Mike Devlin has a long history as a football man. Before he began his coaching career with Toledo, the Arizona Cardinals and, since 2006, the Jets, he played the game in the trenches: three years with the Bills, four more with the Cards.
Coach Dev has more than a few reminiscences about Cardinals camp at Northern Arizona U. up in the hills of Flagstaff.
“Yeah, there’s been some,” Devlin said. “My last year in Arizona , there was a car accident and offensive linemen Ernest Dye and Lester Holmes were injured. The team really didn’t bring in anybody else on the line that summer. There was eight of us and we went the whole training camp, two-a-days in pads, the whole spiel. That stood out to me, just surviving that.”
Then there was a somewhat strange former Arizona teammate from the 1998 camp.
“One day he’d be reading Tolstoy, the next day he’d be reading the Bible, the next day the Koran,” Devlin said. “I remember us saying, ‘We’ve got to get this guy. He’s out of control.’ But then you eventually learned that’s just how he us.”
That player, of course, was the idealistic young safety, Pat Tillman, who left the NFL for the U.S. Army in 2002 and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan two years later.
But perhaps the most rewarding camp story Devlin had came after what he said was the Cardinals’ equivalent of the Jets’ Green & White Scrimmage.
“I took my series, then I legitimately jumped in the car with my pads on and went down the hill two hours from Flagstaff to Phoenix. I made it on time to see my Hallie born,” he said of his daughter’s birth. “She’s my camp baby. Julie, my wife, will tell the story that once I got down there I fell asleep during the whole thing.”
Mike and Julie are the parents of four and Mike has moved back in as the Jets’ full-time offensive line coach after coaching tight ends and assisting on the OL for several years. He loves life now as a coach but he misses a few of those elements of being a player in the NFL.
“You remember the camaraderie, the time in the locker room before you’ve all got to go out there for the grind, complaining about the coaches and everything else before you go out there,” he said. “That’s what you miss when it’s all said and done, the huddle.”
Now Devlin is helping to huddle up the Jets O-linemen as they all set out to write their own training camp stories at SUNY Cortland beginning this week.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Hallie Devlin, Julie Devlin, Mike Devlin, Pat Tillman
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