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Patriots

February 2, 2008

At 33, undersized Izzo proving doubters wrong

On Pro Football

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The scout at the 1996 NFL Combine showed little tact and less football savvy.

"He told me to starting thinking about different line of work," said New England Patriots linebacker and special teams captain Larry Izzo of the first door to slam in his face as a pro.

Predictably, Izzo kicked that one in. The undersized but huge-hearted Patriot has been tackling obstacles and opponents in the NFL nearly every day since.

Now 33, with 12 seasons, three Pro Bowl appearances and three Super Bowl rings to his name, Izzo remains a stalwart on the NFL's best team. He and the unbeaten 2007 Patriots are ready to make their permanent mark in history at Super Bowl XLII at University of Phoenix Stadium tomorrow night.

"People might perceive me as an overachiever," said Izzo, who played five seasons in Miami before coming to the Patriots as a free agent in 2001.

"I feel very good about my abilities on the field. (Despite what the scout said), I've been given an opportunity to play the game I love. I just take every game, every play like it's my last. Everything I have is put into that play, then you move on to the next."

Cracking the NFL mold (Izzo's still considered too small at 5-10, 228 pounds) remains par for his free-spirited course.

Off the field, he's traveled to Kuwait and Iraq in support of the troops, made trips to Walter Reed Hospital to visit the wounded, spends time helping feed the poor and volunteers for the Special Olympics. His "Larry-oke" event in Boston has raised more than $400,000 for soldier's families in just two years.

On the field, Izzo has crafted the techniques in the kicking game, an art form he calls "organized chaos." His skills were worthy of Bill Belichick's eye back in '01 when the Patriots franchise, coming off a 5-11 season, was in desperate need of competent players.

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