Joe Spaziani: A Feel Good Story Worth Telling

How do you go from a moderately talented high school QB to a long snapper in the CFL. Joe Spaziani can tell you

This is a story that will not generate much of a buzz. It is not a tale of rags to riches, it is not a story from the cesspool of college athletics and it may not have a happy ending--at least in the Hollywood script sense.

But it has to make you feel good after you read it.

His name is Joe Spaziani. Five years ago he was a footnote. Coming from an athletic family (father, brother and sister all were and are athletes) Joe was the captain and quarterback of the Hingham High School (Ma.) football team. But there were no delusions of grandeur about what could be accomplished. He was not a 5-star blue chip recruit being courted.

Football was slightly ahead of the class since Joe's father Frank was a former blue chip athlete who went to Penn State and then moved into coaching after his career, including a stint as the head coach at Boston College. He is currently the defensive coordinator at New Mexico State.

But in the winter Joe played basketball. In the spring he played baseball.

He was the quintessential jock, with moderate talent in football that drew some interest from FCS level schools.

But in the middle of his senior football season, Joe broke his leg, ending his high school football career and putting his immediate athletic future on hold.

Joe adjusted. He focused on the University of Virginia, with a long term goal of becoming a football coach like his father.

But the competitive bug in Joe was still alive. He told his father that he wanted to play football--at Virginia and was trying out for the team as a non-scholarship "walk on'' player.

Well, it worked.Sort of. Joe made the team, but he didn't dress for most games and did little more than hold a clip board for a few years.

There had to be a better way. There was. Looking for opportunities, Joe saw the Cavs were short handed in long snappers, whose duties were limited to snaps on extra points, field goals and punts.

Normally a spot filled by offensive lineman, the 6-foot-2 inch, 215 pound QB worked on making as many snaps as take them.

Joe practiced and worked with his father, and former QB his younger brother Andrew, another three sport star.

When injuries hit, Joe Spaz was ready. He stepped in and did so well that two years ago, Virginia Coach Bronco Mendenhall gave the ultimate candidate, awarding Joe a football scholarship.

But the end game was approaching, when Joe finished his duties at Virginia this fall (with a degree).

The National Football League wasn't in the market for undersized long snappers and even the Canadian Football League appeared to be at a level above Spaziani's grade, although he marketed his talents, aided by his father's CFL connections.

On Thursday, the call came. With their pick in the sixth round, the Toronto Argonauts, only a year removed from a Grey Cup title, chose Joe Spaziani.

The odds suggest that Joe's journey will end by the summer when CFL play begins.

And if that is true, Joe will go after a job coaching football, somewhere, somehow.

But for now, the dream lives and it as good as you will find in a world filled with stories of excess egos, salaries and scandals.

Comments


Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun