Skip to comments.Ex-NFL lineman trades jersey for utilities, helmet for Kevlar
Posted on 03/09/2006 3:48:41 PM PST by SandRat
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (March 10, 2006) -- Giving up the fame of the football field at 29 years old, one Company B recruit looked for a glory that was more permanent than any trophy.
At age 13, Pfc. Jeremy Staat was 75 inches tall and weighed 230 pounds. It seemed as if he was built for football, according to Staat.
I really didnt have to work hard at it, said Staat.
Starting as an offensive lineman, Staat grew as a football player and saw his first glimpse of the Marine Corps not long after starting at Arizona State University as an offensive lineman.
Fond memories traced back to his first encounter with the Marine Corps.
I had a buddy who was a combat photographer in the Marine Corps, said Staat. He came back from the desert with pictures of these big C-130s and I said, I want to do what you are doing.
Playing football began losing its appeal. Seeing other men and women around the world in their service uniforms kept Staat thinking about those what-ifs.
Following his time at the university, Staat moved up to the National Football League, playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and one year of arena football with the Los Angeles Avengers.
Early thoughts of leaving the league were deflected after college teammate Pat Tillman influenced Staat to stay in until he could get a retirement plan. Staat and Tillman became good friends while sharing a room at ASU. Over time, Tillman decided to leave the NFL to serve in the U.S. Army before he was killed in action in 2004.
That was the turning point for Jeremy, said Janet Goodheart, Jeremy Staats mother. After Pat was killed, he began to dwell on things. He visited me at home and we had a real serious talk. He told me that he was through with football.
He decided to enlist in the military. Because of his larger-than-life exterior, Staat had to pass a few tests before he could enlist.
His mother said he passed tests everyday.
He called me and said, Mom, you cant be any more than 78 inches, 29 years old and 261 pounds, said Goodheart. He was all three.
There were certain reasons for joining that went beyond the passing of Pat Tillman, according to Staat.
The big reason was because I was just really disgusted with the amount of money entertainers get and what they pay troops overseas, said Staat. It didnt seem right that we pay all those entertainers millions to catch a football and we pay our Marines pennies to a dollar to catch a bullet, said Staat.
Determined to leave, Staat spoke with a recruiter and left as soon as possible.
I came in two months early, like Lets get it on, said Staat. I wanted to be a part of something that is going to live forever instead of getting trophies. What are trophies good for collecting dust? Most trophies get thrown in the garage. Who knows where they go after that?
Arriving at the depot, Staat did what he could to keep his past under wraps, but within five hours of his landing, his secret was out.
Staat said a drill instructor asked the 77-inch stack of muscle if he played football. I played a little in college, said Staat, who enlisted to become a machine gunner.
The drill instructor kept digging and eventually the truth came out.
From what I knew of Marine Corps training, drill instructors are extremely professional, said Staat. With all the attention Ive drawn to this platoon, they have done an awesome job being professional.
When he started training, Staat took a different outlook on his environment than most recruits do during the first phase of boot camp. To him, playing for a team was temporary; being part of a legend was something people wouldnt forget.
Since entering recruit training, Staat realized he wasnt used to the strenuous environment.
Ive run three miles four times in my life, once at (Military Entrance Processing Station), and three times here, said Staat.
Besides the physical training, boot camp is aimed to place stress on recruits to prepare them for stressful situations they may encounter on the battlefield.
Stepping away from the life of an entertainer to enjoy the priceless experience of Marine Corps boot camp, Staat said he couldnt feel more at home.
I would wake up every day and smile, said Staat. Recruits look at me like I am crazy, but I am just happy to be here; to be on a practice field as big as Camp Pendleton is crazy.
According to Goodheart, the letters Staat sent home during training let her know that her son was doing fine in his training. He was very happy, she said.
The only thing that Staat couldnt grasp about training was the other recruits. He couldnt understand why 60 recruits would rather have to do push-ups in the dirt than sound off when told to by their drill instructors, though Staat never lost his motivation, according to Goodheart.
If there was something that gave Jeremy any kind of doubt, he would pursue it until he was convinced, said Goodheart.
If you change the mindset of what you are doing, you can turn it into a whole new experience, said Staat. I looked at field training like I was going camping. They are going to pay me to learn how to train and survive in the field.
Staat said he found it amusing that people pay for the training that Marines are paid to complete.
They train you to keep in shape. They put you on a diet, said Staat. People pay to do that.
Staat recalled a day during training when his company ran the obstacle course. There are a number of high walls, logs and bars to get over throughout the course including the rope, which is strung from a high beam of wood to the ground. Staat attempted to climb the rope but failed. He was trained on the proper techniques, he got a second chance.
Staats senior drill instructor told him to climb the rope again. One of the many things that are stressed during training is bearing, but when Staat climbed to the top of the rope, he broke his bearing and smiled.
I asked him what happened the first time and he smiled and said, This recruit didnt have the technique down, sir, said Staff Sgt. Miguel R. Saenz, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1065.
I was just happy, said Staat. I had never climbed a rope before.
Beyond the training, there were adjustments Staat had to make.
It was fast, said Staat. The sounding off was difficult because I am not used to yelling and screaming.
Even the combat utility uniforms took some getting used to, according Staat.
I looked at them as a new uniform, said Staat. Instead of having a football helmet, I had a Kevlar. Instead of wearing shoulder pads, I wore a flak jacket.
Departing the depot as a squad leader, and one of many new Marines graduating from Co. B, Staat plans on leaving a lasting impression in the Marine Corps and maybe watch a few football games on his days off.
From Sun Devil to NFL to Devil Dog, HOO-RAAAH!!!
almost feel sorry for the bad guys ... almost
I was in the Navy in the Bubba years and yes, we did get into a bit of trouble overseas. Crap, we got into trouble in Canada and Mexico, too. Then there was Long Beach, San Diego, Puget Sound area...
I like this guy.......he has the right stuff....
Thanks for the PING. Right stuff indeed.
I really do know how to pick um.....
Oh, aren't you the smart one today. ;o)
You betcha.........looks like rain...hooorraaayyyy!!!!
Must have been the Wheaties this AM.
Good. Have some of ours too.
I would gladly take it off your hands...it has been beautiful here, but we are into...like, maybe, 143 days w/out rain......we need it.
Yes. Do your famous rain dance then.
Big ole, dang ole, former recruiter of Marines Bump!!
I'd a died if, when I was a recruiter, a guy like that would have walked into the office.
I did put a college basketball player that was 6'10" tall into the Corps. That was a trip, he had to have a special waiver for his height. Great kid.
God Bless this Devil Dawg!!!
There is a HUGE difference between now and then. We have a purpose now, then we were operating with UN pantyhose on and patrolling the boats with unloaded weapons, even in foreign ports. The guys serving now are far braver than me. The closest thing we ever did to being an actual military was the boarding ops (vbss) enforcing Iraqi embargoes. I wouldn't dream of picking on an active duty jarhead today. Those guys are incredible. I have a few buds that stuck it out nad they make a decent living now. I have some family that are junior enlisted and they make decent money, too. I hear that you don't even have to live on the boat when conus anymore. Having a President who respects and uses the militray when necessary is great. W aint perfect by a long shot, but the things he does well he does really well.
Oh yeah, the current administration has zero love for the media. My guess is that there are far fewer instances of misbehavior now due to pride and espeit de corps, and when someone does mess up, it is just handled swiftly and quietly.
He wants to be a machine gunner.. Well, bless his heart!
My nephew was an 0351. I was a 5982.
Semper Fi and Godspeed, Jeremy.
Ex-NFL lineman begins new career as a Marine
SIGNONSANDIEGO NEWS SERVICES
SAN DIEGO A former NFL defensive lineman who gave up a career in professional football to become a Marine graduated Friday from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
Pfc. Jeremy Staat, 29, along with the other recruits from Bravo Company, will now head to Camp Pendleton, where they will receive additional combat training, an MCRD public affairs official said.
Staat began his football career at Arizona State University. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams in the NFL, along with a year of arena football with the Los Angeles Avengers.
His mother told the Chevron, a Marine Corps newspaper, that Staat was inspired to enlist in the military following the death of Pat Tillman, a friend and former college teammate who left the NFL to join the Army.
Tillman abandoned a lucrative contract with the Arizona Cardinals in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to become an Army Ranger.
The military is still investigating the circumstances of Tillman's death in Afghanistan in 2004. Previous inquiries have concluded he died as the result of friendly fire from his own unit.
That was the turning point for Jeremy, Janet Goodheart, Staat's mother, told the Chevron. After Pat was killed, he began to dwell on things. He visited me at home and we had a real serious talk. He told me he was through with football.
Staat told the Chevron that the biggest reason for enlisting was because he was disgusted with the amount of money entertainers make compared to the military troops deployed overseas.
It didn't seem right that we pay all these entertainers millions to catch a football and we pay our Marines pennies to a dollar to catch a bullet, Staat told the Marine newspaper.