Saturday, July 12, 2008

Welcome to the NFL

Allow me to introduce myself, I'm 23 years and old and I'm married to a professional football player! Technically the NFL is his dream and just my reality, but I have come to love the game. My husband is starting his 3rd year with the same organization...his road to the NFL was a little bumpy. He was an undrafted free agent and the summer before his rookie season was full of surprises. To start things off he left for OTAs (NFL translation = Organized Team Activities) the day after I graduated from undergrad. Just so happened it was Mother's Day! Our entire relationship was long distance so him going away was not a big deal but it was the fear of the unexpected. The first few weeks he would rush off of the phone to study his playbook...that was an adjustment. As the summer progressed he got better, but somebody should have told me about camp. I thought it was going to be like his college camp...this was my when I learned that this is a job and not just a hobby. He was literally at the stadium 12 hours everyday for a month.

When camp wrapped at the end of August I went to visit him just in time to see his last preseason game. This being my first NFL game I was a little nervous, I really didn't know what to expect. I was definitely not prepared for my introduction to the NFL. I got a crash course on players, coaches, groupies, wives, baby mamas, and girlfriends. It's was definitely a different world from our days at the university. I was definitely learning the ropes! After the game on Thursday night we thought that he had done well and I was assuring him that things would work in his favor as cuts were approaching. When they made what we thought were the final cuts on Friday, we were safe. With cuts over I thought that he could just get comfortable with his new organization and enjoy the excitement of officially being a NFL player. Little did I know that when he would return from practice on Saturday morning there would be news of another cut.

Sunday morning had now been deemed the official final cut day. We woke up and got dressed for church and we're just wasting time till it was time to leave when his phone rang. I just sat there and he answered the phone, sure enough it was someone from the team calling to tell him that the GM (translation = General Manager) wanted to meet with and him and to bring his playbook. There was nothing that I could say to him or to anyone else to help him. He walked out of the hotel with a sad look on his face...I had no clue as to what would happen now. I thought that his dream of playing in the NFL was over. So about 30 minutes later in he comes, he's calm and I'm shocked. He said that the coach said that they liked him but didn't want to start the season with all rookies in his position. So they had decided to bring in a veteran and put my hubby on the practice squad (translation = scout team). Later I learned that the veteran the team brought in to replace my guy was a former Heisman trophy winner. This news was discouraging to me but not to my husband.

So the regular season begins and of course I go to the game, trying to be supportive. My husband didn't even touch the field, he was dressed in the team's warm ups and was basically a sideline cheerleader. I'm trying to keep a positive outlook and keep him encouraged but I wondered how long this "practice squad" thing would last. Twelve weeks later he gets another call from the organization. This time it was good news, he was being signed back to the active roster on Friday and that Sunday would be his rookie debut! I was in Kentucky living with my parents and couldn't get a flight at a decent rate in such short notice. Ultimately, I missed his first game! I was so excited for him, I was just happy that he would finally get to fulfill his dream. His mom called me from the stadium that Sunday morning as she walked in and said "we are finally here". For the next couple of weeks he would be a special team specialist, getting most of his p.t. (translation = playing time) on special teams.

The last 2 games of the season were the first time that he would see any action at his position. Christmas Eve 2006 his team went into that game as a definite underdog. He had a breakout game, to hear the commentators call his name was just phenomenal! It was a great game with a great win against the team that would go on to be the Super Bowl champs. Going into the last game of the season he knew that he would be getting a lot of playing time. We are Christians and we believe that God works in mysterious ways. I was running late to the game and missed the first series and when I got there he was already in the game. So the entire game I wondered if he had gotten the start. That game he was named the player of the game and I would later find out that he didn't get the start. It was New Year's Eve and we had to celebrate because we were glad that he ended the season on a positive note.

This post has gotten so long, I'll bring you up to date in the next post.

1 comment:

Hank Gauziun said...

Chris Taylor????