Oh, the irony. For all his success, Jakobi Meyers’ Patriots tenure will most be remembered for his inexplicable gaffe against the Raiders last season, blowing the game on an errant lateral to Mac Jones, who was promptly flattened by Chandler Jones on his way to the end zone. The irony is that Meyers will now spend the next three seasons playing in the same stadium where he experienced his worst moment, joining the Raiders—and former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels—on a three-year, $33-million contract.
Predictably, Meyers was asked about his blunder Thursday at his introductory press conference, reflecting on what he describes as a “humbling experience.” “As a man, as a football player, that was just tough,” said Meyers, the Patriots’ leading receiver last year with 804 yards, 47 coming in the loss to Vegas. “It really hurt me.”
While costly to the Patriots’ playoff chances (Miami bested them by a game for the AFC’s final Wild Card berth), Meyers refuses to let his career be defined by one play, seeing his mental lapse, not as a failure, but as an opportunity for growth.
“When I went through it, in the moment, my heart was broken. But days after, just seeing how guys kind of rallied around me, it built me up as a person,” said Meyers, appreciative of the unwavering support shown by teammates, guiding him through a challenging time that could easily have sent him into a downward spiral. “So now I know, whenever one of my teammates messes up, who I want to be in that situation. Like how I want to help them, what type of love, what type of support I want to give.”
Meyers showed impressive resiliency, responding with touchdowns in each of his next three games. His hard work would be rewarded months later with the Raiders’ life-changing contract offer, one he probably couldn’t have envisioned years earlier as an undrafted free agent, back when his only goal was to make the 53-man roster out of training camp.
“Now if you ask me directly what happened, I don’t know. That’s the truth. I really don’t know,” Meyers admitted. “I had the ball and I didn’t have the ball. That was the end of it. But, as far as growth, it taught me a lot about myself and how I want to help people in the future.”
The Patriots worked quicky to replace Meyers in free agency, signing former Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (78-933-3 on 101 targets last season) to a three-year deal worth $25 million.
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