Chris Snee, on a scouting trip last October for the Jaguars, found himself in Fayetteville, Ark., and reached out to a former Giants teammate. Mitch Petrus was not in town that day, but the two spoke on the phone and Snee could sense budding excitement.
“He said ‘I can’t wait for the reunion’ because I told him about the one I had for the Super Bowl 42 team,’’ Snee told The Post on Friday. “Our time was coming for the 46 team. If there was one guy, a guy you hadn’t seen in a long time that you wanted to see again he was at the top of my list. He’ll be on my mind probably that entire week.’’
Petrus, 32, died of heat stroke on Thursday at North Little Rock Hospital, according the Pulaski County Coroner, after working outside earlier in the day at his family’s shop about 25 miles east of Little Rock. Arkansas is experiencing the heat wave that is gripping much of the country, with a heat index on Thursday making it feel as if it were more than 100 degrees.
“We are saddened to hear of Mitch’s passing,’’ the Giants said in a statement. “Our thoughts go out to Mitch’s family and friends.’’
Petrus was a walk-on at Arkansas and was selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. His NFL career lasted only three seasons, two with the Giants and one split between the Patriots and Titans. The timing of his brief career intersected with the 2011 season that culminated with the Giants beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Petrus, an offensive guard, played in 27 games in his career and only started four, but played 55 snaps in the Giants’ 21-17 upset victory over the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Snee heard the sad news while working out Friday with former teammate Shaun O’Hara and the day quickly turned into an offensive line group chat remembering the fun-loving, intense Petrus. Rich Seubert called Petrus “a good teammate and we has a lot of fun being friends.’’ Petrus attended Seubert’s charity trap shoot in April in Wisconsin.
The first time Snee heard of Petrus was when a Giants scout informed him the team had added a player that might be stronger than him. Snee at first was skeptical.
“He was strong,’’ Snee said. “He was right up there with me. He and [defensive tackle] Linval [Joseph] had a little rivalry going, too, as far as the strongest young buck.
“He kind of latched onto me early because physically we matched up strength-wise and he was often my workout partner, a guy I tried to help out early on with getting his technique down and trying to help him contribute. I loved being around him. He was a character. Mitch was the life of the party.’’
Former teammates took to social media to pay their respects.
Fullback Henry Hynoski tweeted: “Incredible teamate and person. One of the best dudes I’ve ever known. Truly brightened up everyones day with his personality and approach to life.’’
Kicker Lawrence Tynes posted: “Mitch was not only a great teammate, he was also a great friend. You will be missed by many buddy. RIP Mitch.’’
Upbeat and high-energy, Petrus consumed vast quantities of Mountain Dew at meetings and even during practices and games.
“With his energy and how positive he was, he was just a perfect fit for that session,” Dismang told the AP on Friday.
Petrus’ death comes slightly more than two weeks after quarterback Jared Lorenzen, another member of the Giants’ Super Bowl-winning team in 2012, passed away at the age of 38 from an acute infection complicated by kidney and heart problems.
“[Petrus] was back working with his family and it seemed like he was in a good place,’’ Snee said. “He has kind of bounced around with what he wanted to do career-wise. Thirty-two is way too young. Everyone who played with Mitch will miss him. A guy that loved football, loved working out. Loved being one of the guys.’’