Ricky Jean Francois’ Heart And Hustle Pays Off

    When we first introduced our TSL audience to NFL defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, he was a member of the Washington Redskins and had just returned from a trip to Haiti to deliver medical supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthews devastating effects on the island. Francois, who was joined by teammate and Haitian-American Pierre Garcon, took a break from football to make the quick excursion to the storm-ridden land and represent the Redskins.

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                                          (Photo Credit: Washington Redskins)

    That kind of selflessness is indicative of Francois attitude on the field and as a teammate, and he has finally found a home with the New England Patriots. 

    With New England, Francois is embarking on a playoff run for the sixth time in his nine-year career, but his path to glory in 2017 was complex and emotionally-draining.  Released and signed three times throughout the season, Jean Francois is a perfect fit for the World Champions.

    Mike Reiss on Twitter

    Ricky Jean Francois’ football journey leads him back to New England, Part II: https://t.co/dWpYP0HtGf

    “At first it was aggravating to be released, re-signed, released, re-signed,” said Jean Francois, who was named one of the Patriots practice players of the week after their Week 17 win against the New York Jets. “But I’m a businessman. This is not personal. I learned to remove my feelings from it and just started enjoying the journey. And I ended up with one of the most prestigious and successful organizations in the entire league.”

    Throughout the ups and downs of the year, Jean Francois, who is also quite the businessman, kept himself sharp mentally and physically, making sure to maintain a rigorous workout routine even when he was unsigned. It has all come to fruition as he looks for a storybook ending to his ninth year in the NFL.

    Dylan Scott on Twitter

    His time with @packers was short but @Rbjf_99 off the field @DunkinDonuts empire is sweet, we go 1-on-1 with the savy businessman ahead!

    Jean Francois added, “You never really know the reasons why things happen or what could come, so I just stayed prepared. I was ready for this journey and didn’t even know it, but slowly I started figuring things out. It was emotionally and physically draining at times, but I had a great support system and family around me to help me work through all the steps of this season. I’m blessed to have gone through it all and to be where I am today.”

    When his numbers been called by Belichick and Co., Francois has been prepared. He had a season-high 6 combined tackles in a 27-24 Patriots win over the Steelers on Dec. 17. 

    “I was always told when I was young, ‘If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,'” Jean Francois continued. “And it’s easy to say trust the process until you’re actually going through it. It tested me, but now I’m enjoying the rewards of the journey.”

    A versatile and experienced weapon on the defensive line, Jean Francois played in Super Bowl XLVII with the San Francisco 49ers and has his eyes on hoisting the Lombardi Trophy if he can reach the big game again. Considering the bad rap the NFL has taken lately, any increased visibility for a guy with Francois’ character and social awareness is great for the league. 

    NFLPlayerEngagement on Twitter

    His grandmother’s passing from breast cancer turned DL @Rbjf_99 into an advocate for awareness #Crucialcatch #NFLPE https://t.co/EkYcQgEB7b

    Jean Francois concluded, “I’m very lucky to be ending this regular season with the New England Patriots. But I don’t have any expectations for Jan. 13 or the rest of the playoffs. If you have too many expectations or look forward too much in this league you can get into trouble. I’m just staying true to myself and getting ready for anything. I’ll be prepared for whoever we face and to play whatever my role is going to be to help my team win.”    

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.