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Spagnola: George Selvie, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
IRVING, Texas – You know that half-a-sack George Selvie was credited with this past Sunday in Philadelphia, the one he shared with the just-arriving Jarius Wynn?
Well, upon further review, Selvie was credited with a full sack. That then officially gave him two sacks in the game.
In turn, that now gives him five sacks in seven games.
Let that sink in: George Selvie, now officially the leader of “Them Other Guys,” is second on the Cowboys in sacks, just one behind Jason Hatcher, who’s having a Pro Bowl start to this 2013 season.
Why, Selvie has one more sack than DeMarcus Ware, at this point likely to miss his second game in a row Sunday after having played in every one of the first 134 of his career.
Those five Selvie sacks, they would have been the third most on last year’s Cowboys team – for the entire season.
Five sacks. Until last year that total was just one less than Anthony Spencer’s career-high over his first five years in the NFL, and until this year one more than Hatcher’s previous seven-year career-high.
Five sacks. Just one less than the team’s previous high by a player not named Ware from 2009-2011, and just three less than what Greg Ellis and Bradie James posted in 2008.
And on July 25, three months to the day this Friday, with all 32 NFL training camps in full swing, this very guy, George Selvie, was sitting at home in Pensacola, Fla., out of work, having been released by Tampa Bay back on May 6.
He had just turned 26, released for the fourth time since he was a seventh-round pick in 2010 out of South Florida, and his mind was understandably beginning to wonder, “What do I do now? What do I do after football?”
Please don’t pinch the dude. Let him be.
Selvie, the guy who had never started even once over his 36-game NFL career the previous three seasons – drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2010, released on the final cuts of 2011, claimed by Carolina only to be released four weeks later, then signed by Jacksonville five weeks later, playing 16 games over two seasons with the Jaguars before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and signed a month later by Tampa Bay this offseason – now is tied for 12thin the NFL with those five sacks. He’s in the same company with the likes of Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan, LaMarr Woodley and a half-sack behind Elvis Dumervil.
To further appreciate what Selvie has done so far this 2013 season, a flashback to this summer is necessary, back to when the Dallas Cowboys called, more so out of necessity. Remember, the Cowboys lost Tyrone Crawford for the season the first practice of training camp (torn Achilles) with Spencer having his knee scoped about a week later.
They were simply looking for warm bodies at that time, defensive end types who were athletic, had high motors, could play the strong side, all with a decent amount of speed and … out of work. The list of candidates Will McClay’s pro scouting department had handy kicked out one George Selvie.
“I was coming to training camp like, they probably just think of me as a [camp] body,” said Selvie during his interview this week that can be heard in its entirety on the Jason Garrett Show, locally at 11 p.m. Saturday on CBS-11.
Understand, camp body is a derogatory term, meaning a guy simply needed to fill out the 80-man roster and help facilitate training camp practices at minimum wage then discarded before the final 53 is assembled. The percentages are against these guys, especially coming into camp a week late, with no OTA practices or minicamps under their belt.
And in Selvie’s mind on his way to the West Coast, this just might be his last call.
“I’m going to go out here and try to prove myself,” he said of his thinking when getting the call and traveling all the way from Pensacola that same day to Oxnard, Calif., jumping into practice the very next day. And stuff just fell in place.
“I don’t know if it was God or whatever, but I was blessed to be in the situation I’m in now, just fell in place for me – but I am where I am.”
Fell in place? More like crashed down in place. Ten days after arriving in Oxnard, Selvie demonstrated he was more than a camp body in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game, recording five tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits and two tackles for losses against Miami.
Come on, was this for real or one of those one-time wonders?
Judging from emails and phone calls to Talkin’ Cowboys, fans would have just as soon left Selvie in Canton, Ohio, to be measured for his yellow jacket. There actually were questions about the possibility of trading Spencer. Just let Selvie take his place and grab $10.6 million in cap relief.
So there we were, on the tennis courts at training camp, interviewing Selvie on Talkin’ Cowboys, letting him know of his new-found celebrity, but quickly finding out, as Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett likes to say, he is the right kind of guy.
“It’s just been crazy,” he said at the time, “because Twitter and stuff. I was like, got my phone, ‘I don’t want no part of that.’ I got a lot to do, you know what I’m sayin’, I got a lot to do.
“People are like, ‘Great start …’ but I still got … look I know the feeling.”
And he then began earning his eventual nickname coined by defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who Selvie readily credits for much of his success: Bricklayer. You know, come to work every day, work hard and lay those bricks down one at a time.
And yes, things fell in place. Obviously, Crawford was done for the season. Spencer was on his way to being done for the season. Ben Bass, a guy who could play a little defensive tackle, a little defensive end, was headed for injured reserve, too. Suddenly, he looked up one day and basically when it came to defensive ends, it was Ware, Kyle Wilber and … George Selvie.
Man, after never starting in any of those first 36 games he played in the NFL, there he was, under the glare of Sunday Night Football at AT&T Stadium, starting. Starting, mind you, for the first time in his career, no more than six weeks removed from wondering just what he would be doing for the rest of his life.
Nearly two months later and now Selvie is a fixture in the Cowboys lineup, having started all seven games and now standing second on the team in sacks, tied for second in tackles for losses (3) and third in quarterback pressures (11) behind some guys named Ware and Hatcher.
Meteoric rise would be an understatement, and not likely in his wildest dreams …
“No, I couldn’t have imagined it,” says Selvie when thinking back to those lonely moments in Pensacola, having trudged back home after Tampa Bay released him to contemplate his future.
“But this is the best football I’ve played, the stats show those are the facts, and I’ve had the opportunity to go out there and play, rush the passers, actually get out there on the field. I never had that [opportunity] in the past, but now I do.”
And aren’t the Cowboys darn glad he does, too.
So don’t even think about it, no pinching allowed.