According to Giants.com, New York Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan regularly encourages a player to provide a window into his personal life — where he’s from, where he attended college and whether he has a family. Then, he has the player conclude with a motivational life story.
Last week, linebacker Chase Blackburn took his turn, and nobody could have been a better candidate.
Blackburn was signed on June 21, 2005, as a rookie free agent after playing college football for Akron. He was signed as merely an extra body for training camp.
In his first preseason game, he made five tackles, recovered a fumble and never looked back. He wasn’t expected to start 11 times in 63 seasons, lead an NFL team in special teams tackles for the last three seasons, or earn a Super Bowl ring — but that’s exactly what he’s done.
With the ability to play all three linebacker positions, Blackburn is as versatile as they come. He has missed only one game in his career — the last contest of his rookie season. And it took a neck injury to put him on the sidelines.
"I call him 'Chase Infinite,' because he does an infinite number of things," fellow linebacker Antonio Pierce told the Web site. "Chase does everything.”
When Pierce suffered a quad injury last year, Blackburn was given the chance to start. He made the most of his opportunity and showed he has starting-caliber skills.
"I definitely showed myself and showed some of my teammates that I can play and be a starter in this league," Blackburn said. "Hopefully, I will get that opportunity before it's all said and done."
How did Chase Blackburn get here? How does a rookie linebacker who isn’t supposed to see much NFL action at all become a reliable starting option?
"I go out there every day with the mentality that I'm still a rookie free agent, and I have to prove myself. That's how you have to play, because if not, somebody else is going to be that guy and catch you when you're not looking,” Blackburn explained. “I can't believe this is my fifth year already — I feel like I'm still a rookie free agent. I feel like I haven't proven anything.
“Yeah, I made some special teams plays. Yeah, I came in and started some games last year, but obviously, there are things that I need to do better. You always have to be playing on the top of your game. You always have to keep your mind in the game at all times. The NFL has a high turnover ratio. It's a high-performance business that if you're not producing, they're going to move you right now."
Blackburn might get some job security soon if he keeps playing the way he has been since he entered the league.