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A look at the life of an undrafted rookie

Pat Schiller

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Pat Schiller kneels in prayer prior to a preseason NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


Undrafted rookies who fight through training camp just to get a spot on the practice squad don’t often get a lot of media attention, but the one such undrafted rookie is on the cover of this week’s New York Times Magazine.

Pat Schiller, a linebacker who’s currently on the Falcons’ practice squad, is the subject of a lengthy profile largely because his uncle, Charles Siebert, is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, but the way he’s spent his life since he was signed as an undrafted rookie out of Northern Illinois makes for a fascinating account of the life of a young man who’s desperate to show that he has the talent to play in the NFL. Schiller had a tough time of it early on, making the adjustment from being one of the best players on the field in most of his games at Northern Illinois, to one of the worst players on the field at the start of training camp.

“I’m kind of nobody around here,” Schiller said early in training camp. “Let’s see . . . how do I put this? You go from being one of the top players in college. OK not one of the top. If I were that, I would have been drafted. But I would say one of the top three to four hundred players. And then you come to the NFL and, well, I’ve never felt so bad at a sport I know I’m good at.”

Schiller didn’t do well enough in the preseason to make the 53-man roster, but shortly after the Falcons cut him, they brought him back to their practice squad, where he remains. The profile of him is a good look at the kind of nameless, faceless NFL player we don’t usually hear about.