SOUTH PARIS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Seven years ago Matt Mulligan and Mike DeVito met as strangers on the football field. With their friendship having only growns since, the best friends are passing along what they’ve learned together.
The NFL veterans make frequent visits to schools in Maine during the off-season, like Oxford Hills High School on Monday, as a way to help motivate students and offer general advice that’s helped them succeed professionally and personally.
“It never gets old and the thing is when I tell Mike all the time when we get an opportunity to do this we always want to do it to the best of our ability, because there’s going to be a point when nobody’s going to care,” said Mulligan.
Th Enfield native, who didn’t play football until his sophomore year at Husson, became training partners with DeVito after transferring to Orono for his junior year. They spent the next two years at Maine and eventually hooked up again when Mulligan joined DeVito with the New York Jets in 2009.
They spent the followoing three seasons together. Mulligan signed with St. Louis in 2012. DeVito left the Jets last off-season to sign a three-year contract with Kansas City.
DeVito grew up in New York, but moved to Hampden recently and said he’s more than happy to make the time for a state that has welcomed him from day one.
“We love the people up here. We love the communities up here and again it makes it so easy to come back and talk to different schools and talk to communities,” DeVito said.
One of his messages was geared toward maintaining the big picture while being in the present.
“Don’t sacrifice what you want most for what you want now,” he told the students, faculty, and parents in attendance.
Friends for the better part of a decade that have football to thank for it, actually consider the sport to be their fourth priority in life after their faith, family, and friends.
“He is my dearest friend. I love Mike,” Mulligan said.
DeVito responded with just as much conviction.
“It really is a blessing to have Matt in my life,” he said.
Whether it’s front and center for teenagers or in the pro football spotlight for several years, to them it’s always easier to share the challenge with someone else.
“I heard this quote one time. It says, it’s okay to be scared. It’s not okay to stay scared. You know and that’s one of the things you encounter different trials and tribulations in your life, but it’s how you get through it,” said Mulligan.
A belief that they maintain both individually and collectively.