The lifetime of an offensive lineman within the NFL is a tough one. Clearly, there’s the bodily toll of violently clashing with huge and robust defenders for 60+ snaps per sport. Past that’s the psychological toll that comes from performing such a thankless process. Particularly, informal followers by no means discover whenever you do your job nicely; a lineman solely catches their consideration when a defender runs straight over them to get to the quarterback. It’s simple to think about the mix of bodily ache and stress attending to even a seasoned skilled.
Jon Feliciano, the beginning left guard for the Buffalo Payments, works his ass off within the gymnasium all 12 months spherical to make sure his physique can deal with the slog of a 17-game season. Getting ready for the physicality is a simple course of; discovering a solution to handle the psychological hardship takes a bit of extra nuance. Feliciano harkens again to a bit of recommendation given to him early in his life to get his mindset proper earlier than lining up in opposition to one of the best athletes on the planet each Sunday.
“The best way I grew up, one in every of my mother’s boyfriends taught me at a younger age which you can’t give an F what anybody else thinks,” Feliciano says. “I couldn’t care about what others assume, I used to be going to do what was proper. And I took that into soccer. So long as I do know I’m giving my all for my staff and I’m doing all the things I’m presupposed to be doing, if one thing dangerous occurs, it occurs. That’s soccer. They receives a commission too.”
It was in 2001 when Feliciano attended his first soccer sport—Washington vs. Miami on the Orange Bowl—and from that second nothing would deter him from his dream to change into a Miami Hurricane. This wasn’t simply any sport, thoughts you: Washington and Miami hate one another regardless of solely dealing with off 3 times. The Huskies had been making their first go to to the Orange Bowl since breaking the Hurricanes’ 58-game house successful streak again in 1994, and it was time for revenge.
The 2001 Hurricanes had been stacked and what Feliciano witnessed that day was nothing lower than an epic ass kicking as they cruised to a 65-7 victory. The nine-year-old future NFL guard realized his future that day.
“That was my first-ever soccer expertise,” he recollects. “The ambiance of being there within the Orange Bowl, all the things is rocking, after which [the Hurricanes] come operating out of the smoke… Popping out of the smoke was actually one of many greatest issues that drove me to work so arduous. I simply needed to be a Miami Hurricane from that second on.”
It was only some years later when Feliciano rode his bike over to the highschool soccer subject on one of many first days of observe. When the coaches noticed the already fairly massive ninth grader they instantly discovered him some pads and put him on the O-line. Whereas Feliciano was a fan of the sport, he didn’t know an excessive amount of about it but. However one factor he did know was that he completely didn’t wish to be on the road.
“The one soccer I had performed [at that time] was NCAA and Madden video video games,” he explains. “They tried to stay me on the O-line. I needed to play tight finish—I needed to be a Kellen Winslow Jr, a Greg Olsen, a kind of guys. As quickly as they informed me that I used to be like, ‘Uh, I believe I’m alright, I believe I’m going to go away.
“In order that they put me on the defensive position and it’s my freshman 12 months and I’m on JV,” he continues. “On the finish of the 12 months they moved me up [to varsity] and I performed D-line in a sport and I acquired double-teamed and blown up by at the least 10 yards. The following day I used to be like, ‘Aw shoot, perhaps I ought to attempt offensive line,’ and I’ve been there ever since.”
As soon as his place was discovered, Feliciano’s path was set, however it might not be a straightforward row to hoe. Throughout his sophomore 12 months the trailer he had been dwelling in along with his household was condemned. As his mom and youthful brother made plans to affix his older brother up in New York, he had a option to make. Would he relocate all the way in which to the Northeast, distant from the eyes of school recruiters? Or would he preserve his eyes on the prize and discover a solution to keep in Miami, even when he didn’t have a spot to name house?
“In my thoughts, I used to be the largest Miami Hurricane fan and I used to be satisfied that the College of Miami wouldn’t be a guard or deal with in New York,” he says. “So staying in Florida could be one of the best factor for me and, fortunately, my mother and father let me keep again.”
Feliciano was nonetheless months away from getting his driver’s license and he had simply made probably the most grownup resolution of his life, sacrificing the steadiness of being with household for his desires. Fortunately, he had a really sturdy assist system in place. His nights had been spent bouncing round between his finest buddy’s home, his then-girlfriend’s home and the occasional evening again within the trailer that had been deemed unlivable.
“Their households had been tremendous nice to me, offering me with meals, garments and a spot to sleep,” he says. “I’d keep on the condemned home a pair days once I felt like a burden to everyone. I did that for six to eight months, then my mom acquired some cash and we had been capable of repair the trailer and transfer again in.
“Technically, I used to be homeless for about six to eight months,” he continues. “That sport… from that second on it was all the things. I simply recognized as a Miami Hurricane, it was my complete factor. My mother and father knew I wasn’t leaving.”
Into his junior 12 months, Miami’s recruiters nonetheless hadn’t contacted the decided lineman, so Feliciano and his coach grabbed the initiative and approached them. Whereas attending Miami’s spring sport the 2 made certain to get his spotlight movie within the fingers of one of many coaches. A couple of week later all of his arduous work and sacrifice paid off as he acquired the decision he’d been dreaming of for years.
“A couple of week after my official go to they referred to as me, supplied me a scholarship, and I used to be like, ‘Cool, I commit,’” he says. “They had been like, ‘Are you certain you don’t wish to speak to your mother and father? It is a massive resolution.’ I walked to the opposite room and I used to be like, ‘Hey mother, I’m going to Miami.’”
On February 3, 2010, every week shy of his eighteenth birthday, Feliciano signed to attend the College of Miami. Earlier than the ink was even dry on the letter of intent he was in a tattoo store getting inked for the primary time. The tattoo is of a set of prayer fingers—full with Miami’s signature “U” on the sleeve—with script studying “Solely God can choose me” on his left shoulder. From there Feliciano was off to the races. On a visit to New York he acquired a tattoo that was a little bit of a catastrophe, the kind of dangerous ink that may persuade somebody to by no means get tattooed once more. However as you must know by now, Feliciano isn’t a quitter.
After accompanying a few of his fellow Miami Hurricanes to a tattoo store, he met Alex Campbell. As his teammates acquired tattooed by Campbell, Feliciano was blown away by his work. From that time on Feliciano has not been tattooed by anyone else. Campbell’s creative versatility will be seen all through Feliciano’s assortment. When you might not be capable to see a lot of it on Sunday afternoons, Feliciano’s still-in-progress leg sleeve is improbable because it options homages to “The Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and extra.
“I exploit my physique to inform my story in a manner,” he says. “My backside left leg is my childhood, mainly. Rising up, watching a bunch of cartoons and taking part in Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!”
To date Feliciano has been capable of have fun many hallmark occasions of his life with tattoos, however there’s one noticeable absence—a Vince Lombardi trophy. Buffalo has lengthy been often called one of the star-crossed franchises within the NFL, however going into the season Feliciano felt good about his staff’s probabilities this 12 months.
“We’re going to only preserve working and hopefully we’ll attain our fundamental aim,” he says. “We imagine we have now a very good staff and it’s all about placing the work in and incomes the suitable to play within the playoffs.”
“Come on, that’s such a diplomatic reply,” we prodded, hoping to get the common-or-garden lineman to speak some smack.
“Yuuup,” Felciano laughs. “I wish to win the Tremendous Bowl. There you go.”
If there’s one factor we learn about Jon Feliciano, it’s that he’s going to place within the work to perform his targets. Tremendous Bowl LVI can be performed on February 13, so perhaps he ought to e book an appointment with Campbell that subsequent week. You understand, simply in case Feliciano and the Payments set the world on fireplace and win all of it.