional love. As soon as he was born I immediately understood what that was and felt it. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. I thought my biggest accomplishment was being in the NFL and making my dreams come true, but my biggest accomplishment is being a father and being able to pave the way for him.”
Entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the then-San Diego Chargers in 2014, Phillips built a nice career for himself over the last eight seasons.
Even though he started out as a low-level practice squad player who appeared in only 12 games over his first two seasons in the league, his role on both defense and in the kicking game started the expand as the years went on. When he left the organization he had 66 games and one All-Pro nod on his résumé.
Since joining the Patriots in March 2020, Phillips has been a key member of the team’s defense. He has played a combined 34 regular season and playoff games, registered six interceptions — including one returned for a touchdown — as well as a sack, forced fumble and 207 tackles. He also earned himself a new contract extension earlier this year.
And yet, his accomplishments on the football field would not have been possible without a strong support system off it.
“Family is home,” Phillips said on Tuesday. “When they’re far away, it makes the home feel empty. You want to see your wife, you want to see your kid, you want to be around your dog all the time. I feel like it’s real therapy.
“So, when they’re here with you and when they’re able to see you every day, you’re able to connect with them and get the physical touch, physical interaction with them, and be able to play with your kid and chill with your wife it makes it that much better. And it clears your mind for the next day because you have something worth going home to.”