When the news broke that David Andrews would miss the entire 2019 NFL season due to the discovery of blood clots in his lungs, it was unknown if the 27-year-old would ever play football again. Not even the doctors could tell the Patriots starting center what the future would hold.
The only thing the former Georgia Bulldog could do was wait.
Last season, the Patriots captain spent the year around his teammates and coaches. He helped in the meeting rooms, practice fields and was present on the sideline during games. It was unknown if his participation would ever amount to more than that.
Fast forward to this spring and Andrews has a new lease on life. Around two weeks ago, Andrews was medically cleared to play football. He rejoins his teammates with a sense of appreciation from last year’s health scare.
“It’s great. That’s what I want to do. I came here to play football,” Andrews said. “Not being out there, anybody that’s hurt… it’s tough on an athlete. We want to compete. We want to be out there. When you can’t do that, it’s obviously frustrating and tough. It was great to finally get that (clearance). I want to move forward now and look forward to 2020.”
Andrews started showing symptoms on the first day of training camp. That’s when he started to have chest pains, trouble breathing and eventually started to cough up blood. Andrews thought he was sick and ended up in the hospital where he spent five nights.
Andrews said he had to take a certain medication to help with the blood clots. If he stayed on those meds, he wouldn’t have been allowed to continue playing football.
“I’m not really sure if there’s a real restriction to anything. I haven’t been told that,” Andrews said. “Part of it was the medicine I was on and I’m off that medicine. I can go about living my normal life. The reoccurrence thing, it’s something unfortunately they can’t really pin down. I’m just going to go about my life, keep playing this game, doing what I can, staying as healthy as I can. Think it was kind of a freak accident.”
An undrafted free agent in 2015, Andrews has been a rock for the Patriots’ offensive line. He started 11 games during his rookie season. By 2016, he was a full-time starter after beating out Bryan Stork for the gig and has started every game played since his second NFL season. Andrews grew into a leader in the locker room and has been one of the Patriots captains. That was still seen last year.
After being released from the hospital, Andrews spent the bulk of the 2019 season with his teammates. He was seen in the locker room, practice field and on the sideline during games. He helped his offensive line teammates any way he could. That experience, he said, helped him pick up some “new things” with football and if anything, that’s one positive takeaway from the experience. Of course, Andrews added, “but as a competitor and guy who wants to play football, it sucks not being out there.”
“Anytime you miss a season … it makes you take a step back and miss and enjoy the grind a little bit,” Andrews said. “I still came into work every day but I wasn’t out there competing with the guys. I wasn’t out there working with them. You miss that. You miss that part of it. It makes you appreciative of the times. That’s tough… Sometimes I think we take health and things like that for granted. It definitely makes you makes you appreciative and also allowed me to look at the offense as a whole.”
Whenever the NFL season starts, there will be plenty of change for Andrews. This year, he’ll be working with a new quarterback after Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia also retired. Andrews said Patriots assistants Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo have taken over the offensive line room and their experience in Foxborough has helped with the transition. As far as the quarterback position goes, Andrews also formed a relationship with Jarrett Stidham last season.
As it pertains to his future health, Andrews is moving onward.
“You can’t live your life in fear if it’s going to happen again or not,” Andrews said. “It’s a violent game and things happen. There’s a lot of things that happen. That’s just life. I want to move forward.”