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A pro and a champ offer Raiders football wisdom

 

Jacob Wagner

NFL punter T. J. Conley shows Raiders Cristian Ruiz and Darian Lindsey where to kick the ball.

Lake Roosevelt Raider Football players continued to be students of the game as NFL punter T.J. Conley and EWU Big Sky champion offensive lineman Cassidy Curtis came to their practice last Wednesday.

The guests spoke to the Raiders before their practice. The players listened intently to their advice before heading to the field, where Conley and Curtis ran drills with the younger players, guiding them on the proper techniques of how to kick a football, or be more effective as a lineman.

Conley, who was the punter for the New York Jets in 2011 following his All-American senior year at the University of Idaho, spoke first.

"When you guys are down in that weight room, or out on that field, I want you to think about your time and how valuable it is," Conley said to a classroom full of football players. "Time is money. Time is extremely valuable."

And just like money, he told them, they can either decide to just spend it or invest their time.

"So are you gonna spend your time in the weight room down there, or out on that field ... or are you going to invest that time?"

"We're gonna invest it!" students replied.

Conley continued: "Every second, every breath, everything you're doing, you're investing that time so that you can get to the championships. To win games. To be better than that opponent. To compete."

Conley explained that the ultimate competitor is the one who works hard even if the coach isn't watching, even if they're alone in the weight room.

"It takes a lot of motivation," he said. "I want to see that today out on the field. Your coach wants to see that all season long. Be that guy who's going hard as he can, no matter what. Whether or not coach is watching doesn't matter; give it 100 percent all the time. Invest your time. Invest your time."

Cassidy Curtis, originally from a high school with 4,000 students, went on to play on the offensive line for the Big Sky Conference Champion Eastern Washington University Eagles.

"I've got three of these things," he said, before passing a large championship ring to all the Raider players.

"I owe everything to this game of football," Curtis said. "I met the love of my life because of this game. I was able to go places I would have never been able to go. I got a free education because of this game. Because of a game! I have the opportunity to make a career because of this game! Cherish every opportunity you get."

Curtis spoke about the unsung hero position of being an offensive lineman.

"I don't get my name in the paper, "Curtis said. "I'm not out here doing end-zone dances and things like that. ... My job was putting my hand in the dirt, not asking questions, doing as I was told, and imposing my will for 60 minutes on the guy across from me. That's my job."

The offensive line keeps back the defenders in order to protect the quarterback until he can find an open receiver, or to open up a hole for the running back to run through to gain yards.

"I judge my success by how well the people did behind me," Curtis said. "It's a different mentality, but it transverses to any position. The mentality that you need to have when you step onto that football field is you are imposing your will on whoever lines up across from you. God help the man that lines up across from you. He might get you one play. Okay, chalk one up for him. But I'm coming after you the next play, and the next play, and the next play."

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