UPDATE, Nov. 17, 10:25 a.m. You may have heard that Jonas Gray rushed for four touchdowns Sunday night. Given his new-found fame, someone also unearthed the clip of Gray doing standup before a Dustin Diamond show. Enjoy:
FOXBOROUGH ó Each week here on the Extra Points blog, we will get to know a few fun facts about a particular Patriots' player. This week, we caught up with running back Jonas Gray.
Also, there's been a change to the questions. Since literally every player has answered Rob Gronkowski as the player with whom fans should get a drink, we'll ask players to use one word to describe their emotions before a football game.
Erik Frenz: Tell me one thing about yourself that I wouldn't find in a Google search.
Jonas Gray: I used to do stand-up comedy. And I opened up for Screech.
EF: How did that get started?
JG: It's a funny story. It's kind of a long story...
Running back James White looks over and chuckles
JG: James, you need to go! Kind of a long story, but one of my good friends is a comedian ó not a popular guy, but he's known pretty well on the comedic scene ó and he knew that I was a funny guy. Every time I used to make him laugh, we were super silly, he was like, "Every time you get a joke, I want you to write it down. If you see something funny, write it down. Come back later, and turn it into a joke." So I started really long lists of stuff, and I started turning stuff into jokes. I used to tell him about it, and he said, "You know what we need to do? We need to have something at Notre Dame where you just do open mic or something. We'll get a headliner, and you just do your thing. Get all your teammates to come out, and it'll be fun." We ended up doing it, and since then, I've probably done six open mic nights. Nobody knows about that, either.
EF: How did you meet Screech?
JG: My friend knew him. He just hooked up with his agent, he knew him, and made it happen.
EF: I honestly hadn't heard about your sense of humor before today. You've got to start busting out some of those jokes so people around here know how funny you are.
JG: I don't want anybody stealing them! They might come in handy later.
EF: In one word, describe how you feel before a football game.
JG: Anxious. Just ready to get out there and let loose, man. It's kind of crazy, because you think about it: all your preparation, day by day, everything you do, your body, it's all come up to that one game. So you're just anxious to get there.
EF: Where are you from, and how does Foxborough compare to your hometown?
JG: I'm from Pontiac, Michigan. It's outside Detroit. Compared to my hometown, not even close. This reminds me more of South Bend, Indiana. This is kind of a small town feel. Everybody knows everybody, everybody knows the owners of every restaurant, the carpenter store, that small town feel is similar to my hometown, but a few differences.
EF: My next question is usually who's the funniest guy on the team, but you already answered that question for me.
JG: See, no one knows that. I have the hidden comedy.
EF: Nobody knows about that in here?
JG: Honestly, I'd probably say that Josh Boyce is the...
James White chimes in: You're the funniest guy on the team.
EF: I knew it!
JG: Nah, I couldn't say me. I would probably say, after Jerod Mayo, Josh Boyce and Chandler Jones are pretty funny. But Josh, when he laughs, I laugh harder. So that's what I love: when somebody else is laughing hard and it makes me start laughing.
EF: So what is your favorite thing about football season and your least favorite thing about football season?
JG: My favorite thing is just all coming together, all the offseason work you put in, everything you've done up to that point, it all comes together. You build this camaraderie with guys, maybe new guys or old guys, you find out new things about people. The process is probably the best part, and going out there and competing.
My least favorite thing about football season...
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui chimes in: Time away from family.
JG: Yeah, definitely. Time away from family. Because it's hard for them too, but they've got to understand that you've got this little time period where you've got to really be focused, and you've got to be on top of it. Usually, I'm not out of here until 7:30 or 8:00, and when I get home, everyone wants to talk to me, and I have no time for it. I need to just sit down and relax, so that's probably the hardest part. Missing holidays, too. You miss holidays during the year, and when you're done with the season, there's only one holiday, and that's maybe New Years, if you're not playing. Valentines Day, that's what you've got to look forward to.
EF: So what did it feel like the moment you found out you'd be playing for the Patriots?
JG: It was like a surreal feeling. It's kind of one of those things, you sit up in your bedroom, you look up at the ceiling, and you just can't believe it. All the hard work, you just think about how far you've come, and you know you just want to do so much more. You finally got there, but you've got to do a lot to stay there.
EF: Who was your favorite player growing up, and who's your favorite player now?
JG: I'd say two people: Barry Sanders and Jerome Bettis. Barry Sanders is a Detroit guy, watching him play, and Jerome Bettis being a Detroit guy and going to Notre Dame, me and him kind of followed the same path. I liked watching them both play, it was exciting.
My favorite player now is probably...
Long snapper Danny Aiken chimes in: Me? Jonas Gray?
EF: Well, he's already the best comedian on the team, so I can't get him twice.
JG: I've got to go with someone who's a friend or something, someone I kind of look up to. Honestly, that's tough, but I'm probably going to say Tom [Brady]. Watching his work ethic, watching him come every day, at 37 [years old], enjoying it like he's 21, just being one of the guys, and putting in the time but always having a smile on his face.
EF: What's your favorite play you ever made in your career?
JG: My senior year at Notre Dame against Pittsburgh, I had a 79-yard run for a touchdown, and I beat maybe five guys to the end zone, just pure speed. You've got to see it, people didn't realize I was that fast.
EF: What's the proudest moment of your playing career so far?
JG: This past game, against the Broncos, I was able to give my brother a sideline pass to to the game, a pregame sideline pass. And I remember, while I was warming up, I looked over at him, and we just looked at each other, like, "Wow, we're here." It was an emotional moment. After it all, it was just like, look at us. We did it together. That's probably my proudest moment, and I know I'm going to have some more.
EF: You guys were pretty close growing up?
JG: Yeah, super close. He's my best friend, man. We talk at least three or four times a day.
EF: If you could have one superpower, what would it be? And you can't say flying, since that's already been taken.
JG: I'd probably say just to be a genius or something. To know everything, that would be pretty cool. Or I'd also say being like The Flash. You could do a whole lot if you're super fast. You don't need to fly at that point.