BOSTON (CBS) — Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have been known as a stone-cold, no-nonsense, all-business factory of winning. It’s a well-earned reputation. But that doesn’t mean that the men in charge of the organization don’t have compassion, as a now-former Patriot detailed in a story for The Players’ Tribune.
Before officially moving on to the New York Giants, Nate Solder wrote a letter of gratitude toward the Patriots organization. Specifically, he thanked owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for helping ease some of the stresses involved with Solder caring for his son, Hudson, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was just three months old.
Solder — who was on injured reserve due to a torn biceps when the diagnosis came — said that he and his wife, Lexi, visited the team chapel before a game after spending multiple days in the hospital.
“I was still trying to wrap my head around everything, as I’m sure Lexi was, too. On the outside, I was keeping it together. But inside, I was a wreck,” Solder wrote.
Solder explained that Josh McDaniels, who was also in the room, was the only one present who knew about Hudson’s diagnosis. And after that point, McDaniels did all that he could to try to help the Solders.
“My relationship with Josh really took off from there,” Solder explained. “In a cutthroat business where guys are always getting released and winning is everything and it’s all football all the time, I really appreciated the fact that he took the time to say, ‘Nate, what you’re going through with Hudson … that’s more important than football.’ He told me that if I ever needed to dip out of a meeting because the stress got to be too much, nobody would ask any questions.”
Solder said that the offer came from Belichick, too.
“Coach Belichick told me the same,” Solder shared. “He said that if I ever needed to miss practice or a meeting, it was totally fine. ‘Whatever Hudson needs,’ he said.”
Solder also wrote about Kraft setting up the Solder family in a hotel near Boston Children’s Hospital so that the family wouldn’t have to deal with traveling through a snowstorm to take Hudson for his chemotherapy treatments.
“It was a small gesture — a little detail that I think speaks volumes about Mr. Kraft and the Patriots organization,” Solder wrote. “And it’s just another example of the kindness and compassion that they showed my family and me during some of our most difficult times. We never felt like we were alone in our fight. We knew we had an entire organization supporting us.”
While Solder — who himself is a cancer survivor — moved on with a big-money contract from the Giants, the 29-year-old didn’t want to leave New England without expressing his thanks to the organization that employed him for seven years.
“I don’t think I can even put into words how much I appreciated that — both what Bill said and how Josh handled everything,” Solder wrote. “They treated me like a human being instead of a football player or a left tackle.”