Ex-Green Beret Nate Boyer fits in during first day of Seahawks rookie minicamp
By Jayson Jenks on May 8, 2015
RENTON — He looked and talked just like any other rookie, except for the time he said he dreamed of the NFL growing up while watching Joe Montana, or when he equated long-snapping a football to firing a pistol, or when he rubbed the grays in his beard.
Other than that, Nate Boyer, the former Green Beret and 34-year-old undrafted free agent, fit right in at the Seahawks’ first day of rookie minicamp.
“I’m probably just an immature 34-year-old in that way,” Boyer said. “But I feel like I’m still 19, and I probably audaciously believe I can do anything that these guys can do, even though I don’t run a 4.4 or 4.5 (40-yard dash) … or 4.6 … or 4.7.”
Boyer was one of the heartwarming stories of the draft: the former Green Beret who walked on at Texas despite never playing football, only to become the team’s starting deep snapper for three years. But now Boyer, at age 34, is trying to win the job from returning starter Clint Gresham, however long of a shot he might be.
“Clint Gresham reached out to me as soon as I got that phone call,” Boyer said. “He was one of the first people to congratulate me. It’s not going to be an ill-will thing.”
Boyer served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he didn’t want to talk about combat or life-threatening experiences.
“The reason I don’t want to is there are so many guys out there who that’s happened to, and I’m not trying to say my situation is any more severe,” he said. “There are guys who have done way more heroic things than I can even imagine.
“I’m fortunate to have the body and mind to be able to go out and do this. That’s one of the main reasons I’m here: in honor of those guys, the guys that paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Boyer put on his No. 48 jersey for the first time Friday, and he said he also had a letter at his locker waiting for him.
“The best things I’ve heard from people, the ones that inspire me the most, are notes and letters — I got one today in my locker — from people who I’ve never met before that said, ‘You’re inspiring me to go after something,’ ” Boyer said.
Boyer is listed on the Seahawks’ roster at 216 pounds, almost 20 pounds heavier than his playing weight at Texas. Boyer said he couldn’t add weight until after college because he still went overseas with the special forces during the summer.
“He’s an amazing man,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re thrilled to have him. He snaps the ball pretty sweet, too. He had a good first day for us.”
Carroll added, “We need to see if he can hold up blocking-wise. He’s not a big man. We know that he’s going to give you everything he’s got, which is all we’ve ever asked of our guys. Now we’ve got to see how that translates. He’s going to be in a big competition with Gresh (who is listed as 6-3, 240). We’ll see how that goes.”
And if his dream doesn’t turn into reality, Boyer said he wouldn’t consider it a failure.
“When you get to a level like this, it’s not failing,” he said. “It may not work out the way you hope, but it’s not failing.”