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  • Injury knocks Wohlabaugh off center stage

    Injury knocks Wohlabaugh off center stage

    8/20/2004 By JERRY SULLIVAN

    Dave Wohlabaugh knew it was coming when he arrived at the St. Louis Rams' practice site Wednesday morning. In fact, he felt an odd sense of relief. His hip had been slow to recover from offseason surgery. He had failed a physical, and it would be at least three months before he could consider playing again.

    He had played nine years in the NFL, all of it as a starting center, which was beyond his wildest imaginings as a kid growing up in Hamburg. Financially, he was set for life. His whole career had been a gift, a blessing. Getting cut would be an invitation to become a full-time father and to get on with his real life.

    "I was kind of looking forward to it," Wohlabaugh said Thursday by phone from St. Louis. "But when you get released, reality sets in really quick."

    Getting cut by the Rams wasn't as easy as he'd expected. It's seldom easy when an NFL player reaches the end, when he comes face to face with his athletic mortality. It's painful. You get cut and the little boy inside you does the bleeding.

    "It was tough," Wohlabaugh said, "because it's something I've done since I was 7 years old. To walk away, it's tough. It's emotional. At some point, everybody says they hate camp, they hate a lot of things about football. But you love playing the game. It's hard when you know it won't be there anymore, that it's over."

    Wohlabaugh is fairly certain it's over. He had surgery March 5 for a torn labrum muscle in his right hip. Five months later, it's still too painful for him to play. The bones at the hip rub together when he gets into a lineman's stance. The doctors told him surgery wouldn't make it better.

    His only option was to rest and see if the hip got stronger. There were no guarantees. Even if he did come back, it's unlikely he would be the same player.

    "It would be hard to come back and not at the same level, especially at my age," he said. "Teams might not be too enticed by a 32-year-old with hip problems."

    He was choking up over the phone. He has been a football player for 25 years. He was a star at Frontier, but not a kid you'd imagine becoming a millionaire athlete. He didn't start until his junior year at Syracuse, where he majored in political science. When New England drafted him in the fourth round in 1995, he thought he'd get cut before training camp.

    During his rookie camp, Bill Parcells threatened to cut him every other day. Wohlabaugh didn't dress for the first five games. He started the sixth and went on to play 136 games in the NFL, every one as a starter. Last year, he started every game for the Rams, several with a broken hand.

    He became a very solid center, a notch short of the Pro Bowl. He was a quiet guy off the field and a wild man on it. He was tough and smart, a plugger and a survivor, a Buffalo guy to the core. He wasn't huge by modern standards (6-foot-3, 300 pounds), but his heart was the biggest part of him.

    Maybe that's why his release affected him so deeply. Football ignited the competitor within him. It's hard to accept that you'll never again feel the rush of a packed NFL stadium on Sunday afternoon.

    "You can't reproduce it," he said. "I don't think anything in my life can ever replace that. It's a funny thing about my life. I'm extremely competitive about football, and I love doing it. But off the field, I'm not like some guys; when they play their kids in basketball, they're blocking shots."

    Wohlabaugh said he'll miss football, but he's excited about the chance to spend more time with his family in Richfield, Ohio. He and his wife, Virginia, have three boys: Evan, 9; Jack, 6; and David Jr., 15 months.

    He looks forward to watching the kids grow up, being a dad, visiting his parents in Hamburg. He got a seven-year, $26.3 million contract from the Browns five years ago. He can afford to kick back and contemplate his next move. "Fortunately for me," he said, "I was blessed."

    e-mail: [email protected]

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • MauiRam
    Hay's Journey Just Beginning ..
    by MauiRam
    By Nick Wagoner

    At this weekend’s rookie minicamp, offensive lineman Michael Hay will be one of 39 bright-eyed youngsters hoping to make a strong first impression on the Rams’ coaching staff. The 38 others might want to be on the football field as much as Hay but none will need it more.

    Where the road diverges, Hay doesn’t see football as just a sport or an opportunity to play a game he loves. For him, it’s so much more.

    “This game saved my life,” Hay says with an air of absolute certainty.

    Like his rookie classmates, Hay loves football. The field represents a bit of a sanctuary, 100 yards of green solitude where the trials and tribulations of a bumpy past can be forgotten.

    Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse last week after starting every game at tackle for the Orange the past two years, Hay comes to the Rams with big dreams and every possible motivation to get his foot in the NFL door.

    It was only about five years ago that those dreams were almost dashed in an instant, gone with the swipe of a knife in a fistfight that spun wildly out of control. Hay had been stabbed in his chest, just below his left arm, cut through the rib cage and diaphragm, leaving a collapsed lung in its wake.

    As Hay was rushed to the hospital and headed to surgery, his thoughts turned quickly to the game he loves. With mother Maria and father Arthur in tow, Hay looked up at the attending surgeon and asked what the damage would be in terms of his football hopes.

    The answer wasn’t what he’d wanted to hear.

    “I had camp two weeks later and I told the surgeon that I have to be ready, I’ve got to get to camp,” Hay said. “He gave me a look, kind of smirked at me like ‘What is this kid thinking about right now?’ He told me ‘Honestly, I don’t know if you will ever play the game again.’ And I broke down in tears, looked at my mom and dad and said ‘I’m going to show him, I’m going to get back out there.’”

    Hay grew up in a supportive family in College Point, New York, an industrial part of Queens, with two working parents doing all they can to provide for the family. There, he learned the importance of hard work from his father who was a construction worker in the city.

    Bigger than most kids his age, Hay became a force on a very talented Holy Cross High football team in Flushing. At 6’5, 283 pounds, Hay was one of the top linemen on one of the best teams in the city. He drew plenty of interest to play at the college level but none from any major Division I schools as he’d hoped.

    Instead, Hay decided to attend Division II C.W. Post in Long Island. During the summer of 2007, between the end of his high school career and the start of his college career, what he calls an ongoing war of “he said, she said” began to boil over.

    “It was to a point where we confronted each other in person...
    -05-11-2012, 10:21 PM
  • MauiRam
    Good story ... and apparently the Rams are interested ...
    by MauiRam
    ESPN.com: Page 2

    Friday, April 27, 2007
    Updated: May 1, 6:16 PM ET
    Glasper learns the hard lessons of football

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    By Alan Grant
    Special to Page 2

    There's a difference between pain and injury. Pain is fleeting. Even in various degrees of discomfort, it's possible to function at a very high level of competency. Any athlete knows this. But injury is lasting. Injury has the power to rob us of our dreams. Injury makes us mortal.

    Boston College safety Ryan Glasper, who went undrafted this weekend, knows pain. It's the kind of pain that accompanies many citizens of New Britain, Conn., or "Hard-Hittin' New Britain," as it's called. The city of 70,000, once a thriving factory town, is now known for its housing projects. As a kid, Glasper was innately rambunctious, engaging in activities like jumping off the second floor of a house onto a mattress. His mother, Brenda, suggested football was a great way to deal with his reckless sensibility. This proved a great solution. He was a natural at running into things.

    The family had what he calls financial difficulties.

    "I didn't really know it at the time," he says. "I was a happy kid. But looking back on it in retrospect, I can see we had it hard."

    When it became evident Brenda could no longer provide a home, Glasper's Pop Warner football coach contacted Jude Kelly, the football coach at Southington (Conn.) High School. He and Glasper's mother determined that the best thing for the young man was a change of address and a school district that offered him better opportunity for growth.

    Glasper moved into the Kelly residence and once classes began, so did the pain. There were only about five black kids in the school. His wardrobe was typical inner-city: Roca Wear, worn in a baggy style.


    After playing through a hip injury as a senior, Glasper went undrafted.

    "I wasn't wearing Abercrombie and Fitch," Glasper says. "I stood out, so they called me a thug."

    In the first week, one white student called Glasper the n-word.

    This led to a violent retort, the first of many. By the time that first semester ended, Glasper had been labeled a problem.

    "Let's just say I was written up a few times," Glasper says.

    He was something of a problem at home, too. Kelly was Catholic and attending mass was a regular habit for members of the Kelly household. But Glasper wanted no part of it, so he resisted the way any adolescent resists.

    "I used to call him Pope Kelly because he went to church so much," Glasper says. "If communion started at 11:40, I would argue with him until 11:35."

    But it takes just one...
    -05-02-2007, 11:17 AM
  • MauiRam
    Possible sleeper in the late rds??
    by MauiRam
    School of hard knocks
    Injuries, adversity have made Ducks' Colvin stronger
    Posted: Friday March 14, 2008 9:35AM; Updated: Friday March 14, 2008 3:00PM

    Speedy receiver Cameron Colvin showed flashes of brilliance in his career at Oregon and hopes to impress NFL types at the Ducks' Pro Day next week.
    Icon SMI

    By Stewart Mandel, SI.com

    Like a lot of college seniors, Oregon's Cameron Colvin has a job interview next Thursday. In fact, he'll be auditioning for multiple employers on the same day. Like most of those peers, Colvin would really like to ace his interview. In fact, he's spent the past several months preparing for it. Unlike the typical college senior, however, Colvin has to ace this interview. It may be his one and only chance to enter the profession of his choosing.

    If things had worked out as planned for the former Ducks receiver, there would not be so much riding on this singular performance at his school's 2008 Pro Day, where he will run, lift, catch passes and perform other assorted drills in front of the watchful eyes of NFL personnel men. Like a Chris Long or Darren McFadden the audition would barely affect his draft status.

    Colvin, however, was not even among the 330-plus players invited to last month's NFL Scouting Combine. The Web site NFLDraftCountdown.com lists him 61st among receiver prospects. TFY Draft analyst (and SI.com contributor) Tony Pauline puts it bluntly: "He's not going to get drafted."

    Oh, and did we mention Colvin is still recovering from a broken ankle suffered last October?

    If any of this has dissuaded the cheery, soft-spoken 22-year-old Pittsburg, Calif., native from pursuing his NFL dreams, he hasn't shown it. If so, he would not have spent the past two months shuttling back and forth between Eugene, where he is in the midst of completing a degree in political science, and Florida, where he trains with a former Olympic gold-medalist.

    "I'm one of the most motivated people on the planet," said Colvin. "A lot of people go through their whole lives not knowing what they want to do. I've always known I was born to be an NFL receiver."

    When you've endured as many personal tragedies and setbacks as Colvin, the thought of disproving an entire league full of skeptics probably seems like a walk in the park.

    *****

    Over the past decade, football fans have become increasingly obsessed with two rituals that take place away from the gridiron: National Signing Day and the NFL Draft. Colvin's once-certain rise to stardom dovetailed somewhere between the former and the latter.

    Four years ago, the De La Salle (Calif.) receiver was such a hot commodity that his Signing-Day press conference was broadcast live on SportsCenter. With his godfather and mentor, Jay Lightner, by his side, Colvin...
    -03-15-2008, 02:47 PM
  • RamDez
    Rams' small linebacker hopes to make it big
    by RamDez
    Rams' small linebacker hopes to make it big
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Jun. 10 2005

    Overdue for something positive to happen in his football career, Louis Ayeni
    isn't dismissing his chances of making the Rams' roster.

    "I've seen it all, done it all and been through it all," Ayeni said, laughing.
    "So nothing surprises me anymore."

    Signed June 2 as a free agent, Ayeni is listed at 5 feet 11, 213 pounds, No. 59
    and a linebacker. A 213-pound NFL linebacker?

    "I just think they want me to make plays," Ayeni said. "I don't really see it
    as me being a linebacker or a safety. They just want to get me out there
    hitting people and helping the team out the best that I can."

    Linebacker is yet another new spot for Ayeni (pronounced eye-YEH-nee), who
    started out in 1999 as a running back at Northwestern but later was moved to
    wide receiver and then safety. But Ayeni, 24, has had to endure far more than a
    succession of position changes.

    The first jolt came in his junior year at Woodbury (Minn.) High School, when
    one of his teammates died suddenly. "That was really rough on me," said Ayeni,
    who nonethless came back the next season and piled up more than 2,000 rushing
    yards.

    He turned down offers from Nebraska of the Big 12 Conference, and Iowa,
    Michigan, and Wisconsin of the Big Ten to go to Northwestern. He liked the
    academics there, plus the opportunity to play right away.

    "I had a lot of high expectations in college," Ayeni said. "I backed up a great
    running back, (current Arizona Cardinal) Damien Anderson, as a freshman. Then
    after that, it started going downhill."

    Shortly after the season, Wildcats coach Gary Barnett left for Colorado. Ayeni
    and roommate Chris Brown - now a running back with the Tennessee Titans -
    discussed following Barnett, but decided to stay and play for new Northwestern
    coach Randy Walker.

    Before the 2000 season began, Brown changed his mind and transferred to
    Colorado. Ayeni stayed at Northwestern, and Walker asked him to switch to
    wideout. The idea was to get him and Anderson in the lineup together.

    But that notion was scuttled when a succession of injuries began. A stress
    fracture in his hip kept Ayeni sidelined for the first half of the year, and
    his season ended with a far more serious injury. While returning a punt at the
    Alamo Bowl, he broke a bone in his lower leg and shredded three tendons in his
    ankle.

    During the year that Ayeni spent recovering - he missed the entire 2001 season
    - another teammate and close friend died unexpectedly. Safety Rashidi Wheeler
    collapsed at a summer...
    -06-11-2005, 03:51 AM
  • RamsFanSam
    A Message to those who think McCollum's too old:
    by RamsFanSam
    Linebacker, 59, to Play College Ball


    Email this Story

    Aug 22, 4:40 PM (ET)

    By JAIME ARON




    ALPINE, Texas (AP) - Mike Flynt was drinking beer and swapping stories with some old football buddies a few months ago when he brought up the biggest regret of his life: Getting kicked off the college team before his senior year.

    So, one of his pals said, why not do something about it?

    Most 59-year-olds would have laughed. Flynt's only concern was if he was eligible.

    Finding out he was, Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1.


    Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he's a grandfather and a card-carrying member of AARP. He's eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates.

    "I think it was Carl Yastrzemski who used to say, 'How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?' I'd be in my late 20s or early 30s, because that's how I feel," said Flynt, who has made a living out of physical fitness. "That's been my approach to this whole thing. I feel that good. I'm just going to find out if I can perform and make a contribution to the team."

    A longtime strength and conditioning coach at Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M, he's spent the last several years selling the Powerbase training system he invented. Clients include school systems and the military. His colorful life story includes being the son of a Battle of the Bulge survivor and having dabbled in gold mines and oil wells - successfully.

    Flynt's life was supposed to be slowing down this fall. With his youngest child starting at the University of Tennessee, he and Eileen, his wife of 35 years, are planning to take advantage of being empty-nesters for the first time.

    Instead, they've moved to this remote patch of West Texas so Flynt can mend an old wound and, he hopes, inspire others.

    He became emotional discussing his goal of "helping a bunch of young men to make up for those guys that I let down." Then he laughed about the reality that fellow Baby Boomers are getting the most out of his comeback.

    "People are kind of in awe. They keep comparing me to themselves and where they are physically," he said. "If I can help anyone out by what I'm doing, then it's all worth it."

    Flynt's position is still being determined, but he used to play linebacker. Wherever he lines up, he'll likely become the oldest player in college football history. Neither the NCAA or NAIA keeps such a statistic, but research hasn't turned up anyone older than...
    -08-22-2007, 04:50 PM
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