One of the biggest factors working against Amendola in 2016 was the fact that the Patriots boasted a deep receiving corps that gave quarterback Tom Brady no shortage of options. With wideouts Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Floyd in the fold, it was tough for Amendola to get targets. Amendola also had to battle it out with tight ends Rob Gronkowski (when healthy) and Martellus Bennett, in addition to pass-catching running backs James White and Dion Lewis.
“The tight end position is, probably after quarterback, the hardest position to play in our offense. That’s the guy who does all the formationing. The running back is usually in the backfield. The receivers are receivers. But the tight ends could be in their tight end location, they could be in the backfield, they could be flexed. They could be in the wide position. To formation the defense, those are the guys you’re going to move. It’s moving the tight ends that changes the defensive deployment.”
The kid had finished one season of junior college ball at San Mateo in California, about eight miles from his Redwood City home, and his only firm Division I offer came by way of Kent State. Julian Edelman wanted to be Deion Sanders as a boy, and then as a 5-foot-10 college quarterback, he wanted to be Doug Flutie. More than anything, he wanted to end up in the NFL somehow, somewhere, someway.
At the start of the 2016 NFL season, when Brady began serving his four-game Deflategate suspension, he wasn't allowed to have contact with anyone on the Patriots, or anyone in the NFL. So he and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, came up with an idea. They reached out to Ryan McManus, a 5-foot-11 receiver who had played at Dartmouth. The Patriots had invited McManus to rookie camp in 2016 but ultimately cut him. Now he was working in marketing for a company selling robotic tackling dummies. McManus ran great routes and had great hands. He didn't have the prototypical NFL body, but he had the talent to keep Brady sharp. The chance to work out with Brady was the chance to keep his NFL dream, however improbable, alive. McManus couldn't say yes fast enough. He also won 5 super bowls!!!!!