One of the best things about sports in general (and football, especially) is that it’s full of good stories. Today, let’s talk about Giants TE Larry Donnell, a player was almost completely unknown until he burst onto the scene with three TD catches in New York’s win over the Redskins last year in a Thursday night game.
The full story of Donnell’s ascension from lightly used tight end at Grambling to one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets is beyond the scope of today’s post, and the New York Post has already done a good job with that here.
I just want to point out a few of the interesting aspects of his story that didn’t make it into the Post’s story.
- He was fired by his first agent: His current agent, Tamika Cheatham of 413 Sports in Glendale, Ariz., only signed him after Donnell’s trainer called her, begging her to take him, in the Spring of 2011. She only knew the trainer because she had worked with him before on another long shot player. “The interesting thing is that after the Redskins game, that agent was trying his darnedest to get him back,” Tamika said.
- He tried out for the Arena League, CFL and even the defunct UFL: “I didn’t even meet him until after he went to the NFL Super Regional, and I brought him out here to do a workout for the (AFL’s Arizona) Rattlers and that’s when I met him, and the Rattlers thought he was too green.”
- The Giants originally contacted him via email: Due to the lockout, NFL teams didn’t sign undrafted free agents in 2011. That meant they couldn’t reach out to him until July when the lockout ended. By then, Donnell had changed phone numbers from when he was workout out for teams in March, but someone in the Giants’ front office found an email address that still worked.
- Despite his inspiring story, he’s not a budding Michael Strahan: “When he first had that game, for the first week or so, he was on every news and radio show, and he is definitely ‘afraid’ of everything outside the locker room. I’ve offered to get him media training, but Larry was like, ‘no, I just can’t do it yet.’ He’s really, really low key.”
- Tamika helped him keep focused during his two-year pre-Giants odyssey: “I met another young man (a previous client) who had a chance with Tampa Bay, and that fell apart because he didn’t have the work ethic, so I rode Larry pretty hard.”