Zoltan Mesko rounds up teammates for this weekend’s ‘ZoliOke’
|06.08.12 at 10:56 am ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko is so straightforward and earnest, he makes Miami’s “good job, good effort” kid seem like a hard-bitten cynic. So when he announced plans to put together a celebrity karaoke event to help benefit Boston Children’s Hospital, many of his teammates found it hard to refuse him.
“It just shows you that’s what true teammates are about,” Mesko said after Thursday’s OTA session at Gillette Stadium. “Showing up when they have some free time to relax, but they choose to give back to charity and the community. That’s awesome.”
Several teammates have pledged their support to “ZoliOke,” set for Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. Taking place at Royale in Boston, it will benefit for Boston Children’s Hospital, with net proceeds including raffle and live auction contributions being donated to the hospital. (For ticket information, CLICK HERE.)
It’s a continuation of a Patriots’ tradition — former New England linebacker Larry Izzo held a “Larry-Oke” fundraiser every year. Mesko said he reached out to Izzo (currently an assistant special teams coach with the Giants) for some tips on how to make it all come together.
“He was more than welcoming to tell me about the logistics of how it went down, and guys who were here when he had it and remember how everything ran, they filled me in on it,” Mesko said. “And we kind of tweaked it a little bit — maybe made some things coordinate more with the Children’s Hospital. It’ll be a phenomenal event, if it goes as planned. But right now, I’m stressing.”
The event is another sign that Mesko, who will be entering into his third season in the NFL, continues to ensconce himself in the community. The likable punter continues to be at the forefront of community service efforts with the team — he’s worked in a number of New England Patriots Charitable Foundation community events his rookie year and last season as a part of the team’s “Celebrate Volunteerism” campaign. Along with hospital visits, Mesko has participated in numerous events including Patriots Gifts from the Gridiron, Hunger Awareness and Health Care Volunteerism, and a playground build in Providence.
At the same time, he’s quickly developed a rep as one of the best young punters in the league. The 26-year-old Mesko — who has one of the best backstories of anyone in the NFL — set an NFL rookie record in 2010 with a 38.4 net average, the highest of any rookie punter since net punt tracking began in 1976.
With OTA’s now behind him and training camp less than two months away, the 6-foot-5, 231-pounder feels good heading into his third season with the Patriots.
“I feel like mentally, 90 percent of this game is mental at this point — there aren’t many physical strides you can make at this level,” he said. “You can still tweak some things, but mostly, it’s mental. I took the adjustments I made last year and I added them to my repertoire this year, and we keep building off that. That’s what this period is for — it’s to kind of introduce those things and get them in line and maybe learn some new things as well.”
In his words, he and the rest of the specialists (kicker Stephen Gostkowski and long snapper Danny Aiken) are “gelling as a group,” but you can’t afford to get too comfortable with where you are.
“We’re always striving for perfection,” Mesko said. “You never feel quite comfortable. And you should never really feel comfortable, because that’s when you stop getting better.”
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