“Playoff Danny” is Beloved in Scituate

SHS physical education teacher related to Danny Amendola

Cam Stone

Matt DiPesa and James MacDonald

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New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is a bit of a hero in the Northeast. Affectionately nicknamed “Playoff Danny” by Patriots fans, Amendola has garnered a reputation for making big plays when his team needs them the most–especially in the playoffs. He’s also beloved in Scituate, where he spent his summers growing up, and where a number of his family members still reside today.

Amendola always had a passion for sports. “Danny always had the unique ability to see something… then duplicate it,” said Willie Amendola, Danny’s father. He excelled in virtually all sports, playing basketball, football, baseball, and hockey among others during his childhood. During Amendola’s visits to Scituate, his aunt and current SHS physical education teacher Kathleen McCarthy recalls competitive wiffle ball games in the backyard of the family’s house. Danny would always win.

Standing at a diminutive 5 foot 11 inches, and weighing only 188 pounds, Amendola had an uphill battle to even make an NFL roster. Coming out of college at Texas Tech, the Texas native was seen as a high effort, athletic, yet potentially injury-prone slot receiver. Despite some of his physical limitations, Amendola remained confident going into the 2008 NFL Draft.

There was much to be confident about. Playing the same position at the same school as the similarly vertically-challenged yet successful receiver Wes Welker, it seemed likely that teams would be willing to take a chance on Amendola. Welker had potentially “opened the door” for success in the league for Amendola, according to his father.

Ultimately, however, he was disappointed to go undrafted. The silver lining in this, according to Amendola’s father, was that Danny could then sign with any team that offered him a contract. Subsequently, Amendola signed with the Dallas Cowboys shortly after the conclusion of the draft, and he attempted to make the team that summer.

Amendola spent the season on the Dallas practice squad and didn’t play in any regular season games. The next year was spent partly on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad, before signing with the St. Louis Rams. It was here that Amendola truly began to establish his career. In his usual slot receiver position, Amendola found success with the Rams, catching 196 passes and 7 touchdowns over four seasons with the team.

His successes caught the attention of none other than Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots, as the team signed him in 2013. The Patriots’ “team first” philosophy is a “great fit” with Danny’s determined demeanor, according to Willie. It took him some time to get adjusted, but now five years later, Amendola has carved out a role for the team as a reliable and gritty receiver, seemingly always able to make the big play when the game is on line. He averages 98 yards and a touchdown per game in the playoffs, two statistics that are both well higher than his regular season averages.

Look for Amendola jerseys in the streets of Scituate this weekend, as his connections to the town certainly don’t go unnoticed with Scituate residents. According to his father, the Amendolas still return to Scituate once a year, and they never forget to visit Maria’s Sub Shop.

With such a proven track record, it’s not hard to predict yet another big playoff performance in the upcoming Super Bowl LII. Scituate residents are encouraged to support one of their own this Sunday.

 

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