Connor McGovern knows better than to root for the New England Patriots now.
But allow the Penn State offensive line product – Dallas’ third-round draft selection – to explain his literally head-splitting reason for rooting for the Patriots growing up.
“I have a lot of hair right now,” McGovern began to explain, from the Cowboys locker room on Friday, after his first rookie minicamp practice. Then he pulled several locks of hair from the front-right of his head aside.
“See the scar right here?” McGovern continued. “They were playing the Rams a couple years ago in the Super Bowl, and I split my head open that night, and I was in the ER.”
Four-year-old McGovern was “kind of screwing around,” he says, when he fell and hit his head against a wall on Feb. 3, 2002. He told his parents from the emergency room that Super Bowl night that he’d become a fan of whichever team triumphed. The Rams, then in St. Louis, had won the Super Bowl two seasons earlier; New England had never won a title. Then the Patriots edged the Rams 20-17 for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s first Super Bowl championship.
“I stayed true to that word,” McGovern said, “so I was a Patriots fan.”
Fast forward 17 years and the Patriots and Rams rematched this February in Super Bowl LIII. Brady and Belichick claimed their sixth Lombardi Trophy. McGovern had grown from a 4-year-old with a head gash to an NFL draft prospect.
McGovern also showed reporters on Friday a scar on the left side of his head.
“I’ve got a matching scar on this side,” he said, fumbling to find it. “Where is it? I was seven and playing around on a trampoline with my cousin and he lost his balance. His teeth actually ripped out my head.”
McGovern didn’t adopt a new NFL team for that head injury. Instead, he’d wait until his Penn State days to latch on to a new pro team. McGovern came to admire the Cowboys offensive line as he watched the unit’s film during Nittany Lions days. McGovern started 35 of 39 games in three seasons at Penn State, including all 13 games each of the last two seasons. He moved from center to right guard in 2018.
“Once I got to college, I kind of fell out, didn’t watch as much football,” McGovern said. “While I was there, the offensive line we always watched the Cowboys line because the chemistry aspect of how they always did everything the right way. We tried to model our game after that. So I kind of ended up to be a fan of the Cowboys, too, through the offensive line.”
When McGovern was still available late in the third round of the draft (NFL.com projected him a second-to-third-round pick), the Cowboys snatched him at pick 90, despite not spending time with him pre-draft beyond scout assessments.