By Debbie Gregory.
Less than a year ago, Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret, was fighting terrorist in the mountains of Afghanistan. But shortly after the end of the 2015 NFL draft, Boyer signed on with the Seattle Seahawks. And no one was more surprised than Boyer!
Boyer knew, at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, he’d never be drafted. Add in the fact that he is 34 years old – self described as “too old and too slow.” And never mind the fact that high school football wasn’t on his resume. He walked on at the University of Texas in 2009, on a lark, after he enrolled following tours in the Iraq War. Much to his surprise, he made the squad. He spent his first few years at Texas learning the craft of long snapping, eventually earning playing time as a senior in 2014.
Since the end of the college season, Boyer has been in California training for his NFL chance, finishing up a master’s degree and interning at a production company. However, he said the past few months had all been building to Saturday.
“It was pretty much all based around this moment, and this chance,” Boyer said Saturday on the NFL Network. “I don’t even know what to say, it’s so cool.”
Seahawks general manager John Schneider and Coach Pete Carroll called Boyer. They were offering him a contract, a chance to get to training camp. They were offering a path to the league. Schneider said that Boyer not only developed into a good long snapper at Texas, but that he was also the kind of guy Seattle wants to add.
“You fall in love through the process with guys, and giving people opportunities for different reasons, all the way through the draft,” Schneider said. “(Nate) is just a phenomenal person, and he’s a competitor, and he’s tough, and he represents a lot of really, really cool things that quite frankly I think will be good for all of us to be around.”
Boyer is one player on a 90-man roster, trying to survive until it’s cut down to 53 on the eve of the season. Clearly, nothing is guaranteed or even probable at this point. There will not be any celebrations yet. The odds remain long. But Carroll said. “We cherish competitors, we cherish tough guys, we cherish guys that can overcome odds, and he’s done all of that. And he’s done a good job, too — he can snap the football. We’ll see what happens.”
As for Boyer, he knows his story is different and unique, but he said he’s simply excited to get a chance to play in the pros.
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Military Connection: A Different Battlefield: By Debbie Gregory