POSTED AT 1:51 PM ET, 09/25/2009
Randolph's Big Call
Every year on their birthdays, Dane Randolph and his mother, Angela, pick a goal they hope to accomplish in the ensuing months. It is a kind of New Year's resolution with the twist that unlike most New Year's resolutions, these promises are actually kept.
And so on Sept. 4, 2008, right around the start of his senior football season at the University of Maryland, Randolph made his new birthday vow: to make the roster of an NFL team. This was a somewhat unlikely proposition, given his status as a fringe professional prospect. But nonetheless it became one he met after surviving a May tryout with the Green Bay Packers and lingering on the team's roster through training camp.
Right up until 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2009, his 23rd birthday, when the phone rang in his Green Bay hotel room. Reggie McKenzie, the team's director of football operations, was on the line. Could Dane please drop by his office?
And that's when he knew.
He was being cut.
POSTED AT 10:00 AM ET, 09/ 7/2009
In Search of Another Shot
Now that training camp is over, as well as the preseason games, NFL teams are preparing for their first in-season game. They have to make drastic cuts to the roster so that they remain at 53 players.
To put things in perspective, most teams started with 80 entering into training camp, then reduced the roster to 75 by Sept. 1 and now to 53 on Sept. 5. This means 22 players will be cut by each team, but there is a slight silver lining -- eight of those 22 players could be invited back for a spot on the practice squad.
Practice squad is exactly what it entails. As a player you are there for the team for practices but not active during games. Being on the practice squad does provide some upper movement within the league. If injuries happen to plague a team in your position or you play better throughout the season, you may be able to move to the active roster on your team.
Another way of upper movement is when another team in the league wants to sign a practice squad player, it's required to have the player on its active roster for a minimum of three games.
Now we come to where I fit, at this moment, as an NFL player. On Sept. 5, I was officially put on waivers by the Green Bay Packers. My agent, Josh Stevens, will be making all of the necessary phone calls to the league teams that are interested in signing me.
Although I still have the chance to make the practice squad with the Packers, they have to release me for a period of 24 hours before offering a new contract; this allows all of the teams in the league an equal opportunity to sign me. So you can imagine this is definitely a stressful time for rookie players like myself.
The process of going undrafted and unsigned as a free agent, to making a team from a tryout of 20-plus other athletes and surviving the first mandatory cut of training camp has been encouraging. I've proven myself time and time again that I have what it takes to play in this league.
Now, I need another shot, and I'm sure this one will be much shorter than the last.
POSTED AT 12:09 AM ET, 07/14/2009
No Calls Yet
I've been working a lot recently. Doing a little bit of everything. Personal training, nutrition seminars both private and public, one-on-one and family nutritional counseling, vitamin recomendations, reviews and sales. I'm even going to be working for a friend at a local frozen yogurt place here in town part time.
I haven't heard anything on the football front. We'll see, I could still get a call later this month or early next month. I'm still in decent shape and keeping my weight up.
It's a little difficult at times juggling everything, and it's definately a learning experience.
If anyone is in the Roanoke area, feel free to come out to my seminar this Saturday July 18th at 10 a.m. at New Life Christian Ministries off Airport Road. My Web site, www.JonCopper.com, has more info, or you can e-mail me at HealthSolutionsPromo@gmail.com
Persevering with a flicker . . .
POSTED AT 9:00 AM ET, 06/22/2009
Posted by Dane Randolph:
We have been putting in a lot of hard work while we have been here in Green Bay during OTAs. OTAs officially ended on Thursday, and a three-day minicamp will start today.
As an offensive line, we have progressed with our playbook installs, the understanding of the play, and schemes have gotten easier. It is very noticeable on the field from watching film for most of us as rookies. A few other teams that my teammates from Maryland are on have been finished with their OTAs for over a week now, and others finished this week like us. Only exception is that we have a minicamp, which is going to be a review of everything we installed during OTAs at a faster pace and with two practices each day.
On Saturday some teammates and I were able to go skeet shooting with some great Green Bay Packer fans, the Roffers and Morgan families. A first-time experience for my teammate Dean and I, while our South Dakota-native Jaron was a natural at it. It was a great experience and more fun than I expected. Having lived in several different areas in the world, I pride myself on being able to experience new things, and I'm glad to add skeet shooting to the list.
Check me out and join me on my official fan channel at freewire.com/dane_randolph.
POSTED AT 12:09 AM ET, 06/12/2009
I spoke with my agent the other day. I still have a shot with at least one team should a need come up. There are a couple others that we think would give me some attention if they have a need at linebacker also, so that's encouraging.
With that, I was thinking the other day of whether I play again. A lot of people have specific dreams of accomplishments or vocations that are their most ideal. Like everyone else, I think along those lines some. However, I try to concentrate on being and not doing.
To me, it is irrelevant whether I am a top 2 percent income earner or not, whether I am giving talks on nutrition, or running down a field, or laying pipe. I believe all those things can be done and done well. What is relevant is who I am becoming through whatever I am currently doing. I'm not so much hoping for promotions or opportunities to increase my pay as much as desiring to be a more joyful and humble servant of those around me.
That is something that can be accomplished in any field and has eternal impact on me and the ones I know, whereas accomplishing temporary dreams and goals of certain occupations has little impact beyond this life. Achieving the status of All-Star or CEO or janitor or assistant coach aren't near as important as becoming more like the One who guides my life to those around me, especially those I interact with on a daily basis.
POSTED AT 9:00 AM ET, 06/ 1/2009
I am going into business for myself, doing personal training as well as doing some health and nutrition seminars. I needed to find something that was flexible enough that I could train, as well as leave for a tryout on a day's notice if something were to come up this summer and fall. That knocks out any normal 9 to 5, so I am going into business for myself. The launch will be June 6. You can check out my Web site at www.JonCopper.com.
POSTED AT 10:55 AM ET, 05/29/2009
It is always fun to get back to playing ball again. I've been through two OTAs, and they have been great. The days have been split up to where we lift early in the morning, have iinstallation and review meetings and then go out to the practice field and perform. The biggest difference between OTAs and camp is that we are not in full pads.
The veterans got back earlier this week a day before OTAs started, and it has been fun interacting with them and getting to know them better as co-workers and as people outside of football. I got a limited amount of of team reps during the practices behind the vets, but I feel lucky to be with a group of guys who genuinely want to help out the rookies with plays and learning the offense. I think this is because of the mentality of the program, which is to win the Super Bowl. It carries on as a cycle between the fans, the coaching staff and the players where everyone is willing to do anything it takes to help this team get better prepared to win a Super Bowl.
I really feel lucky to be part of such a great program as the Green Bay Packers. There is so much tradition and hard work put into every aspect of this program that I'm excited everytime I step onto the field.
Per my team motto when I was playing football at Wilde Lake High School: "I love it. I love it. Can't get enough of it."
POSTED AT 12:49 PM ET, 05/28/2009
Working and Serving
For the past two weeks I've been working for a pipe drilling company called Old Dominion Underground. When I didn't get picked up, I needed to get a job pretty quick. A good friend of mine named Tony Talbert, his dad made a call for me, and I was working the next day.
My day starts around 5 a.m. I have to be at work a half hour away at 7. I get up so early because I eat seven times a day, and five of those are on the job, so I have to pack five lunches. I usually get home about 7 p.m., which makes training a little difficult. This past semester I would get up at 9, and training was the center of my day. Recovery is also different because I'm getting about three hours less sleep a night.
We've been working in downtown Richmond. There are lot of needy and broken that walk by and ask for money and cigarettes. After giving away part of my lunch along with a co-worker's cigarette yesterday, I'm going prepared today. Hopefully just as grace is freely and constantly extended to me, at our routine Citgo stop this morning, I bought some things to hand out -- a 24-pack of Aquafina, a box of oatmeal cream pies and a pack of Marlboros.
POSTED AT 9:00 AM ET, 05/22/2009
Catching Up With Old Friends
Posted by Jon Copper:
At Saturday's tryout I saw some old friends. Trey Lewis played safety at Fork Union the year I was there. He had 12 or 13 interceptions that year and went on to have a solid career at Ball State. He is from North Carolina, and this was his second tryout for the CFL.
Another friend of mine was there, Joey Hudson from Miami of Ohio. Joey and I met at Athletes in Action Ultimate Training Camp in 2006. He is a linebacker, so we got to spend a good amount of time catching up during the day. One of the highlights of our conversation was the reality of Paul's words in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 to those under authority in a work environment: "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."
The implications of that are astounding. As I play football, I am to treat every coach and referee as if they had made the greatest sacrifice for my good -- namely their own life. I like to think of the powerful scene at the end of "Saving Private Ryan" where James Ryan is at the grave of Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) begging his wife in his old age to tell him he has lived a good life in light of the five men who gave their lives to save his.
Peter takes this a step further in his letter pleading to submit "not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust." The only way to do that is to realize that I am not sovereign, but He is, and I am not the judge, but He is.
With that knowledge in hand I am free to joyfully yield to others in authority over me even if they are not treating me well, knowing that I am ultimately surrendering to the One who has placed this authority in my life for His purposes and knowing that we both are under the hand of He who will one day make all accounts right.
You can check out Joey's Blog at http://nflhudson.wordpress.com/
POSTED AT 2:36 PM ET, 05/20/2009
Posted by Dane Randolph:
Saturday I drove from Owings Mills to Green Bay. Totaling 15 hours of driving time and over 900 miles, I found myself in what I plan on calling my new home. The drive was not bad; it's comparable to the many trips I used to make from Maryland to Jacksonville and other parts of Florida.
I have been through two days of the Green Bay Packers rookie offseason week. So far, our first two days have been very extensive, working out with the training staff, putting in the offense and doing position drills. From 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. we are at Lambeau Field, where everything is centralized, from meetings, practice, weight lifting, the training room, the dining room, the locker room, and much more.
It's just been the first two days, and I have been doing well physically and mentally. The biggest difference between college and professional football is the pace and speed of literally everything, not just the game play. At this level, meetings are filled with more information than on average and taught at a faster pace.
I can't wait to see how the rest of the week will be, and I'm really excited to see the veterans come back next week.
POSTED AT 12:23 PM ET, 05/18/2009
Posted by Jon Copper:
I went to a tryout for the Canadian Football League Saturday in Charlotte. The team was the Montreal Alouettes. I didn't know what to expect, but it was a really good experience. This was the third tryout they have had in the United States this offseason. There were over 200 guys there from all over -- Florida, Ohio, the Carolinas, even Sweden.
Registration started at 8. Jim Popp, the GM, was the guy handing out and even making extra T-shirts in the back. That was as interesting comparison to the NFL. I have a hard time thinking Parcells or Belichick or Rooney would be down in the equipment room handing out T-shirts at a rookie tryout. Coach Bob Price at U-Va. told me the CFL was great football, just without all the bells and whistles and characters. I think this was one way that proved his point.
The day was good. We ran 40s and pro shuttles and did individual as well as one on one drills. There were two thunderstorms that delayed us about an hour and a half total throughout the day. We finished about three. I left them some game film, and they said they would be in touch with some guys over the next three weeks to bring them into training camp which starts June 1, so we will see.