Some say the National Football League’s acronym – “NFL” – also stands for “not for long,” an adage that can ring especially true this week as each team prepares for Thursday night’s final preseason game and finishes reducing rosters for the start of the regular season.
While the average pro football player’s career lasts but a few years, Abilene Christian University continues to be well represented this season by former Wildcats in the league, starting with an executive of one of its major TV networks.
Lance Barrow (’77), an ACU trustee and former Wildcat football player, continues his fine work for CBS Sports, where he is a 10-time Emmy Award winner. Barrow is executive producer for CBS golf and the network’s coordinating producer for the lead NFL game of the week.
Wilbert Montgomery (’77) begins his 27th year in the NFL, including his sixth as running backs coach for the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Montgomery, who earned all-pro status in a record-setting playing career with the Philadelphia Eagles, has coached the Ravens’ Ray Rice, Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee to outstanding seasons in recent years. He has 17 years experience as an assistant for the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, and the Ravens. Three of his brothers played in the NFL, including former ACU trustee Cle Montgomery (’78), who contributed to the Oakland Raiders’ Super Bowl XVIII win in 1984.
“It’s so great to be coached by somebody like that because he’s been through it,” Ravens running back Rice told The Baltimore Sun in January, when the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII. “He [Wilbert] gets fired up like a player. He gets into the game. We’ve had our battles, but we knew all of our battles were out of love because he only wants me to write a chapter in my career that he’s had. It’s great to see somebody like that because he gets a greater feeling about one of us shining. I can give Wilbert all the credit and he would tell you, ‘Nah, Ray did it.’ But I would tell you straight up, ‘My coach put me in the right position to be successful.’ ”
Strong safety Danieal Manning (’07) is beginning his eighth NFL season and third as a defensive difference-maker for the Houston Texans. Manning also has one of the league’s best kickoff return averages since 2006.
Running back Daryl Richardson (’12) was named a starter for the St. Louis Rams last week, and had five carries for 10 yards and one catch for five yards Saturday night in the team’s 27-26 loss at Denver. He has nine carries for 34 yards and four catches for 49 yards in preseason action. His teammate, wide receiver Raymond Radway (’10), was trying to earn a place on the Rams’ roster, but was waived Tuesday.
Running back Bernard Scott (’08) is on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list for the Cincinnati Bengals while rehabbing a knee injury from last year. He is one of six backs on the Bengals’ roster this preseason; 2013 will be his fifth year with the club since being chosen in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in 2009.
Wide receiver Clyde Gates (’11) started for the New York Jets in his team’s 24-21 overtime win Saturday night in a Big Apple game with the rival Giants. He has three catches for 39 yards in the preseason, and has averaged 33.3 yards on three kickoff returns.
Defensive end Aston Whiteside (’11) had one tackle for the Chicago Bears in last Friday’s 34-26 win over the Oakland Raiders. He has two tackles in the preseason after finishing last season on the Bears’ practice squad. [Editor’s note: Whiteside was waived Aug. 30 by the Bears.]
Rookie placekicker Morgan Lineberry (’13) was waived last week by the Carolina Panthers but is eligible to sign with another club. He kicked a 27-yard field goal Aug. 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles and made both of his extra-point attempts Aug. 9 in a preseason game with the Chicago Bears. Lineberry also handled kickoff duties for Carolina.
Wide receiver Johnny Knox (’08), who suffered a serious back injury late in the 2011 season, retired from football in February 2013. His three-year career with Chicago was marked by playing in the NFL Pro Bowl as a rookie and being the Bears’ leading receiver in 2011 before his injury, which required spinal fusion surgery. Knox started in 27 of the Bears’ 45 games from 2009-11, catching 133 passes for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns. “God has better plans for me,” Knox told the Chicago Sun-Times in February. “He wouldn’t put me in a situation that I couldn’t handle. I have a lot of opportunities out there.”
Further north, three former Wildcats – offensive tackle Tony Washington (’10), quarterback Mitchell Gale (’13) and defensive back Major Culbert (’12) – are members of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts as they defend their Grey Cup title from last season. Washington, who was a starter for the Calgary Stampeders in 2011 and for the Argos in 2012, was recently moved from Toronto’s injured list to its active roster, but as a defensive tackle. Gale is on the Argos’ “nine-game injured list” and Culbert is on the team’s practice squad. Gale made a good impression in his team’s preseason 24-6 win over the Winnipeg Bombers, completing five of nine passes for 67 yards and one TD, and rushing four times for 52 yards. Toronto leads the CFL’s East Division with a 5-3 record, and is nearly halfway through its regular season. The Grey Cup is the CFL’s version of the NFL’s Super Bowl, and is played in late November each year. Toronto has won more Grey Cups (16) than any other CFL franchise.
And in the Arena Football League, offensive lineman Neal Tivis (’11) and wide receiver Braylon Bell (’13) finished the 2013 season in late July on the injured reserve list for the Utah Blaze. Offensive lineman Trevis Turner (’10) also was on injured reserve for the Jacksonville Sharks. Turner was a starter for the AFL’s Orlando Predators late in the 2012 season and was on the practice squad for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011.