New England Patriots star Brandin Cooks pays visit to New Zealand, inspires young athletes

New England Patriots star wide receiver Brandin Cooks  took time during a recent holiday in Queenstown, New Zealand to visit with local schools to spread the game of American football

According to the New Zealand Herald, Cooks reached out to the New Zealand American Football Federation, NZAFF, who arranged for Cooks to visit Wakatipu High School in Queenstown, located on New Zealand’s South Island.

While visiting the school and meeting the students, Cooks also took the time to hold a short coaching session working with a program set up by the NZAFF to help raise the profile of American football in schools.

Cooks spreading the word of American football in New Zealand. Photo: NZAFF

Brandin Cooks had an outstanding year with the Patriots in 2017 coming into his own after moving from the New Orleans Saints, catching 65 passes from Tom Brady for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. He had spent the previous three years with the New Orleans Saints and in his four seasons in the NFL he has amassed 3,943 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns.

As Cooks explained to Herald reporter Christopher Reive on the feeling of introducing the sport:

“It’s a special feeling. Something that means so much to my life and a lot of us back home in the States, to be able to bring it elsewhere in different countries and see the reaction from the kids, I think it’s just an awesome feeling and I love to be part of a process like this. Just having fun playing the sport that I love with so many of kids who really don’t know anything about it, but still watching them have fun through the process.”

New Zealanders in the NFL

Tight end Rhett Ellison from Auckland and son of former San Francisco 49er and three time Super Bowl winner, Riki Ellison (from Christchurch, NZ), plays for the New York Giants and is the most recent New Zealander to play in the NFL.

Auckland-born fullback Paul Lasike was on the Chicago Bears roster in 2016 after originally being signed as a free agent by the Arizona Cardinals in 2015.

Defensive tackle Stephen Paea from Auckland but who grew up on Tonga, retired from the Dallas Cowboys in October of 2017 after a seven year career in the NFL. After being drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Paea played for four years in Chicago before moving to the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys.


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