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ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.

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  • ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.


    By David Fleming
    Comment on this article

    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.

  • #2
    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?

    general counsel


    • #3
      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.


      • #4
        Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.

        Originally posted by general counsel
        A guy a little bit over 200 pounds that benches 531!
        Yeah, but I could take him :tongue:

        Arch is the man :angryram:


        • #5
          Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.

          Originally posted by ArchuletaFan31(David Fleming)
          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."
          That had to be a funny moment.

          Originally posted by Arch
          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.
          I think one feature of the Rams' team that is underplayed is the Safety-tandem of Arch and Aeneas. When both safeties can dart seamlessly between roles like those two can and can anticipate and complement each other, offenses can't be half-stepping through the Rams D regardless how porous the front end has been.

          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.


          • #6
            Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.

            Originally posted by A2
            That had to be a funny moment.
            I read another article not long ago (it was actually more about Plyometrics, but it mentioned Schroeder and Arch). When Arch was about 2 years into his training with Schroeder, Schroeder got upset with his effort during one session. Schroeder told him to leave and never come back. The next day, Arch arrived at the gym and stood, completely silent, in the doorway of Schroeder's office for an entire hour. Schroeder ignored him the whole time until he finally looked up at Arch and simply said, "Let's get to work". Arch hasn't let up on his effort since.
            The more things change, the more they stay the same.


            • #7
              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...


              • #8
                Re: ESPN The Magazine article on Archuleta.

                Originally posted by HUbison
                I read another article not long ago (it was actually more about Plyometrics, but it mentioned Schroeder and Arch).
                I'm pretty sure I read the same thing. I am really rooting for Arch to be "all he can be". Not just because it would reflect well on the Rams but because it could legitimze that training regime. When I 1st heard of the program I was dumbstruck. It seemed to be so sensible. Train muscles to remember how to distribute and absorb impact in ways that mimic actual conditions. Don't just lift 225lbs on the bench but throw it into the air and catch it when you are fatigued ... that is strength. That is the strength one needs at the end of the 4th quarter when its time to shed a blocker and punish an enemy combatant.


                Related Topics


                • ArchuletaFan31
                  Herniated disk affected performance, psyche
                  by ArchuletaFan31
                  Herniated disk affected performance, psyche

                  Given his longtime nickname, Arch, strong safety Adam Archuleta couldn't have handpicked a more fitting NFL city in which to ply his trade. Just a few blocks from the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, after all, the Gateway Arch rises majestically from the banks of the Mississippi River.

                  So, the guy named Arch is playing for the Rams, in the city whose most familiar edifice is architect Eero Saarinen's breathtaking, stainless steel curve. The public relations possibilities are seemingly limitless, right? Even a novice marketing maven could pose Arch at the top of the Arch, in a panoramic shot, and turn it into a successful photo op.

                  Except that in a torturous 2004 season, one in which he could barely bend over to tie his shoes without wincing, Archuleta could hardly, well, arch his back sufficiently to see the observation perch of the 630-foot landmark. The pose most often struck by Archuleta last season, alas, was one in which his hand was reaching for his balky back.

                  And in which he was left, at times, grabbing at air after whiffing on a tackle attempt.

                  'How bad was it?' said Archuleta earlier this week from Los Angeles, where he stopped in for the latest session with Dr. Ed Wagner, his noted back specialist. 'Well, cut me in half, honestly, because I was like half a man last year. It's no secret, with the way that I have always trained, that my body is my business. Well, I'll tell you what, my business just about went bust last year. How's that for bad?'

                  Despite appearing in all 16 games and starting all but two of them, and finishing second on the team with 123 tackles, Archuleta clearly struggled in '04. The 2001 first-round choice, who had established a reputation as one of the NFL's biggest hitters during his first three seasons in the league, was miserable. And, at times, so was his performance, despite his seemingly solid numbers.

                  What was originally thought to be a bulging disk in his back, a problem that surfaced as early as the first regular-season game, was actually a more serious herniated disk. The injury, from which Archuleta didn't gain even a modicum of relief until two late-season cortisone injections marginally eased his pain, dramatically affected his play – and, almost as critical, his psyche.

                  Anyone who knows Archuleta – a former walk-on at Arizona State who starred at weakside linebacker and won Pac-10 defensive player of the year honors as a senior in 2000 – can appreciate to some degree the significance of Archuleta's psyche. A self-made player, whose grueling workout regimen was made legendary in part by feature pieces on ESPN and in ESPN The Magazine, the veteran treats his body like a temple.

                  But with the herniated disk throughout 2004 and a second disk affected to a lesser extent, Archuleta discovered...
                  -06-08-2005, 06:22 PM
                • RamWraith
                  Doesn't sound like Archuleta liked us :-(
                  by RamWraith
                  For Redskins' Archuleta, An Imposing Body of Work

                  The Washington Post
                  By Jason La Canfora
                  June 18, 2006 Adam is a very special individual because he has used all the tools that God gave him The truck rolled down a quiet residential street, while Adam Archuleta clung to a jury-rigged handle affixed to its rear, running for dear life to keep up. Of all the crazy things Archuleta's trainer, Jay Schroeder, had concocted in the name of improving his fitness, this was surely the most bizarre. But Archuleta, then a wide-eyed teenager, went along willingly.

                  These were the early days of the Archuleta-Schroeder relationship. Archuleta was a junior at Chandler High School in Arizona. That he would soon dominate the Pacific-10 as a linebacker at Arizona State, then get drafted 20th overall by the St. Louis Rams, convert to a defensive back and become the highest-paid safety in NFL history when the Washington Redskins signed him in March was unimaginable at the time.

                  To Archuleta, Schroeder and his unconventional tactics provided his best -- if not only -- chance of playing pro football, so he turned over his mind, body and soul to the trainer. No task was refused, no command ignored, even when it came to running 100-yard bursts while clenching a moving automobile for up to a half-mile at a time.

                  "From Day One, Jay has had me do some wild stuff," said Archuleta, who signed a six-year, $30 million contract with Washington. "And from Day One, for whatever reason, I did everything he told me to, when he told me to do it, in the way he told me to do it. There was complete faith and trust in what he was saying, and I don't think there was ever a point where I doubted anything. It was always, 'Okay, cool, whatever I have to do. Sometimes it kind of looks crazy, but let's do it.' "

                  Twelve years after his relationship with Schroeder began, Archuleta, 28, is the newest cog in Redskins assistant head coach Gregg Williams's defense. He is tough, yet unassuming off the field. He has the skills to attack the football, and with the study habits and smarts to master Williams's playbook.

                  One of Williams's sons is a devotee of Archuleta's workout video, "Freak of Training," and spoke about the safety's prowess to his father for years. Archuleta, meantime, was tired of playing for St. Louis, a finesse, offense-oriented franchise, a close friend said. He wanted a new team that stressed defense.

                  "He kind of has a chip on his shoulder coming in here," Williams said. "I love those guys. Those are the kinds of guys that are easy to coach because there's an automatic match for a blend. The mentality that he's been raised on in his offseason program, the toughness of his trainer, and the toughness of paying the price in peace so you don't bleed as much in war, he sees that's already a unified part of our defense, so it was...
                  -06-19-2006, 05:27 AM
                • ArchuletaFan31
                  Fear Adam Archuleta May Not Possess It, But His Opponents Do
                  by ArchuletaFan31

                  Adam Archuleta May Not Possess It, But His Opponents Do

                  By Nick Wagoner
                  Staff Writer

                  Most kids spend their adolescent years learning how to deal with pain. Whether it is the physical kind of pain suffered from falling off a bike or the kind where they must learn about how to deal with the loss of a loved one, important lessons are gleaned from everywhere. Most kids are like that… most.

                  Adam Archuleta was always the exception. Pain is not a word that is in his vocabulary. He was always “that” kid, the kid who would scrape his knee and laugh about it. He wouldn’t let much of anything bother him.

                  He didn’t care much for people in charge and he was always looking to do something to challenge the system. It was just his way. More than that, he could easily shake off any kind of physical pain.

                  Archuleta recalls the time when he was 4 and decided to ride his bike on an icy hill, by no means a safe idea. Of course, Archuleta fell off his bike and by the time he landed, he had his first concussion, the first of many. He wasn’t bothered, though; he simply went to the hospital and got over it. That’s the way he has always been; think outside the box, confront the people with clout and defy common thought.

                  “I was always getting hurt,” Archuleta said. “I was not really afraid of anything. I used to ride my bike down the tall slides. I’d fall off and get bloodied up. I used to jump off the roof. I used to do whatever; it was just kind of how it was when I was a kid.”

                  Based on those qualities you might think Archuleta is simply crazy. Make no mistake, he is one of the most interesting and intelligent players in the NFL, but he couldn’t do what he does on a weekly basis without that kind of mentality. He couldn’t do what he did to get where he is either.

                  Archuleta took his fearless approach to life, applied it to football and became one of the league’s most feared safeties. He will never hesitate to stick his nose in and make contact. In fact, he doesn’t care if he is the one dishing out the pain or receiving it.

                  “Maybe I was just being bred for contact,” Archuleta said. “It could have been somebody’s way of preparing me for the NFL.”

                  That preparation for contact and the sheer enjoyment of the game has always been omnipresent in Archuleta. Never the biggest, the fastest or the strongest, he got by on will. It was that will that took him from walk-on at Arizona State to three-year starter for the Sun Devils. It helped him play linebacker though he was undersized at about 200 pounds for the position. It resulted in 330 tackles.

                  In the end, his desire lifted him from lowly walk-on to the 20th pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He switched from linebacker to strong safety because of his size. But standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 209 pounds, Archuleta still has...
                  -11-17-2004, 02:50 PM
                • RamWraith
                  Archuleta Hoping to Get Back to Form
                  by RamWraith
                  Tuesday, May 17, 2005

                  By Nick Wagoner
                  Staff Writer

                  Adam Archuleta’s back was in such bad shape last season that he couldn’t do simple, everyday tasks. Simple activities such as touching his toes were every bit as difficult as making an open field tackle on a running back.

                  Those struggles led to one of the most difficult years of Archuleta’s young career. In spite of the herniated disc in his back, Archuleta still played in all 16 games, finishing with 123 tackles, a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Still, it was clear that he wasn’t at his best for most of last year.

                  “It was pretty much a nightmare during the season,” Archuleta said. “I really probably had no business being out there, but that's in the past. When you play a whole season and you can't bend over and touch your knees, it's a big deal. Definitely, I'm much, much better off. I couldn't even tie my shoes during the season. If I could get through that, I can get through anything.”

                  The effort to get through the injury has been a difficult process. Archuleta had earned a reputation as a feared hitter with big-play ability during his first three seasons. Whether that reputation was deserved or not, Archuleta was unable to live up to it.

                  Archuleta returned to St. Louis this week for organized team activities, which moved full speed Tuesday. The offseason has been a difficult one, but not nearly as difficult as last season.

                  With a strict regiment of working out and seeing a therapist in Los Angeles almost every weekend, Archuleta is already feeling better.

                  ``Let's put it this way: Compared to where I was during the season, I'm about 6,000 percent better,'' Archuleta said. “All I know is I feel good. I am getting better a lot faster than I normally would have.”

                  Helping Archuleta get better is a team of about four or five people that specialize in something different. Every morning, Archuleta goes and does a workout. After that, the day’s activities depend on which day it is.

                  Some days, Archuleta sees a soft tissue therapist, other days it is a Pilates instructor and still others find Archuleta spending time with a physical therapist. On the weekends, Archuleta has been shuttling from his home in Arizona to Los Angeles to see the back therapist.

                  Archuleta estimates that he is slightly ahead of schedule and credits the therapists in California for helping to speed up the process. Even the one-hour flights from Arizona to Los Angeles would seem to be a hindrance to a bad back, but Archuleta said the positives of the therapy outweigh the negatives.

                  “It’s only an hour flight, it’s like sitting in traffic, so it’s not really a big deal,” Archuleta said.

                  Whether Archuleta was not at his best last season because of the injury or not, he probably should be commended for attempting to...
                  -05-18-2005, 06:13 AM
                • JSherm55
                  Props to Archuleta for finishing his degree
                  by JSherm55
                  Read about Adam Archuleta acting as a student coach for the semester as he finishes his college degree. What an inspiration for the ASU players. A walk on who became conference player of the year and now he's finishing his degree. Awesome.
                  -08-13-2010, 10:56 AM