DeCicco gets one more shot to chase NFL dream
All Dom DeCicco wanted was a chance.
If one chance meant a last chance, then he was just fine with that.
But reserve linebackers and special teams contributors are a dime a dozen in the NFL. Reserve linebackers and special teams contributors coming off a pair of sports hernia surgeries within a span of 10 months are virtually non-existent.
So when DeCicco — a Thomas Jefferson and Pitt graduate — sat out of football after being released by Tampa Bay following training camp last year and didn't get much interested this offseason, he was quite sure his NFL days were over.
“I pretty much had in the back of my head that I wasn't going to get another chance,” DeCicco said. “I all but thought it was over for me.”
DeCicco was wrong.
The Minnesota Vikings were impressed enough with DeCicco during a three-day tryout last month during rookie minicamp to sign him — a practice that is rarely done in the NFL — and give the 25-year-old the one more chance he wanted.
“My agent told me that they usually don't sign people, but just go and show them what you can do,” DeCicco said. “I've had all these injuries and I just felt like I wanted one more shot. For me, I just wanted to try one more time but the question was if I was going to get that opportunity or not.”
DeCicco said it was a humbling experience taking part in a rookie minicamp despite being in the league for three years and playing in 20 games, but he was grateful for the chance.
“I was there with predominately all rookies so it was humbling,” DeCicco said. “But I now realize how hard it is to come by a roster spot. When you first get in the league, you don't realize how tough it is to get in this league and stay in this league.”
DeCicco looked like he was on the fast track of being a productive NFL player when he was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent during the lockout year of 2011.
A hybrid safety/linebacker at Pitt, DeCicco wasn't ready to play linebacker in the NFL, but became an instant special-teams standout.
DeCicco finished his rookie season with 17 special-teams tackles and was making strides at linebacker the following year in training camp before re-injuring his groin in the preseason opener against Denver that he originally hurt during the spring.
Three weeks later and after seeing a specialist in Philadelphia, DeCicco's injury was diagnosed as a sports hernia. DeCicco was released with an injury settlement not long after.
DeCicco returned to the Bears three months later before being diagnosed with another sports hernia during the spring. He was released again.
“It was tough because I wasn't healthy,” DeCicco said.
Seven weeks removed from his second sports hernia surgery, he signed with Tampa Bay, but wasn't healthy and was cut a month later.
“I thought I was healthy,” DeCicco said. “But when you practice in that heat, play in that heat and with (Greg) Schiano, we had some pretty tough practices. After the second or third practice, my leg was all black and blue. It was a struggle.”
DeCicco is now healthy and has a shot to catch on with the Vikings and new coach Mike Zimmer. DeCicco has been playing mostly strong side outside linebacker during organized team activities, but he also has worked on the weak side and in the middle.
“There are a lot of good players here, but there is definitely an opportunity,” DeCicco said. “I really have to excel in camp at special teams and show that I can play linebacker as well.”
And if he can't, he'll move on.
“I think I will have a good gauge if it is time to move on depending what happens in camp and the preseason,” DeCicco said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Ex-Titans kicker Bironas dies in car wreck
- Vikings vow to ‘get this right,’ put Peterson on paid leave
- NFL notebook: Fans exchange 7,000 Rice jerseys
- Former Titans kicker Bironas killed in accident
- NFL notebook: Vikings reinstate Peterson
- Minnesota governor: Peterson should be suspended
- NFL notebook: Cardinals coach Arians shocked by Dwyer’s arrest