Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Faces of lockout: Dallas' seventh-rounder
By Todd Archer
The NFL lockout has put players and owners in limbo. The ripple effects are also felt by people whose lives or businesses touch their teams. Here are their stories:
IRVING, Texas -- When Shaun Chapas was picked by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, he had certain visions of what the NFL life would be like.
With no team-led camps, Cowboys seventh-rounder Shaun Chapas has bounced from high school to high school to keep working out.
Roughly a month after the Georgia fullback was selected, he is still waiting for that life to begin, thanks to the NFL lockout.
“I don’t know any better because I haven’t done it before,” Chapas said. “It’s kind of a different year. I’m looking forward to it getting going.”
For the last three weeks, Chapas has been working out four days a week at The Factory in Atlanta with about a dozen other players either already in the NFL or in the same state of limbo as him. Seattle quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has taken Chapas and some wide receivers and tight ends, like Ben Hartsock of the New York Jets, to area high schools for on-field workouts.
They are already on their third high school in as many weeks.
“We’ve become nomads,” Chapas said, “just having to beg high schools to let us work out.”
Chapas exchanged email with Tony Romo about attending the Cowboys’ player-run workouts in May, but said “the logistics of it made it difficult. We’re going to wait a little on that.”
As the 220th overall pick, Chapas is guaranteed of making the 53-man roster, although Chris Gronkowski is currently the Cowboys’ only other fullback. In a normal offseason, Chapas would have had a rookie minicamp and at least two weeks of organized team activities by now to get him up to speed on the offense.
Because of the lockout, though, Chapas does not have a playbook and has relied mostly on what he learned during his visit with the Cowboys at the NFL scouting combine and the quick conversation he had with head coach Jason Garrett and running backs coach Skip Peete after he was picked.
His best hope of seeing the Cowboys' offense is to catch a re-run of a game on NFL Network.
“If I catch one, I’m definitely going to watch it,” Chapas said.
He has already been to Cowboys Stadium for a game. His roommate at Georgia was Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Cowboys won, 35-19, on Nov. 21 but Stafford did not play because of a shoulder injury.
“I was with some of his buddies from high school and his parents asked me, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could play here?’” Chapas said. “I was thinking that would be awesome, but I wasn’t really thinking about being a Cowboy at the time. But it sure crossed my mind.”
Now that chance is tantalizingly close, but also so far away. For now, Chapas shows up for workouts at The Factory and hopes a high school will allow them to throw some passes.
“I’ll talk to friends and they’ll ask the same basic question: When are you going to Dallas?” Chapas said. “I have to tell them I really don’t know because we’re just waiting. I think it will get worked out, right?”