|Mark J. Terrill/AP|
|Former Patriots wide receiver David Givens caught touchdown passes in seven straight playoff games.|
"I'm really excited to see what the possibilities are."
That was former Patriots wide receiver David Givens ...
a) After catching a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXVIII, a New England victory.
b) After catching a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXIX, a New England victory.
c) After signing a five-year, $24-million dollar contract with the Titans in 2006.
d) Before an art show in 2010 where some drawings of his were displayed.
Before I provide the answer, remember, Givens was supposed to be a feel-good star. A seventh-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2002, Givens experienced a) and b) above, lining him up for a big payday. In fact, beginning with the AFC Championship Game in 2003, Givens caught a touchdown pass in each of the Patriots' next seven playoff games. If you wanted a guy to come through when a team needed it the most, Givens was your man. He helped New England beat the Panthers and Eagles to earn a pair of Lombardi Trophies. He was a cult hero in The Hub.
Then c) occurred, and the good times on the football field came to an abrupt halt.
A rough first season with Tennessee marred by injury ended for good when he planted his foot the wrong way in Week 10 against the Baltimore Ravens, tearing his ACL. He had played in just five games that season, catching eight passes. He wouldn't play again for the Titans. In fact, he'd never play again, period. And then things got worse.
A second knee surgery kept him off the field. He went through more surgeries, only to discover that he'd never be healthy enough to get back to the game. The Titans waived him in February of 2008, but Givens wasn't done with Tennessee. In 2009, he filed a $25 million lawsuit against the team, claiming they held back medical information from him. Givens said the Titans failed to tell him about a problem with his knee that eventually led to his ACL tear. A few months later, a federal judge threw it out of court.
So what do you do after a three-year odyssey involving the end of your career and legalities leaves you right where you were when you first got hurt? For Givens, it was simple. You pick up a pencil and start to draw. And draw. And draw some more. Givens was proficient, with his etchings displaying people from Bill Belichick to Vince Lombardi. As he told "The Patriot Ledger" a year ago, "Art was a way of getting my mind away from the things I was feeling. It puts me in a meditative state of mind."
Yes, the answer to my question at the beginning of this piece is d). Givens put some of his drawings on display at a local art museum and they were well received. But just because he's tapping into the creative portion of his brain doesn't mean the business part of it is dormant. A few months ago, Givens opened the Euphoria Lifestyle Cafe in the Boston suburb of Beverly, Mass. He serves up healthy concoctions and smoothies every day -- and even still signs autographs.
After a long journey following his playing days, Givens seems to have begun that next chapter in his life. But for Patriots fans, they'll always remember how integral he was to the early years of their dynasty -- and now he's back among them. If you're a hero in Boston, they'll never forget you.