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Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 50 of 55 OCT. 7, 2019 51 IRISH IN THE PROS BY ANDREW MENTOCK J osh Adams started five games for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 and emerged as the team's main run- ning back option once Jay Ajayi tore his ACL in early October. In his small playing window, he led the team in rushing yards (511) and yards per carry (4.3). Overall, Adams' numbers weren't spectacular — his yards-per-carry av- erage ranked 29th amongst all NFL running backs in 2018 — but as a rookie, he proved that he was ser- viceable in the backfield and looked like he would have a productive ca- reer in the league. But right after the Eagles' divi- sional playoff loss to the New Or- leans Saints, Adams had surgery on a torn labrum that sidelined him for six months. This caused him to miss the Eagles offseason conditioning pro- gram that started in April. At the end of the preseason in 2019, Adams was cut by the Eagles and then picked up by the New York Jets for their practice squad. Adams' young career illustrates why, perhaps more than any other American professional sport, the NFL is a fickle line of work. Outside of star players who earn large guar- anteed contracts, the livelihood of each player is on the line during ev- ery game and practice. One injury or one offseason surgery can put them behind the competitive curve and ul- timately lead to practice squad duty or another occupation altogether. Another Jets player, Matthias Far- ley, started for the Colts in 2017 and was still released by the team during this preseason. The ease and willingness of NFL teams to waive players can create a roller coaster of sorts for them. After a productive preseason, for- mer Irish wide receiver TJ Jones was released by the New York Giants before week one, re-signed the fol- lowing week — and ended up with three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown, while he also returned a punt for 60 yards, in the team's 28-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Mike Golic, the former Notre Dame defensive lineman and current ESPN Radio host, spent nine years in the NFL and played for the Houston Oil- ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins. While nine years may be a long career by NFL standards, it still ended unexpectedly. Per a recent article from Business Insider, Golic suffered a partially torn knee ligament early in the 1993 sea- son while he was with the Dolphins. Knowing how much an injury would impact his career, he fought through the pain the entire season and waited until the offseason to have surgery. Knowing he needed to get back to playing as soon as possible, Golic decided he wanted to try to practice just three months later in April, the same month that the team drafted two defensive tackles. "I was still recovering from the knee surgery and training and such," Golic said on his radio show in 2016. "I wanted to give mini-camp a good test for my knee. It wasn't 100 per- cent [healthy] by any chance. So, I was in talking to the team trainer about my knee. I said, 'Listen, it is not really 100 percent, but I want to go out here and I want to try to see what it can do during mini-camp.' "He said, 'Well, if you are going to go out there, you need to sign this piece of paper that says your knee is fine and you are going to go prac- tice.' I did because I wanted to go out there and practice." The remaining $650,000 of his con- tract wasn't guaranteed, but the Dol- phins also couldn't cut Golic if he were injured. With Golic signing that piece of paper so he could try to be a member of the team, the Dolphins had what they needed to release him even if he weren't technically healthy. "So I sign the piece of paper, open the door and there was somebody standing right there," Golic said on his show, pointing in front of him. "I couldn't even leave the room, and he said, 'The general manager wants to see you.' And I am like, 'You've got to be kidding me.'" Professional football players put up with a lot — a demanding sched- ule, consistent pain and public scru- tiny. Often the argument for why this is okay is that the players are well compensated. But in reality, many of them aren't and they have poor job security. So while they're being idolized for a big hit or scoring a touchdown, it's also important to remember and ap- preciate that they're giving their all, even when an injury or an unpro- ductive week could bring their time playing football to an end. ✦ Former Irish Players Learn About Fickle Nature Of The NFL Despite playing in 14 games as a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles and leading the team in rushing with 511 yards last season, running back Josh Adams was a casualty of the team's final roster cuts prior to the start of the 2019 season. PHOTO COURTESY PHILADELPHIA EAGLES NOTRE DAME IN THE NFL: WEEK THREE HIGHLIGHTS • Will Fuller (Played at Notre Dame from 2013-15), WR, Houston Texans: Snagged five receptions on seven targets for 51 yards in the 2-1 Texans' 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. • Romeo Okwara (2012-15), DE, Detroit Lions: Compiled five tackles in the 2-0-1 Lions' 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles … Pro Football Focus graded him as the Lions' best player on the defensive side of the ball with a 77.9 overall. • Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cow- boys: Registered a game-high 10 tackles (eight solo) and forced a fumble in the 3-0 Cowboys' 31-6 victory over Miami … Tied for ninth in the NFL in tackles with 27.

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