Most of your garden variety, day-to-day conversations have a certain predictable rhythm.
“Hi! How are you?”
“I’m fine. And yourself?”
“Can’t complain. Thanks for asking.”
It’s standard-issue stuff. Sometimes sincere. Sometimes not.
Conversations with Kyle Van Noy are different. They can dance to whatever beat happens to be in the 28-year-old linebacker’s head.
If you happen to like hip-hop, he wants to know your top five. If you’re into fashion, he’s got a suit-maker. If you’re a foodie, he’s got a list of spots around town. If you have a question for him, he can probably pose the question back to you. He’s got a nonstop motor on the field and constantly turning wheels when he’s off of it.
“I just get intrigued with different things,” Van Noy said.
Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty is close with Van Noy and there’s a certain way he likes to describe Van Noy whenever people ask to describe him.
It’s playful, but also truthful.
“As a person, he’s a very weird dude,” McCourty said. “I’m sure you guys know it, but once you get to know him, he’s a pretty cool guy. And his wife’s cool, so she helps him out a little bit.”
It wasn’t the first time Van Noy has heard the word “weird” to describe him. In a way, it’s a compliment.
“Kyle you’ll get to talk a lot if you talk about food and all the bourgie things in life,” McCourty said. “That’s when he could go forever. But it’s just been awesome to get to know him.”
The grins and the laughs made it clear that Van Noy knew what McCourty was trying to say.
“I enjoy having a different vibe,” Van Noy said. “I feel like I can talk to anybody.”
Weird might just be a catch-all phrase to try to capture a personality that doesn’t necessarily fit into a box — and in some ways doesn’t fit the stereotype of a player in a Patriots uniform — but Van Noy embraces it. His worldview is broad. He was born in Reno. He was adopted by Kelly and Layne Van Noy at 4 months old. He lived in California for a while, then moved back to Nevada. He went to college in Utah at Brigham Young University, where he met his wife, Marissa.
“I’m just different,” Van Noy said. “I don’t know how to explain that I’m different. It’s just that my vibe is different. I’m able to hang out with whoever. I’m black and I’m white, so I’m able to hang out with everybody, if that makes sense. And that’s OK. I’m OK with that.”
Van Noy is a Patriot, but he’s still very much his own man. Those two things can exist at the same time.
For most of his life, Van Noy was a self-described home body. That was until this year when he decided to venture out into the world of YouTube.
He started his own channel, “Vibin’ With The Van Noy’s” along with his wife Marissa. He launched his own show, “Elite Eats,” which shows fans his inner-foodie. In the first episode, he and his wife visited the cozy Canton brunch spot Amber Road Cafe.
They came bearing gifts (two tickets to the Patriots’ season opener for owner Kristina Mikelenas, who came to America 15 years ago from Lithuania), took a tour of the kitchen (and gave out more tickets), dug into fresh lobster, asparagus and the Kyle Van Noy Wrap as they dived into questions from Twitter followers.
For a follow-up, he took McCourty to Boston Burger Company on Boylston Street. Earlier this month, he sat down with cornerback Stephon Gilmore for brunch at The Farmer’s Daughter in North Easton.
“We eat, I ask them some questions and we just vibe, eating food all over Massachusetts, different places,” Van Noy said. “It’s fun.”
It also feeds his curiosity. Content creation is something that’s piqued his interest lately. When he saw the “Boogeymen” moniker for the Patriots’ linebacking crew pick up traction on social media, he opened up a T-shirt design contest for his Twitter followers. It was an opportunity to engage with fans, but also a chance to brainstorm more ideas about media and branding.
“How things work, I’m very logical,” Van Noy said. “That’s how I think when I’m out there on the football field. I’m very logical. But I’m able to balance that with being instinctive and seeing what you see and go.”
For the many ways conversations with Van Noy can bounce from subject to subject, his communication on the field is clear and focused. That’s by design. One of Van Noy’s greatest skills, since he arrived in New England in October 2016 via trade with the Detroit Lions, is his ability to keep the Patriots’ defense connected, even in chaos.
“When you get here, traded kind of in the middle of the year, I thought he did an awesome job of just learning what we do,” McCourty said. “Then you fast-forward that, the next year, he was our play-caller. He was in charge of the huddle, getting everybody lined up, and I thought he did a good job of just staying on top of that.”
Dont’a Hightower, another one of his close friends on the team, was a mentor when Van Noy arrived in New England. When Hightower was sidelined with a meniscus tear in 2016, Van Noy took it upon himself to make sure the defense didn’t miss a beat.
“I was able to learn a little bit from him and I always felt bad that he had to do all the communication and I wanted to be the one to help him out,” Van Noy said.
Initially, it was a challenge, but over time it became second nature. Along with Hightower and Jamie Collins, Van Noy is one of the Patriots’ pre-snap maestros.
“All three of those guys are signal-callers,” McCourty said. “They’ve all had the helmet, have been in charge of making checks. Now we have all three of them out there. We don’t miss a beat. There has to be a lot going on for one of those guys not to notice something or check to something or get to something, or us just draw up on an adjustment that we did two or three years ago.”
These days, the quirks and the consistency that come with Van Noy are a part of the new normal in Foxborough. Whatever weird is, it’s working.
“At the end of the day,” Van Noy said, “I just enjoy being different.”