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Rookies Describe Cutdown Day Experience: Food And False Alarms

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Wheeler, Munson, Smith on waiting, hoping a call would never come

New York Giants v New England Patriots
Shawn Smith
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

For NFL players on the roster bubble, especially rookies who have never been through it before, cutdown day is a nerve-wracking experience. Phone calls before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, even ones that have nothing to do with making or not making the roster, can set off panic.

Rookies Shane Smith, a fullback, and Calvin Munson, a linebacker, both had heart-stopping false alarms Saturday involving food orders.

“I (thought), ‘Oh no,’” Munson said of hearing his phone ring in the afternoon. “The call was from Grubhub. I forgot that I ordered food. The guy said, ‘Yo, I got your sandwiches.’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have never been so happy to hear your voice.’”

Same for Smith.

“I ordered some food, so I had a couple random phone calls and my heart stopped beating,” Smith said. “At that point, I thought I was getting that phone call that everyone gets.”

Rookie left tackle Chad Wheeler didn’t get the food call, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t spend the day battling nerves.

“I was sweating it out a little bit,” Wheeler said. “It’s a stressful time. You know that rosters are going to get cut in half, so you just pray and hopefully you are on the right side of the coin.

“I expected to be drafted, but it didn’t happen. That wasn’t my day. I was a little disappointed, but I just kept that chip on my shoulder throughout OTA’s and camp and these last four (preseason) games to really push me to my limits. I had to keep working, get back to the grind, and it paid off.”

All of that is just a reminder that these young men who’s every play we love to dissect — sometimes when we have no idea what we’re really looking at, to be honest — are people with feelings, and emotions. Not to mention their livelihoods on the line.