Former College of Maine star defensive lineman Mike DeVito performed in 110 NFL common season video games, amassing 250 tackles — together with 17 tackles for loss — and 5.5 sacks with six pressured and three recovered fumbles.
However he mentioned there is no such thing as a manner he might play within the NFL now.
“There’s no manner a two-down, run-stopping, unathletic, obese defensive lineman might play now like I might again then,” mentioned the 38-year-old DeVito, who was 6-foot-3, 298 kilos throughout his taking part in days as a defensive finish.
DeVito — who is likely one of the featured clinicians on the annual Hermon Hawks Youth Soccer Camp in Hermon — performed 9 NFL seasons, together with six with the New York Jets and three with the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, earlier than he retired in 2016. However he mentioned latest modifications to the NFL make him doubt he’d be capable of play at the moment’s recreation, even when he was in his prime.
“The fellows are a lot sooner now. Everyone is a greyhound. Everyone is lengthy, tall, has an extended attain and is extremely quick off the soccer. It’s actually unbelievable to observe,” DeVito mentioned. “And it’s not simply the ability gamers. It’s your offensive linemen as properly.”
In his 9 playoff video games, he was concerned in 22 tackles with three for misplaced yardage and a sack. He additionally pressured a fumble and was credited with a security within the 2010 AFC Championship recreation towards Pittsburgh.
He mentioned a tell-tale signal within the evolution of the sport are the numbers posted on the exercise combines.
“Once I performed, guys would bench-press 225 kilos 40 to 50 instances. Now they’ll solely bench press 225 kilos 20 or 30 instances,” he mentioned.
“No person even cares. Guys aren’t frightened about how a lot they’ll elevate like we was. Now it’s, ‘How briskly are you?’”
DeVito is puzzled by completely different change within the recreation: NFL’s resolution to play 17 common season video games as an alternative of 16, which was carried out for the primary time final season.
“The NFL has achieved a whole lot of issues to help the protection of the gamers and add longevity to their careers,” mentioned DeVito, a two-time All-Atlantic 10 defensive lineman at UMaine and a member of the UMaine and State of Maine Sports activities Halls of Fame.
“However including a seventeenth recreation negates all of the issues they’re doing to care for the blokes. If I used to be nonetheless taking part in, that will have ticked me off,” he mentioned. “I do know they’re attempting to earn cash. However that may be a lot on the physique. After week 18, you then exit and play within the playoffs. I don’t know the way the physique could make it.”
All groups get one weekend off through the season.
The NFL has made a number of rule modifications through the years designed to guard gamers, particularly these in a weak place. A kind of was transferring the kickoff spot from the 30 to the 35-yard line in 2011 so there are fewer kickoff returns.
The NFL has additionally decreased the variety of preseason video games from 4 to a few however that’s a moot level in line with DeVito, as a result of veteran gamers solely performed a complete of three or 4 quarters through the preseason.
“Taking away a kind of video games does nothing,” mentioned the previous undrafted free agent who starred at Nauset Regional Excessive Faculty in Eastham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.
Kickoff returns have turn into uncommon nowadays as a result of kickers normally kick the ball by way of the top zone for a touchback, which has helped scale back accidents, significantly concussions.
“I was on the kickoff return groups. It was like gladiators on the market. I might be within the five-man wedge and also you’d have guys my dimension working down the sphere and attempting to blow every little thing up,” he mentioned with a smile.
“However I do sympathize with the blokes who make a residing [on special teams]. It narrows down who has the chance to contribute on the roster. If you happen to begin eliminating all of that stuff, you’re simply going to have offensive and defensive gamers.”
DeVito, who lives in Hampden with spouse, Jessie (Martin), and sons Rocco, Sal and Louie, mentioned he nonetheless misses the sport.
He retired in 2016 resulting from well being issues. Late in his profession, he suffered two concussions and ruptured his Achilles tendon.
“I hope at some point [the desire to play] goes away. It nonetheless hasn’t. Unexpectedly, I get this pit in my abdomen after I notice there’s no extra soccer,” DeVito mentioned.
DeVito mentioned he loves working on the Hermon soccer camp, which fits three nights from 5-7 p.m. on the Hermon Elementary Faculty area.
“Jason Largay does a terrific job placing this on yearly. To see 100 to 200 youngsters out within the warmth, working laborious and getting higher [is impressive]. This can be a particular neighborhood out right here.”