It is hard to miss him in a crowd. Alan Branch is six foot six and 345 pounds. His massive frame hints of what was once his life’s work.
“I never really thought that I was going to be playing at the NFL level,” said Branch. He was a multitalented athlete with speed coming out of Cibola High School in 2004.
A menace on the defensive line, Branch also played the positions of running back, tight end and punt returner in high school.
The University of Michigan noticed his talent and offered him a scholarship. Branch had 57 tackles and 9 sacks for the Wolverines before leaving early for the NFL Draft.
“Three weeks before I declared, you know, I had a lot of people in my ear telling me you are going to be guaranteed first round this and that,” said Branch. “Honestly, I just let it go in one ear and out the other. I finished out the season and called the NFL. They said they expected me to go in the first round and the rest is history.”
The Arizona Cardinals made Branch the 33rd overall pick in the 2007 Draft, taking him in the second round. Branch won an NFC Championship with the Cardinals. He also played for Seattle, Buffalo, and the New England Patriots during his ten-year career.
“I can’t say I enjoyed playing on one team more than the other because I didn’t,” said Branch. “They’re all pretty awesome in their own way.”
It was his stop in New England that brought Branch the ultimate prize in his football career. He won two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots. “The thing I remember most about the Super Bowl, you know, actually walking off the field, holding my kids, holding my wife’s hand and just seeing the confetti falling,” said Branch.
He played in his final Super Bowl with the Patriots last season. Branch recorded 279 tackles, five forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and 14 pass deflections during his NFL career. He is now enjoying life after football.
“I’ve had opportunities to coach soccer teams,” said Branch. “I volunteer at my kids’ school, both their classes on a regular basis and I’m enjoying just being around the kids and my wife, not having to go bust my head on some other guy.”