Jan. 23, 2009
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -
By Michael Eisen, Giants.com
Former Brown football standout Zak DeOssie '07 was going to attend the Pro Bowl as a spectator, courtesy of Jeff Feagles. Now he's going to play in the game, courtesy of Andy Reid.
That makes two former Brown football players competing in the Pro Bowl. DeOssie joins Arizona Cardinals' wide receiver Sean Morey '99 as a Pro Bowl selection.
The Philadelphia Eagles coach - who will coach the NFC squad in the Feb. 8 Pro Bowl in Honolulu - selected DeOssie as his "need" player for the game. The Pro Bowl coaches are permitted to pick one player at a position where they think the need is greatest. The NFC team had no long snapper. Since Feagles, the Giants' punter and holder, and John Carney, the team's kicker, were previously selected for the team, Reid figured he might as well send a snapper who is used to working for them.
"I am the luckiest kid on the planet," said DeOssie, who recently concluded his second season with the Giants. "I'm sitting at home and the next thing I know I am going to be playing in the Pro Bowl. It is very, very exciting.
"I am honored and flattered at the same time and it is great. I get to go out with Feags and John and we are going to have a great trip."
The addition of DeOssie to the NFC team increases the Giants' Pro Bowl contingent to seven players, their largest group since the 1990 Super Bowl champions also sent seven. In addition to Feagles, Carney and DeOssie, quarterback Eli Manning, offensive linemen Shaun O'Hara and Chris Snee and defensive end Justin Tuck will play in the Pro Bowl.
"Lucky seven," DeOssie said.
It is tradition for Pro Bowlers to repay teammates and coaches - and significant others -- who helped make their trip to Hawaii possible by inviting them to a trip to Honolulu for the game. Manning, for example, has invited Rich Seubert, David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie, the three offensive linemen who were not selected to the Pro Bowl. Feagles was going to fly out DeOssie, while Carney is paying for his snapper, Jay Alford, to visit the island.
"I got off easy because the league will pay for Zak now," Feagles said. "It looks like our plan worked. You put the cart before the horse."
More seriously, Feagles is thrilled to have his trusted snapper joining him at the showcase game.
"I think it is great and I think it is deserving," Feagles said. "I think that he did a wonderful job, not only snapping the ball but in coverage and blocking. I've said John and I won't have to do much there, because we're used to the timing of working with each other. Now everything will be perfect on the punting side of it."
"I'm extremely happy for Zak," Carney said. "He's been riding a very blessed cloud lately. In his rookie year he goes to the Super Bowl and wins it. And in his second year he's headed out to the Pro Bowl to snap around with a bunch of all-pros from across the league. He's living a charmed life. He should go out and buy some lottery tickets."
DeOssie will also snap for field goal attempts and extra points, which he practices regularly with the Giants.
"It all goes along with the territory - you have to do both," DeOssie said. "Short snapping will be a little bit different, because he hasn't done it," said Feagles, who will catch the snaps as Carney's holder. "But that is okay, that is something that we can work on."
Carney said, "From time to time during the season he would take some short snaps to Jeff. I believe Zak has all the capability of doing that fulltime if the coaching staff ever wanted to go in that direction. I told Zak it would be fair to pull Jay out of the stands at the Pro Bowl and let him snap for a few of the field goals so Jay doesn't feel left out."
DeOssie was driving in his car last night when he received a phone call from the Giants informing him that he was a Pro Bowler. He didn't have to wait long to tell his father, Steve, a Giants linebacker from 1989-93. Steve DeOssie was sitting in the car next to his son.
"We are still figuring out the logistics, but it looks like my family will be able to come out," Zak said. "It is going to be a great trip."
DeOssie knew a spot was open on the NFC squad, but he didn't really expect to fill it.
"Maybe for a second, but then I kicked it out of my head real fast," he said. "I always thought they gave it to the vets or some guy who has been in the league for a while."
DeOssie joined the Giants as a fourth-round draft choice from Brown, the 116th overall selection. He won the job as the team's long snapper in his rookie training camp and has filled that role in all 37 regular season and postseason games since his arrival. DeOssie has 19 special teams tackles, including 13 this season.
"I was consistent all year," DeOssie said. "The first year is always the hardest and I finally found my groove and snapping became second nature to me and I enjoy it. It is fun. It gives me a chance to run down the field and hit somebody."
Feagles has worked with a lot of snappers in his 21-year career.
"I think Zak is up there with all of them," Feagles said. "He is very consistent, which is what you need at that position, and he has done a great job. I don't ever have to think about what the snap is going to be. When I am back there the last thing I want to have to do is worry about where the snap is going to be and I've never had to do that with Zak. I am just real fortunate that he is really good."
DeOssie has never been to Hawaii. And he never paid close attention to the Pro Bowl until last year.
"I was watching Osi (Umenyiora) in it and some of the players I played against," DeOssie said. "Now that I am playing in the league you always keep an eye on it and it is fun to see those guys who deserve it being out there and having a blast and really capping off a great year."
Now DeOssie will be one of those guys.