BOSTON (CBS) — In need of some help along the defensive line, the Patriots signed lineman Ricky Jean Francois earlier this week.
Not only did they add an eight-year NFL veteran, but a pretty good businessman too. Following the advice that veteran players passed along to him back in 2014, Francois decided it was in his best interest to think about his post-football career, something that would support him and his family when he was done hitting running backs and chasing after quarterbacks.
“Dunkin’ Donuts was that,” he told reporters inside the Patriots locker room on Thursday. “Plus, everyone drinks coffee.”
He owns 30 Dunkin’ Donuts between Georgia and South Carolina, and hopes to expand his coffee empire to 50 in the near future. Just don’t expect any Francois-owned Dunkies in the New England region.
“I think they have enough already,” he joked. “Believe me, that was one thing that caught me when I got off the plane. Every block I hit I saw a Dunkin’ Donuts. I thought I was in Dunkin’ Donuts heaven.”
Despite his booming business, Francois wasn’t a coffee man until 18 months ago, when he welcomed his first child to the world. Before that, he would opt for a fan favorite for those who run on Dunks: a glazed donut.
It sounds like he’ll fit in just fine here in New England, and he’s happy to share a locker room with one of Dunkin’ Donuts’ most successful pitchmen: tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“I love him because he’s got business booming,” he said with a smile. “Every time I look at that commercial I smile. I see Gronk and I’m like ‘he’s making us a whole lot of money this year just for seeing his pretty face.'”
The two have already discussed their part in the Dunkin’ Donuts universe.
“I’ve got to take orders from him. He might have to take orders from me. Maybe I’ll bring in some coffees for him,” said Gronk. “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out but I did bring that up to him. Super cool and super neat.”
Francois, a seventh-round pick out of LSU in 2009, played for San Francisco, Indianapolis, Washington and Green Bay before landing with the Patriots. He was getting ready to depart Green Bay when he got the phone call from the Patriots, and is eager to show his new team that he’s a hard worker. He’s been picking the brains of defensive linemen Alan Branch and Lawrence Guy (whom he played with in Indianapolis), and is hard at work learning a new playbook.
“Each team is a little different, learning the terminology. It’s like, you know English but someone is telling you in French, so you have to learn French now,” he said. “The biggest thing is I have to learn that playbook. Anything can happen; they could throw me in the fire and if I don’t know that playbook, I don’t want to mess up something they already have going.
“The playbook is my best friend right now. That’s my wife, my girlfriend, my everything,” he joked.
And if things don’t work out with the Patriots, Francois has a pretty solid backup plan in place.