FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The son of a retired cop who is currently playing in the NFL has taken to Twitter to show he has a special affection for police officers.
Matt Lengel was signed by the New England Patriots in early November. He formerly played on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad. The tight end caught a touchdown pass in late December against the Jets and played in nine of the final 10 games of the 2016 season (including the playoffs), reported ESPN.
The 6-foot-7 Lengel, 26, has been using his platform as an up-and-coming NFL player to highlight something that has significant meaning to him: Supporting law enforcement. His father, Brian, is a retired police officer.
Specifically, Lengel has used his Twitter account to acknowledge police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. He tweeted this account regarding the line of duty death of Robert (Bob) Johnson:
— NLEOMF (@NLEOMF) July 5, 2017
“I’ve always looked at my dad as my hero, still to this day, and it’s not really until you get older that you realize just how dangerous it is what they do,” Lengel said last week. “I think it takes a very special person to do what police officers do. I don’t think police officers choose to do what they do. I think it chooses them.”
The New England Patriot tight end told ESPN the death of an officer is referred to as “End of watch.” Something that occurs every week.
This past week, Lengel wrote about how his “heart breaks” after learning of the death of New York police officer Miosotis Familia, who was shot and killed while sitting in a marked police vehicle.
As the son of a retired police officer, my heart breaks. Humans who voluntarily wake up, leave families, and protect against evil everyday. https://t.co/ecnOf9nsIX
— Matt Lengel ?? (@Colonel82) July 5, 2017
“What’s the most important to me, in reference to support to police officers and social media, is that they are humans.” Lengel said. “Humans aren’t perfect, but these are people who voluntarily wake up every day and if they hear shots are fired, they are getting in their car and driving to it while others seek safety.
“What happened to them might affect them as bad as someone else. You don’t know the events that cause that person’s family to be disrupted, how stressful the job is. These are human beings, with loved ones, that want to go home at the end of the day. That’s what I hope to get across.”
It is refreshing to hear a professional athlete take a stand like this. Particularly when so many others have gone out of their way to profane the profession. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently referred to modern police officers as “Runaway slave patrol.”
Lengel, who is from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, was married two weeks ago. The wedding ceremony brought many of his former teammates together from Northeastern University, Eastern Kentucky and the Bengals.
Lengel shares a special bond for LEOs with his wife, Lauren. Her mother and father worked as police officers. Moreover, her stepfather is a police chief.
Lengel told ESPN that some of his best friends from college have also become police officers, in New York, Lexington, Kentucky and New Orleans.
At Eastern Kentucky, he majored in political science and went on to get his master’s degree in physical education. He planned to go into some type of law enforcement if his football career fizzled.
“When I get suited up for a game, it takes me back to when I went on one SWAT call with [his father]. We parked, he put his vest on, his hands are freezing, and he’s getting his game face on to kick in a door and pull somebody out,” Lengel said. “I go back to that and it helps me with any pregame jitters. My life isn’t on the line.”
If Lengel continues to grow as a player and sticks with the Patriots, he hopes to expand his work raising awareness for police officers.
“Anything I can do for the Boston Police Department,” he said in conclusion, “let me know.”
Lengel isn’t the first New England Patriot to publicize his support for law enforcement officers. A few months ago, his quarterback went above and beyond the call of duty.
Through unimaginable tragedy, quarterback Tom Brady and his Patriots teammates rallied to help the family of a slain Massachusetts police officer pull itself back together.
Ronald Tarentino was shot and killed in the line of duty May 22, 2016. His wife Tricia was left alone to raise their three boys.
That’s when Brady and his Patriot teammates stepped in.
Brady and his friends rallied to help a cause that raised $86,000 for the Tarentino family. Brady donated a signed home-game jersey that sold for $6,000 at a fundraiser, with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski also pitching in gear.
Finally, Lengel says on his Twitter homepage, “Whatever is next the Good Lord has my back. Proudly married to
Law Enforcement Today wishes Matt Lengel well as he pursues his career in the NFL.
(Photo: Matt Lengel Twitter)