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-09-02-2004 #1ArchuletaFan31 Guest
ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.
By David Fleming
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On a balmy spring day in 1907, in an olive orchard north of Athens, 14-year-old Anastasios Chomokos set down his plow and walked off his family's farm for the last time. According to family lore, Anastasios did not tell a soul or pack a thing. He marched straight from the fields to the local port, where he stowed away on a freighter bound for the U.S. With his dreams far exceeding a life in the fields already laid out for him, Anastasios wanted to travel. See the world. See America. "Impossible," his parents had told him. Less than a month later, his ship arrived in New York.
As a young man, Chomokos found his way to Green River, Wyo., where he married and worked as a machinist for the railroad. He doted on his two children, and on his children's children, who called their grandfather Papou. One in particular reminded Anastasios of himself as a young boy. Adam Archuleta inherited his grandfather's chiseled chin, steely eyes and contentious spirit. "Dad loved to argue, and it didn't matter one bit to him whether he was right or wrong," says Anastasios' daughter, Vange Archuleta. "Adam is like Dad's twin. He has the same conviction. You can't tell him anything. You have to prove it."
As with Papou, who died at 96 in 1989, the attitude has served Archuleta well. First, during his unlikely voyage from skinny walk-on at Arizona State to first-round pick of the Rams in the 2001 draft. And now, more important, as the prototype for the NFL's new Ideal Man, the player who comes with 20 tools and, like the hip, new Swiss Army knives, a 64-megabyte memory stick. "I don't want to be a normal boring safety," says the 26-year-old Archuleta. "I want to be an all-around defensive threat."
The kind who can cover like a corner (Archuleta runs a 4.37 40), hit like a linebacker (bench press: 531 pounds) and, on consecutive plays, shoot up field on a blitz (five sacks in 2003), then backpedal 40 yards to knock down a pass (eight breakups last season). "We're talking about wild-card guys these days," says Sam Mills, Carolina's linebackers coach. "Big, fast, physical players who do it all. And when you talk about that kind of player, Arch is one of the first who comes to mind."
Archuleta's ability to switch positions – sometimes in the middle of a play – allows the Rams to be aggressive on defense because, really, they can't guess wrong. They can blanket-cover on passing downs with extra DBs, secure in the knowledge that if the offense tries a sweep, Archuleta can morph into a run-stuffing linebacker. And should he crash the box before the snap to support the run, only to sense a play-action fake, he can backpedal into position as a corner or deep-ball traffic cop. For opposing offenses, it's like having to game-plan against extra defenders. Safeties are often a quarterback's pre-snap visual key, so imagine the frustration – and tactical edge for St. Louis – when a guy like Matt Hasselbeck gets under center unsure if Archuleta is playing linebacker, safety or corner. Is he going to blitz? Will he roll deep after the snap and close a lane? Will he pick up a receiver coming out of the backfield. His guess is as good as yours – which means not very.
Last September, against the *****, Archuleta spent most of the game covering Terrell Owens. He knocked down two passes and limited Owens to 42 yards on five catches in a 27-24 Rams win. In a December win against the run-happy Bengals, Archuleta worked as a fourth linebacker in the box. He led the Rams with eight tackles as they held Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson to 67 combined rushing yards. For good measure, he picked off one Jon Kitna throw and knocked down two others. "I don't want to be backpedaling away from the action all safe and clean," Archuleta says. "I want to get nasty and dirty, mix things up."
He says this while sipping a cappuccino in the desperately trendy James Hotel near his off-season home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He walked in wearing jeans, flip-flops, a skin-tight T-shirt and a backward Yankees hat, looking like Slim Shady's younger brother. Archuleta has always been that fearless kid who couldn't pass on a dare. When he was just 4, he'd jump off the roof of his garage onto the grass. At 7, he rode his bike down a playground slide. Nothing seemed to faze him. Not the time his mom forced him to watch Halloween to teach him what fear feels like. Not when his parents divorced when he was 8. And not his mom's decision soon after to move Adam and his older sister, Stacie, 870 miles south to the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. During a middle school field trip to Disneyland, an impatient Archuleta jumped off a moving tram and bolted to the next station. "Spent six hours in Disney jail for that one," he says.
Fearlessness is how a skinny, 172-pound high school linebacker ignored by recruiters walked on at Arizona State. Archuleta redshirted his freshman year, spending all his free time in the gym bulking up. He'd read a story in a fitness magazine by a local trainer, Jay Schroeder, who specializes in something called plyometrics, which focuses on building muscles through exercises that absorb force, such as catching dumbbells. Schroeder's workouts are intricate and, at times, look frightening. Often, they include an electric stimulation session that leaves the muscles twitching involuntarily. "It feels like a pipe is being driven three feet up your butt," Schroeder says. "Then the training begins."
Archuleta, desperate to bulk up, visited Schroeder's Mesa gym and told him, "I want to play in the NFL." Schroeder, a silver-haired man with a meaty neck and cannons for arms, took one look at the wispy Archuleta and said, "Impossible. We don't train girls."
Magic words. Archuleta pestered Schroeder enough that the trainer gave him a home-based workout program. But he wouldn't let Archuleta in the gym for six months. Then, once Archuleta was allowed inside, Schroeder broke down his techniques, making him relearn the proper form for exercises as simple as the bench press. Schroeder is such a stickler that once, during a particularly brutal workout a couple of years into their relationship, Archuleta pushed up 495 pounds repeatedly for 20 minutes before Schroeder let a solitary finger pop up out of his clenched fist. "That's one," he said. Archuleta just grinned and lay back down on the bench for more. It's hard to argue with Schroeder's results. In four years, Archuleta had doubled his bench to 520 pounds. And the trainer's constant references to "achieving genetic potential" and "developing a body like a robot" became mantras for his dedicated student.
Most professional athletes play the game as if they've been chosen. Archuleta plays the game as if he chose it. He has remarkable powers of conviction and focus. Making it to the NFL was the most arduous and inconceivable thing he could imagine doing, so that's what he decided to do. Had he wanted to be an astronaut, there is little doubt he'd now be talking about a trip to Mars instead of Jacksonville for Super Bowl XXXIX.
Five years after Archuleta stepped into Schroeder's lab, the scrappy little devil was a three-year starter at linebacker for Arizona State, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. At the 2001 NFL combine, a chiseled six-foot, 210-pound Archuleta left scouts twitching in their Sans-A-Belt slacks when he bench-pressed 225 pounds 31 times. At the same combine, 335-pound defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, the future Panthers Pro Bowler, managed 33.
Archuleta moved to safety as a rookie, starting 12 games during the regular season plus the Rams' three postseason games. He collected seven tackles in Super Bowl XXXVI, and the next season led St. Louis with 149 tackles, the most by a defensive back since the club started keeping such stats in 1962. That season, Archuleta also started against Seattle at weakside linebacker, an experiment that had then-defensive coordinator Lovie Smith pestering the DB to make a full-time switch. But there was no need; he was already there in spirit. "Don't call me a safety, don't try to tell me what I am," Archuleta says. "I'm going to find a way to break the mold. I want to become a prototype, a pioneer. I don't know exactly what yet, but it's coming, something's coming."
Some would say it's already arrived. Last November against the Ravens, after sitting out three weeks with a sprained ankle, Archuleta notched five tackles, one sack, two passes defensed and a forced fumble that he returned 45 yards for a TD. The way he morphed effortlessly between roles – from safety to corner, from a blitzing threat to a centerfielder – it looked like the Rams (who won 32-22) actually had 12 players on D. "At times," says Mike Martz, "he's one of the more dominant players in the league."
And at others, he's still that daydreaming kid, hanging out at his mom's house. Archuleta drives a Ferrari and owns a 6,000-square-foot home, but he's most comfortable on Vange's brown cloth couch beneath black-and-white photos of Anastasios. He pets his pudgy rottweiler, Jade, and recalls stories from three generations of Chomokoses. A stowaway Papou. A single mom who moved herself and her two kids to Arizona. An older sister who started out as a receptionist for an eye doctor and became an optometrist. A scrawny, unwanted kid from the desert who turned the job title of safety into one of the most dangerous positions in football.
Impossible? Don't even say it.
This article appears in the Sept. 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
-09-02-2004 #2general counsel Guest
Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.
A guy a little bit over 200 pounds that benches 531! That is strength that rivals the mighty Dez on the bench press. I wonder how many reps he can do?
More importantly, do you think that means he can lift orlando pace and his fat ass if The Big Man could be laid across the bar?
Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.
Well, Pace actually weighs well over 500 pounds (if you count Carl Poston, who resides in his back pocket).
Nice article about AA. He is a fun player to watch.
-09-02-2004 #4DJRamFan Guest
Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.Originally Posted by general counsel
Arch is the man :angryram:
Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.Originally Posted by ArchuletaFan31(David Fleming)
Originally Posted by Arch
Hard to say how much time Williams has left, but there could be a lot of hurtin' still to be dispensed before Arch and Aeneas go their separate ways. Just thinkin' of Arch decapitating an unsuspecting receiver in the short north and having Willams take the ball out of mid air and head back in the other direction leaves me with shivers.
Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.Originally Posted by A2
Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.
Arch's story is a book in the making. I can't wait to read it after he has accomplished his goals...This space for rent...
-09-02-2004 #8afrightertoo Guest
Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.Originally Posted by HUbison
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