Once upon a time, Chris Hogan was a star lacrosse player, not a football player. But then he graduated from Penn State, played football for a year at Monmouth University with his one-year of college eligibility and decided to try to catch on in the NFL.
The rest you know.
Chris Hogan today is a standout receiver with the New England Patriots who last season averaged 6.6 catches per game and caught 128 yards in passes in Super Bowl LII. There are a lot of explanations of how and why he made it -- most of which center on Hogan's perseverance and belief in himself -- but there's one you don't normally hear NFL player recite … and that's the HBO series "Hard Knocks."
Yet Hogan did on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, telling us that the 2012 "Hard Knocks" telecast might have launched his career.
That was the summer he tried out with the Miami Dolphins, and though he didn't make the final cut he did make an impression -- with teammate Reggie Bush calling him "7-Eleven" because he was always open, and the Buffalo Bills giving him another look, with Hogan finally sticking.
"That was kind of an interesting time," he said. "With 'Hard Knocks,' it seems like they're always looking for that underdog story -- something to film -- and to this day I think that probably was one of the best camps I ever had.
"I came in there, and no one really knew who I was. I just worked my butt off every single day and just tried to get noticed and tried to do whatever I could do to make a football team.
"And it just so happened that I was showing up every single day and making plays. Reggie had the microphone and called me '7-Eleven' and all that, and that got a lot of exposure. I think that … in the grand scheme of things … really kind of put my name and myself on people's radar and really helped my career."
Over the last four seasons, Hogan has become one of the game's most reliable receivers -- averaging 37.25 receptions per season and was second only to DeSean Jackson in yards per catch in 2016, his first with the Patriots, when he averaged 17.9. Jackson averaged 17.95.
Yet all of that might not have happened had he not played a role on a popular TV show.
"At the end of the day," Hogan said, "I was cut from Miami. But I got a lot of exposure on 'Hard Knocks,' and people saw what I was capable of doing just on the show. I think it could've led to some more opportunities down the road."