Saturday, December 31, 2011
Football journey: Lousaka Polite
By Mike Reiss
Joel Auerbach/US PresswireVeteran fullback Lousaka Polite.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Veteran fullback Lousaka Polite, who signed with the Patriots on Tuesday, had a good idea about the way the organization goes about its business.
That's because he’s from the Bill Parcells School of Football.
“Luckily, I started out my career in Dallas and Coach Parcells gave me a really good opportunity and he’s helped mold me into a lot of what I am today as a player. I always will appreciate that,” Polite said this week, before explaining what he learned most from Parcells.
“It’s about being detailed and doing it right, and understanding that’s it a business, nothing is personal, and it’s all about the team. He has to do whatever he has to do to get you playing your best. You have to take the coaching well and change whatever he asks you to change, and deliver.”
The 30-year-old Polite spent the 2011 season without a team when the Patriots called him to see if he’d be ready to deliver for them in a pinch, likely as a short-yardage specialist and special teamer. Polite received the call after the Patriots had multiple injuries along the offensive line, which affected their short-yardage package.
In detailing his “football journey” with ESPNBoston.com, Polite said he’s excited about this next chapter in his career:
When he first started playing football: “Nine years old. I was new to the city; I was born in South Carolina and I moved to Pittsburgh. Just to get involved, I started playing sports. I started with baseball first at age 8, then the following year I started football. All the guys in the neighborhood were playing football. It was something I wanted to try out. My uncle actually took me up there, and I never stopped.”
Football in Western Pennsylvania: “It’s big there. High school football is big; on Friday nights the city kind of shuts down.”
Positions when he first started playing: “My first game I played guard. I did that for two games, and after that I moved to fullback. I’ve been a fullback ever since.”
Role models in his career: “Definitely my parents. They worked hard for everything. I have an uncle who got me into football and he’s definitely a role model. He talked to me on the mental side, and how to process things and go through things.”
Favorite teams and players growing up: “I was a Steelers fan, of course. My favorite player was Barry Sanders. He was always humble. He was one of the best in the league but you would never know it. He was always about the next play; score a touchdown and he wasn’t dancing. I admired that about him.”
Top memories of playing at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, the same school Rob Gronkowski attended: “We were a pretty good team. There is a very rich tradition there as far as winning. We won a lot of games. That camaraderie is what stands out, and just building those bonds with guys that I’m still close with today.”
Top memories at University of Pittsburgh: “You start out as a 17-year-old kid and when you leave there, you’re a man. There were a lot of changes and transformation [football-wise at Pitt] throughout my five years, with new stadiums and everything else. Just watching the culture change – [Pitt] might have been 2-9 my senior year of high school when I was being recruited, but after I got there, we were going to bowl games. It was a fun atmosphere.”
Why Pittsburgh was the right choice for him: “I looked at other schools, a lot of different schools in the MAC and a couple ACC schools. At first, I wanted to go away for school. It ended up being better to be close. I didn’t go home a lot, but it was always good to have that as a backup. All my teammates that couldn’t go back home, they’d come to my house for New Year’s and stuff like that. That helped build cohesiveness between us.”
Entering the NFL in 2004 with Dallas after going undrafted: “I knew fullbacks didn’t get drafted high, if at all, but you always hope and wish you might get drafted. At the end of day, my goal was to make it and do the best I could, and play as long as I could, as long as I was healthy. That transition was definitely difficult, being undrafted. There aren’t many opportunities so you have to make them count.”
Top memories of starting on Cowboys practice squad and ultimately playing in 28 games for them between 2004-2006: “Starting my first game [in 2005]. Just playing in the NFL. Scoring my first touchdown in Dallas.”
Signing with the Bears in 2007 and playing in 5 games that year: “The energy [from their Super Bowl appearance] definitely carried over into training camp. It was a learning experience. I wasn’t the starter. I was a backup, played a lot of special teams, and learned that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Every stop has been a learning experience and I think you should always be able to take something from a coach, because they’re a coach for a reason. At this level, if you’re a coach then you have knowledge, so [it’s up to the player to] take it and add it to your repertoire.”
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesPolite with the Dolphins in 2009.
Signing with Miami when Bill Parcells took over the football operation and playing there from 2008-2010: “Parcells, Coach Sparano, I felt like it was a second chance. It was another chance to show them what I was made of. We separated for a year but they gave me another chance, and that was a great experience. I was able to kind of get in a groove, play a couple years. I got a home down there, and a family down there. That’s kind of the maturation process as far as becoming a man. That took over.”
Adopting a short-yardage niche in Miami, converting 41 of 43 conversions on third-and 1 and/or fourth-and-1 over three seasons: “I think the most important thing when you’re there is find something; whatever they ask you to do, do it to the best of your ability and you help yourself that way.”
Experiencing a 2011 season without football until the Patriots signed him Dec. 27: “It was tough. Sundays were hard, but I knew that I could play this game, I’ve proven I could play. I just had to work for my next opportunity. This is a great opportunity.”
What he loves about football: “That everybody has to learn together. It always means more when you’re fighting for your brothers. I think the hardest part, and the most impressive part about football, is getting 11 individuals to come together as one.”
Summing up his football journey: “I’m ready and excited to see what’s next, but at the same time, there is no such thing as looking down the road. I’m here right now and I’m going to try to make the most out of every opportunity because it’s never been easy. That’s why you have to stay focused on what you’re doing right now.”