In his locker at Gillette Stadium, where New England beat the Carolina Panthers 20-10 in an NFL exhibition game on Friday night, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has a photo from the playoff game of last season against the Buffalo Bills.
The match score – 47-17 – is listed in the photo. Jones concluded his rookie season completing 24 of 38 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss.
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After his first action of the preseason on Friday, Jones was asked about the photo.
“I’ve always been a big fan of having motivational stuff in your locker,” Jones said. “…It was last year, but I think it’s motivation to come here and work every day.”
The former Alabama All-American also shared that he also looks to two famous passages from the past for motivation.
“My dad, the two things he always showed me are the poems ‘Man in the Arena’ and ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling.” Jones said“so those are the two that are most important to me. …
“I really like both poems. That’s a big thank you to my dad because he kind of gave me that when I was probably 6 and kind of explained everything to me, and growing up I continued to appreciate that. In fact, the poem “If” is at Wimbledon, so that’s where he learned it, in the Wimbledon locker room. It’s really cool.”
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“The Man in the Arena” is the popular name for the speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic” delivered by former US President Theodore Roosevelt in Paris on April 23, 1910.
The most famous passage from the speech reads: “It’s not the criticism that counts; not the man who shows how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is stained with dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who fails again and again, because there is no effort without error and lack; but who actually strives to perform the acts; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a noble cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, fails at least by daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know the victory nor defeat.”
Kipling wrote “If” in 1895, and it became a favorite throughout the British Empire as the famous self-discipline and stiff upper lip stoicism took hold in verse.
The poem begins: “If you can keep a cool head when everything around you is losing theirs and resenting you…”
Two lines from the second stanza of the poem are carved on the wall of the players’ entrance to the center court of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club: “If you can meet Triumph and Disaster and treat these two impostors alike…”
The 15th selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones made the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team, finished as runner-up to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for the AP Offensive Award Rookie of the Year and played in the Pro Bowl last season, when he completed 352 of 521 passes for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
The Patriots wrap up their preseason schedule by visiting the Las Vegas Raiders at 7:15 p.m. CDT Friday. New England opens its regular season on September 11 against the Miami Dolphins.
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