Monte Gaddis and Joe Anderson are not all that different. Both played football for Division I FCS schools in college, Gaddis at Towson, Anderson at Texas Southern. Both went undrafted by the NFL despite stellar college careers. Anderson latched on with the Chicago Bears in 2012, but he spent most of his time on the practice squad. After a groin injury the following season, he bounced between teams in the Canadian Football League. Gaddis spent time playing football in Poland.
Two weeks ago, both players showed up outside two different NFL facilities, Anderson at the Houston Texans and Gaddis at the Cleveland Browns. Each stood patiently, holding a sign, hoping to be noticed. “Will do all drills! Starving for my 1st shot,” said Gaddis’s sign. “Not homeless but starving for success! Will run routes 4 food,” proclaimed Anderson.
Gaddis had a conversation with Browns GM Ray Farmer, who strolled out to meet him and told him to drop off some Towson game tape. Anderson got a shout out on Twitter from a San Fracisco 49ers player and received a couple of phone calls from other interested NFL teams. Neither man has received a tryout yet, though both are waiting patiently for it to come.
Another thing that makes Gaddis and Anderson so alike is their relentless work ethic, especially when it comes to training. A burly wide receiver, Anderson wakes up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to hit the gym. He heads back for a second session in the evening, around 6:00 p.m. He’s been focusing on his footwork and his releases off the line of scrimmage, using drills like running in place in a kiddie pool full of sand and speeding up the side of a large hill. He even attached a weighted sled to his back and sprinted up the hill pulling it.
Anderson has also been working furiously in the weight room, doing Dumbbell Presses with 115-pound weights and core stability exercises with a physioball, as shown in the video above.
Footwork has been a big part of Gaddis’s training as well. A linebacker, he has made heavy use of mini-hurdles and speed ladders. In one interesting drill, he runs through a short speed ladder, moves his feet 360 degrees around a cone, bursts to his left, picks up a physioball, raises it overhead and slams it to the ground. The drill landed him in an adidas commercial that aired on SportsCenter, showcasing individuals going through speed drills.
It remains to be seen whether Anderson and Gaddis will get picked up by NFL teams, but uncertainty hasn’t stopped them from practicing what they preach on the signs they held outside league offices. Considering everything they have in common, their most important similarity is the work they put in behind the scenes. Because of that, NFL dreams that would be vanquished for most still burn brightly in their hearts and minds.