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Small-town values

Farley hopes to hit it big by making the Patriots

FOXBOROUGH -- In a place like Williamstown, where it seems all 8,000 residents know each other and all 400 students at the high school keep their noses clean, having a son in the NFL brings a lot of attention. Dick Farley is finding that out. Every trip to the barbershop, every walk down the street, every Sunday after church, another well-wisher comes up and asks about his son Scott.

"He's carrying the flag for a lot of people out this way," said Farley, without even a touch of braggadocio.

That's because Scott Farley, who grew up in Williamstown and played for his father at Division 3 Williams College, is trying to become the lone Massachusetts native to make the Patriots roster. The odds are stacked against him -- Ravens offensive tackle Ethan Brooks is the only other Williams graduate on an NFL roster. (Of course, it could help that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is an Eph.)

At Williams, Farley played safety, returned kicks, and even saw spot duty at wide receiver. He also handled the punting and kicking duties. "I feel like I could still kick," joked Farley, playfully saying he gets tips from Adam Vinatieri.

He is used to the multitasking. At Mt. Greylock High School, he played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, track in the spring, and American Legion baseball in the summer.

"You name it, he was the best at it in town," Dick said.

Always a big fish in a small pond, Farley became a minnow in an ocean once he left Williams last year and signed with the Patriots. More fans attend Patriots preseason practices than Williams home games.

"I felt physically, mentally capable," Farley said. "If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't have pursued it."

Farley acknowledges he showed up slightly wide-eyed last season. It didn't help when, days before a scrimmage against the Giants, Farley suffered a knee injury and missed the rest of training camp. In February, he was allocated to the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe. Farley, a history major at Williams, relished seeing the Brandenburg Gate remnants of the Berlin Wall up close during his summer in Germany.

More importantly, the experience gave Farley much needed experience. For a player coming from a Division 3 college, NFL Europe was the perfect steppingstone.

"He is way ahead of last year," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There's no comparison. He's continued to get better because he's worked hard."

That's easy for Farley, who had a work ethic ingrained from a young age. He practically learned it through osmosis growing up around his father, who coached the Ephs for 32 years in football and still coaches track. The lessons his players learned weren't lost on his son.

After Dick graduated from Boston University in 1968, he played defensive back for two seasons with the Chargers, laboring through grueling training camps. Whenever Scott calls his father, sympathy is the last thing he receives. "Heck," father once told son, "you guys are in Club Med."

In the last game of the season in his junior year, against rival Amherst, Farley separated his shoulder. When he returned to the sideline, his father didn't want to know if Scott's shoulder was OK. Instead, he asked the trainer if Scott could still punt and kick.

Still, all the hard work in the world may not be able to propel someone from Williams to the NFL. When Scott first joined the Patriots in training camp last season, Dick had a message for him: "You're probably not as talented as most guys, let's accept that. You're going to have to outwork people. There are places in the world for people like you.

"We all realize it's a long shot," Dick said.

If Farley makes the squad, it will likely be for his special teams prowess. That's where his experience in Berlin may help most. Since he always played a primary position on special teams in college -- whether it was returning a kick or booting one -- he never covered a kick, which is his main duty with New England. Well, other than playing on the scout team.

"Just because you're not getting first- or second-team reps doesn't mean that you can't go on the scout team and give Tom Brady and Deion Branch a good look," Farley said. "That's just as important."

Not that being center stage has mattered to Farley. After he graduated from high school, Farley started at Villanova. After two years, he transferred to Williams. He became disenchanted with the big-time feel at Villanova, with early-morning workouts and practice time restricting his curriculum.

Plus, he couldn't run track at Villanova. Coaches wanted him to specialize in football. And he grew up in a track family. Along with his father coaching the Ephs, his sister Colleen runs track at North Carolina.

No wonder, both this year and last, he finished tops among the Patriots in cardiovascular tests. At Williams, Farley competed in the long jump, triple jump, 400 hurdles, 400 meters, and the 4 x 100 relay. He even took first place in hurdles in a New England meet that included Connecticut and Boston College.

So he's toppled supposedly superior competition before. Now, he's facing that on a much larger scale.

But Farley doesn't know what he'll do if the Patriots don't keep him on the roster. He hopes he can at least catch on with the practice squad, which seems a good possibility with his hustle and hard work.

For now, he's just basking in his chance to play with the Patriots, a team he's rooted for since his days in Williamstown. He even used to visit practice as a child. These days, he's getting paid to play in them.

"I've really been enjoying myself this year," Farley said. "If it doesn't work out, there a lot of other teams out there. It's just nice to have the experience. There's not many that get that. It's nice to be able to run around and play football." 

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