+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 26
  1. #1
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    100,533

    CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    "He has the kind of personal story that happens to rank-and-file NFL players so
    often it's easy to overlook the toll they go through sight unseen. Their sagas
    make the agate type, not big headlines. But put yourself in linebacker Chase Blackburn's place for just a minute.
    Consider how the longest long shot on this long shot Giants team got back to the
    Super Bowl.






    He's only 28 years old, and he has a wife and two infant sons back home. He
    was the Giants' special-teams captain, a man well-liked throughout the locker
    room for his team-first attitude, sharp grasp of game plans and ability to step
    in as a spot starter and impeccably make all the right defensive calls. He was
    with the Giants for six good years. Then last summer's NFL lockout ended and all
    of a sudden he wasn't.



    There was no announcement. No big stir. No formal explanation given for why
    the Giants let him walk as a free agent. "And I still haven't asked," he
    admitted.








    Like a lot of unsung players, Blackburn just slipped off the radar. He was
    gone like a wisp of smoke. Three other NFL teams -- the St. Louis Rams,
    Cincinnati
    Bengals
    and Detroit Lions --
    all brought him in for workouts in subsequent weeks, but they didn't sign him,
    either. He was at a crossroads, and he knew it. But this is the part of being a
    professional athlete that often goes unnoticed, too: Success is more often
    explained by what you do when nobody's looking.








    Do you know what Blackburn did as he waited and waited back home in Dublin,
    Ohio?








    When the Giants went to training camp without him, Blackburn was still
    lifting and working out by himself. Every day. And when the regular season began
    and injuries began to stack up across the league and he was still without a job,
    Blackburn would sit on the sofa each Sunday watching NFL games and literally
    call out the defensive signals when the Giants' games happened to be on TV --
    predicting to his wife, Megan, what was going to happen next, what this guy
    could've done or where that guy should've been.








    Even when their second son, Bentley, was born three months ago, Blackburn
    just adjusted his schedule if Bentley or his brother Landyn, now just 17 months,
    were having a bad day or refused to sleep through the night or his wife needed
    help. Sometimes it would be 10 or 11 p.m. before Blackburn could get to Avery
    Park near his house, but he always still went and did his pass drops and
    footwork drills in the dark. Still always by himself.








    Blackburn didn't have an NFL job but he still thought like a pro athlete. His
    mindset didn't change. He was all the things -- dedicated, persevering,
    hard-minded and tough -- that jocks always talk about being. He controlled what
    he could control. Slammed the door on personal doubts and anxieties as best he
    could. Flushed disappointments as quickly as they came.





    But Blackburn stresses he's a husband and father, too. And he also had enough
    humility when he was still out of work by October to be open-minded when a
    former youth coach of his who's now a middle school principal approached him
    after he gave a little talk to the kids at his school. He asked Blackburn if
    he'd be interested in taking a temporary job as an eighth-grade math teacher,
    filling in as a permanent sub for a woman due to go on maternity leave.








    "It wasn't anything that was said and done, but we were going through the
    steps," Blackburn said.








    "We kinda said, 'OK, maybe, we need a job. We need to support our kids. This
    is good for now,'" Megan said. "But honestly, we didn't think it was the end. It
    was hard for me to see him go to those other tryouts and then come back home
    disappointed. I was the one who found it nerve-wracking. But seeing how positive
    Chase was helped me stay positive, too."








    Blackburn was still that guy who had a reputation among the Giants for trying
    to do everything right. He kept in touch with numerous players, especially close
    buddies like Dave Tollefson and Zak DeOssie, Lawrence Tynes and Justin Tuck. And it mattered that they acted
    the way athletes often do, sight unseen, too. The other Giants privately rallied
    around Blackburn and supported him, texting with him week after week, telling
    him he wasn't forgotten, urging him: "Keep your head up, you'll be somewhere.
    You should be somewhere. You still have years left in you."








    "That belief meant a lot," Blackburn admitted.








    Why Blackburn initially fell through the cracks with the Giants seems simple
    when you look at it: The team drafted three linebackers in the offseason with
    nice upsides, management already knew what he was and planned to start veterans
    Clint Sintim and Jonathan Goff alongside Michael Boley this year. Then Sintim and Goff
    both suffered season-ending injuries. But instead of bringing back Blackburn
    right away, the Giants at first tried plugging in rookies Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich.








    The Giants even got by during their 6-2 start. But the defense was still
    having numerous breakdowns for big plays and the Giants were staring at a
    murderous stretch run, which began with an upset win in New England, followed by
    a very, very bad 49-24 dismantling by the New Orleans
    Saints
    that the Blackburns watched on "Monday Night Football."



    A game against then-unbeaten Green Bay lay just six days ahead. Chase was in
    the basement at home, playing with Landyn on the floor. Megan was sitting on the
    couch, looking on, when Chase's cell phone rang beside her.








    "Do you want to answer it?" she asked.








    "Nah, don't worry about it, it's just the Giants," Chase joked.








    But the phone kept ringing. So Chase asked Megan to toss it to him. And when
    he looked at the number he said, "It IS the Giants!"








    She still thought he was joking -- until she overheard the conversation.








    Kevin Abrams, a Giants assistant general manager, asked Blackburn, "Are you
    in shape?"








    "Yep," Blackburn said.








    "Then let's go -- there's a flight in two hours," Abrams said.








    Blackburn hung up and told his wife, "I have practice tomorrow!" He scrambled
    up the steps to pack a bag. He texted that middle school principal and told him
    thanks, but that eighth-grade teaching job would have to wait. The Blackburns
    got one of Chase's buddies to drive their car to New Jersey and Megan and the
    boys flew there a couple of days later. They're living now in a rented furnished
    apartment not far from MetLife Stadium. And their NFL life has begun --
    again.








    Blackburn might have even slipped back into the Giants' roster as quietly as
    he left if in his first game back he hadn't intercepted Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- one of the few picks Rodgers
    gave up all season -- and set up a 12-yard Giants touchdown drive. And then
    later, in the NFC divisional playoff, picked up a fumble and rumbled 40 yards to
    the Packers' 4-yard line before Rodgers, well … um … caught him.








    "Rodgers didn't catch me -- he was in front of me the whole time!" Blackburn
    protested with half-shriek and a broad smile Thursday, drawing a lot of laughs
    from the reporters at his locker.








    "Jordy Nelson [one of Green Bay's fleet
    receivers] caught me. But he wouldn't have either if Michael Boley had just
    given me a block."








    Everyone laughed again. Soon Blackburn was grabbing his game plan out of his
    locker and apologizing for cutting the conversation short. He had to run. He was
    due at a defensive meeting in two minutes. The next day, he'd have another
    practice to go to. And another Super Bowl week to look forward to after
    that.








    Amazing, right?








    Blackburn is the longest long shot on this long shot Giants team. None of
    them were supposed to be in Super Bowl XLVI opposite New England. And like most
    of them, Blackburn's attitude right now is why ask why?








    "All that matters is I'm here now," he explained. "I always believed."








    Megan and their two boys will be at the game in Indianapolis next Sunday. She
    and Chase first met in high school and they dated throughout college. They were
    together when he first made the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Akron.
    They were married just a few months after the Giants won their Super Bowl
    shocker against New England in '08.








    So when asked if anything about Chase surprised her during all that time he
    was out of the NFL, Megan's answer is what you might expect from the wife of a
    man who's always tried to do everything right, and a guy who -- out of all the
    messages he might've picked when he walked into a tattoo parlor at the age of 18
    -- chose the one that's now on his left shoulder. It reads, "Truly Blessed."








    "Was I 'surprised' by how he's handled all this? No," Megan said.








    Every once in a while, even the longest long shots come home."

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1








    # 80

  2. #2

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    Giant pride,once a Giant always a Giant I'am glad he found his way home!!

  3. #3
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    100,533

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    [quote user="Voldamort"]Giant pride,once a Giant always a Giant I'am glad he found his way home!![/quote]

    He's sure got the right frame of mind
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1








    # 80

  4. #4
    Bench Player
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    17

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    I think Chase is a big reason why the D improved late in the season and why the Giants are playing next week.

  5. #5

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    Wow what a great story. This guy is the true meaning of blue collar roll up your sleeves lunch pale type guy. Great to see
    Football has been very, very good to us.
    Even though 2013 was a losing season, we can console ourselves with this fact-

    # of Super Bowl victories since 1985:

    1-Chicago, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Seattle
    2-Washington, Green Bay, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore
    3-San Francisco, Dallas, New England
    4-New York Giants!!!!!

    Let's make it 5 in 2014 !!!

    ***Stat provided by "Schloss22"***

  6. #6

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    blackburn is a legend. so much heart

  7. #7

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    Blackburn definitely deserves to come back next season. He's done a great job since the first Packers game.

  8. #8

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    [quote user="ten280"]I think Chase is a big reason why the D improved late in the season and why the Giants are playing next week.[/quote]

    Absolutely!

  9. #9

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    Great Article!

    If you would have told me six weeks ago that Chase Friggin Blackburn would be 4th in the NFL in tackles during the playoffs for the Gianbts, I would have told you stop chasing Oxy Codin with Vodka and NyQuil.





  10. #10

    Re: CHASE BLACKBURN: AN UNLIKELY JOURNEY

    this is one the best giants articles i've read in a while. it makes you just want this SB win soooo bad for all these players that we've followed since they've been drafted. every player has their own story in life that has it's own unique qualities. there is not one player on this team i dislike, and no other coach/QB that i'd rather have. not just as players, but as people.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts