- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – George Selvie shouldn’t be here.
We’re not talking about making the Dallas Cowboys’ roster, which he has. We’re talking about life.
When he was just 1 year old, Selvie was nearby as a relative was fixing a Buick when Selvie's 3-year-old cousin jumped into the car. The Buick fell off a jack and hit Selvie in the left side of the head.
It left a scar and an indention you can’t see because of his black hair.
“I’m good now,” Selvie says, laughing when asked about the childhood accident. “God, it was a miracle that I survived something like that. God was on my side.”
When you know more about Selive’s story, you can see why his bumpy road isn’t that bad.
“I think about it a lot,” Selvie said of the accident. “I wasn’t supposed to be here with an accident like that. I thank God for that every night.”
Anthony Spencer is the Cowboys’ projected starting left defensive end, but it doesn’t appear his balky knee will allow him to start, let alone play, in the regular-season opener against the New York Giants on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium.
The man hired in late July to become maybe the 53rd or 52nd man on the roster is now one of the top 22 players.
Selvie is listed as a backup to Spencer on the depth chart, but the reality is he’ll start against the Giants.
“When you have a guy that’s coming in off the couch, we call him the bricklayer, he comes in and lays a brick at a time, being effective,” fellow defensive end DeMarcus Ware said. “He has built a pretty nice house over there at left end.”
In the beginning, it wasn’t pretty.
At South Florida he started 50 of 51 games, picking up 69.5 tackles for loss and 29 sacks in four seasons, and there had been a thought he would become better than his teammate Jason Pierre-Paul. But NFL teams focused more on Selvie's senior season, where his sack totals fell to 3.5 from an outstanding sophomore season of 14.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss.
Pierre-Paul’s 2009 season, meanwhile, was outstanding: 16.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The New York Giants drafted him 15th overall. Selvie, who came out the same year as Paul, was a seventh-round pick by St. Louis.
In 16 games with the Rams, Selvie had 1.5 sacks, 21 tackles and three tackles for loss. He lasted just one season before being claimed off waivers by Carolina, where he was on the active roster four weeks. He then signed with Jacksonville for the final seven games of the 2011 season.
Selive made the Jacksonville squad in 2012 and played in nine games after being inactive the first five. He wasn't offered a contract after the season, so he signed with Tampa Bay in the spring of 2013 as an unrestricted free agent. He was cut after a month.
On July 25, the Cowboys signed Selvie to improve their depth along the defensive line after injuries to Jay Ratliff, Tyrone Crawford and Spencer surfaced. Selvie was signed as a camp body, in a sense, but he impressed the coaches in the Hall of Fame Game with two sacks, and he maintained the solid play in practices and the preseason.
“I didn’t envision it, but I always wanted to play,” Selvie said. “I knew I wanted to play, first you got to make the roster and to do that you have to make plays and that’s what I tried to do.”
For whatever reason, things just didn’t click with Selvie and other teams.
Now it has.
“It’s a great defensive scheme,” Selvie said. “You get upfield and you interrupt, you attack, that’s something you should love to do as a defensive lineman. That’s what we want to do and that’s what we’re going to do.”