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| October 20, 2005
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Journal Entry from Utah
October 20, 2005
Where do we start? I guess I will take you back to my doctor's appointment in California. As I wrote in my last journal entry, I flew there for a third opinion on my shoulder so we could decide what plan we would take to get me back on the field as soon as possible.
I saw a specialist in L.A. who is approved as what's called a neutral doctor, he is approved by both the Players Association as well as the NFL. He checked me out and agreed with my local doctor that there was something wrong with my shoulder but he couldn't tell exactly what surgery I would need without further MRI's or a shoulder scope.
I really just wanted an answer so I could just get going with everything and try and get back out on the field ASAP. The bad thing about filing a grievance against your team is that the paper work takes a long time to go through. Meanwhile Im hurt and am not getting any better. I finally just went ahead and scheduled a shoulder scope not knowing beforehand whether I would wake up and the surgery was serious or just a scope. The difference would be 4-6 weeks or 4-6 months of rehab.
Last thursday the 13 of October, I liked the day, lucky #13. Anyway, I went in for surgery and woke up a couple hours later to some good news. The doctor found some problems but not any complete tears. I had a partial thickness tear in my rotator cup as well as a partial tear in my bicep tendon and labrum. He said with extensive rehab I could possibly be back within 4-6 weeks. I was really happy to hear the good news but then fell back asleep the anastasia hadn't worn off yet.
The doctor later described my injury as the process of peeling an onion, the partial tear had frayed my tendons and created a lot of discomfort and swelling. He simply peeled off the frayed layers like an onion until he got down to the good stuff. So that's what he did and then its just a matter of strengthening the smaller tendons until they are as strong as the old ones.
So far it's only been a week but things are going really well, I had my first check up yesterday. It has been a tough week though, the first couple days I was in a lot of pain and really couldn't do anything. I want to thank my roomates for helping me out with little tasks keeping me comfortable and a few of the girls from my church for keeping me well fed.
The doctor said everything looked normal, I am out of the sleeve and have very limited motion still, but expect a full recovery and soon. My agent is back on the phone trying to get me picked back up by a team hopefully if the rehab goes well by the last 4 or 5 weeks of the season. Keep your prayers coming and your fingers crossed, your all great.
Tomorrow I am going to drive down to Las Vegas with my mom to watch my brothers Jesse and Jason who start O-Line for University of Utah play against UNLV. It will be nice to get out of the house alittle, especially this time of the year Utah is beautiful with all the leaves changing colors. It's definitly fall, we even had a little snow fall up in the mountains all ready!
I guess thats about it, ya all take care and God bless! AB
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Journal Entry from Utah
Sept 26, 2005
Hello everybody and sorry for leave everyone hanging without an update.
The thing is that I have been left hanging myself. Without definite plans
it's been hard to update anybody including myself of the future.
I guess I will start with what happened after the Steelers game
when I got released. The next morning I woke up with a very sore shoulder and
it didn't help when I found out I was cut. I went in and cleaned out my
locker and had my final interviews with my coaches. It really sucks when you
get released, there is really nothing good about it. It's hard when you
work so hard for so long and then your told your not good enough or they
decided to go with another guy. Whatever the reason or excuse its hard to swallow
when you know your good enough to play there.
To protect myself before I left I had the trainers check out my
shoulder because it was really bothering me. We went and got an MRI just to make
sure everything was ok. They said I had some swelling but to rest it a few
days and I would be fine. I left and jumped on the next plane out of town.
I flew back to home in Utah with no real plans and no idea if there
were other teams interested or not. I took it easy for a couple days to see
if my shoulder would feel better, when it didn't I got it checked out. I went
to a local orthopedic surgeon to have him check it out and look over my MRI.
The interesting thing was that his diagnosis was much different than the
other. He thinks I have a tear in my rotator cuff as well as scar tissue among
other things. He recommends surgery.
I spoke with my agent and the players association and we decided
I needed a third opinion. Yesterday I flew here to California where I am
now awaiting my Doctors appointment tomorrow from a neutral doctor that is
approved by both the players association as well as the NFL teams. I
guess we will know shortly what's wrong.
There is a couple different scenarios, one is surgery that would
keep me out all season. The other is a quick scope that would keep me out
three weeks or so and the last would be I just need a cortisone shot to numb
my shoulder while it heals. Meanwhile my agent is speaking with some teams
and I am waiting to go to some workouts, but I want to be healthy for those
I will keep you all posted as soon as I figure out what road we
will take. I appreciate all of your concern as well as your words of
motivation and prayers. Don't you worry I'm happy and well and still love this
game and plan on making it sooner or later!
Have a great week and God bless!
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Journal Entry from the Carolina Panthers training camp
August 31, 2005
I guess it's time for another journal entry considering a few things have changed in the last few weeks. The first thing is we have played #2 & #3 preseason games since I last wrote and second, we are done with training camp in Spartanburg and are now moved back up to our facilities in Charlotte.
Our second preseason game was against the New York Giants at there stadium. It was fun to go through the whole traveling to an away game thing again. It's nice to be treated so well when you travel. We left Charlotte in 5 chartered busses with a police escort to the airport. Once we got there we had a private security check and were escorted straight to our chartered flight where we were spoiled with all kinds of food, drinks and treats. It's great the stewardess's just walk up and down the aisle the entire flight with all kinds of different stuff. As soon as we arrive our busses are waiting for us 50 feet from the plane so we walk down the ladder, off the plane and jump on our busses. We are then police escorted again to our hotel, that was nice especially with the New York traffic.
The game however was kind of sloppy, as a team we had 6 turnovers despite dominating them in most fazes of the game. It was really cool to play in Giants stadium considering all the games I watched as a kid played there. Even though the stadium was old and worn down the New York fans definitely weren't, you could hear them all game. I played Special teams throughout the second half and got in at receiver in the 4th quarter when it mattered. We were down by 6 points and our defense made a stop and gave us a chance to come back and win. Despite a couple big plays, penalties just killed us and we ended up turning it over and losing. After the game I had a good chance to talk to Mike Jennings my teammate from NFL Europe and also catch up with my big Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen who I hadn't seen in a long time.
After New York, we flew straight back to Charlotte and then those players who didn't have a car or house in Charlotte had to jump on a bus and go back down to our dorm rooms in Spartanburg. We ended up arriving there at about 4:30AM and I was up and off to church at 9AM. The internet makes it nice and easy to find the nearest church wherever I am in the world. It seems like I have looked forward to go to church more than ever these last few weeks. It's so nice just to leave everything behind and feel right at home at church and be able to focus in on spiritual things and the big picture apart from football. Thanks to the families who invited me into there homes for Sunday dinner the last few weeks!
Our third preseason game was against the Browns in Cleveland. I had looked forward to this week since camp began not so much for the game but because we also finished training camp that week and everyone got to move back to Charlotte to their homes and families. Unfortunately for me and a few of the guys, we have neither in the Charlotte area so we were checked into a downtown hotel where we will live until the end of the preseason and they make the final roster cuts.
The Cleveland game was an exciting one despite only playing on special teams. The third preseason game is always the one where the starters play most of the game to get their rhythm and timing down. Our first team looked very sharp moving the ball with ease down the field. The game ended up coming down to the wire again but this time we were able to throw a TD with seconds remaining and win the game. I had played in Browns stadium before and it was about how I remembered it, the fans are obnoxious. It was actually kind of funny listening to some of their comments from the stands even though you act like you can't hear them every once in awhile you catch something.LOL
Anyway, here I am sitting on my bed in my hotel room writing while I watch Monday night football in the final week of preseason. This final week everything is pretty different around here, we are practicing this week like if it were a regular season game. I go to the facilities at 6:30AM and eat breakfast then go right into meetings for about three hours. From there we go out to practice and we get after it, these last two days to me have been the hardest practices so far. Instead of having two practices like camp I think the just push it all into one practice because it seems like we are out there a long time.LOL It's been really good though because we are game planning this week which means we need a scout team to run the other teams offense. Not only am I running my regular reps with our offense but I am also running the other teams so I have just been exhausted the last two days. The reason why I love it is because it gives me a chance to get a lot of reps and let the coaches see what I can really do.
Our game this week is on Thursday and then they will make the final roster cuts and I will know what my next adventure will be. This final game we be so crucial for my future here especially because I will be playing a lot. In the fourth preseason game the starters only play one or two series and then it is turned over to the rest of us to play out the rest of the game and fight for a job. Yesterday they cut 11 guys off the team, two of which were WR's. Reality is sinking in and it's time to put it all out there on the line!
Even though they have until Monday morning to post the roster, check back this weekend and I should know the verdict, meanwhile have a great week and God bless! AB
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Journal Entry from the Carolina Panthers training camp
August 17, 2005
Another week of football training camp in Spartanburg South Carolina has passed but not without its up and downs. That's definitely the hard part about training camp, it's necessary to keep your emotions balanced day in and day out. Although every day is very important and very stressful at times it's important to keep yourself off the emotional roller coaster. The good and bad part about two practices a day is that regardless of whether you did good or bad in the morning practice you still have to come back in the afternoon and try and do it better.
So far things have gone pretty well; obviously it's a work in progress. It's reassuring when the starters of the team and veterans make occasional mistakes it lets me know they are still learning as well. Yesterday, I was even surprised to hear my receiver coach say you never will know it all. I thought if anyone would know it all, it would be him, I think he's coached a 100+ years. LOL
Last week we finally got to leave Spartanburg and play our first preseason game against the Washington Redskins at our Bank of America stadium in Charlotte. It was such an awesome atmosphere; it reminded me of my old days playing in the SEC at Kentucky. There is something about the fans down here in the south they just understand football, it makes it fun. Nothing against the fans in Europe who cheered the hearts off, by blowing whistles, banging on drums and clapping together noise makers, but these fans know the ins and outs of the game. Its fun to hear them cheering really involved and into the game.
For a preseason game I was also surprised at the amount of fans, the place was packed. It was loud, it was exciting, and it was everything you want in a stadium. I can only imagine what it will be like during a regular season game or even a playoff game! Anyway, the starters played the first quarter then the rest of us started rolling in. My turn came later on in the third quarter and the entire fourth. I got in on special teams and a lot of reps at WR. My excitement came about half way through the fourth quarter when I ran a seam route over the middle of the field. I peeked back over my shoulder to see if Stefan LeFors the QB out of Louisville had thrown it. I saw him bounce out of the pocket and scramble out left, I mirrored his scramble and abandoned my route and ran along the front of the end zone parallel to him 26 yards down the field. On the run he launched a ball for the front corner of the end zone. I out ran the two guys covering me to the ball and made a sliding catch in the front of the end zone. Then it got fun, I looked at the ref to make sure he ruled it a TD then I did a little celebration dance. It's such an amazing feeling whenever you score in college it was the same way. It's weird because I completely zone out the whole stadium when I am playing but as soon as I score I let them all come to life and suddenly I realize I'm in front of 70, 80or 90,000 people!
Anyway we ended up winning the game 28-10 and it was a good first game for us as a team. We still have a lot of things to get better especially me. I noticed a lot of things I can get better at but that's the process I'm in. This week we go to New York to play the Giants it will be fun to see my Berlin buddy and fellow WR Mike Jennings, but for the next couples days it's back to two a day practices.
Have a great week and God bless! AB
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Journal Entry from the Carolina Panthers training camp
August 3, 2005
Hello everybody from Spartanburg, South Carolina home of training
camp 2005 with the Carolina Panthers. Although I flew to camp
only a week ago tomorrow it feels like i have already been here
a month. LOL That's how training camp always is, it's not supposed
to be easy.
After a a very nice and well needed summer break I am happy to be back under a pair of shoulder pads and back at work. After i returned from the World Bowl in Europe I flew to Charlotte for our last week of summer practices, and tried to accustomed to new places and faces. After those few days it was out west to Utah to see my friends and family for a few weeks after 4 long months of being away. I had a great summer eating lots of American food, healing from the Europe season and training for this coming season. I even fit a weekend vacation out to California to visit my old college roomates.
The first week or so I tried to really just rest my body and enjoy friends and family. I almost had to force myseld to not work out because I knew my body needed rest. After about 10 days I got back into my workout routine and got serious about making sure I would be in great condition come camp time. The only problem I picked a bad time to be in Utah for a stretch of about 10 days it was over 100' degrees everyday. It made for some hot sweaty workouts. I started working out at 6am just so I could try and beat the heat. I had some old buddies help me with workouts, nobody wanted to workout all day with me so I would get one to come lifiting with me in the morning, another to come run and finally a QB friend to throw me passes in the afternoon. I continued with my extra things like spin class, Pilates and Yoga and filler workouts to crosstrain.
This first week of camp has been great so far, I can't tell you how happy I am to be here. Im so glad I finally found a team and organization like this one, I started to think the NFL didn't have a team that cared about individuals and TEAM success. The head coach and everyone right down to the equipment guys are just good people with the same mentality and ideals about the way the team should be ran. The other players are all great guys who have bought into his program and it's now no wonder to me why they have been so succesful the last few years. It reminds me of an old high school team where you just want to give it your all and play well not just for yourself but for the guys lined up with you and on the sideline.
I guess the hardest part for me right now is just getting comfortable with the offensive system. Once again I am at a little disadvatage not having the luxury of an entire spring and summer to learn the sytem like the rest of the guys. Fortunatly, I pride myself on being a smart player as well and I am picking it up pretty fast. Im not just trying to focus on one position but learn all the WR postions to give myself the best opportunity to get into the game.
Thats about it for now, we are just hard at practice right now. My day starts at about 6:30 am with a little study time followed by breakfast. We practice all morning then lunch and a short break which I normally spend studying more plays. We are back on the field at 3pm for an afternnon practice followed by dinner and meetings until 9:30pm. At that time I go back to my room and study some more until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. Sounds pretty exciting huh? I bet you all wish you played in the NFL! LOL It's really not so bad once you get into the rhythum and get used to it. I will tell you though that every last second of work you put in is worth it when you catch a touchdown and run around celebrating with 70,000 screaming fans watching.
This Saturday we have a little intersquad scrimmage up in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium, it will be fun to have a little life contact even if it is against our own team. Then the next week we have our first regular season game.
I hope you all have a great week, until next time, take care and God bless! AB #13
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Journal Entry from an airplane heading back home to Utah
June 16, 2005
I'm having a hard time sitting here concentrating on this journal entry. It's not because we lost the World Bowl or because I am back in America, it's because I am sitting on a plane on my way to Utah and I'm starving. To make it worse, I'm seated right behind first class and they are getting served a big chicken dinner with a fresh Caesar salad and roll. I didn't even get a bag a peanuts, live is rough! LOL Actually things are going pretty well despite a lot of ups and downs over the last three weeks. Lets start by taking you back to the last week of regular season in Europe.
My last week in Berlin was pretty hectic; I mean I really had a lot to do in a short period of time. My father arrived early in the week, my brother Jonathan and his wife Sarah arrived later in the week, I had to pack all my things to leave Berlin and finish up souvenir shopping and packing. I spent the first part of the week showing my Father around town, and the end of the week showing my brother and his wife around. I'm actually getting really good with the whole tour thing. If football doesn't work out I could definitely be a tour guide here in Berlin. LOL
I really had a good time with my Father over here. This was the first time he had ever left the United States so at first he was a little nervous about the whole thing but by the end of the week he was taking the subway on his own. It was great to spend so much time with him and get to know him more as a person then just my Father. In the morning we would get up, I would go to meetings he would take off on a little walk around the neighborhood. Then we were off to practice, I never had any of my visitors come to practice with me but he enjoyed it. While I was practicing he would be off on the side talking someone's ear off like he likes to do. LOL The front office people especially our General Manager just loved him, they thought he was hilarious. After practice it was lunch and then a field trip to see a different part of the city before returning for meetings and dinner. At night we would stay up talking about various subjects and watch a movie. I don't remember ever spending that much time with him before; I guess that's one of the disadvantages of being one of 10 children.
Later on that week my brother Jonathan and his wife Sarah got there. I only got to spend one day with all of us together but we made the most of it traveling around Berlin City in the morning and Potsdam in the afternoon. That afternoon was one of my most memorable times in the two years I was in Germany. We went to Potsdam, a place I have been countless times before to visit the beautiful gardens and castles etc.but this time was unique. Instead off walking all day to see everything we saved our legs and rented bicycles. They weren't anything fancy; in fact, they were old blue beach cruisers. Fortunately, they had big seats and a few gears which made riding them very easy. I wasn't sure if my old man even knew how to ride a bike, he told me he couldn't even remember the last time he had rode one. The old saying held true though, there is something's you just never forget and one of them is riding a bike. It couldn't have been a better day for cruising around the gardens, soaking in the sun and sites with part of my family. I loved it!
Next came the game, our last regular season game of the season. I will keep it brief, it was ugly. Our starting QB didn't play hardly at all in order to save him for the World Bowl. Our starting running back Cal Murray injured his knee and starting tight end John Friezer hurt his shoulder. Both were very good friends and very big parts of our offense, they both got sent back to the states for rehab along with our starting fullback Bryan Johnson who got hurt the week before. To top it off, although the game didn't matter we ended up losing as well. It was the first and only time I had lost in Olympic Stadium at home.
The next morning I finally finished packing all of my stuff, I'm such a pack rat I don't know how I acquire so many things but I do. I said goodbye and sent my father on a subway headed to meet up with my brother they were on their way to Prague then he would return to the states to attend my sister Amy's wedding in San Diego. Her wedding was the same day as the World Bowl so he had to pick one or the other. I really wanted to be at the wedding but I had a big game to play in. I headed in the other direction by bus to the train station to go to Düsseldorf for World Bowl XIII.
The week just flew by just like I remember it did last year. The week was filled with practice, activities and dinners. Practices were fun because we knew there were only three left for the year. Activities were fun because we were enjoying our last times together as a team. Dinners weren't much fun at all because we joined with Amsterdam our opponent. It made for long lines and arguing etc. it wasn't a very good idea but I guess that's part of championship week.
During the week we had a watch ceremony where they gave us all really nice World Bowl watches. Another day we had media day were we took team pictures and they announced league MVP's and the All NFL Europe team. Our QB Ragone was named league offensive MVP and our middle linebacker Rich Scanlon was named league defensive MVP. We also had four of us voted to the All NFLE team, I was one of them.
The game rolled around and as you know it didn't turn out the way we had hoped. It was frustrating because we couldn't do what we had done all season. We were missing two starting tight ends, a starting fullback and our leading running back as well as a couple banged up lineman. We had to completely change up our offensive scheme for the game. It showed, the first half was embarrassing we couldn't do anything until right before halftime we finally moved the ball down the field and I dove in the end zone after a 10 yard completion.
After regrouping at halftime we came out firing and came back from a 27-7 deficit to have a chance to win on the final drive. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. We drove the ball all the way down the field, we just couldn't score. It was just a tough day, if it wasn't a penalty or a dropped ball by us it was a lucky play by them, we just couldn't get a break. We lost 21-27.
It's never easy for me to lose a game but this one really hurt, I wanted it so bad. We had just worked so hard all year long and it would have been one thing that would just really top things off. I guess you can't win them all but I really wish we could have found a way to win. I did play pretty well but as always I could have done better, I finished with a game high 8 catches for 85 yards and one touchdown.
Other than winning the World Bowl, I couldn't have asked for a better season statistically. I finished 1st in the league in receptions, 2nd in yards, 2nd in touchdowns, and one that I am really proud of is 1st in special teams tackles.
The day after the game we drove to Frankfurt and then Monday morning we said are goodbyes and all split up on different flights headed back to the states. It was sad to think that this would be the last time I would ever see some of these guys but I was happy that I had the chance to get to know them. It's not that often that you get to spend so much time with your teammates, we were together basically 24-7 for almost four months. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with meetings, practice, activities, pretty much everything is together. You really get to know one another very well, not just as teammates but as friends.
I flew to Washington DC then on to Charlotte, NC to my team. That night I was brought straight to my hotel to rest. The next morning bright and early at 7am we got physicals, then fitted for our gear, helmets, pants etc. Then at 9am I walked out on the practice field, I was so tired with jet lag but so happy to be out there with the team. I absolutely love it there. The Panthers facilities, coaches and even players were the best I have been around up until now. They just have a really good positive, winning atmosphere that I am anxious to be apart of. The next three days I went to practice and meetings every morning and then lifting in the early afternoon. I got to the team just in time to finish up the last week of summer workouts. Tuesday I went to a team golf outing and Wednesday to team dinner at the stadium. Today, Thursday, I finished practice and headed straight to the airport and now I am in the air and nearly home to Salt Lake City.
I have 42 days until training camp starts in Spartanburg, SC. My body is in great shape but it is tired with lots of nicks and bruises that need a little time to heal. I will probably take a week or so and shut it down next to a pool somewhere to try and heal up my body; after all I just finished a season. I also realize I need to get my body ready for the biggest training camp of my life. In July I will split time training here in the altitude of Utah as well as sand training on the beach in San Diego. I am very excited for the opportunity I have this fall and pray I will make the most of it.
Finally, I just want to take the chance to thank all of you for your support throughout my career and especially this season. Although we lost the championship it was such a good year and a huge must have season for my career. I really feel I made the most of my opportunity in Europe and hope good things will come from it. I wish you all the best, have a great summer, I know I will.
Take care and God bless!
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Journal Entry from NFL Europe in Berlin, Germany
May 30, 2005
This entry covers week 8 on the road in Hamburg and week 9 on the road again in Frankfurt. I actually just got home a few hours ago and am anxious to get some rest, my body is sore and tired but my mind is at ease (at least for now) knowing we won both those games and now are officially in the World Bowl XIII.
day before we left for Hamburg my brothers and I finished up the
last remaining tourist stops on our must visit list. I was impressed
with how much they were able to see in such a short period of
time. Our final trip here in Berlin was to one of my favorite
places to visit, relax and walk around; Potsdam. It's located
about 45 min south west of downtown Berlin. The part of town we
visited was Sanssouchi Park which is about a five mile area filled
with beautiful gardens, ponds, fountains, trees, buildings and
castles. I didn't think a couple big, tough football players would
like it but they were mad I waited until the last day to show
it to them.
The next morning we loaded busses and took off for our game in Hamburg. Upon arriving Jesse took off to find info on the metro system to get us downtown after meals. Meanwhile I took a nap for a little while to rest my legs from all the walking the day before. Afterwards I met with the commentators from FOX who would be broadcasting our game nationwide in America the next day. They asked lots of questions about my mission, my family and my time here in Germany.
After dinner we jumped on the subway and headed downtown. A couple receivers came along with us, Mike Jennings and Terrance Stubbs. Downtown was pretty cool; we were really impressed by their parliament building and the area around it. I came to Hamburg last year when a few of us chipped in and drove up there in a rental car, I don't remember the building being that impressive though. We only had about an hour to walk around but we were able to see some neat buildings and churches. I really liked how they had made white sand beaches along the river that runs through town. Most cities make rivers look like dirty, dark and dreary canals. I left my brothers downtown to explore and the rest of us headed back for night meetings.
day was nice as always, lots of eating and resting. Its one of
my favorite things about playing football, even back to college
I looked forward to game day. It's just a day of such relaxation
and personal meditation building up to the game.
I was impressed with Hamburg's Sea Devils setup and fan base considering this was their first season. I was very pleased with the game and felt as a team we probably played our best all around game up to this point. Offensively QB Dave Ragone was hot and everyone was just clicking. Fortunately, I was able to reach my prediction of scoring another TD. I really wanted to send both of my brother's home with a game TD football. I finished the game with 6 catches for 81 yards and a TD. I had another catch for 32 yards they called back on a bad offensive pass interference call against me.
Unlike other away games, shortly after the game we loaded back up on busses and drove back to Berlin arriving shortly after midnight. Normally we stay the night after the game in the city in which we play but because we aren't far apart we came back.
That night my brothers and I stayed up late into the morning packing their things and talking about brother stuff. Their European vacation was over; I couldn't believe how fast 10 days had past but was so grateful we had spent them together. I had such a good time with them just hanging out laughing and traveling. Most of all I was happy I had played so well both weeks they were here, they brought me good luck.
This last week I was a little worried since they were gone and I wouldn't have them bringing me good luck. During the week I felt pretty tired and it didn't help when my ankle started bothering me a little during the week at practice. We tried to take care of it but with such small numbers of players here in NFLE I couldn't afford to take a days rest.
The weather finally had warmed up over here and it was almost too hot. It sounds weird but out of nowhere it just got hot, real hot. In fact, game day temperature in Frankfurt was 92 degrees; we were used to low 70's. Needless to say the game took a lot out of us.
We arrived there Friday afternoon and as usual I jumped on the subway with a few other guys and went downtown to look around. I was counting and this was actually my 5th time in Frankfurt over the last year, twice to play and three times for flights. My favorite part of Frankfurt is the walk along the river and the huge Flea Market they have there every Saturday and Sunday morning. I was the only one in the group that had been there so I took them to all the places I had already been.
Game day morning I escaped from the hotel in the morning and caught a subway down to the Flea Market along the river. I love those things for some reason, I didn't even buy anything but I just love walking around and seeing what they have and people watching. Game day I always try to find away just to be alone and ponder life, the game etc. I tried to get my haircut but the only place I found they didn't speak enough English for me to feel comfortable, I'm picky. Actually the only other guy on the team with long hair like me was Bret Engemann. The day before we traveled to Frankfurt he was having a bad hair day and let the other two QB's talk him into shaving it off. I pleaded with him not to do it, that it was just a phase he was going through but he went along with it and they cut it off out back of the hotel on the grass. So, I'm the last one with long hair but holding on strong. LOL
game was awesome! It was the largest number of fans that I have
played in front of here in Germany. There were over 40,000 fans
and they were loud! Frankfurt has the largest fan base of all
the NFLE teams and really creates a fun football atmosphere to
play in. They were dedicating their new stadium so they had a
huge concert after the game followed by hot air balloons and fireworks.
It was really cool, unfortunately for them, the game wasn't.
As usual we started out kind of slow but really got rolling. In the first quarter I caught my 9th TD as a Berlin Thunder breaking the All Time Touchdown record set by Jorge Heckenbach over a 6 year span. The second half we had to come from behind and score a couple TD's in the 4th quarter to seal the win. I really got rolling with a couple really great catches. Ragone really took control and picked apart the defense. I finished with the game best 8 catches for 109 yards and a TD.
After the game we sat around and watched the concert all impressed with the show. I got some good footage on both my camera and camcorder as well as the new camcorder I will be carrying around this week. FOX gave me this huge professional camcorder to carry around all week to record a week in my life here in Berlin. I guess they are going to cut it up and make a little halftime special with it this week on national TV against Cologne. It should be interesting!
So, there you have it, your caught up to today Sunday, May 29, 2005. The other games in the league are over and even though we still have one more regular season game this week against Cologne, we are officially going to the World Bowl XIII June 12th vs. Amsterdam. I'm very excited for another chance to win a championship, it was amazing last year. I'm also excited because tomorrow my father arrives here and later on in the week my older brother Jonathan and his wife Sarah get here to support me in my last game here in Berlin.
I hope this Sunday at 10am ET you will all tune in to our game on FOX to cheer us on. Don't forget about the halftime footage! LOL
Have a great week, take care of yourselves and as always God bless.
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Journal Entry from NFL Europe in Berlin, Germany
May 18, 2005
Another two weeks have come and gone, each bringing the team a different result. The first week was a last second lose to Cologne and the second was a comfortable 24-15 win over Rhine Fire. I know 9 points might seem like a close game but after all the last second finishes we have had this season it felt much more comfortable.
We are in week #8 of the season and the time here seems like it's really starting to fly. It's weird because when you first get here days seem like weeks and now it's just the opposite as weeks seem like days. It's already May 18, and we are only left with three more regular season games to decide who makes it to the World Bowl VIII. Right now we are at the top of the league(5-2) along with Cologne (5-2) who beat us last week but we still play them again the last game of the season here in Berlin. This weekend is very important for us though because we travel to Hamburg and play on National TV with a chance to clinch a World Bowl birth with a win.
To recap an exciting last couple of weeks I will start in Cologne where we played a long exciting game in miserable conditions. I knew it was going to be an ugly game from the minute I walked out on the cold, worn out field. It had been raining all day turning the field into a swamp, it didn't help that they had just laid new grass to cover up holes and dirt spots left from a soccer game played there during the week. We had hoped the weather would clear but from the moment we took the field for stretching and warm-ups until the end of the game there was a steady drizzle of rain.
The field turned into a mud bath with in the first quarter which really didn't help our passing game much. We tried to turn to our run game but the O-Line couldn't get their feet set in the mud to run block so we had no choice but to try and throw the soaking wet ball and use our passing game. Our first play of any significance didn't even come until the 2nd quarter when coach let me relive my high school glory days at Millard High with a play called 13 Thunder Pass, which meant I would pass the ball. I lined up on the left side of the formation and on the snap the QB faked a sweep left but instead of pitching it to the RB I take the pitch coming back to the right, like a sweep right. The problem was the QB that series was Provo native and good friend Bret Engemann. He had never repped that play before so it was kind of messed up from the beginning because he faked the hand off the wrong way. The other thing was they blitzed off the edge which left Bret standing there with three guys hanging on him. Somehow he found a way to jump shot the ball over them to me as I ran back across the field to the right. On the run as the D-Line came to crush me I threw the ball off of one foot 51 yards down field to Mike Jennings for a Thunder Touchdown. It was sloppy but it was very exciting!
The 3rd quarter we started clicking offensively and we were able to put up some points. Our offense struggled partly because of the conditions but also because the week before we lost one of our best players in Ben Moa. He was a great friend of mine as well as my younger brothers where they played together at University of Utah. We tried to improvise with new formations, plays etc. but it was tough. Fortunately, I was able to get rolling at WR by pulling in a couple big first downs. On the final drive down by six I caught a nearly intercepted pass one handed and ran up field for a 31 yard gain. It looked like we were driving and going to win but the next 2 passes went incomplete and then on our final play of the game the pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage. It was a tough loss but it seems like we live and die on the last drive of the game. I finished the game with 3 catches for 47 yards and one TD pass for 51 yards, as well as a league leading QB rating of 158.3. LOL
The next couple days we regrouped as a team and we knew we had to get better to reach our goals. Practice this last week was a little more intense and you could tell we were ready as a team to get back to winning. I was especially excited during the week because I knew that my two younger brothers would be here in Berlin for my next game.
Jesse and Jason who play for Utah flew in on Friday after nearly
22 hours of traveling. They had a few connections and a few layovers
on their way here but it was so good to see them. I threw them
on a subway and took them downtown to try and force them to stay
awake to get adjusted to the time change.
Game day rolled around and I was so excited to play for a couple reasons. First, my brothers were there and they hadn't seen me play live since my all star game after college but even then I was hurt and didn't play a lot. At Kentucky they each came to one game but they were different weeks. The last time they were both together to watch a game was all the way back at Snow College. The second reason I was really excited for the game was that I had them get me an iPod and bring it out with them. (Remember how I am on this technology kick lately?) Anyway, I love it; I was pumped for the game.
The game went awesome, other then the first play when I ran the wrong route, I think I had a little too much adrenaline.LOL I knew I had to have a big game because our receiver core was banged up pretty bad. Mike Jennings was out of the game from a concussion from the week before. Terrance Stubbs was about 50% with an aching Achilles tendon. All we had was Hugo Lira the national WR from Mexico and Robert Redd a guy that just flew in a couple days ago. He was with us in camp but cut at the end due to number restrictions. He is really good but he just hadn't been with us for the last 7 weeks and we had little chemistry.
Ragone and I hooked up early and often though. My first and longest catch was a 45 yard catch and run over the middle of the field. Then right before halftime we ran a 2-minute no huddle drill and he kept throwing it to me. I had three catches on that drive, the last of those putting us in field goal range which we made as the half ended.
The second half we slowly took control of the game and didn't look back winning 24-15. I finished the game with my best stats in both years in Berlin, 8 catches for 112 yards and 1 TD. I was named MVP for the game and later named league wide NFL Europe Offensive Player of the Week. I'm so grateful that I was able play so well for my team and my brothers. The only bad thing is I only scored one TD; my brothers are already fighting over who gets the ball. LOL I guess this week in Hamburg I will just have to score another!
The day after the game coach gave us a rare two days off. My bros and I along with a few other players on the team decided to take a trip to Prague. It turned out to be such an amazing unforgettable trip. Cal Murray, Tony Pape, Shannon Snell, my two brothers and myself loaded the train at 9am. We actually had four other guys cancel that morning, they stayed out a little too late after the victory the night before. When they cancelled I knocked on a few doors and found a couple other guys who wanted to take their place. I got Hugo Lira the Mexican WR and Sergei Ivanov the Russian Safety. We got to the train station and had 15 minutes to get some treats for the trip. Those two went together to McDonalds across the street and then missed the train. I guess English being their second language they misunderstood when I told everyone to meet back in 15 min. I didn't know where they went so we had to leave without them. It only got worse for them; they ended up buying a ticket anyway and came on the next train behind us. They got all the way to the Germany border only to be turned back 4 more hours to Berlin because the Russians visa was no good in the Czech Republic.
We arrived there around 3pm and made the most of our time. Last
year when I went to Prague I made the mistake of trying to save
a buck while looking for a hotel. We walked around for like 5hours
asking everywhere trying to find the cheapest hotel and not enjoying
the sites. This year I negotiated with the first guy I talked
to and he met our demands. It turned out great; it was located
right by the famous Charles Bridge and the Old Town district.
Within 45 minutes after getting there we had already dropped off
our stuff and were out taking pictures. The city was just as enchanting
as I remember it from the year before. We absolutely loved it!
This year I had a little more info on the city thanks to some
handy tourist books my sister had bought when she was there. In
the two days we saw pretty much every major tourist attraction
the city had to offer. My bro Jesse is a trooper, he didn't want
to rest, he wanted to see it all. Jason on the other hand preferred
eating and sleeping. Just kidding he had a great time as well,
just with not as much energy as Jesse. The night that we were
there the Czech national hockey team played in a world championship
game against Canada. The downtown was packed with about 10,000
crazy fans cheering their team on to victory near a huge stage
and big screen in the heart of Old Town. After dinner we joined
in there celebration screaming and yelling like we knew what was
going on, it was fun.
The next morning Jesse and I got up early and went on a run around
the city. We went in opposite directions, but it was nice to just
relax and run along the river and through what I think is the
most beautiful city in Europe. That day we exhausted ourselves
walking nearly every square foot of the city. It was so worth
it though we had some great times and got some great pictures
Jesse and Jason will be here all week and then leave the Monday
after the game in Hamburg. I plan on showing them the rest of
Berlin this week as well as some of the surrounding areas. It's
been so much fun with them here even if they do take up a lot
of room and eat a lot of food, we are having a blast!
This week's game is huge, not only is it on national TV in the states on FOX but it also has World Bowl implications. If you have time please cheer us on this weekend. I hope everything is going well and that you make it a great week.
As always, take care and God bless!
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Journal Entry from NFL Europe in Berlin, Germany
May 3, 2005
May is already here and we have reached the half way point of our season. So far things are going very well as we are off to a 4-1 start and first place in the league. Trust me though, it hasn't come easy.
I last wrote after our game three, last second heartbreaking lose to Amsterdam. Since then we traveled to Düsseldorf to play Rhine Fire and then this last week we were home sweet home against Amsterdam again.
The trip to Düsseldorf wasn't bad at all, maybe four hours by train and a short bus ride. This time I brought my laptop and just watched DVD's to pass the time faster. It's funny because it is always a race at the train station to get on the train and sit at one of the table seats because they have power outlets to keep your computer running. Fortunately, being a veteran of NFLE, I have a pretty good system down and have had a table both trips this year. It's pretty entertaining lining up along the train stop not knowing exactly where the entrance to our cabin will end up. They have letters at the stop to let you know the general area where certain cabins will be but it's always a guess where the actual door will pull up to. Five feet off in any direction could easily mean the difference between having power and watching multiple movies or watching 50 minutes worth until the battery dies. If you're traveling with a wife or girlfriend you can pretty much just forget about getting a table because there is no way your going to be able to fight through the chaos of weaving through 50 grown men to get a high priority seat. The first week was an easy catch because the other players didn't know what to expect on the trains and just relaxed socializing as the train approached. Not me! I organized a small group of four other players to each hold there own water spread five feet apart right up next to the stop. It worked beautifully as two of us easily collapsed together blocking out the rest and getting on the train first to save the seats for the others. It's not so easy now though because everyone wants to be first. Anyway, enough of the train strategies talk. LOL
We stayed in a small town called Gelsinkirchen, located about
45 minutes North East of Düsseldorf. We stayed in the same hotel
I stayed at last year during the week of the World Bowl. After
we arrived a few players and myself just walked around the huge
park behind the hotel as well as their little downtown shopping
area. It was great weather that weekend, all the trees and grass
are so green and the flowers so colorful. I really enjoyed just
being outside and relaxing. That weekend in the shopping area
they had a bazaar filled with shopping and food vendors out in
the street. The craziest thing was when I spoke with a guy from
a jewelry booth. He had similar jewelry to the stuff I sell from
Peru. I asked him if he spoke Spanish and when he said he did
I went off in Spanish asking him all about himself and his business
etc. When I asked him where he was from he said Trujillo, Peru.
I couldn't believe it that was where I lived for two years on
my mission. I really impressed him when I asked him what part
and he told me it was actually a smaller city 45 min north of
Trujillo called Casa Grande. I proceeded to name every other little
town around that area having lived in a couple of them. I guess
it's just a small world. The best part was looking at the guys
faces I was with when they heard me go off in Spanish; they didn't
know what was going on!
The game went really well, once again it came down to a last second play but this time it was our defense that made an interception setting up a field goal to win. I had another huge touchdown in that game. It came with about three minutes left in the game from 12 yards out. I caught a post route over the middle of the field. Ragone rifled the ball in between two defenders I caught it with my body and tried to protect myself as I got pancaked by two defenders. I got hit so hard by the front guy under my chin that one of my ear pieces went flying out of my helmet but I was able to hold on to the ball for the TD. I had four catches on the day and it felt good to redeem ourselves a little for the close lose the week before.
The day after the game we traveled home and then Monday was our free day. I made it an Aaron day and just kind of escaped the hotel by myself. Most free days I take some players and I show them around Berlin, like the week before when I took my good friend Ben Moa (played at Utah with my brothers) and his wife and two little boys along with Tony Pape. We went all over downtown seeing different things. It was really a lot of fun even though I had already seen the sites; I was able to get some good photos now that I have a camera this year. This week though I just wanted to see something new and by myself. I studied over my map and found a part of town I hadn't really been to and I jumped on the subway. Spandau is a small suburb city about 40 min west of downtown Berlin by subway. I really liked the town; it's very clean and still has a lot of old buildings. I had a great day walking around just people watching and eating different kinds of food from small shops. The highlight was when I found an 11 century castle just outside town. The Spandau Zitadelle castle is still surrounded by a moat and although much of it has been rebuilt over the years the actual tower part built in 1230 still stands as one of the oldest buildings in Berlin.
This last week game was another thriller. Amsterdam came here to Olympic Stadium and we wanted revenge. The game was a wild one going back and forth the entire game. I really got rolling in the 4th quarter again with a huge catch on 3rd and long over the middle of the field. I made a great move on the safety, I actually juked him so bad he just fell over backwards. I ran right up the middle of the field thinking I was going all the way when the other safety dove at me from behind punching the ball out of my hands. I felt so helpless watching the ball roll across the field. I had gained 47 yards on the play but unfortunately I didn't finish. The good thing was our defense intercepted the ball a few plays later so it was kind of like a punt. Actually, I was really mad at myself because we were still losing by a couple points. I needed revenge, the QB came right back to me though and the next series I had a big first down catch and another catch with a juke on the defender that left him on his butt and me up the sideline for a big gain. We ended up scoring and taking the lead. There were still two min left though and I started having flashbacks of our lose two weeks before when they scored on the final drive. They drove all the way down the field and with the ball on the 5 yard line and only :07 seconds remaining we thought we were done until our DB Jermaine Mays intercepts the pass and runs it back 100 yards for a touchdown and the win. It was an awesome game but once again a little too close for my liking!
Today is our day off and this morning I did my exploring but this
time it was with the entire team. We took a field trip with a
tour guide and sack lunches, it was like elementary school all
over again. We went to some World War II bunkers where they directed
most of the war communication and intelligence. After the war
the Russians took it over and had at one point 40,000 military
men and women stationed there. It's called Nordiengang. It was
pretty interesting even though most of the old German buildings
were destroyed by the Russians they did rebuild much of it when
they decided to move all their soldiers there in the late 40's
and 50's. They constructed a 13 mile cement wall enclosing the
area for their troops. They also continued to use the huge underground
bunker that went some 7 stories below the ground. I walked down
an underground hallway that stretched 360 meters long. It was
pretty neat stuff.
I guess that is about it. This week we play on the road against Cologne Centurions. This is the first time we have played them this season. It should be a very good game they are tied for second place in the league standings so we really need a win. I will keep ya posted, I hope you do the same with me.
Take care, have a great week and God bless!
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Journal Entry from NFL Europe in Berlin, Germany
April 21, 2005
It is Thursday of week four and I am actually on the bus right now traveling back home from
practice. I brought my laptop today figuring I could maximize my time by writing journal entries while on
the road. We actually spend about an hour and a half on the bus to and from practice everyday and rather
then reading or sleeping which I normally do, I will catch everybody up.
The first game was a blowout, the second came down to the wire and the third one was an
emotional rollercoaster . We played Frankfurt Galaxy in week one here in Berlin, we won easily 30-7. It
felt so good to just get out an play and hit people other then your own teammates . It was also exciting to
finally come running out of the tunnel as a starter rather then waiting out on the field for everyone to be
announced. There were about 20,000 fans at the game and as usual they were loud and obnoxious every
time the other team got the ball. I forgot what it was like to have people banging drums, blowing whistles
and air horns during the middle of a play. Our fans are great here and really get into the game even though
I don’t think they all understand everything that is going on out there on the field, they make it fun to be
The second game against the Hamburg Sea Devils was neck and neck pretty much the whole
game. Last years Scottish Claymores organization was moved to Hamburg forming the Sea Devils staff in
a new city. A few of our coaches here in Berlin had actually coached in Scotland two years ago and know
that staff really well so all week we were lectured on how important of a game it was for them to beat their
old coaching buddies. We finally got the ball moving late in the game and were able to set up a field goal
with about a minute left to take the lead. Their offense got the ball back and were driving before one of
our defensive backs stepped in front of a ball and intercepted the pass to seal the game.
It was an exciting week for me as well because my sister Tammy and her husband Tom who live
in Virginia (she’s the one who made the website) came out here to visit and watch a game and travel
around Europe a little. It was very nice to see them, I haven’t seen any friends or family since late
February. Their first day I took them downtown to show them the major sites and teach them how to use
the bus and subway system. They had a great time at the game, although I wasn’t able to score a TD for
them I did have the longest play of the game, a 30 yard catch setting up a field goal. After the game I took
them to the after party and we celebrated with the team. The next day they left on the rest of their trip down to Prague then through southern Germany hitting Munich and many other cities before returning to Berlin
and flying home while I was still in Amsterdam.
Week three was our first game on the road and we traveled to Amsterdam. It was a pain traveling
across Germany first by train for about six hours and then an hour on the bus. Everyone was pretty
exhausted when we finally got there around five in the afternoon. I knew better though then to lose an
opportunity to explore so I grabbed all the other receivers as well as the running backs and we jumped on
the train to go downtown. I would have taken the QB’s also because we used to always hang out but now
they treat us receivers like we are second string. jk. Actually Ragone’s wife, Finlen’s girlfriend and
Engeman’s wife and 7 week old boy Rome all happened to be in town that week so I left them alone with
their girls. Us boys on the other hand headed downtown quick. We voted and decided to test our luck and
not buy train tickets, mostly because I told them I got away with it last year. I was the only one who had
ever been there so I probably should have been the responsible one and just told them they were necessary
but I like to safe a buck too so I figured if we did get checked we would just play the dumb American thing
and see if we could get off cheap.
We got downtown fine and it was great, last year I got there later in the day and it was practically
dark so I really didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. This year I was able to get some amazing
photos of the city including my favorite buildings, churches, canals and streets. Obviously the red light
distract was a hit with the guys, if they had it their way they would probably still be there today starring in
the windows. After a couple hours of walking around we went back to get on the train. The train station is
huge, it was built originally in like 1890 but has been expanded year after year and now some 100,000
people go through there daily. We almost decided to buy tickets this time but ultimately decided to test our
luck again. We nervously sat, hoping not to get checked, the 15 minute ride seemed like it was taking
forever. As we approached our stop I looked up and noticed the ticket man checking tickets at the front of
our cabin, I quickly got up and alerted the other guys to get up and follow me. We quietly shuffled out the
back of the cabin and into the front of the next cabin trying to elude the ticket man. After we got to the
third cabin the trained finally stopped and we exited the train blending in with all the people in the station,
home free. I know we probably should have just bought tickets but the way it works is that if the ticket
man doesn’t ever actually ask you directly, then you don’t have to pay. In other words if you buy a ticket
and he never actually catches up to you to stamp it, then you can keep using the same ticket over and over.
If you get caught on the train without a ticket at all, like we were, then he charges you double. In my mind
I would just take the risk every time and try to outrun the ticket guy everyday, it was actually kind of fun to
get the adrenaline going.
The game the next day was a great game. The lead changed five times during the game but
unfortunately in the end it didn’t end in our favor. I had four catches in the game but none more important
then my last one in the back of the end zone to score my first touchdown of the season. There was about
three minutes left in the game and we needed a TD being down by four points. The QB scrambled out right
avoiding pressure, I was running along the back end zone line trying to catch his eyes. He saw me and
threw a very high fastball that everybody in the stadium including me thought he was just throwing away
out of the back of the end zone it was so high. Somehow, I was able to time my jump right and jump higher
then I think I ever have in my life to barely catch it with the tips of my middle two fingers and then get my
feet down in bounds before I was tackled. I rated the catch #3 of my all time best catches. After the catch I
jumped up and spiked the ball and danced around with the other offensive players like little school boys,
we thought we had won the game. The excitement only lasted a few minutes because after the pursuing
kickoff on the third play our defense got called for a 45 yard pass interference followed by a touchdown
pass to beat us by four points. It was very frustrating to lose a game that as a team we fought and fought
and had thought we had it won.
So here we are now in week four, anxiously waiting to get back on the field and redeem ourselves
in Düsseldorf against the Rheine Fire this Saturday.
This year has been a lot of hard work so far but also a lot of fun, it’s definitely an opportunity I
have been working and praying towards for along time. On the field I am playing more plays then I have
played in a game since junior college at Snow. We only have 4 receivers active and since I know all the
positions and I am also on almost all the special teams I really don’t come out of the game very often,
which always makes the day after the game a sore one.
Off the field I am keeping better use of my time here this year. I actively continue to study
German, read, and see new things. I finally got technological before I came, I splurged and bought a
laptop, digital camera and a digital video camcorder. The laptop has been handy for everything, the camera
I use almost everyday and the camcorder has been great to hide and use on people when we scare and play
pranks on people. Needless to say I am having a lot of fun trying to keep a good balance of my time.
I hope all is well with everybody and hope you have a great weekend, take care and God bless.
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Journal Entry from NFL Europe in Berlin, Germany
March 30, 2005
As you probably can tell from my homepage, things have been pretty crazy the last month of my life. I guess I will pick you up from the first of the year.
I spent New Years in Phoenix at the Fiesta Bowl, proud and happy to cheer on my two younger brothers as they helped their team (Utah Utes) to a Mountain West Championship, BCS Bowl win and undefeated season. It was so awesome to be there with most all of my family and support them. The only bad part about it was it really made me realize how much I missed playing. Since being released by the Bears I had a workout with Carolina but other then that I had just been training, training, training but no action. So during my brothers game I made a decision to do once again whatever it would take to get me back playing.
After a short stop in San Diego and LA visiting friends and family along with a week trip to New Orleans helping my older brother with his business at a Mary Kay convention I really started to dedicate everything trying to get better at football. I put together a crazy workout consisting of 6 day a week workouts complimented with a healthy diet. I decided to try and lose a few pounds to see if I could be a better WR at a lower weight. I went from 215lb to 205lb, a weight I hadn’t played at since my junior college days at Snow. I started doing a lot of new kinds of routines trying to develop different parts of my body. The last year or so I have felt like I reached a wall in my training and I became frustrated. To shake things up I started taking Pilates and Yoga classes two times a week as well a Spin four times a week. I complimented those classes with plyometrics lifting, resistance and over speed running, and lots of basketball, which probably wasn’t very safe but I felt I needed the agility aspects of the sport. Workouts went really well, it was nice to worry just about training again and I was able to get in about 8-10 hours a day.
I just hoped and prayed I would get another shot with an NFL team and then maybe be able to go back over to Europe for another season and prove myself. I spoke with my Berlin coaches from last year and they would be happy to have me back but the problem was I couldn’t go back over unless I was signed by an NFL team. According to my agent it didn’t look too good at the time. I waited it out and by mid February things ended up falling through. I was very upset because I had been working so hard. After the NFL Europe teams had been set I didn’t know what else to do but keep training and hope something would fall through. At first they didn’t, so I called up a couple of AFL teams just to see what the level of play and pay was. I went to Denver and worked out for their team and then the next week in Las Vegas, that’s where things got crazy.
After a morning workout with the team in Las Vegas I was eating lunch when I go a call from my agent, he told me I had 30 minutes to get my things together and get to the airport. Carolina Panthers wanted to sign me and send me straight from Carolina to Tampa Bay to start the NFL Europe season. I jumped at the opportunity even though I only had enough things packed for a few days in Vegas. So after a physical in Charlotte I signed a contract with Carolina and then left to Tampa not yet knowing what NFL Europe team I would end up on. Luckily for me my Berlin coaches found out I had been allocated and had me switched from another team to theirs. I was 3 days late into training camp but so very happy for another chance. I remembered the offense for the most part so I just needed a review and I was good to go.
The next three weeks in Tampa went awesome other then I wore the same clothes almost everyday for two weeks until a package came from home with new clothes and supplies. Practices and scrimmages went great, my body felt so good and conditioned. This year as far as talent and depth I felt WR was probably our strongest position. Last year I was so concerned just about making the team. I actually went over to Europe on practice squad for the first week before being activated by week 2 and then having a good season. This year it was different though I wasn‘t competing just to make the team I was competing for a starting spot. After many practices and scrimmages final cuts were made and for once I wasn’t sweating it out. I knew I had made it!
A few days later the team loaded up a couple of buses and we drove to Miami to catch our flight to Berlin. I have been here a little over a week now and feel very comfortable. It helps so much having a year under your belt and knowing what to expect. I constantly find myself helping out the other guys with different things to make them feel more comfortable here. I know what it was like to not have answers to your questions in a foreign land.
Practices have gone awesome over here and I am very excited for our first game this Saturday. It will be the first time I have been a starter since my college days. Along with receiver I am starting pretty much all the special teams as well. It’s very important that I get experience on special teams because that was the last thing the Panthers said to me was to prove myself on them in order to make their team this fall. My body feels strong and healthy and our team is working hard and very motivated. We have potential to even be better then our last years team. Lets hope, because I want another World Bowl ring!!!!
Wish you all the best, God bless!!!!!!
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