FOXBOROUGH – His big brother was part of one of the most-talked about plays in Patriots’ history, but Asa Watson will have to make his own memories with New England.
The younger Watson, a 6-foot-3, 237-pound tight end out of North Carolina State is one of several undrafted rookies signed by the Patriots. In that way, Asa is far different than Benjamin, who was a first-round pick in 2004.
Asa said a few teams called about signing him after the draft ended, but the Patriots, who had worked him out on campus during the pre-draft process, showed the most interest.
“It’s a great opportunity; I’m just very thankful that they would choose me as a free agent. I’m grateful to be chosen,” he said.
A native of Rock Hill, S.C., Watson’s career with the Wolfpack was temporarily derailed when he had to undergo heart surgery after it was discovered he has Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, which causes the ventricles to contract prematurely. He had to undergo a second surgery and still must take medication, but it did not end his football dream.
“In the early stages of starting to get the condition – it showed up in my late freshman/early sophomore years – I was just curious as to what was happening. But once we figured out what it was I wasn’t too concerned after that that I would keep playing,” Watson said. “At first I was worried, but I had no doubt after being informed what it was by doctors.”
Watson was in the stands at Gillette Stadium for some Patriots games to watch Benjamin, but he was at home with family during the 2005 postseason when New England traveled to Denver and Benjamin chased down Broncos’ cornerback Champ Bailey for a touchdown-saving tackle.
“I was watching TV, sitting on the couch, and I thought the play was over and all of a sudden my dad jumps up and says, ‘Look at Benjamin! Look at Benjamin!’ He ran down Champ Bailey. It was amazing; it was an amazing play,” Asa said.
Though New England has long featured the tight end position, Watson sounds as though he has no expectations on his role.
“All I know is they chose me and I was grateful to take the opportunity,” he said. “I’m just glad to be here.”