Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Big Blue Tight End Grateful

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Big Blue Tight End Grateful

Article excerpt

The phone calls would come on Sunday.

Daniel Fells never knew where they would take him. He never knew what awaited him when he got there.

A tight end was injured here. Another was being released there. That meant it was time for another audition.

Fells' demoralizing wait last season for one more chance in the NFL would temporarily end with each call.

But the emotional and logistical roller coaster would begin anew as he scrambled across the country for yet another workout, leaving behind his then-pregnant wife and 2-year-old son.

The numbing routine played out again and again.

Wait. Hope. Despair. Repeat.

This is the humbling life for an unemployed NFL player and his family. This was Fells' existence when the Giants tight end spent last season out of the league waiting for a contract offer that never came.

"The hardest part is waiting," he said. "You don't want to make plans, just in case a team calls. But it affects your life.

"I knew that I could still play at this level."

This Thanksgiving weekend, the Fells family is especially grateful for another year in the NFL. They're grateful to have landed with the Giants (3-8), even in the midst of a lost season, as his lucky seventh NFL team.

Fells, 31, lived on the humbling side of life in professional football, far from the NFL's glamour and glory. In the months after the Patriots released him just before the 2013 season opener, he was called four times for workouts, held on the league-mandated players' off-day of Tuesday.

Four times he impressed, but left without a deal.

As the empty weeks dragged on, his wife, Nahall, broached the possibility of retirement. He admits he considered it, beginning to prepare for "the afterlife."

But much has changed in a year. The Giants signed him in January. He won a roster spot in a five-way training camp position battle. In 11 games (four starts), he has produced a career-high four touchdown receptions. …

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