A Dream Come True

Every kid grows up with dreams of playing in the NFL. For one former Mountaineer, those dreams became reality on Tuesday.

Tuesday started out as just another day in the life of Bridgeport native Tim Lindsey. In the grand scheme of things, it turned out to be one of the biggest days of Lindsey's young life.

For the past few weeks, the former WVU captain had been chasing his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. Last weekend, Lindsey attended a tryout with the Washington Redskins. While he got plenty of positive feedback from that experience, the Redskins already had a seasoned veteran at Tim's position.

This past weekend, he was originally scheduled to attend a similar tryout with the New York Jets. At the last minute, those plans fell through. Although he didn't receive an offer from the Redskins and things didn't work out with the Jets, Lindsey knew that there would still be plenty of opportunities to make his mark.

Tim flew to Atlanta for a tryout with the Falcons, a team that he had been in contact with throughout the process. On Tuesday, he woke up a little bit earlier than usual, just to make sure he was ready for his tryout. A Falcons representative picked him up at the hotel and drove him to the team's practice facility.

"This morning was the calm before the storm, if you will," he said with a laugh.

From that point on, everything was a snap (pun intended) for the former Bridgeport Indian.

"Everything went smooth," Lindsey said in an interview from his Atlanta hotel. "I did some snapping, some blocking, and they kept telling me that I did everything they wanted to see. By the time I walked from the practice field to the locker room I knew I was going to sign."

And with that, which all happened in less than an hour, Tim's lifelong dream of being an NFL player came true. Well, almost. There was still the formality of passing a physical.

"(After signing the contract) I took off going from doctor's office to doctor's office getting a very thorough physical," he said. "Everything checked out fine."

Although Atlanta is far from his home in the West Virginia hills, there are still a couple of familiar places and faces around Lindsey's new team. For starters, he's snapped in the Georgia Dome once before, during West Virginia's 38-35 Sugar Bowl win over Georgia last January.

"I have the memory of the field, the setting, and everything," he recalled. "It's all fresh in my mind, and kind of comforting that I've already be there. It wasn't in a professional game, but it was in a BCS bowl, which is as big as it gets in college."

Another part of the Falcons organization that Tim is familiar with is head coach Bobby Petrino, who will enter his first season with the team following a stint at West Virginia's main Big East rival, Louisville. Though they were rivals on the field the past couple of years, Petrino's familiarity with Lindsey worked in Tim's favor.

"They told me they've already seen me in a pressure situation, so they know what I can do," he explained. "I think that (Petrino) seeing me play in person helped me out. They didn't see any snaps go astray, which is a positive."

Just a few hours after signing his contract, the realization of this big change is starting to sink in for Tim Lindsey.

"Everything was so surreal, and today I was signing my contract, and one of the coaches said 'Congratulations, you're an Atlanta Falcon.' That's when it hit me," he said. "Everyone started calling me ‘the new guy'. A lot of people congratulated me and introduced themselves. I already feel like a part of the Falcon family."

As with any transition, there will be some adjustments for Lindsey to make. On the field, the speed of the game will be a step up from what he's used to in the Big East. For field goal snaps, he'll have to snap the ball eight yards as opposed to seven (a difference which he described as "minute"). The hashes are a little bit wider, and the players are a little bit bigger. When it comes to snapping, though, he'll take the same approach that worked flawlessly for him the past two years at West Virginia.

"I don't want to come to the point where I'm thinking about it too much," he said. "Coming into a situation like this, the only difference I have is that I'm getting paid for it. I'm still doing the same thing I've always done. I've got to stay as level-headed as I can. If I treated the Sugar Bowl any different, maybe the fake punt wouldn't have worked out as well. I just have to come in and do my job as well as I possibly can."

Off the field, Lindsey will certainly see a change of pace. After all, just a couple of years ago he was a walk-on at WVU, paying his own way. Now, he'll have an NFL paycheck to deposit every week. Lindsey says that the Falcons have already spoken to him about the NFL's new expectations for player conduct both on and off the field. If you've ever spent more than ten seconds with the guy, you know that character issues will not be a problem.

"If I fail on the field, that's one thing," he says. "But getting kicked out for doing something stupid outside of the field is something that I would have trouble dealing with. They won't have to worry about that with me."

For the time being, he'll stay in Atlanta as he and the other Falcons' rookies have access to an area hotel between now and the start of training camp in July. Sometime soon, he'll come home to West Virginia to pack up the rest of his stuff, and bid farewell to friends and family for awhile.

Then it will be back to Atlanta, where he'll continue to pursue a lifelong dream that has finally come true.

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