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Chris Godwin recounts his youth in Delaware, DeSean Jackson's impact, first 'DM' from Tom Brady, winning Super Bowl


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So now we know that Chris Godwin became a Buccaneers fan growing up in Delaware because he played for the Bucs as a 6-year-old offensive lineman and linebacker in the New Castle County Football League.

Godwin wrote about that, as well as his relationship with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady; his reaction to winning a Super Bowl as a Pro Bowl wide receiver of the NFL's Buccaneers; and much more in a column written in place of Peter King's Football Morning in America column for NBC Sports.

Godwin began by saying he had to play on the line and at linebacker because he was too heavy to play one of the skill positions.

"I didn’t know anything except I was on the Bucs, and I loved football," Godwin wrote. "That was right around the time that I started to pay attention to what the NFL was. I became a Bucs fan. And it was in that same year that the Bucs won their first Super Bowl. 

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"Watching the game in my house in Delaware that day, it looked so awesome. I thought, 'These guys are doing exactly what I do, but they’re bigger and they get paid for it and it’s on TV. Man, I want to do that! 

"From that day, that was Plan A for me."

The Bucs' second Super Bowl victory came this past February. Godwin wrote that he never really had a Plan B. He didn't need one. 

That's because in between the two Buccaneers Super Bowls, Godwin grew into a wide receiving prodigy at Middletown High School, then a star receiver at Penn State before getting drafted by the Bucs in the third round of the 2017 draft.

Godwin even wrote about getting his first college scholarship offer – from the University of Delaware. Godwin began his career at Penn State in 2014, so the offer likely came in 2011 or 2012, when K.C. Keeler was still the Blue Hens' coach.

"The head coach said to me, 'I know we’re really not going to have a shot at you. But we figured it was worth giving you the offer, in case you wanted to stay home,'" Godwin wrote.

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It didn't take long before Godwin established himself in the NFL. And here, Godwin mentions how former Eagle DeSean Jackson, who was Godwin's teammate in 2017 and 2018, helped him indirectly.

"In the last two games (of 2017), D-Jack was hurt, so I had my chance," Godwin wrote. "I had a good game at Carolina (three catches, 98 yards), but I rolled my ankle that game."

Godwin described how he couldn't practice leading into the next game against the Saints, and how his ankle was throbbing late in the fourth quarter of that game, the Bucs down by six. The Bucs were at the Saints' 39-yard-line with 15 seconds left. Both he and Mike Evans went on "go routes."

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Godwin wrote that he fully expected Evans to get the ball, but the pass from former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston went to him.

"It felt like it was a movie, with the ball in slow-motion," he wrote. "I caught it near the sideline. I’m like, 'I can get in this end zone. I can get there. If I don’t, the clock runs out (and) we lose.'

"I got tackled as I’m going into the end zone. Rolled my ankle even worse. That was my first touchdown, my first 100-yard game, and my first game-winning touchdown. That sent my confidence through the roof."

In 2019, Godwin had 1,333 yards receiving and was selected to the Pro Bowl. 

Then in the spring of 2020, the Bucs signed Brady, and he and Godwin quickly bonded, as Godwin described a direct message on social media from Brady on the day he signed. 

It began with a college joke, when Brady wrote: "I won’t hold it against you that you’re a Penn State guy." Brady went to Big Ten-rival Michigan.

Then Brady congratulated Godwin, who had gotten engaged shortly before Brady signed.

"The greatest player of all time is 'DM-ing' me, wishing me good luck with my engagement and saying he’s excited to play with me! That was just shocking to me," Godwin wrote.

The Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl, and Godwin had a big role in that. In the Bucs' NFC Championship game victory over the Green Bay Packers, Godwin had 110 yards receiving, including a 52-yard reception when he outleaped fellow Delaware high school star Darnell Savage, who attended Caravel Academy.

But it was a 6-yard run in the final minute that Godwin remembers most. The Bucs were holding onto a 5-point lead, facing a 3rd-and-5 with 43 seconds left. If the Bucs didn't make it, they'd give quarterback Aaron Rodgers one more chance to win the game.

Instead of a pass, though, the Bucs called a "toss-pitch" to Godwin, who hadn't run the ball the entire season. He got the first down and the Bucs ran out the clock.

"It was so incredible for my coaching staff to have the faith in me in that moment," Godwin said. "They put the ball in my hands to send us to the Super Bowl. It was surreal for me. Then we won the Super Bowl, and there’s nothing more surreal than that."

That launched an offseason in which the Bucs placed the franchise tag on Godwin, guaranteeing him a one-year deal worth $16 million (he can either work out a long-term deal with the Bucs or become a free agent after the season); he married his longtime girlfriend, Mariah DelPercio, whom he met at Middletown; and he returns to a team that is bringing back all of its starters from last season in an attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

So yes, Godwin realizes that he has a lot to be thankful for. But he also stressed that his attitude, as well as those closest to him, have a lot to do with his success.

"The best people I’ve met have one thing in common, and it’s that they choose a positive attitude," Godwin wrote. "That doesn’t just automatically come with things like money or fame.

"I truly believe what I’ve accomplished is because of hard work and the power of positive thinking." 

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.