Patriots rookie honored after helping save woman from traumatic incident

Patriots OL Justin Herron (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Patriots OL Justin Herron (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

If you don’t think the New England Patriots take character into account when they’re mulling over which players to add to their roster, whether it be through free agency or the draft, then you are sorely mistaken.

That goes for the entire roster, too. Not just the faces of the franchise.

If you need evidence that proves this, look no further than a recent heroic act carried out by a reserve offensive linemen, who (barring injury) has zero chance of starting the first game of next season.

Newly-minted Patriot Justin Herron was honored as a hero by the Tempe Police Department on Wednesday for intervening to stop an attempted sexual assault at a local park four days earlier.

The 2020 sixth-round pick, alongside another big-hearted bystander, Murry Rogers, freed the 71-year-old victim from the assailant and detained the suspect until authorities arrived.

The details of the assault are troubling, but thankfully Herron and Rogers stepped in before anything overly heinous transpired.

Patriots offensive tackle Justin Herron was honored on Wednesday for stopping a sexual assault attack in Arizona.

"“We are here to honor two good Samaritans that intervened during this vicious attack and detained the suspect until police could arrive and make sure that he was taken into custody,” Detective Natalie Barela said at a news conference. “If not for the swift actions of Mr. Justin Herron and Mr. Murry Rogers, this vicious attack could’ve been much worse.”"

In light of their courageous act, police presented Herron and Rogers with an “Outstanding Citizen” certificate. Recalling the moment that forced him into action, Herron said he heard screaming in the park and his instincts took over.

"“In the moment, I wish I could tell you what I was thinking. I just knew someone just needed help. All I could do was just rush myself over there to make sure I could help the victim and make sure I could comfort her and be the best person I can be,” Herron recalled.“It was heartwarming to see her, but also gut-wrenching to see how she responded to the trauma and how she’s dealing with it. No one should go through that. No one. She has a great support system, and I’m glad that she has that support system. It was emotional for me. It was emotional for everybody in the room to see her.”"

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Herron later added that his size played a huge role in obstructing the suspect and biding time until authorities took over. Any average-sized man wouldn’t stand a chance against a fully-grown NFL player, and that seems to be what happened here.

Had Herron, who appeared in 12 games (six starts) for the Patriots last season, not been in Arizona for offseason training or at the park at the time of the attack, we could be talking about a different outcome.

Herron probably received endless plaudits on Wednesday, but fans should continue singing his praises as they pass this story along. While all of us might not be as physically imposing as him, he proved that any bystander is always capable of doing the right thing.

Of course, being in the right place at the right time helps.