34-year-old rookie and ex-Green Beret Nate Boyer details his journey from military to the Seahawks
By Brent Stecker on May 4, 2015
There’s only one 34-year-old former Green Beret rookie trying to catch on with an NFL team for the 2015 season, and his story is every bit as inspiring as it sounds.
Nate Boyer was one of the Seahawks undrafted free-agent signings after the NFL Draft on Saturday, and there is nothing ordinary about how he became not only a long snapper for the University of Texas, but good enough to be given a shot with an NFL squad.
Boyer talked to 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore” on Monday about his journey, one that isn’t devoid of unexpected twists and turns. For starters, Boyer had never played organized football before he enrolled at Texas – after he served in the Army and National Guard Special Forces (Green Berets) in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I was 29 in Iraq on my last active duty deployment, and I just kinda made the decision I was going to go back to college, and if I was going to go back I was going to try to play football,” said Boyer, who went to a small high school in the Bay Area that didn’t have a football team. “And if I was going to play football I was going to play in one of the best programs and traditions in history at the University of Texas.”
Getting a spot on the Longhorns’ roster wasn’t as simple as showing up to practice and saying he wanted to play, and he knew that going in. So in preparation, Boyer turned the desert of Iraq into his own personal training ground.
“It became like an addiction for me,” Boyer said of his training. “I’d go out in my free time on base and just draw like a speed ladder in the sand or something and start doing footwork drills … You need stuff like that to get your mind off all the difficult stuff you’re going through. It was like a release for me.”
While he made a lot of headway towards his dream during his time in the military, his football career wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for a different overseas trip in his early 20s to Darfur, one that opened his eyes to the possibilities of what he could accomplish in America.
“Coming back (from Darfur) and realizing just how fortunate we are here, we have everything at our fingertips. Any dream or goal or desire you have, we have the capacity to go chase it and go after it, and it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from,” he said. “We live in a country where you can just go for it, and so I did, I started living my life like that. It started with the Army and the Special Forces and it just kinda developed into this (shot with the Seahawks) now.”
Boyer said playing pro football isn’t the only goal he has left in life, but it’s nonetheless an important one.
“For right now this is a pretty big one and I’m just so fortunate to have the opportunity to make it happen.”
Considering how crazy his journey has been to this point, it’s only fitting how out of the blue his signing with the Seahawks was, even to him.
“I got a call from a man named Pete Carroll,” he said, “and that’s how I found out.”