US Marine Signed by New England Patriots After 5-Year Football Hiatus to Serve His Country

August 26, 2020 Updated: August 26, 2020

U.S. Marine 1st Lieutenant Paul Quessenberry has landed a job with the New England Patriots, heralding a return to his football career after five years serving his country. The announcement was made just days after Quessenberry impressed coaches at a tryout, proving he hasn’t lost his touch.

Quessenberry, 28, hadn’t played a football game since leaving the NFL, according to NESN. He signed papers for his first professional football commitment in five years on Aug. 23, laying claim to jersey number 48.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” shared the Aug. 20 NFL tryout list on Twitter, suggesting that Quessenberry will now be playing tight end as opposed to his former defensive end.

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Quessenberry of the New England Patriots looks on during training camp at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Aug. 23, 2020. (Steven Senne-Pool/Getty Images)

Quessenberry, who stands at 6 feet 2 inches, played defensive end for Maryland’s Navy Midshipmen for four years before enlisting with the U.S. Marines in 2015. In doing so, he put a shared family career on hiatus—Quessenberry is the sibling of offensive linemen Scott and David Quessenberry.

Scott is with the Los Angeles Chargers while David has played for the Tennessee Titans.

The 28-year-old former Marine, in his triumphant return to the field, has an impressive track record to live up to; across four seasons with the Midshipmen, spanning 2011 to 2014, Quessenberry recorded 80 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 38 games.

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1st Lt. Quessenberry introduces his brothers, David and Scott, to members of the George Whitfield Academy on orientation day at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, on July 18, 2019. (Ismael Pena/U.S. Marine Corps)

His new teammates are pleased to have him on their roster. “He was in my class at the Academy, we were teammates for five years going back to the prep school,” Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona told the Providence Journal. “You talk about a special guy that is as tough as they come.

“It means a lot to me to share this experience,” Cardona continued. “He played defensive end and was always a high-effort, high-energy guy … From my experience with him as a teammate, he’s an incredible teammate, incredible person, and like I said, I’m excited to have him out here working with us.”

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Quessenberry of Navy Midshipmen leads the team onto the field to play the Georgia Southern Eagles at the Navy-Marines Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, on Nov. 15, 2014. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

Quessenberry is by no means the only New England Patriot with a military background. Current running back James White’s parents worked in Florida law enforcement, reports; cornerback Jason McCourty and his twin brother, free safety Devin McCourty’s father served in the Army, and Joe Cardona previously served in the Navy.

Keion Crossen and Deatrich Wise’s mothers both served in the Army. The list goes on.

Patriots’ director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, claims the team is not seeking out players with military backgrounds, but rather characteristics that will translate into the Patriots’ notoriously detail-oriented regime. “How do they handle adversity?” he asked, rhetorically. “How do they handle transition? You’re looking for patterns of behavior.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick grew up in Annapolis as the son of a former Navy coach. He has long imbued his chosen career with his reverence for the military.

“When your dad coaches at Navy, that’s a huge part of your life,” Belichick told The Patriots in 2018. “[The Army-Navy] game’s a huge part of everybody’s life at those two academies, and it extends well beyond that.”

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