Linebacker Ryan Phillips’s National Football League career almost didn’t happen. The third round draft pick of the New York Giants out of Idaho in 1997 thought he had a strong training camp as a rookie. But, suddenly the phone rang in his room in late August.
On the other end of the line was Giants head coach Jim Fassel (photo left)
. “This is Coach Fassel, I’m sorry to call you on this matter, but I have to deliver some news, and I’m going to have to release you.”
“I can’t believe this. You’ve got to be kidding me,” exclaimed the stunned Phillips.
“Not really,” Fassel replied. “I really have to do this. It’s part of the business.”
The coach was abruptly interrupted as he further justified his decision as he indicated the team didn’t have the luxury of devoting a roster spot to a long snapper.
“Coach. Coach. This is Ryan Phillips.”
When Fassel called the hotel he asked for Ryan Smith’s room. Smith, a free agent rookie and college teammate of Phillips, was Phillips roommate that summer. Fassel was talking to the wrong Ryan. The coach quickly apologized before the phone was handed off to the correct Ryan. Coach Fassel then relayed the bad news to Smith.
Phillips went on to have a five-year career in the NFL. He played for the Giants for four seasons before he joined the Indianapolis Colts for one final season in 2001.
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