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Deion Branch continues offseason balancing act with autism charity event

06.06.12 at 4:47 pm ET

Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch hosted an “Athletes 4 Autism” charity event at Boston University Wednesday afternoon and spoke on trying to find the balance between fitting events like this one into what is quickly becoming a busy offseason schedule.

Branch met with a group of about a dozen children at the BU recreation center, showing them how to catch a throw a football with ‘€œthe Brady spiral, not the Branch spiral,’€ according the 32-year-old receiver. The event itself was part of the Popchips ‘€œGame Changers’€ program, in which 15 athletes selected local charities as part of an effort to give back to the community. Afterwards, Branch talked about the role that charity events play in the offseason, particularly events for special needs children.

‘€œOne of my marketing guys called me and they presented an opportunity. Athletes for Autism, they gave me the entire breakdown,’€ Branch said. ‘€œThe fact that my son is a special needs kid, I’€™m always involved in things of this nature. It’€™s always good for the guys to give back, regardless of whatever situation the kids are in — that’€™s my thing.’€

This offseason is an important one for Branch, who enters mandatory minicamp next week on a roster that currently features 11 wide receivers. However, the long list of names at the position is a welcome sight for Branch, who had 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns last season.

‘€œCompetition’€™s good. It brings out the best in everyone,’€ He said. ‘€œI’€™ve been around a long time and to be a part of this group of guys we have here is pretty good. We got a great group of guys this year.’€

Branch’€™s trip from Foxboro was delayed due to a Patriots team meeting running late, but the late arrival had little effect on the event as a whole. Conflicts like that, Branch said, are part of the busy offseason, but aren’€™t enough to put his charity work on the backburner.

‘€œWork is first, and then you try and get yourself involved in the community as best as you can,’€ Branch said. ‘€œFrom this, from walking the marathon with my son, from my football camps, you have to try and find a balance within your life. I try my best, I make it work. I’€™m tired, but I get it done.

‘€œI gotta get my work in,’€ He said, apologizing for his tardiness. ‘€œBut the thing I wasn’€™t going to miss [was this]’€

Branch agreed to the event after being approached by the organization about two months ago and, after ‘€œa lot of running around’€ this offseason, reveled in teaching some basic football pointers to the children who attended the event.

‘€œThe biggest thing is just me trying to show them and watching them do it, that’€™s the most important thing,’€ Branch said. ‘€œThem smiling, I’€™m always smiling. These kids, it’€™s crazy to see all the small ones doing the things you’€™re trying to show them, and they’€™re trying their best to do them.’€

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