View Full Version : 'Hometown hero' in '01 now a Viking

10-29-2006, 08:32 AM
'Hometown hero' in '01 now a Viking (http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2006/10/29/sports/sports3.txt)

Saturday, October 28, 2006 11:13 PM CDT

FOXBORO — He was the unlikeliest hometown hero in 2001, an old Eastie boy rescued off the NFL scrap heap to give some punch to the Patriots’ passing attack when they needed it down the stretch.Jermaine Wiggins will forever live in Patriot lore for his contributions in arguably the most important victory in the history of the franchise, the 16-13 "Snow Bowl" victory over the Oakland Raiders in the divisional round of the 2001 playoffs.

A castoff from the New York Jets, Wiggins caught 10 passes for 68 yards in the final game ever played at Foxboro Stadium, eight of those catches coming in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Patriots started their march toward their first Super Bowl victory.

"It was definitely one of the games I will never forget," said Wiggins, who now plies his trade for the Minnesota Vikings, Monday night's opponent. "But, I have been lucky enough to play in some historic games in New England, in Carolina and other places. So, the main thing is that, every game I do play will always be a fond memory because a lot of people told me I wouldn't be here doing what I am doing today.

"Every game, when I step on the field, it's like I always have something to prove and just going out there and making plays," he said.

Wiggins' number hadn't been called too often from the time he left the Jets at midseason to the playoffs with the Patriots.

He entered the playoff game against the Raiders with just 14 catches for 133 yards, although four of those had been for touchdowns.

But he had four of his catches in the drive that ended with Tom Brady running into the end zone for a touchdown to cut the Oakland lead to 13-10. Then in overtime, he made three more catches as the Patriots moved from their own 34 to the Oakland 5, from where Adam Vinatieri's 23-yard field goal sent the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh.

Wiggins said his most fond memory of that game was having the chance to play and contribute on a grand stage.

"Just going out there and having the opportunity," he said. "Coach (Bill Belichick) did a great job. Coach (Charlie) Weis made some good calls. And Brady, being the consummate pro that he was, gave me opportunities when they were there, as well as other guys, to go out and make plays."

Wiggins' joy in New England was short-lived, however. A former collegiate standout in Georgia, who played there with future teammate Richard Seymour, Wiggins' lifelong dream had been to suit up for the "home team." But once he had his championship ring, Belichick released him in search of better blocking from the tight end position.

"I think the main thing was, they wanted to go in a different direction," Wiggins said. "Obviously, we ran the ball a lot that year. You know, I was called on to do some blocking. But I think the main thing is that they wanted to go in a different direction.

"So I take it how it is," he added. "I don't hold grudges. You know, to me, I wasn't upset about anything. That is just the way it is. People are always going to want to go in different directions and potentially they thought something else with another player could do better."

Asked last week for a specific reason why Wiggins was released, Belichick preferred, as always, to answer in general terms.

"It's just at whatever point in time we had to make a decision, we made it based on what we feel like is best for our team," he said. "There are a lot of things that go into consideration when we make those decisions. It's not any one thing. As much as everybody would like to make it into one play or one incident or one specific skill, that's just usually not the way it is. It's a combination of a lot of things."

Wiggins landed on his feet quickly, surfacing with the Carolina Panthers and playing against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston - a poignantly pleasant experience because of his New England ties.

"You know, it was a great experience," he said. "Obviously, getting an opportunity to see a lot of those guys again having an opportunity to almost win the game, it was a great feeling that, you know, we were able to go out there and play well. We just didn't make the plays that we needed to win at the end where New England did and they came away with the victory.

"But, just playing in a Super Bowl is a great experience for a player. And having the ability to say that I played in two, one for my hometown team and the other one against my hometown team, is definitely something I will take with me long after I am done playing football."

Now, Wiggins is a valuable part of the Vikings' offensive attack, and someone for whom the Patriots' defense must be alert Monday night at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (8:30 p.m.; Ch. 5, ESPN).

But as much as you can take Wiggins out of New England, you absolutely can't take New England out of Wiggins.

"Obviously, being from there, I root for the team," he said. "Only when they're playing against us, it's kinda like, then I won't. But, I always grew up watching them and from the early days, I remember in 1996 when they went to the Super Bowl and played Green Bay.

"I have always been a fan. It's kind of like being a Red Sox fan. You've always got to root for your team. Like all my buddies they are Patriots fans until they die, but when they play against me, they gotta root for me."

MARK FARINELLA may be reached at 508-236-0315 or via e-mail at mfarinel@thesunchronicle.com

10-29-2006, 08:33 AM
Yes Cajun, Wiggins is a Bahstonian!

10-29-2006, 08:39 AM
"singersp" wrote:

Yes Cajun, Wiggins is a Bahstonian!

I already knew that...

And yet, he fought through most of his inbred Bahstonian tendencies to become a COOL player...one that we are proud to call a VIKING!!!

And by all rights he should already have a SECOND Super Bowl ring with Carolina...but will soon recify that with one as a member of the VIKINGS!!!

Mr. Purple
10-29-2006, 08:47 AM
When Wiggins retires I'll simply remeber him for two things.How clutch he is, and how great of hands he has.

10-30-2006, 02:30 AM
All I will remember is the amazing hurdle.

10-30-2006, 02:49 AM
"IpartyWithSmoot" wrote:

All I will remember is the amazing hurdle.

haha, i think thats what we all think of first when his name is mentioned

10-30-2006, 09:04 AM
Ha defo the hurdle!!

10-30-2006, 09:53 AM
They said he is a valuable member of our team, maybe the writer is thinking of last year and the year before.
We haven't utilized him as often as we probably should this year.

Hopefully Wiggins gets his hands on the ball tonight.
Rub it in!

10-30-2006, 03:45 PM
I would say that when I think of Wiggins, I think of a fat guy who tries to hurdle guys.
He is a decent check-down receiver, but I would love to see the Vikes upgrade the TE position.
Get a TE who can block better, as well as have the potential, due to better athleticism and speed, to actually make big plays.

10-30-2006, 03:48 PM
"IpartyWithSmoot" wrote:

All I will remember is the amazing hurdle.

which one?