BOSTON (CBS) – Some lucky New England executives got a chance to be a New England Patriot for a day on Monday, thanks to the “Executive Combine” at Gillette Stadium.
Participants, who made donations to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, were given an unprecedented day of access to Patriots players, coaches and personnel, who led them through a variety of drills on the field and a tour of the facilities.
This included catching passes from Tom Brady, trying to tackle (or two-hand-tag) Wes Welker, and blocking lessons from Dan Koppen.
Team owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick also addressed the executives.
“Try to pace yourself through the course of the day, and I’ll see you at lunch,” said Belichick.
‘We are yet to have an injury! I love this,” Brady said during the workouts.
The event was one of two annual fundraisers to support foundation. Along with the annual Kickoff Gala in August, the “Executive Combine” helps raise funds used by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation to support thousands of philanthropic agencies and causes throughout New England. It is one of two team functions that allow participants to interact with all the players on the team.
It was an experience for all of those who participated, including the Patriots.
“I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it. We wanted to make sure they got their moneys worth,” said receiver Deion Branch. “They have me horse from yelling and screaming; I felt like a coach for a minute.”
“The biggest thing is having a small day off to give back to the community and the fans,” added Branch, who enjoyed showing all the lucky executives the drills. “I think this is great edition that they’ve added to the charitable foundation; things that we do for the fans. Mr. Kraft is always finding ways to give back and to bring them into our lives.”
Although there were times they had to get tough on their participants.
“We are (hard on them); we’re trying to simulate what we do with the payers,” said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “We’re trying to team them something, and if they make a mistake try to correct it. At times, you’re going to have to be a little harder on them if they can’t get it right. It’s been fun, I think they’ve really enjoyed the way we teach and I think it’s been a great experience for us.”
“I’m one of the easy coaches,” Branch said with a laugh.
“This is actually a lot of fun; to put people who don’t normally go through the drills through the things we do every day, you see there is a lot of different skill levels and condition levels and sometimes we take it for granted,” added McDaniels.