Buffalo Bills wide receiver Chris Hogan has proven he can play in the NFL. After getting cut by multiple teams, the 27-year-old has been the Bills' No. 3 receiver the last two seasons with 30 receptions for 376 yards with two touchdowns this season. In Getting to Know this week, the former Penn State lacrosse player explains how he got into lacrosse, who he looked up to as a kid and more.
Where did you grow up and how did that make you who you are? I grew up in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Rural town. Big sports town. My whole life I grew up playing every sport. My parents put some miles on the car. We were always doing something. That helped build that competitive nature that I've had throughout my entire life.
So what's your best childhood sports memory — is there a play, a game you still joke about with your Dad? My best memory is from my sophomore year of high school. We were in the state championship and I hadn't played at all. A guy got hurt, I had to go in and I ended up as the player of the game, game-winning touchdown, everything like that at MetLife Stadium. So that was cool.
Was lacrosse a first love? No, I didn't play lacrosse until I got to high school. I played baseball my whole life and then I hurt my shoulder because I played on eight different baseball teams growing up. Threw too many curveballs. But my Dad played lacrosse and he had a stick in the garage so one day I just picked it up, started messing around with it and figured I had something to do in the spring time. I had a couple buddies who played so I started going to practices and watching them play. Freshman year rolled around and I just tried it out.
So you blew your arm out in baseball? Yeah, just couldn't do it. Overworked it I guess. I couldn't sit on the bench and be a DH. That wasn't working.
What's something most people don't know about you? Let's see. I'm a smart man. I'm about to marry a doctor. I've got two big dogs back home, Great Danes.
Did you propose recently? We've been engaged now for probably a year.
What kind of doctor? Podiatry. And she's trying to be an orthopedic, a surgeon.
What do you like to do in spare time in Western New York? To be honest with you, up here, there's not a lot to do. We've been lucky this year with the weather. But usually around this time, it's too cold to be doing anything outside. Football season's really just football. Straight football. Watching film, working out, going home, eating, sleeping, repeat. When I'm back home, it's different. I try to get involved in a lot of different things with my PR people, different foundations and I'm trying to set myself up with a different charity now this coming off-season.
Which charity is that? It's for a friend of mine. His brother had cancer, so we're trying to create something. A lifting event, something he'd like to do. We're doing different stuff like that. Trying to stay busy during the off-season. Obviously I'm a workout guy, so I'm not going to stop right now.
We see you dominating the ping-pong table every day, so are you the best on the team? Me and Nick O'Leary. We kind of go back and forth. That's the competitiveness in me.
Have you always played? Not really. This is the first time I've played this much, really, anywhere. I pick things up pretty easily, and then I keep getting better if I try to work at it.
If you weren't playing football, what would you be doing? Probably be playing outside in the MLL (Major League Lacrosse). And then I'd be in the city somewhere working a regular job. They don't make a lot of money, so it's like a side gig. You go on the weekends and play lacrosse games.
Did you consider that? No, I was done playing lacrosse my senior year. I said, "This is it." I didn't want to play anymore, so that wasn't a real option for me.
If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you guys talk about? Michael Jordan. Just his work ethic. Obviously, a lot of people envy him. I grew up a big fan of him. Reading his books and how he had to work to where he's at, his work ethic was second to none. That's something that I tried to always emulate growing up.
You've read abut him, researched him, too? Oh yeah. Read how he was cut from his varsity basketball team. They said he wasn't good enough and he had to work his (butt) off and next year he made the team. That stuck with me reading about him growing up.
In your career, there's been several times it could've ended so do you think about him? Yeah, definitely.
Who was your inspiration growing up? Lacrosse became a big part of my life. I had a lacrosse coach named Bob Turco. Still to this day, he's a guy who will always text me and see how I'm doing. But he was always big on developing athletes into good athletes but also into good young men. Not just being punks on the field and off the field. He really paid attention to how you present yourself. So I think that kind of stuck with me. Obviously my parents were just, growing up, you couldn't ask for better parents. They were constantly willing to drive up and down the east coast, wherever it is, every single weekend. And it wasn't just me. My brother and sister, they all played. Soccer, football, softball, lacrosse, everything.
Any crazy trip in particular? We always did trips. Saturdays I'd be playing soccer in Virginia and Sundays we'd be driving back to Jersey to play baseball. Crazy stuff like that.
How have your survival instincts really kept you around? When people give you opportunities, you have to run with it.
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