RaShaun Sligh has spent much of the last few weeks looking at a football field through a metal fence. He even got a free meal out of it — Eagles legend Vince Papale brought the Philly kid a cheesesteak and crab fries when Sligh refused to leave his spot outside the Birds' NovaCare Complex.
Finally, the news came Wednesday afternoon that the Temple alum (he did not play football at Temple, though) will get his chance to play his way onto a pro football team. But instead of doing it in green and white, he will be donning black and blue.
The Philadelphia Soul announced in a press release that Sligh has been signed to a one-day tryout contract and the 6-foot-2 wideout will practice alongside the team Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. The reigning Arena Football champions are a perfect 8-0 this season and have not lost in 15 straight contests.
It's been hard to miss Sligh on your way to the Sports Complex. His sign, reading "RaShaun Sligh just wants an opportunity to be an Eagle," has already caught the attention of Birds safety Malcolm Jenkins, general manager Howie Roseman, and now, Soul co-owner Cosmo DeNicola is paying attention as well.
"Being both a Northeast Philadelphia resident and Temple alum myself, RaShaun’s story caught my eye,” DeNicola said in the release. “After a conversation with our coaching staff, I found out that they were already looking at bringing him in to get a closer look, and we decided to pull the trigger.”
Coincidentally enough, one of the Soul's starting receivers, Chris Duvalt, suffered an injury during the team's most recent matchup, meaning Sligh will be among a handful of guys with a chance to pick up the slack. Duvalt currently leads the league with 36 kickoff returns for 653 yards and one touchdown.
"Being a local guy, we have been aware of RaShaun and with one of our starting wide receivers, Chris Duvalt, getting injured last Saturday, we need somebody to step up and take over Chris’ role,” head coach Clint Dolezel said. “We have some guys on the roster currently that will have a shot to do that, and hopefully RaShaun impresses at practice on Thursday and can also get in that mix.”
Papale — who made the most of his Eagles audition more than four decades — left an impression on Sligh. And the 24-year-old will finally get to show his worth.