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hawaiiansteel
10-13-2010, 02:55 PM
Players without teams find themselves living in limbo

By Bob Cohn, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

http://files.pittsburghlive.com/photos/2010-10-12/worthington-a.jpg

Doug Worthington
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review


Doug Worthington thought he had it made. On the Steelers practice squad, that is.

A seventh-round draft pick from Ohio State last spring, the defensive end would have preferred a spot on the 53-man roster. But the coaches liked him, and at least he had a job playing football.

Then, he quickly learned why NFL, as the former coach Jerry Glanville famously said, means "Not For Long."

"I didn't have the wildest dreams of not being on the team a few days later," Worthington said. "It was a shock to me."

Worthington was a member of the eight-man practice squad for two days before his release. Nothing personal; the Steelers just liked someone else better, Al Woods, a fourth-round pick from Louisiana State who was let go by New Orleans. Worthington returned to Columbus, crashing at the house of an old college teammate.

"It's a bittersweet thing," he said.

Worthington considered his words. "Really, there's no sweet in it," he said. "Just bitter."

WAITING FOR THE CALL

Life is tenuous in the NFL, where the average career lasts just 3 1/2 seasons. But some get less time than that, and others get nothing. For them, this is not the NFL where Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant can laugh off a $55,000 dinner tab. In their world, a modest practice squad income ($5,200 a week during the season) sounds good compared to the alternative.

As with the newly jobless in any field, pride takes a hit and doubt and uncertainty slip through the door. It can be especially jarring for athletes who have been stars since early childhood. In September, Worthington visited with former teammates and ex-Buckeyes with NFL experience when his alma mater played the Miami Hurricanes. But it wasn't easy. "I love to see those guys, but it's hard to tell 'em I got cut," he said.

"You really drive yourself crazy thinking about the reasons why," said former Pitt guard C.J. Davis, who was released by Carolina during training camp after suffering a concussion. "But there are tons of players like me."

Those "players" basically follow the same daily routine, in no particular order: Work out, nap, eat, watch TV, maybe work out again, go to the mall and/or hang around the house. But mainly, "Every day, I wait for my agent to call," Worthington said.

"They're in limbo," said Worthington's agent, Brad Cicala who, like other representatives, contacts teams each week on his clients' behalf. "They don't know if they're ever gonna get another call. It's a tough way to live. 'Do I get a job or do I wait another week?' "

Some get the call. Teams needing an injury replacement or looking to improve at a certain position will add players. But that means they also have to subtract.

"Chess pieces," Cicala said.

"You try to stay on the same workout regimen, you try to stay in shape, you wait for that phone call," said Davis, who spent the 2009 season on injured reserve. "I'm literally waiting by the phone. You're not hoping for somebody to go down (with an injury), but it's a business, you know?"

If they did not know it before, they do now. Steelers cornerback Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith, an undrafted free agent, was cut during the spring, brought back in the summer, released again and signed to the practice squad. "I come to work every day," he said. "But I don't know if I'll be here tomorrow. . . .This is not guaranteed at all. Even after you sign a contract."

PROCESS BEFORE SUCCESS

Players like Worthington occasionally are summoned for auditions to help teams fill their "ready list" for future reference. Worthington visited the Houston Texans a few weeks ago. The message: Thanks for coming. "Kicking the tires," Cicala calls it.

Davis and Worthington are luckier than most. Davis, who was paid last year while in IR, said he got a $48,000 injury settlement from the Panthers before his release. Worthington received a $33,000 bonus when he signed, and the Steelers handed him a week's practice-squad salary even though they didn't have to.

"The way they handled it was first class," Cicala said.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison is the poster child for hope, false or otherwise. Harrison earned fame (league defensive player of the year, Super Bowl hero) and fortune (a six-year, $52 million contract extension in 2009) after getting cut four times and playing in NFL Europe.

For those who are not Harrison, the end of football is the end of a dream.

"When you get that close, you visualize what life can be like," said former Stanford defensive back Vaughn Bryant, who was drafted in the fourth round by Detroit in 1994 and subsequently cut.

The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets also cut Bryant. He never played in an NFL game, although he did give the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena League a whirl.

When football ends, "It's like being married for 20 years and one day your wife leaves and never calls back," he said.

Bryant is the deputy director of safety and security for the Chicago public schools system. Before that, he helped NFL players adjust to the so-called "real world." He graduated from a prestigious university and has succeeded outside the sidelines. Yet even now, "I have dreams that somebody called me," he said.

"The reality that you're not gonna play is difficult emotionally. You could be an Ivy Leaguer and still really want it."

The NFL addresses the issue of life after football with counseling and programs. But that's mainly for veterans who at least had their careers and made some money. Young players like Worthington, who have tasted the big time, want a bigger bite.

"I know I ain't a first-rounder," Worthington said. "But I know I can compete. I'll get a shot somewhere. If not this week, then next week or mid-season. If not, I'll get ready for another (training) camp. I know I can play at this level."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 04008.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_704008.html)

flippy
10-13-2010, 03:32 PM
The PS guys should get guaranteed contracts.

Their $5K/week is nothing for the potential harm they do to their bodies.

flippy
10-13-2010, 03:33 PM
The PS guys should get guaranteed contracts.

Their $5K/week is nothing for the potential harm they do to their bodies.

feltdizz
10-13-2010, 03:55 PM
The PS guys should get guaranteed contracts.

Their $5K/week is nothing for the potential harm they do to their bodies.


Nah... I think 5K is a nice chunk of change to impress coaches for future gigs.

NJ-STEELER
10-13-2010, 04:24 PM
i think he may have a shot with us next year if he signs here

this is the time to go on a cycle or 2. help them make the squad next year

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
10-14-2010, 09:12 AM
The guy was a 7th rounder. I'd like to see him make the team as well, but considering he was a fringe prospect to begin with he should have a backup plan in place and not be stuck in football limbo.

Remember what happened when Mike Lorello was cut his second time? His dad came on the board and pretty much said that his dream was to play in the NFL but it is time to move on in life........and he did.

ramblinjim
10-14-2010, 09:49 AM
El-train was a cool guy, hope he's still lurking somewhere.

Several years back I met a guy who was an Offensive Lineman at the University of MD, I worked with his older sister. Anyway, he was the biggest SOB I'd ever seen. He was probably 6'6", maybe 330, maybe bigger. He was just a massive young man. And he was cut like a much smaller guy to, there just didn't seem to be any fat on him. I asked him about the NFL and he just laughed, said he wasn't big enough, fast enough or strong enough to play O'line in the NFL.

He said that his parents told him from the day he enrolled at MD that he had to get his degree and I guess as time rolled on and he was playing against the Lawrence Timmons' of the world he figured out for himself "yeah, I'm good but I'm not that good" and he got his degree. It's gotta be hard though.

aggiebones
10-14-2010, 10:23 AM
I think Flippy was close. Maybe not a full guarantee. But if you sign one, maybe the teams should have to keep them for 3-4 weeks. At least 2. They do move around like chess pieces. And in such a big business Maybe you have to guarantee them a few weeks even if you cut them. Not a whole year, but at least a few weeks. They get paid a bit more and teams aren't so flippant with shuffling these kids around.
I can imagine the stress. They are kinda trapped and can't really get their careers started and can't move on either with the potential for more out there.

StarSpangledSteeler
10-14-2010, 11:39 AM
Worthington has got to get a lot better at technique. He has great size and length but the DE position in our 3-4 is all about hand fighting and getting off blocks.

sentinel33
10-14-2010, 12:04 PM
The players coming out of college are told by proffessionals what round(s) they are projected to go in. If you arent a projected 3rd rounder you better have a backup plan. I feel for these guys because its a hard way to live. But thats life in pro football. if you arent good enough straight out of college, the other road, if one could call it that, is one of the hardest you can travel. But the reward is worth it. just ask silverback. Keep truckin Doug. i could see worthington taking Easons spot next season if he can improve. Dudes gotta use his time wisely. The steelers selected him because ohio st. plays the closest thing to a 3-4 def in college. it would be sweet to get him back and hang on to mcclendon. four young players to bring up over the next year in hood woods mcclendon and worthington. just sayin

feltdizz
10-14-2010, 12:28 PM
The guy was a 7th rounder. I'd like to see him make the team as well, but considering he was a fringe prospect to begin with he should have a backup plan in place and not be stuck in football limbo.

Remember what happened when Mike Lorello was cut his second time? His dad came on the board and pretty much said that his dream was to play in the NFL but it is time to move on in life........and he did.

Mike was cut a second time.. but after the first I think he was in limbo just like Doug.

I wish I could get 5K a week to try out for jobs... especially when these jobs could lead to millions or at the worst a few hundred thousand.

These kids know the risk and are willing to take it. Not a bad deal and if it doesn't work out you still have some change left over before living like the rest of us.

RuthlessBurgher
10-14-2010, 03:42 PM
this is the time to go on a cycle or 2. help them make the squad next year

:shock:

Do you work at Cushing's gym in Jersey?

stlrz d
10-14-2010, 04:06 PM
Wish I could find a limbo that would get me 5 large a week.

NJ-STEELER
10-14-2010, 05:12 PM
this is the time to go on a cycle or 2. help them make the squad next year

:shock:

Do you work at Cushing's gym in Jersey?

pretty close to his hometown


are you looking to buy some :wink: