Get to Know Patriots Linebacker Jonathan Casillas

Lead Photo: Jonathan Casillas. Photo: Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Casillas. Photo: Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports
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New England Patriots linebacker Jonathan Casillas had a lot to celebrate last night, after the Pats grabbed their 4th Super Bowl title with only 26 seconds remaining in the game (and just yards from a crushing defeat). Casillas, who is of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, was the only Latino NFL player (of just 20 total in the league) to play in Super Bowl XLIX. If you don’t know him, get to know him.

He reps #familiaprimero

Son of Luz Casillas and Flash Gordon, Jonathan was born June 3, 1987 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Though he didn’t learn Spanish, he grew up close to his mother’s side of the family, and is always proud to rep his family and his cultural heritage, as can be seen the #familiaprimero hashtag peppering all his social media.


He can't dance salsa, but he tries

In an interview with the Spanish-language Patriots blog, Casillas said: “Once in a while at my family get togethers my tías pull me up to dance. They tell me ‘Ven y baila conmigo papi,’ and I explain that I don’t really know how but I still give it a shot.”

Maybe we can link him with Victor Cruz for some lessons.

He was the record man in high school

In his years at New Brunswick High School, Casillas was a member of Super Prep’s New Jersey Top 35 team, adding first-team All-State, All-County and County Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2004.

He was also the team captain and MVP, recording 90 tackles, including 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 16 sacks as a senior. On offense he excelled as a receiver, making 20 catches for 410 yards and eight touchdowns in 2004. In his high school career, he registered 228 tackles, 36 sacks, 50 stops for loss, 11 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.

He beefs up with arroz y habichuelas.

From 2004 to 2006, Casillas gained 15 pounds to be competitive at the University. And he did it boricua-style: “I grew up eating arroz y habichuelas – you know how we Latinos are. It’s in my blood, it’s in my heritage,” he told the Patriots Spanish-language blog.

While Casillas was studying Agricultural Business Management in Wisconsin, he bulked up to 214 pounds, as he shifted to weak-side outside linebacker and also discarded his 2005 jersey No. 46 for No. 2, wearing that number the rest of his college career.

Drunk Double-Scooting? Never Again.

In August of 2008, Casillas was cited for driving a moped while under the influence of alcohol. A preliminary report showed Casillas had a blood alcohol concentration of .15 (the legal limit in Wisconsin is .08). In addition to be cited for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, he was cited for having a passenger on his moped. Like a wise man, he recognized was wrong. “This is my fourth year in Wisconsin I know you can’t double-scoot. I know you can’t be intoxicated while operating a vehicle. That’s all on me. I apologized to my teammates and to my coaches. The worst part was I had to break it to my mother. I learned from it. I should never have done it to begin with,” he said.

He had his own radio show and clothing line

Back when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Casillas had a bi-monthly radio show called “JCPOV 52” where he covered a variety of topics including sports, current affairs, and local event happenings. Local fans were invited to be a part of the show, and he apparently also launched a clothing line called “POV52,” though we haven’t been able to scrounge up pictures of it online.