Super Bowl LVII: Santa Maria businessman remembers chance of a lifetime tryout with Philadelphia Eagles
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- As the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII this Sunday, a prominent Santa Maria businessman is remembering his longshot effort more than 30 years ago to earn a spot on the Eagles roster.
Ed Carcarey is well-known in the Santa Maria Valley and surrounding area for his many years on local radio, motivational speaking and community involvement.
He currently works as general manager of El Fuego and La Buena radio stations in Santa Maria, and also is the creator of the popular Downtown Fridays event in Santa Maria.
Just prior to moving to the Central Coast for a deployment to Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1989, Carcarey had an improbable opportunity to play in the NFL.
"It had been a dream for a long time," said Carcarey, who grew up just outside Philadelphia. "I was playing football in Europe with the Air Force for five years, so I was just getting stationed stateside. In my time, I went home to Philly and my aunt was a friend of one of the assistant coaches. His name was Bill Walsh, not the (Hall of Fame coach) Bill Walsh. This guy was the offensive line coach."
Carcarey sent video of his play in Europe to his aunt, which she gave to Walsh. It led to a chance of a lifetime, an opportunity to try out for the Eagles at their old home Veterans Stadium.
"They invited me in for a one-day tryout," said Carcarey. "I got to meet everybody, (Head Coach) Buddy Ryan included, which was different and unique meeting him, but got to meet a lot of the team."
The unlikely tryout came just after the team finished the regular season with a record of 11-5 and was preparing to open postseason play.
"My speed and strength opened the door. My aunt knowing one of the coaches kind of snuck me in the backdoor just to get a look," explained Carcarey, who was 6-foot-tall and weighed 300 pounds at the time. "I was in the top 10 percent of strength and speed for an NFL lineman in 1989. I was really fast and I was really strong."
Before the tryout even began, Carcarey had to prove he was as physically strong as the coaching staff was told.
He was taken to the team's gym and quickly benched pressed enough weight to convince the legendary Ryan, who was the architect of the famed 1985 Chicago Bears "46 Defense," which many regard as the finest defensive unit in NFL history.
"Buddy Ryan called me a liar, " said Carcarey. "I had to prove it there in the gym and then he never said anything after that. After it was done, he walked out and we never talked again, but that's kind of Buddy Ryan-eque."
Carcarey was soon led to the infamous turf at the venerable Veterans Stadium to begin practicing with the team.
"We got out onto the field and they're just doing kind of some walk throughs and then some hitting, and they're just letting me go in just to see what I could do," said Carcarey.
Looking back more than 33 years later, Carcarey said his tryout essentially ended nearly as quickly as it began.
"I got totally exposed on the field and in about 10 seconds," said Carcarey. "Everybody who was watching knew I wasn't ready for the NFL. Fastest tryout ever in the world. They didn't see anything. I could have told them that after the first couple of plays!"
While he may have had the size and strength of an NFL player, he said he was unprepared to match up against much more experienced players.
"I got exposed because it was all about the technique," said Carcarey. "Smaller guys were just leveraging me. A guard just moved me right out of the way because he understood technique and I didn't. I thought it was just about speed and strength and I got exposed really quick."
Even though the tryout didn't go as he hoped for, Carcarey said he has nothing but great memories about the experience, especially getting the opportunity to meet one of the greatest defensive players in football history.
"My hero Reggie White," said Carcarey. "That was the best part of that and why I don't regret any of it because getting to meet Reggie White, who I have a signed jersey of him hanging up in my son's home right now and he was everything."
As he reflects on the all-too-brief tryout, Carcarey adds the entire experience was actually a personal turning point in his life.
"It has helped me in the business world and to prepare me for the business world because I wasn't prepared," said Carcarey. "I thought this was more about doing all the fun stuff. I didn't look at the backend. The real work of an NFL player, or a pro, isn't what they do on a Sunday. It's the years, the sweat and the toil of working out, three practices, sometimes four practices a day, and then spending time, three, four hours a day looking at film."
Carcarey emphasized the importance of preparation as an integral element to achieving personal success.
"Getting the hard work done now, so that you're ready for it when the time does come," said Carcarey. "I wasn't ready for it when I got my five minutes of fame. I wasn't prepared for it and I got exposed, but after that, I learned that lesson I wanted to be prepared when I got into business. Whether you are on the field in a uniform or on the street in business. It's the work ethic. It's the due diligence you're doing before the ball is ever snapped or before you ever open a business. It's getting the work done now and preparing, the studying, the research."
Now more than three decades later, Carcarey is happy to explain that despite missing out on a shot to play in the NFL for his hometown Eagles , he has absolutely no regrets or disappointments on what happened that day.
"I wouldn't change anything," said Carcarey. "What happened was meant to be. Where I'm at, I wouldn't change me life whatsoever. Sure, I would have loved to tell my kids I played for the Eagles, but I've had such a great life. This is good the way it is."
As for Super Bowl LVII against the Chiefs, Carcarey will be home watching his beloved Eagles play for the team's second championship in five years.
"The Eagles win this," said Carcarey. "How can they not win this? By seven. The Eagles by at least seven I think. There's no doubt. I think it will be a great game, but it's only a great game if the Eagles win!"