Cameron Mavleaux could have given up a long time ago. No one would have blamed him.
It’s hard to make it in the NFL and when you’re on the fringe, it’s a constant cycle of rejection. Since going undrafted in 2017, Malveaux has been with over a half dozen NFL teams and he hasn’t stuck with any of them yet.
But he won’t give him. He can’t give up.
Because it’s not just about him.
“I have people counting on me, people that look up to me,” Malveaux said on Thursday. “I have a family back at home. I have a little brother that plays football. I have to set that example for him.”
Since Malveaux, 27, signed with the Eagles in late September, he’s been working hard to prove himself with his latest team. It must have worked. Because in the last two weeks, the Eagles have elevated the veteran defensive end for game days and they’ve already elevated him again for Week 18.
The lesson from Malveaux to his younger brother is pretty simple: Don’t give up.
Malveaux’s 17-year-old brother, Caydon Ferrell, wasn’t too surprised to hear that he serves as motivation for his older brother because of how close they’ve always been. And it means a ton to him.
“It feels great,” Ferrell said to NBC Sports Philadelphia by phone on Thursday, “knowing that my older brother, how many accomplishments he’s made and that he thinks about me.”
Ferrell is a junior at Hamshire-Fannett High School back in the Beaumont, Texas, area where Malveaux grew up.
When asked about his little brother on Thursday, Malveaux beamed with pride about Ferrell’s selection as a second-teamer on the Beaumont Super Gold Team in his second varsity season.
“He definitely looks up to me,” Malveaux said. “He doesn’t want to tell me personally because it’s a little brother looking up to a big brother. But my mom tells me how much he looks up to me and how much he can’t stop talking about me. That means a lot to me as a big brother.”
Ferrell might not want to tell his older brother just how much he means to him but a quick phone call from a reporter in Philadelphia was enough to coax it out of him.
Of course Ferrell looks up to big bro.
“Yeah, he motivates me a lot,” Ferrell said. “All the accomplishments. He was smart in school; he graduated cum laude. He went to state in discus in high school. Good at basketball and at football. He was a team captain and that shows he was a leader at U of H.”
Ferrell has become a good football player in his own right, although it has happened “on the dark side,” as Malveaux put it. Ferrell plays left tackle. But that also means it’s mighty helpful to have a brother who’s a defensive end in the NFL. Whenever they get together, they watch tape and correct Ferrell’s mistakes.
The relationship between the two brothers has always revolved around sports. And despite the age gap, they always competed.
“He never let me win at anything,” said Ferrell, laughing. “He never let me get the easy way out. He always taught me a lesson.”
Things haven’t been easy for Malveaux either. He says he has the “craziest underdog story,” that began as a two-star player coming out of high school. He showed up at the University of Houston at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, but eventually played in 52 games, becoming a team captain with 81 tackles in his college career.
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But all that wasn’t enough. Malveaux went undrafted and began his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins as free agent. Over the next several seasons before 2021, Malveaux bounced around, playing 15 games for three different teams and spending time with more as a practice player.
“I’m thankful for that journey,” Malveaux said. “It made me tough and very mentally strong to be able to deal with a lot of things. I’m just waiting my time and being patient. I’m thankful for that process, as long as it has been. But it made me who I am.”
In 2020, Malveaux played sparingly in two games as an elevated practice squad player with the Browns, who cut him in late August before this season. From there, Malveaux was out of the NFL and waiting for his next chance when the Eagles called him for a workout.
Malveaux thought that workout went well but he left the NovaCare Complex without signing that day and had to wait a week before the Eagles called him back. Finally, he signed to their practice squad on Sept. 29.
Over the last couple weeks as the Eagles made their final playoff push, Malveaux played 39 snaps on defense and 5 on special teams to the delight of his family back in Texas.
“It’s been exciting seeing him actually get on the field and have fun doing what he loves doing, knowing that he deserves it,” Ferrell said.
As the Eagles prepare to enter the playoffs, Malveaux said playing in the postseason after all he’s been through would be a like “a dream come true.”
If that happens, you can bet his biggest fan back in Texas will be watching and beaming with pride.