Of course, there where countless highs that came with achieving my dreams and playing in the National Football League. Though this site is in no way just about the highlights of my life, I am in no way bragging. I thought it would be pleasant during this hiatus from football to reminisce about my successes. In my second year in the NFL I found myself on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The hardships that brought me to Tampa will be for a later post, but I can say prior to this my self-esteem was the lowest it’s ever been. The first couple weeks of the season had gone by with me on the Buccaneers’ practice squad, doing more work than any other player below half the pay. Due to an unfortunate injury to a teammate and my promising work on the field, I was promoted to the active roster, I finally got a chance to play. In dramatic fashion, it would be a home game against the blazing hot Seattle Seahawks, led by Russell Wilson. Now me and Russell go way back, I played against him when he was with the Wisconsin Badgers, and I’m not proud of it, but he made a mockery of me and my Boilermakers. Wilson, a quarterback and I a defensive end, we are natural born enemies. My job is essentially to stop him from doing his. This was time for revenge!. The game went along as any good NFL game does… down to the wire. Russell had been using his feet to extend plays, but our defensive front was smacking him down every chance we got. I had got a few hits and pressures, but nothing would make me happier then to sack the “Elusive Russell Wilson”. Our offense had put us up by a touchdown, Jamies Winston was playing a solid game. Winston was limiting turnovers and feeding his top target Mike Evans. Mike got a touchdown on the notorious Richard Sherman and the trash talk that ensued was historic. With less than two minutes on the clock, and Russell Wilson taking to ball in attempt to score, we needed a game winning stop.
The pressure was on and our home stadium was electrifying. Everyone had done their part and now it was our turn. I had the honor of playing beside the future Hall of Fame Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy and on 3rd and long for the game he looked at me and called a “Tex stunt”. Now the stunt is very simple to imagine, the tackle blast up the field occupying the guard and essentially the offensive tackle while the outside end loops around for a free hit. With Gerald’s reputation for being wildly disruptive, when he blasted upfield the linemen suspected nothing. (I hope for those of you with some general football knowledge, that this isn’t that hard to follow.) I came around on the stunt pretty much untouched and slammed Russell Wilson to the ground to end the biggest game of our season. That win kept a six-game winning streak alive and set us up for the best season Tampa had in years. I received a game ball from the head coach after that game and it’s still something I cherish to this day.