“We were both up to be drafted the same year, and I think there was a little bit of animosity between us,” Solder told reporters Tuesday at the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI hotel. “And when we ended up on the same team, it quickly became heavy animosity throughout the season.”
“Our start was a little rocky at first when we were rookies coming in and not really knowing each other.”
But six years later, Cannon and Solder both say they are great friends, and have become huge fixtures on an offensive line that has turned around considerably this season.
“Over the year, that next offseason, we were the two that were hanging out with each other every day,” Solder told reporters. “So we’ve become very close friends. I think we both appreciate and respect each other’s abilities and talents. Our families know each other, they spend time together, so it’s really been a blessing.”
Solder said Cannon also developed a bond over battles with cancer. Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma before the 2011 draft and Solder's son Hudson was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015. Solder said Cannon was one of the first people to contact the family.
“Marcus was one of the first people and one of the most meaningful people that came and talked to us and he said, ‘You know, I understand the nightmare you’re going through, but just know that the nightmare does end,’ ” Solder told reporters. “And he’s seen both sides of that.
“That was a huge impact on our lives, and we had a huge connection on the field where he says something, ‘Nate, play with all your heart with Christ with you’ — whatever it is, it really, really means a lot to me. I’m so thankful to have him in my life.”
Much has been made this week about the bond this Patriots team shares, so it's nice to continue to hear stories like these when there is so much hatred and separation in the world at present.