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Tag:Clark Harris
Posted on: October 29, 2010 7:19 pm
 

5 questions (or more) with Chargers LS Mike Windt

M. Windt was released from Cincinnati in the preseason but recently signed with San Diego (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Mike Windt is lucky No. 5. As in the fifth long-snapper to play this year for the Chargers. First, it was longtime veteran David Binn going on IR. Soon after, James Dearth and Ryan Neill followed Binn to the season-ending list. Lastly, San Diego released Ethan Albright and signed Windt, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Cincinnati. Fresh out of college, Windt staged a position battle with returning Bengals LS Clark Harris, who eventually beat out Windt.

Now, Windt has begun his career in San Diego, and he couldn’t be more pleased.

We spoke to Windt this week about being a rookie free agent who’s out of work, why he never lost confidence in his abilities to play in the league and about how close he came to chucking his football career to become a fire fighter.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Oct. 22:
Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports: You were signed by the Chargers earlier this month. Considering they’ve gone through four other long snappers this year, it must be a quite a relief for you finally to get your chance.

Mike Windt: Yeah, when you get into the season, every special teams coach in the country will tell you the same thing. If somebody goes down, they want somebody experienced to back that person up. That’s what they did. That’s what (San Diego special teams coach Steve) Crosby did. He had Dave (Binn) go down, and he brought in the next best experienced guy. They just kept going through the experience pool. But they gave me an opportunity to come out and work out. I wish they had done it five weeks earlier, but honestly, if it was Week 14 or Week 16, I’d still be really happy.

CBS:
What has the past six or seven weeks been like for you after the Bengals cut you?

Windt:
It’s the most stressful time of your life. The day I got released from Cincinnati, it was not a god day. Getting released from your hometown team, it’s different. It was stressful. I knew the situation I was in. My agent explained it to me. They said after I was cut that it was going to be a couple weeks, because I didn’t have any experience. They told me not to do anything with other situations, get a job anywhere else. There are other football leagues out there, but I just didn’t want to do that. I knew I wanted to play in the NFL for a long, long time. But the only way to do that is to play in the NFL, and you have to keep yourself available. For about six weeks, it was a stressful time, knowing everybody else out there is doing their job. You’re watching every game, and seeing if anybody screws up. You don’t hope the worst for anyone, but it’s kind of hard not to hope somebody screws up.

About two weeks after I got cut, I had a workout. And then I had a workout every week until San Diego. I was actually at another workout when San Diego called to work me out. I had to fly out the next day to work out for San Diego. It kind of happened really fast, but I’m really happy. I came out here and I haven’t left yet.

2. CBS: After talking to you midway through Bengals training camp, I knew you were pretty confident in winning that job that Clark Harris eventually took. Did you think that was your job?

Windt: I was so confident that it was my job. That’s why it was such a hard thing to get released. For some reason, I knew I was going to have that job. In the competition part of it, it was a close match. You saw Clark in the preseason, and he’s gotten so much better from last season through training camp. He’s a great guy. I haven’t got anything against Clark. He’s hilarious. But we’re going after the same job, and there’s going to be some animosity. When it came down to that job in Cincinnati, if you would have asked me in the middle of training camp if I had that job, I would have said yes 100 percent. But they wanted experience.

CBS: They want experience, but how do you get experience if you can’t get into the league in the first place?

Windt: Exactly. Dave has been here 17 years, but he was a rookie at some point, too.

3. CBS: I’ve talked to people before who were rookies who had been cut from their original team. They constantly had to stay ready, because at any point during the season, a team could call you in for a workout and you’d have to be on a plane the next morning. How did you deal with that?

Windt:
It’s a mental rollercoaster, I can say that. When I figured I got in and established myself with the Bengals, everybody said you have to mentally deal with it. At the time, I thought it was the mental part of doing my job – dealing with the pressure and all that. They didn’t mean mental that way. They meant mental if something bad happened in my career, it’s how you bounced back. How was I going to respond to being released from my hometown team? What I did was that I told myself on that first day after I got released that I was going to take my day off. I went and played golf and hung out with some friends. After that, you wait.

You work out every day. I was down at the University of Cincinnati every day and I was working out with my college weight coaches. Every day I’d come in, and they’d say, ‘You hear anything?’ It gets annoying to a point. ‘If I hear something, you’ll hear it too.’ You just work out every day, and at the end of the day, you hope you got a call. Finally, I started getting calls. The good thing about that is that whether you get that job or not, every other team knows you worked out for that team. Your name gets out there.

4. CBS:
Had you lived in Cincinnati all your life?

Windt: Please?

CBS:
Ha, that’s how I know you have lived in Cincinnati all your life. Only the people in Cincinnati say “Please?” when what they mean is “What did you just say?” How is now not living in Cincinnati for the first time ever?

Windt: It all happened so fast, you can’t really explain it. The transition itself was really easy, because of Mike Scifres, our punter, and Nate Kaeding, our kicker. They helped me out with everything I needed. (Former Bengals backup QB) J.T. O’Sullivan was a huge part of it, too. When I got there, I had forgotten that he was out here playing now. He’s lived here for years. He’s been a huge help in helping me get around the city, helping me figure out where to live. Living out here, the weather is awesome. It’s 75 and sunny all the time. It’s a lot different from Cincinnati. Everybody from Cincinnati was calling me yesterday – (Bengals punter and former University of Cincinnati teammate) Kevin Huber and (Bengals TE) Chase Coffman, and they’re asking me what I’m doing. ‘Hey, I’m laying out in the sun by the pool.’ They said, ‘Yeah, we're having tornado warnings out here.’

5. CBS: I’m not sure if we’ve ever talked about this before, but you thought about becoming a fire fighter when you were done with high school. Tell me about that. How far did you get in the process?

Windt: When you go to a high school like I went to in Cincinnati (Elder), you can compare it to Texas high school football. Elder is everything to the West Side (of Cincinnati). If you have a personality like me and you want to get your life started, I didn’t want anything to do with football. I wanted to get a career started and settle down. We won two state championships, and I was like, ‘How much better can it get?’ I went through EMT training. I was going to be an intern for the Cincinnati fire department, and I was in the middle of that whole process. But I just really needed to play football again. So, I got on with the University of Cincinnati and went from there.

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Posted on: July 8, 2010 9:20 pm
 

Cam Cleeland's fate

Cam Cleeland before he retired (Getty) A fascinating read today by Alex Marvez of foxsports.com . It’s another effects-of-multiple-concussions story – in my opinion, there can’t be enough of these types of stories – and he talks to former TE Cam Cleeland.

Since he retired after the 2005 sesaon, he’s suffered through mental fog, bouts of anger, irritability with his children and depression. During his career, he estimated that he suffered at least eight concussions, and he compared playing in the NFL to putting on a bike helmet and running into a concrete wall 40 times a day.

“Fans just see Sundays,” Cleeland told Marvez. “They just see a game, the fun, the millions of dollars, the bling, pretty cars and whatever. We’re paid well. Don’t feel sorry for us. But something is going to be wrong with you after you do this for so many years.”

It’s a really interesting read, so check it out. It also reminded me of a story the Associated Press wrote last year where reporters talked to five players on all 32 teams and asked them to answer a series of questions about their own thoughts and views on concussions. I reported on the Cincinnati Bengals locker room, and I spoke to DE Frostee Rucker, LB Rey Maualuga, LS/TE Clark Harris, LT Andrew Whitworth and QB Jordan Palmer.

None of their quotes made it into the story, but in case you wanted to see what these players had to say, I have the transcription. It’s a longish read, but it’s an interesting one.

Here were the questions I asked:

1. Have you ever sustained a concussion that forced you to miss playing time? If yes, how many and at what level?

2. Do you worry about getting a concussion or not? If so, do you worry about it as much – or more? – than other injuries?

3. Have you ever hidden or downplayed the effects of a concussion?

4. Have you followed the recent developments in the news about concussions and dementia among NFL players, including the recent congressional hearing on the topic? (If so, what are your thoughts?)

5. Do you think the game is significantly safer now than in the past, particularly with regard to the risk of concussions? Or do you think it’s about the same now as it has been? Or is it less safe?


And here were the answers:

Rucker

1. Yes, I had a concussion last preseason, but I didn’t miss a game. It was a minor thing. I got a little dizzy, and that’s about it.

2. No, I really don’t. There are so many other things to worry about. It’s the game of football, and the thing I worry about is making sure I’m in the right spots.

3. No, I can’t say that I have. We’re all aware of it in the locker room, but we know our training staff will take care of it if that ever come up.

4. Yeah, I have. It’s very interesting. You asked me if I’ve hidden things, but some people do hide things. That’s why certain precautions have to be taken. You have to know your business and with life in the NFL, on and off the field. It’s good for everyone to be aware of what’s going on.

5. It’s about the same. We’re still playing a brutal game. Let’s not sugarcoat that at all. Our staff does a good job making sure we have enough air in our helmets and they’re making sure they’re working on safety each game. We do a good job here. I can’t speak for everybody else, but we do a good job here.

Maualuga

1. No, you mean did a concussion made me miss this game or the next game? I’ve had concussions in games, and I wouldn’t know how I got it. I wouldn’t know the play I got it in, but I’d be in there talking gibberish to the other linebackers. Other than that, I never missed any other time. I’ve had four or five in college. I won’t remember anything, but I’ll still be in the game. Or I’ll go out there and talk to the doctor and say, ‘I had a little ding.’ Monday, I’ll do a computer test, and it’d be the same as it was when I did it in camp.

2. It’s something, especially if you play defense, that lingers in the back of your head all the time. We like to be the ones giving the concussions, but sometimes, things happen. The worst thing that could happen would be getting my knees blown out. I worry about that more than I would worry about a concussion.

3. I’ve had one and not told anybody about it. but they’d pretty much know because of the questions I’ll be asking. If I’m supposed to go somewhere and I don’t, they’ll tell me to go and I’ll yell at them, ‘No, you go.’

4. No.

5. I don’t think there’s any difference. Football is football. Football is a contact sport, and everybody is going to be hitting. There has been some safety rules – I don’t know about concussions – as far as the horse-collar tackling and rules on the quarterback and things like that.

Harris

1. No.

2. No, you can’t worry about stuff like that. Maybe sometimes if you get hit in the head, you sit up on the field and worry about it a little bit. But other than that, you can’t worry about getting injured.

3. No.

4. Yeah, it’s hard not to notice the news about how all of that can lead to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It’s something I’ve been following a little bit.

5. Well, I get a new helmet every year, and with all the new technology that comes out, I don’t see how it wouldn’t be safer. I look at the old films with guys playing the old-school style with just the two bars going across their face. I think, with these new helmets, it’s got to be safer.

Whitworth

1. No

2. Yeah, I do. But moreso, I worry about guys who don’t understand what a concussion is. I’m more worried about sustaining a head injury that I don’t realize is a concussion. I really don’t know how guys know for sure. But in this game, the realistic part of it is, especially being a linemen, head injuries and feeling pain with a headache is just natural. That’s more my concern. Not knowing if it’s a concussion.

3. No

4. A lot of guys are more conscious about it. They realize that this is something that can affect them later on. It’s something not a lot of guys understand. On this team, you’ve got Ben (Utecht). Not a lot of guys understood what all went into that and what they can expect down the road. I think we’ve learned a little bit from having a guy on our team that went through that.

5. I think it’s the same. You’ve got guys who are playing for their livelihood and for their families. To say that guys aren’t playing through some kind of concussion … guys play through pain every single week – headaches and all that. You just don’t know if guys are entering the field with headaches or head injuries where, if they take the right hit, it could be severe. You just don’t know.

Palmer

1. Yes, I got knocked out my sophomore year in college out of a game. I tried to run the ball, got dazed a little bit and sat out the rest of the game. I was fine to play the next week.

2. I’ve played three preseason games now and I’ve been hit plenty of times. I haven’t really thought about it. If I played more, I don’t think I would think about it much.

3. I think when you get dazed a little bit, you never think you have one. That’s when the doctors come over and say that you do. I think that’s part of it. But I’ve never lied and said, ‘No, no, I didn’t have one last week” when I actually did.

4. I haven’t followed it much.

5. I think it’s the same. In the NFL, I have state of the art cleats and shoulder pads and stuff. But I wear the exact same helmet I wore in Pop Warner. Now, there are other helmets available to me. It’s not the NFL or the Bengals fault, but I wear the same Riddell, filled-up-with-air deal that I wore when I was a kid. It hasn’t changed that much. But then I see Andre Caldwell, who looks like he’s wearing a lacrosse helmet.


--Josh Katzowitz

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com