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    Cris Collinsworth

    Former Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals and Emmy-winning analyst from Sunday Night Football and Inside the NFL.
    Dave Lapham
    Has called game for the Bengals radio network for 25 years. Analyst for Big 12 games on Fox Sports Net. Played 10 years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals.
    Turk Schonert
    NFL quarterback for 10 years with the Bengals and Falcons. Has served as quarterback coach for the Buccaneers, Bills, Panthers, Giants and Saints and Offensive Coordinator for the Bills.
    Phil McConkey
    Played 6 years in the NFL as a WR, punt returner and kick returner for the Giants, Packers, Cardinals and Chargers. Played college football at the Naval Academy and served in the U.S. Navy before joining the NFL. Best remembered for his oustanding game in Super Bowl XXI.
    Josina Anderson
    Josina "JoJo" Anderson is contributing reporter on Showtime's Inside the NFL and is a weekend co-anchor/reporter/producer for FOX 31 Sports in Denver, Colorado. Josina produces the nightly sportscasts and covers the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and the Colorado Rockies.
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  • You Just Made The Team, But Don't Relax!

    There is a great sense of euphoria when a young guy makes an NFL roster coming out of training camp. All of the anxiety that goes with being a question mark, suddenly vanishes. "I made it"! It's a great accomplishment and a dream come true for many.

    But don't get too comfortable. Don't loose that "free agent" mentality. You're one play away from being placed on waivers, one injury at another position from being replaced. To no fault of your own, the team may need a roster spot because they like someone else who was dropped from another team, just a little more than they like you.

    There is nothing permanent in the NFL, especially for the guys at the bottom of the roster. That's why every day, every practice, every play, should be treated as if it's your last in the league. That "chip" on your shoulder should NEVER go away. The tenacity and ultra competitiveness that got you noticed in the first place, needs to be maintained. You need to keep that "free agent" mentality throughout your career, and NEVER relax. In fact, you should have "free agent" stamped on your forehead as a reminder.

    Just this week, after the final cuts, the Buffalo News ran an article on WR Ruvell Martin. Signed by the Bills just recently, he was lauded as a great find, a big play who would help on special teams. According to the News, he had finally found a home in the NFL and was praised by head coach Chan Gailey.

    But that very same day that Ruvell had "made it", he was placed on waivers when the Bills claimed OT Sam Young from the Cowboys. Now, there is nothing Ruvell did, or didn't do, in that short time to cause his release. He was just a victim of circumstances beyond his control.

    His emotions must have been on a roller coaster and I hope he finds a team that needs him soon.

    It's just an example of life in the NFL for the "fringe" guys. You can't ever relax.

    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Phil, yet another excellent article. "Fringe" guys don't get any run on any of the networks, so I love the fact that you're going out of your way to represent them, and everything they endure to try and achieve their dream.

      Yet another example of perspective you just can't find anywhere else on the interwebs.
    1. Darren83's Avatar
      Phil,

      Great to be with you for another season.

      In regards to the Bills and "fringe" guys, figured you'd mention a local product (like yourself)...Naaman Roosevelt, who was injured in the preseason and a logjam at WR. Teams work is a major factor for the guys on the fringe and Roosevelt lacked the speed and toughness in that area. But he has the makings of a solid possession receiver.

      Didn't make the 53, did not sign to the practice squad initially, but did later this week, to the approval of Bills fans who love a local product made good. I expect him to be the first receiver activated in the event of injury. "Caught everything" was the description from training camp and the first 2 preseason games prior to getting hurt. This was a continuation from the rookie season in '10: appeared in 6 games, 9 Rec. for 139 yds. with at least a few of those 3rd down conversions, as I recall.

      2011 Bills receiving corps is a no-name bunch, but Naaman Roosevelt will make a name for himself soon enough.
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      I always feel bad for those cut-after-the-final-cut guys. "you made it, you made it, you made it, you didn't make it". I guess if there's an upside it's that every time someone gets cut, someone else just got a job. And teacher says every time a bell rings ...
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      Keaton Kristick was one of these guys on the 49ers. On Saturday he tweeted that he made it. On Sunday the 49ers claimed Tolzien off of waivers and cut Kristick.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Yeah, I too feel sorry guys cut after a week. Must be a kick in the nuts to think you've made it, then to realize it didn't mean anything.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      Total nut punch to be told you've earned an opportunity to realize your dreams, only to have it ripped away. Hopefully everything works out for these guys.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      A perfect example of a fringe player "never losing the chip on his shoulder" is James "the silverback" Harrison. We cut him twice, the ravens cut him once before he finally stuck with us and prompted us to cut a multi pro bowler, in joey porter. Smart move. Harrison has not disappointed since. However his eternal chip has parlayed itself into tons of fines, and tons of idiotic statements made in front of a Mic. He's made it! He's a star... Take jay-z's advice and brush your shoulder off! Stay aggressive, just don't try prove every play you belong..
    1. Phil McConkey's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Darren83 View Post
      Phil,

      Great to be with you for another season.

      In regards to the Bills and "fringe" guys, figured you'd mention a local product (like yourself)...Naaman Roosevelt, who was injured in the preseason and a logjam at WR. Teams work is a major factor for the guys on the fringe and Roosevelt lacked the speed and toughness in that area. But he has the makings of a solid possession receiver.

      Didn't make the 53, did not sign to the practice squad initially, but did later this week, to the approval of Bills fans who love a local product made good. I expect him to be the first receiver activated in the event of injury. "Caught everything" was the description from training camp and the first 2 preseason games prior to getting hurt. This was a continuation from the rookie season in '10: appeared in 6 games, 9 Rec. for 139 yds. with at least a few of those 3rd down conversions, as I recall.

      2011 Bills receiving corps is a no-name bunch, but Naaman Roosevelt will make a name for himself soon enough.
      There's a lot of young talent at the WR position for the Bills. I'm curious to see who will step up, but I really love the potential of Marcus Easley. At this point though, it's just that, potential. All of the young guys have shown flashes, Donald Jones, David Nelson, and Naaman Roosevelt.

      The Bills were criticized for trading Lee Evans, a guy I love, but he would have been a free agent after the season and they would have lost him anyway. This way, they can let others develop. Speaking of Evans, I think he'll have a big year for the Ravens.
    1. Phil McConkey's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mikesteelnation1 View Post
      A perfect example of a fringe player "never losing the chip on his shoulder" is James "the silverback" Harrison. We cut him twice, the ravens cut him once before he finally stuck with us and prompted us to cut a multi pro bowler, in joey porter. Smart move. Harrison has not disappointed since. However his eternal chip has parlayed itself into tons of fines, and tons of idiotic statements made in front of a Mic. He's made it! He's a star... Take jay-z's advice and brush your shoulder off! Stay aggressive, just don't try prove every play you belong..
      You don't have to be a free agent to have the 'free agent' mentality. A great example is Jerry Rice. He was a first round draft pick, Super Bowl hero, and future HOF'er. But he never thought he was good enough. That drove him to work harder than anyone else and strive to be better. Even after he established himself as one of the greatest players ever, he still had that 'free agent ' mentality. Amazing.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      I was a 3rd round pick in '74 with the Bengals. Darryl White was also an All-American guard at Nebraska and was drafted in the 4th round. We had a battle all of camp to make the final roster. I made it. I was euphoric that day in my first NFL practice getting ready for a regular season game. My feet were barely touching the ground. I was husting the whole day, giving it everything I had. At the end of practice my line coach Bill "Tiger" Johnson kept me out for more work. Just Tiger and myself. He made me hit the 7 man sled by myself. He made me pull around cones and hit dummies forever. It lasted for about 1/2 hour. My tongue was dragging. Then he said, "if I ever see you loaf through another practice like you did today I'll cut your ass. Just because you made the final cut doesn't mean I can't cut you tomorrow or any day I feel like it rookie." My head was spinning. Huge reality check. He did me a huge favor. Never take anything for granted in the NFL. Later in my career when we formed a bond I asked Tiger if my practice that day was that bad. He said no that it was excellent but he felt like he needed to test my will and to also send the the message to not take my foot of the gas ever in my NFL career or I would regret it. Lesson learned believe me.
    1. Phil McConkey's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lapham View Post
      I was a 3rd round pick in '74 with the Bengals. Darryl White was also an All-American guard at Nebraska and was drafted in the 4th round. We had a battle all of camp to make the final roster. I made it. I was euphoric that day in my first NFL practice getting ready for a regular season game. My feet were barely touching the ground. I was husting the whole day, giving it everything I had. At the end of practice my line coach Bill "Tiger" Johnson kept me out for more work. Just Tiger and myself. He made me hit the 7 man sled by myself. He made me pull around cones and hit dummies forever. It lasted for about 1/2 hour. My tongue was dragging. Then he said, "if I ever see you loaf through another practice like you did today I'll cut your ass. Just because you made the final cut doesn't mean I can't cut you tomorrow or any day I feel like it rookie." My head was spinning. Huge reality check. He did me a huge favor. Never take anything for granted in the NFL. Later in my career when we formed a bond I asked Tiger if my practice that day was that bad. He said no that it was excellent but he felt like he needed to test my will and to also send the the message to not take my foot of the gas ever in my NFL career or I would regret it. Lesson learned believe me.
      Dave, great story. The most successful coaches have that ability to get the most out of their players. That was also Parcells' MO, in his eyes, you were never good enough, with maybe one exception, Lawrence Taylor.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lapham View Post
      I was a 3rd round pick in '74 with the Bengals. Darryl White was also an All-American guard at Nebraska and was drafted in the 4th round. We had a battle all of camp to make the final roster. I made it. I was euphoric that day in my first NFL practice getting ready for a regular season game. My feet were barely touching the ground. I was husting the whole day, giving it everything I had. At the end of practice my line coach Bill "Tiger" Johnson kept me out for more work. Just Tiger and myself. He made me hit the 7 man sled by myself. He made me pull around cones and hit dummies forever. It lasted for about 1/2 hour. My tongue was dragging. Then he said, "if I ever see you loaf through another practice like you did today I'll cut your ass. Just because you made the final cut doesn't mean I can't cut you tomorrow or any day I feel like it rookie." My head was spinning. Huge reality check. He did me a huge favor. Never take anything for granted in the NFL. Later in my career when we formed a bond I asked Tiger if my practice that day was that bad. He said no that it was excellent but he felt like he needed to test my will and to also send the the message to not take my foot of the gas ever in my NFL career or I would regret it. Lesson learned believe me.
      Yet another great story.

      Seriously, you guys should write a book consisting of all your stories and experiences. Would be a fantastic read.
    1. buzmeg's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Phil McConkey View Post
      Dave, great story. The most successful coaches have that ability to get the most out of their players. That was also Parcells' MO, in his eyes, you were never good enough, with maybe one exception, Lawrence Taylor.
      I'm guessing that LT was the exception to all the rules, because he was good enough, particularly in Parcells' eyes.

      Phil, give us some juicy LT stories.
    1. Phil McConkey's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by buzmeg View Post
      I'm guessing that LT was the exception to all the rules, because he was good enough, particularly in Parcells' eyes.

      Phil, give us some juicy LT stories.
      Oh, do I have some. But most are not fit for print! There is one G-rated one I can share:

      Lawrence's father was a Redskins fan as they lived in Newport News, VA. That was one team you could always expect a little extra from the great LB. He terrorized them and they use to spend a good portion of training camp figuring out how to stop him. Before one game vs. the 'Skins, he walks into the locker room and says, "OK fellas, let see what I can do on 8 hours of sleep"! He had three sacks that day.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lapham View Post
      I was a 3rd round pick in '74 with the Bengals. Darryl White was also an All-American guard at Nebraska and was drafted in the 4th round. We had a battle all of camp to make the final roster. I made it. I was euphoric that day in my first NFL practice getting ready for a regular season game. My feet were barely touching the ground. I was husting the whole day, giving it everything I had. At the end of practice my line coach Bill "Tiger" Johnson kept me out for more work. Just Tiger and myself. He made me hit the 7 man sled by myself. He made me pull around cones and hit dummies forever. It lasted for about 1/2 hour. My tongue was dragging. Then he said, "if I ever see you loaf through another practice like you did today I'll cut your ass. Just because you made the final cut doesn't mean I can't cut you tomorrow or any day I feel like it rookie." My head was spinning. Huge reality check. He did me a huge favor. Never take anything for granted in the NFL. Later in my career when we formed a bond I asked Tiger if my practice that day was that bad. He said no that it was excellent but he felt like he needed to test my will and to also send the the message to not take my foot of the gas ever in my NFL career or I would regret it. Lesson learned believe me.
      Another great story. Thanks!
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Great Points Phil.

      I like Cris' attitude that he always played and did TV like he could be fired any moment. I think the best way to keep a job is by having a mental edge. When guys like Ray Lewis can keep playin for so long, they have a mental advantage and their mind is focused. Having the tangibles is Good, but it needs a match with mental preparations and nimbleness. Mind games are constant in the NFL. Ask Bill Belichick about his Injury Report.