BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Although Chris Hogan is from New Jersey and works in Massachusetts, the New England Patriots wide receiver identifies his home with a fairly simple statement.
“I live on Long Island.”
As much as he can, at least.
Hogan, who will be playing in Super Bowl LII on Sunday, has a home in Huntington with his wife, Ashley Boccio, a doctor who grew up in Northport, and their newborn twins, Chase and Parker.
During the offseason he’s a fixture in the area, enjoying Long Island Sound and the restaurants and other amenities of the LI lifestyle, while his wife works as a resident at North Shore University Hospital.
“It’s the same kinds of places,” he said, comparing Long Island to his childhood in Wyckoff, New Jersey. “A little closer to the water and a little more traffic.”
But when football season begins, those roots are lifted. Like many Long Islanders, Hogan becomes a commuter, albeit he has to schlep up to Foxborough, Massachusetts, and spends upward of a week away from his family.
“He has Tuesdays off,” Ashley said of the schedule that gives NFL players one day a week to recover. “He would definitely go out of his way and he’d come home, usually on his off day. He’d spend the night with us Monday night, wake up Tuesday, spend the day with us, then head back.”
“My family is the most important thing in my life,” said Hogan, who met Ashley a decade ago when they were both lacrosse players at Penn State. “Ashley sacrifices a lot for me during the season, so when I get a chance to be around them and help them out I make that drive as much as I can. I don’t look at it as tiring or a long drive or anything like that. It’s exciting for me to go back and see them.”
This weekend, however, he won’t be traveling to see his family. They’re coming to see him.
Hogan left Huntington for his typical drive over the Throgs Neck Bridge and up to New England — about 220 miles — after spending some rare consecutive days at home while the Super Bowl teams had the week off. Ashley and the twins flew to Minnesota on Thursday and will be at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday for the Super Bowl. They will be among about 15 or so members of their combined families (plus a nanny who will look after the kids during the game).
It’s an experience Ashley missed out on last year, when Chris and the Patriots played in Houston and beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Ashley was pregnant with the twins, who were born in March, so could not make the trip. She had to watch the comeback and the confetti on television, and then wait by her phone to touch base with her husband, who had four catches for 57 yards in the game.
“Ashley was the first person I called,” Chris said. “I saw my sister and my brother after and I grabbed the phone right away and FaceTimed with her. It’ll be fun to have her here and let her enjoy this experience.”
There are other experiences beside the game. Because Chris has been preparing for the Eagles, he hasn’t been able to spend much time with his family since they came up on Thursday. On Saturday, however, the Patriots held family day at the stadium. It was a short time for players to see their loved ones and share a few special moments together the day before kickoff.
Chris’ Patriots are the favorite to win the game against the Eagles, mostly due to a culture that has been the blueprint for five previous championships for the franchise.
“It’s ingrained in the whole team,” Chris said of the often-referenced “Patriot Way.” “You go up and down the roster and each and every one of these guys really puts a lot into their career and into this team. That mentality of ‘do your job’ and team first is something that we take very seriously.”
The same goes for Chris and Ashley when managing their young family. Ashley, a Northport High School product, is completing her podiatry residency at Northwell Medical’s facilities in New Hyde Park and Manhasset, and with Chris away from home so much they rely on discipline and teamwork to get by.
“I think the Patriot Way definitely makes its way into the Hogan household,” he said. “We have two little ones to take care of now and that’s the most important thing, but if we do our job the right way and as hard as we can, we know that things will be good.”
Chris’ path to the NFL was more arduous than his drives up and down I-95. He played only one year of college football at Division III Monmouth after three seasons of lacrosse at Penn State, spent time toiling on several practice squads (including a brief stint with the Giants), played sparingly in four seasons with the Bills, and then was signed by the Patriots before the 2016 season. Winning a Super Bowl ring last season made it all worthwhile.
This year, after missing nine games with a shoulder injury and returning to action in December, he said he wants Ashley to experience the thrill of a Super Bowl win in person. She said she’s looking forward to that possibility too, but Chris undoubtedly is more invested in the outcome of Sunday’s game than his wife. For him, the Super Bowl is the culmination of the season. For her, it is the commencement of the offseason.
“This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is happening for a second time,” Ashley said. “It’s really cool to see him out there and competing at his level . . . I am very excited, anxious, and nervous about the game. But I’m definitely excited for him to come home.”
Home to Long Island.
With Jordan Lauterbach