“It was outstanding. It’s something that you dream for as a child that you finally accomplish,” Kettani said. “Just by any NFL team and even more importantly the Patriots because they’re such a great organization with a great legacy behind their team.”
Even though he was facing a three-year commitment to be on active duty, Kettani wasn’t surprised by the Patriots’ move.
“I knew that (former Navy fullback) Kyle Eckel did that before me,” Kettani said. “He was lucky enough to sign with the Patriots (as an undrafted free agent in 2005) and serve some time and play in and win Super Bowl (XLIV with New Orleans). So I knew that opportunity was there. I was just fortunate enough that (head coach Bill) Belichick and the organization had the faith that I could play at the next level.”
Beginning in 2012 and while serving in the Naval reserves, Kettani spent time over the next few seasons on the Patriots’, Washington Redskins’, Kansas City Chiefs’ and Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squads. He kept a solid confidence throughout that experience.
“That’s nothing that’s in my nature. In the NFL there are things called timing and opportunity,” Kettani said. “And once you have an opportunity on a team, on a practice squad or any part of the team, it’s a huge importance to know that you’re there to play and that any second you could be called up to play on the 52-man roster.
“The NFL and football alone teach you a lot of things in life. The main thing is hard work, dedication, compassion in playing the game and compassion of doing it every day. The NFL is not an easy thing. It does stand for not for long. Fortunately, I was able to play for five years and contribute in that nature, but time management and also what I learned when I was also in the Navy is making sure everything’s in order and you’re ready when your name is called.”
Now on active duty, Kettani, a lieutenant, is stationed in Cleveland and is an officer recruiter. “I enjoy working with good individuals that I see fit, that could potentially join the Navy and contribute to the officer forces.”
He is also an artist.
“I thoroughly enjoy painting. It’s one of my passions. I started professionally painting right after the first year with the Patriots. I’ve always loved art and I’m kind of a self-taught artist,” said Kettani, who has a website, www.erickettani.com, where his artwork – from figurative to abstract to mixed media – is available. “Nowadays there are commissioned pieces. Clients call and we talk on either face time or just talk on the phone on what they want, their size, and their desires and just figure it out from there. It’s a very unique different type of sales, I would say.”