Life on the NFL bubble: Some extras
A few extra nuggets from my story in today’s paper on life on the bubble of the NFL roster:
* DE James Ruffin had a shot on the Bucs’ roster in 2010 and came back four years later. Here’s how much turnover there’s been since then: “I think the only familiar face I see out here is Gerald (McCoy) and (Demar) Dotson,” Ruffin said. “To just come out here, be able to see these guys again and be able to play with them again is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
The hardest part for Ruffin: “Just being at the bottom of the totem pole. I was every time I’ve been in the NFL. Going to arena (ball), being at the bottom of the totem pole and working your way up to start all over again.”
Ruffin said he told himself he’d play football until he’s 31 years old. If it’s not in the NFL, then he’ll keep trying in arena ball or the CFL.
* DE Ryne Giddins (a USF/Armwood product) said he never stopped working toward the NFL, even after the Bucs didn’t sign him following his rookie tryout. He spent the time fasting, praying and calling teams every day.
“My job was getting in shape,” Giddins said. “My Plan B was my Plan A. That was being in the NFL.”
* QB Mike Kafka went to the finest university in the world (my alma mater, Northwestern). So why is he still here, on his fourth team since the 2010 draft?
“I love football,” Kafka said. “I’m willing to have those things happen, knowing that there’s a bigger prize at the end of it.”
* There’s also an interesting dynamic in the locker room. The cliché is that football is the ultimate team game, but this time of year, you’re competing with the guy next to you for one of only 53 spots on the roster.
“That’s one thing I love about this game, the camaraderie you get, the brotherhood,” OT J.B. Shugarts said. “Sometimes it is tough, going from team to team, because you might come close to some guys, and then you might not be there the next week.”
That camaraderie shows up, even during competition. If Shugarts sees someone next to him doing something wrong, he’ll step in and offer friendly advice. They’re competing, but they’re still teammates.
“I’m going to help myself, but I’m not going to do it at someone else’s expense,” Shugarts said. “I’m going to help somebody just as much as guys have helped me in the past. By me helping them, I hope they’ll help somebody else – kind of like paying it forward.”