Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
    RamWraith is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Minnesota
    Age
    44
    Posts
    8,230
    Rep Power
    61

    Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    By Cynthia Hobgood
    USA Football

    St. Louis Rams rookie tackle Jimmy Kennedy grew up fending for himself on the tough streets of Yonkers, his mom worked two jobs, and he was heading down the wrong path when his football coach turned his life around.

    When Kennedy met Coach Tony DeMatteo in 9th grade gym class, Kennedy had been placed in special education classes because he was struggling in school. He was reading at a fifth-grade level. Kennedy had been cut from the 7th grade and 8th grade football teams because he was "too slow and too small," and was in desperate need of a family, not a gang.

    Now Kennedy, 23, proudly stands at 6'4", 320 pounds, sporting a college degree in rehabilitation services with minors in African-American studies and sociology from Penn State University, and plans to work with kids who come from exactly the life he did.

    Kennedy credits DeMatteo, who he considers a father figure, for sending him down the right path away from the gang life and towards a new focus on education and athletics. From encouraging Kennedy to play football and study hard, to making sure he was eating properly, DeMatteo was ever present.

    "He was definitely important. He is the reason I'm here playing in the NFL today," Kennedy said. "My mother worked two jobs and wasn't home a lot. Coach D found out I wasn't eating regular dinners. I'd eat cereal or maybe cook once in a blue moon. So he started taking me to his mother's house up the block, and we'd eat dinner there a couple nights a week."

    DeMatteo is proud of his former player mostly because he graduated in four years with a college degree and a 3.2 GPA.

    "Jimmy Kennedy is very special to me only because he got his degree," DeMatteo said. "He is a perfect example of someone who wants to teach and a person who wants to learn. You put those two together, and you can do anything."

    After working his way out of special education classes and graduating from high school, Kennedy arrived at Penn State. By his own account, he had some catching up to do in terms of academics, but Kennedy was determined to leave Penn State with a college degree. Along comes another mentor; Penn State Coach Joe Paterno's wife.

    "In my first year at Penn State, I had to work extra hard because I felt I was behind," Kennedy said. "Mrs. Paterno tutored me that year. I learned time management, how to balance football with school life, and not to wait until the last minute to study for a test."

    Given his experience, Kennedy believes very strongly that kids need to focus on getting a college degree, no matter how skilled an athlete they are.

    "My motto is football doesn't last forever. God forbid, if something happens and my career is cut short, I have my degree." Kennedy is not done learning; he plans to get a graduate degree and eventually work with troubled youth.

    "My degree is in rehabilitation services, and I want to work with at-risk youth," Kennedy said. "I can really relate to them; kids in inner cities, kids with family problems going through a rough childhood."

    Helping Kennedy was never in question for DeMatteo, who strongly believes it is the duty of coaches and teachers to get involved in the lives of their students.

    "When I was down in Yonkers, I'd say 85 to 90 percent of kids who joined gangs did it because they had no family and no hope," DeMatteo said. "It's our job to be a father figure or big brother. They need someone to lean on."

    Kennedy is getting a chance to try out those learning skills already as he adjusts to life in the NFL. "I'm not going to say NFL play is tough, but it's a huge adjustment," Kennedy said. "The biggest difference is that there is a lot more thinking in the NFL."


  2. #2
    general counsel's Avatar
    general counsel is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    atlanta, georgia
    Age
    52
    Posts
    5,442
    Rep Power
    77

    Re: Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    I continue to contend that THe Big Bear is the key guy to the defense this year. Claiborne #2. Leonard will be Leonard again. Hargroves developement is #3. Kennedy and CLaiborne are the most important aspects of improving our run defense, which lord knows needs to improve if we are going to win.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  3. #3
    HUbison's Avatar
    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kentucky
    Age
    40
    Posts
    13,294
    Rep Power
    142

    Re: Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    I continue to contend that THe Big Bear is the key guy to the defense this year. Claiborne #2. Leonard will be Leonard again. Hargroves developement is #3. Kennedy and CLaiborne are the most important aspects of improving our run defense, which lord knows needs to improve if we are going to win.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    GC, it's just like you said in your discussion of the '85 Bears. A great front line will make a decent back 4 look like a great back 4....that's all we need. And how do you build a pressure cooker of a front line? Well, that reminds of the 2003 draft and Mel Kiper was talking about various defensive players to look at. He was talking about Penn State's DE Michael Haynes who had put up crazy huge sack and tackle numbers in college. Kiper said that Haynes was vastly over-rated and would not perform in the NFL anywhere near his college level. Kiper explained Haynes' enormous stats were not as much because of Haynes talent, but the fact that he shared a line with Jimmy Kennedy. And Kiper was right, Haynes has only 4 sacks in 32 games.

    A healthy and ambitious Kennedy will go a long way towards big numbers for Little and Hargrove...and more importantly give QBs precious little time to complete passing plays which leads to turnovers.

    As you said, Jimmy Kennedy is the #1 single factor to the success of this defense.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  4. #4
    txramsfan's Avatar
    txramsfan is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, MO
    Age
    50
    Posts
    7,266
    Rep Power
    64

    Re: Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    I don't necessarily agree that Kennedy is the #1 reason for success on this defense. I really don't think you can pinpoint one person.

    Now, I do agree that the play of the ENTIRE D line is imperative or #1 reason for success on this defense. The play of Pickett is just as important if not more important than Kennedy because Pickett lines up next to Leonard Little, our best pass rusher. The Rams need Pickett to step up and maybe take some double teams off Little.

  5. #5
    HUbison's Avatar
    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kentucky
    Age
    40
    Posts
    13,294
    Rep Power
    142

    Re: Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    I don't necessarily agree that Kennedy is the #1 reason for success on this defense. I really don't think you can pinpoint one person.

    Now, I do agree that the play of the ENTIRE D line is imperative or #1 reason for success on this defense. The play of Pickett is just as important if not more important than Kennedy because Pickett lines up next to Leonard Little, our best pass rusher. The Rams need Pickett to step up and maybe take some double teams off Little.
    Tx, the DEs line up L/R specific, but don't the DTs line up according to strong/weak? So, Pickett isn't always next to Little.

    And obviously, there's no way a defense can be pinned to the performance of one, not even 10 for that matter, it takes 11. However, IMHO, if there is one person whose performance will have the biggest impact on this defense, it has to be Kennedy. He will draw blockers as well as Pickett and yet athletic enough to create more of a disruption in the backfield. That opens up the DEs to get to the QB, which creates a "target-rich" environment for the secondary and open shots for the LBs.

    If I could have the health of one defender guaranteed for me, I'd have to pick Kennedy.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  6. #6
    txramsfan's Avatar
    txramsfan is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, MO
    Age
    50
    Posts
    7,266
    Rep Power
    64

    Re: Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    Don't agree but that's cool. And no, watch Little. He usually always lines up on the same side.

  7. #7
    HUbison's Avatar
    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kentucky
    Age
    40
    Posts
    13,294
    Rep Power
    142

    Re: Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    Don't agree but that's cool. And no, watch Little. He usually always lines up on the same side.
    Yea, that's what I said. The DEs are L/R specific (ie. Little is always on the Left side, Hargrove is always on the Right side). It's the DTs that shift based on formation.

    And alas, disagreements are the curved surface that keeps this rock a' rollin'.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  8. #8
    HUbison's Avatar
    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kentucky
    Age
    40
    Posts
    13,294
    Rep Power
    142

    Re: Catching Up and Moving Ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    Yea, that's what I said. The DEs are L/R specific (ie. Little is always on the Left side, Hargrove is always on the Right side). It's the DTs that shift based on formation.

    And alas, disagreements are the curved surface that keeps this rock a' rollin'.
    And BTW, may I say, that one of my favorite things about this time of year is that Tx comes out of hibernation to re-join the multitude of posters. Week 1 just around the corner and Tx back in action. It's a great time of year.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •