Posted: December 17, 2008
In 1995, Mike Sellers became the youngest player to sign a professional football contract when he joined the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
He was 19 years old coming out of Walla Walla Community College in Washington state.
Basically, he needed a job.
In Canada, Sellers would get noticed by Redskins scouts and he joined the team in 1998. He would put together a solid nine-year career in the NFL, all but one of those seasons (2001) spent with the Redskins.
There were some rough patches in Cleveland in 2001 and a return to the CFL in mid-career. On Tuesday, though, it all came together for Sellers, the 6-3, 284-pound fullback.
Now something of a grizzled veteran at the age of 33, Sellers was named to his first Pro Bowl.
Long recognized as an unusual combination of size and speed at which to gawk, Sellers can now be recognized as a total football package. He’ll start at fullback for the NFC in the Feb. 8 game in Hawaii.
Sellers was emotional on Wednesday discussing why the honor meant so much to him.
"Because of the ride it took, from going to high school, not going to [a four-year] college, then going to the NFL," he said. "Then from being released in Cleveland to thinking I might not play again, to coming back here [to the Redskins] and reviving my career. It’s the road I took. It’s a good feeling.
"It has been a long time coming. This was one of my lifelong goals. I’m grateful for everybody and what they have helped me achieve.”
Sellers is the first Redskins fullback to make the Pro Bowl since Rob Goode in 1954.
He’ll be making the trip to Honolulu with teammates Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley and Chris Samuels.
To have a fullback and a running back from the same Redskins offense is a first in franchise history.
“I’m just going to enjoy the experience and soak it all in," Sellers said.
That it’s the high point in a career that has had its share of struggles is not lost on Sellers.
Last week, of course, Sellers was the focal point of that failed opportunity at the goal line in Cincinnati in the game the Redskins dropped 20-13.
But overall, this year everyone around the league has come to realize that Sellers is an extremely versatile player who brings a great deal to an offense or to special teams.
"I’ve had better years, but maybe it’s that I’m finally getting recognized for my ability to block," Sellers said.
Jim Zorn said that Sellers has improved as the season has gone along.
"Mike has earned it," Zorn said. "From the beginning of the season through now, Mike has really tried to improve. He has really taken it on himself to listen to what the coaches have asked him to do and make that a part of his game.
"He has become a tougher player, not slowing down at the point of attack, and really running through blocks. We’re excited for him. And nobody is more excited than he is. It’s a heartfelt selection for him, it really is."
Portis goes so far as to say that he considers Sellers to be one of the top players in the game.
"He deserves it," Portis said. "You’re talking about a guy who comes to work every day, he never misses practice, gives it all he has, and bangs his body all day to protect me."
Sellers has proven to be a great asset for the Redskins. On Tuesday, the NFL finally and officially acknowledged as much.