Former Patriots safety attorney Milloy spent nearly two decades erasing the memories of his seven years in New England from his mind. It hurt so much when Coach Bill Belichick dropped the four-time Pro Bowler from the Patriots 19 years ago.
“Anytime anyone gets fired from the Patriots, they always bring up my story,” Milloy said. “But no one had an exit like mine, who was sacked on Monday before the first game. It just hurt really, really badly.”
Milloy, who began his career in New England and was an integral part of the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win, returned to Boston on Wednesday to accept the Football Legacy Award at the Sports Museum’s 21st annual sports awards program “The Tradition” at TD Garden.
“The way it went, the way I left, I didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to the fans I played so hard for,” Milloy said. “I appreciate that the Sports Museum allowed me to come back. Many of me have really tried to erase my seven years here for so long. I’m getting old now, I have three children who are doing well now. But the way I left I couldn’t wait to see you guys again. As simple as that.”
Milloy said one thing he will always cherish about his time in Boston is the friends he’s made.
“My best friends aren’t football players, they’re Massachusetts citizens and everyone came out to support me,” Milloy said. “They were in my living room the day after I was released. You felt the pain. And they all gathered today to see me get this award because they felt my journey. I’m just happy to come back here on a happier note and close this chapter.”
Milloy was one of seven athletes honored at Wednesday night’s event. Here are some highlights from each award winner’s time on stage.
Johnny Damon still has long hair.
When former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon took the stage, he wore his hair in a bun. It didn’t stay that way for long.
“Well, first things first, I have to drop this,” Damon said, leaving his hair full length down. “It’s back, y’all.”
The free-spirited midfielder enjoyed his best seasons in Boston and made sure fans knew he appreciated them.
“Wow, it’s great to be cheered on after all these years in Boston. I love you all,” Damon said.
Red Auerbach “knew exactly what he was doing”.
Before becoming the Celtics’ towel-wielding hype man, ML Carr was an assistant coach to Red Auerbach, who was in hiding abroad for a year.
For Carr, who grew up in North Carolina as a Celtics fan, it wasn’t quite how he envisioned starting with the team.
“You know, everyone talks about Red Auerbach being a genius,” Carr said. “When I came to Boston, he said, ‘We don’t have a spot for you on the team right now. We want to hide you for a year.” Ten days later I was in Israel. I said ‘a genius’. But he knew exactly what he was doing and when I came back I got a chance to play where I wanted to be.”
Chante Bonds leads a football dynasty in New England.
The Women’s Football Alliance’s Boston Renegades have won four consecutive national championships.
The 2022 WFA Championship Game MVP was Brockton native Chantè Bonds. She was named 2018 WFA MVP and 2017 WFA Defensive Player of the Year.
“I had no representation,” Bonds said. “I didn’t see any other women or girls play football. Being in this space now and having different opportunities to tell my story and show my skills and show what the rest of my teammates can do. I think that’s great for young girls because they get a chance to see something I’ve never seen.”
Jillian Dempsey named the Bruins’ mascot.
Former Harvard women’s hockey star and current Boston Pride captain, Jillian Dempsey is a force to be reckoned with on the ice.
But she has a different claim to fame. She’s the one who gave his name to Blades, the Boston Bruins’ mascot.
“I think it was just a competition that probably every kid in Boston entered,” Dempsey said. “Somehow my selection won. The Bruins invited us for a little reveal, which was very enjoyable. When I see Blades at events now, there’s that validation.”
The 2011 Bruins helped Mark Recchi feel young again.
The final game of Mark Recchi’s long NHL career was Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, which the Bruins won in his home province of British Columbia.
Recchi, then 43, was the oldest active player in the NHL. He was surrounded by young talents like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. But that didn’t stop him from having fun in his final season.
“It sure kept me young,” Recchi said. “It was fantastic. I taught them how to drink red wine and that certainly kept me young.”
Bill Rodgers says Boston is just special.
Bill Rodgers won the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon City four times each.
He loved competing here and he believes Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s best marathoner, will do the same when he competes in April.
“I think he’s going to love the Boston spirit,” Rodgers said.
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