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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Pete Ittersagen, undrafted cornerback from Division III Wheaton, meet Mark Clay, head groundskeeper for Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, the Jaguars practice fields and the Class AA Jacksonville Suns.
Mark meet Pete. He's a fan of your work, which I think is pretty cool.
These highlights from Ittersagen's conversation with Jacksonville media Friday detail his other line of work as a landscaper, and show us how when he steps on the field, his admiration for it extends beyond that of most players.
Does he still check in on his business?
Pete Ittersagen: Not really. I'm good friends with the two kids I gave it to. I gave [the business] to them. I have the right to it when I'm done playing ball or if they decide to stop doing it, then I'd possess it again, which is nice. They're all good buddies, so I want them to make good money in the summer and be able to pay for school.
How much can you make doing that?
PI: You can make a decent amount if you get a good client base. A typical lawn in the Chicago suburbs is about $25 to $35 so [it's good] if you can pound out about 40 in a week.
How it important was it to learn about self-reliance?
PI: When I was young, my dad said, "Son, you want a bike, you've got to earn money and buy a bike. If you want a basketball hoop, you've got to earn money to pay for a hoop." So I'm like, "Well all right, I need to use your lawnmower." So I started knocking door-to-door just after I started learning how to cut lawns, which was about when I was 10. From there, I got three jobs and I was cutting about five lawns a week. Then when I turned 16, I saw the potential in it.
Could he actually be making more right now cutting lawns?
PI: No sir. This is where I belong. I love this. Everybody always talks to me about my business, but I wake up 5, 6 a.m. and I come here and I absolutely love it. I love every part of the game. I love the workouts, the sweat, the film study, listening to coach talk and the weight room. That's where my passion lies. So even if the money was greater in lawn mowing, I wouldn't pursue it.
What's he think of the quality of the grass of the practice fields?
PI: It's unbelievable. It's a lot better than a Division III practice field. It almost makes me want to bring out my pitching wedge and hit off that. That grass is unreal. I don't even know the groundskeepers by name but every time I see them, I tell them I appreciate their work.