The call came from the Packers on Mother’s Day. Maybe the Packers had seen the “Momma’s Boy” tattoo on Shea Allard’s back. Maybe the Packers were the one team that didn’t see it.
Either way, Allard was happy the Packers called, that somebody, anybody, called and offered him a chance to play.
“They signed me on Mother’s Day, and I grew up with a single mother, so it was a great Mother’s Day gift,” Allard said.
Allard is one of those long shots of long shots. He was neither drafted nor signed as an undrafted free agent immediately following the conclusion of the draft. He was signed for the rookie camp weekend, which means he was a cut above a tryout player.
“It’s going great. I love it here. I think I did well in OTAs and in minicamp,” he said.
Locker rooms around the league are full of Shea Allards, which is to say big, talented players who were passed over the process but aren’t willing to give up on their lifelong dream to play in the NFL.
“It’s literally fighting for a job. I’m up for it,” he said. “Coach Campen told us that lineman that get cut by the Packers usually get picked up quickly.”
Allard, 6-5, 305, has the big, blockish look of an offensive lineman. He was a three-year starter at left tackle for Delaware, a second-tier college football powerhouse. Overlooked doesn’t always mean can’t play.
“I treat every day as a tryout. That’s my mindset. No one knows who’s staying, who’s going. I want to show the coaching staff I want to be here,” he said.
What if they say no?
“I was thinking about Canadian ball, but the NFL has been my dream,” he said. “I’m not done playing football. I love it too much.”
The Packers have drafted heavily for the tackle position the past two seasons, but Chad Clifton is gone and 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod is recovering from a late-season broken leg, and the fact of the matter is that any coach knows you can never have enough big guys, so Allard is hopeful he can show the Packers or another team enough potential to be worth keeping around.
“It was terrible,” he said of the days that passed from the end of the draft until the Packers called. “I was happy for my friends that got picked up. I’m kind of glad it happened the way it did. It makes me appreciate it more.
“My college coach taught me about effort. I try to make every rep count. If you don’t have many chances, you better make the most of what you get.”
Allard will continue his workout regimen at Lambeau Field, making sure he’s in top shape for the start of training camp. He’ll go back home to Massachusetts between now and then, to spend some time with mom, who’ll no doubt give her boy a hug and drop a tear when it’s time to head back to Green Bay for a training camp that might determine how much longer Allard’s football career will continue.
Such is the drama that makes training camp special. For the stars of the game, it’s something to be endured. For the Shea Allards of the game, it’s the chance of a lifetime, maybe the final chance of a lifetime.
“Somewhere,” he promised. “I’d like to stay here. I like it here a lot.”