By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Since Kendrick Bourne was 6 years old, the Patriots have spent nearly every year competing for — and winning — Super Bowls. Having watched that organization from afar, the wide receiver wasn’t sure what to think when the offer from New England came in last week at the start of free agency.READ MORE: LIST: These Retailers Have Updated Their Face Mask Policies For Customers, Employees
Fortunately, Bourne’s experience with a couple of former Patriots helped prepare him for what to expect. Bourne’s former quarterback — Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted by the Patriots in 2014. His receivers coach — Wes Welker — is one of the most prolific receivers in Patriots franchise history.
“[Welker] told me it’s a great place, great decision I picked, and how they work hard there. Everything is earned,” Bourne shared Monday on a video conference call with Patriots reporters. “That was the biggest thing; when I heard that, man, coming to a place where you can earn everything, go out there and play, showcase and earn your keep, it was a no-brainer.”
Welker played for the Patriots from 2007-12, catching 672 passes for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns. Though the Patriots lost their two Super Bowl appearances during Welker’s tenure, the shifty slot receiver took part in a whole lot of winning during his time in New England.
“He had a lot of stories, man, a lot of winning stories and a lot of good times here,” Bourne said. “So I learned a lot from that guy in San Francisco and just the stories he gave me about New England.”.
Garoppolo likewise spoke glowingly about his time in New England, even if he didn’t quite get the same amount of playing time as Welker.READ MORE: Moving Truck 'Storrowed' Near Mass General, Causing Traffic Delays
“I had a great relationship with him. He said his experience in New England was awesome,” Bourne said of Garoppolo. “He said his experience there was awesome, learned a lot, developed as a player, better as a man. And I’m just excited.”
Despite the preparation, Bourne admitted that he wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he walked into the building for the first time. A naturally outgoing and energetic guy, Bourne had some concern that he might have to tone things down a bit at his new workplace.
He was pleasantly surprised, then, to learn that such was not the case.
“I thought when I came into the building the first time, I thought I was gonna be all stuck-up, kind of like trying to see how it would feel, everybody looking at me,” Bourne said. “But it was a whole misconception, man. They’re relaxed in there, laid back, having fun. They know how they want to look. They know that they want their organization to be serious, excellence. But behind closed doors, it is relaxed, it is fun, it is … there’s laughing in there. And I was just like man, I was tripping. I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to be myself, but first day in the building, Bill [Belichick] was super cool. Robert Kraft, super nice. And I just had a whole different view of the Patriots in my head.”
While he’s now comfortable at work, he knows what the job requires.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine Mandate Ordered For All Nursing Home Workers In Massachusetts
“It’s a happy medium,” Bourne said. “You can be a jokester, you can be cool, but we know we work hard here. This outweighs the silliness — the hard work. So I’ve kind of got the happy medium. I know when to turn it off, be out there relaxed. And I know what to turn on — OK, it’s time to be serious, time to work, we gotta win this game or we gotta knock out this workout, we gotta knock out this weight room workout. Whatever it may be, I want to flip that switch, because football is meant to be fun, and that’s the main thing. So if you stray away from that completely, you know, what are we playing for? What are we doing this for? That’s my thing about it, so I was happy when I got in the building and saw people be relaxed, people are laughing. Bill, you know, he’s just a cool guy. So misconception by me, man. I’m excited to be here.”