Patriots TE Scott Chandler shows Iowa pride stretches far and wide

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski expected to be sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the spotlight is shining brighter on one of his backups, veteran Scott Chandler.

On Thursday, Chandler drew the largest media crowd he’s seen since the start of the season, and conducted interviews wearing an Iowa football shirt.

“Go Hawks!” the understated Chandler said in a mild show of emotion. “Big game this weekend. Coach Ferentz has done an amazing job this year. He’s been doing it since 1999 there and he’s one of the best coaches in the nation.”

Chandler, who entered the NFL in 2007 as a fourth-round draft choice out of Iowa, is naturally a big fan of Kirk Ferentz, whose No. 4-ranked Hawkeyes face Michigan State on Saturday night in the Big Ten championship game, with a spot in the College Football Playoff likely at stake.

“It’s funny, because any time they start talking about, ‘He needs to get out of there,’ all of a sudden he rips off a season like this,” Chandler said. “I think people don’t understand how great of a job he’s done there. I’m proud to have played for him. Such a great man and a great coach.”