Sam Seale, who played defensive back in the NFL for 10 seasons, is the Green Bay Packers’ longtime West Coast scout. He was at Stanford for its pro day on March 19. One of the Cardinal players testing for scouts from all 32 teams was running back Ricky Seale.
“It was kind of funny having my dad there,” Ricky Seale said on Saturday. “Every time I went, he didn’t take my times or anything. He was just there as Dad. He did try to coach me up a little bit but nothing like a scout. His whole perspective was that of a dad watching his son try out for the NFL. It was really cool to have him there and support me.”
On what might have been a make-or-break day in his football career, Sam gave Ricky some simple advice before the workout.
“‘Just go out there and leave it all out there and just show all the other scouts how good of a player I can be,’” Ricky recalled.
Even with Dad watching this most important of days, Ricky said it was “business as usual.” While Sam spent long stretches on the road because of his duties with the Packers for the past 20 years, Ricky said he was used to performing in his father’s presence. However, Sam wasn’t a domineering sort of dad. He lent his perspective and advice only when needed.
“When he thought he needed to talk to me, he did,” Ricky said. “As a young kid, I was a little bit reluctant to listen. Sometimes, I wish I would have listened a little bit more when I was younger, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Now, when he sees little things, he tries to help me out. I definitely realize that he was an NFL player; I kind of took it for granted when I was younger. Now, I really do listen to him when he talks. He’s not the most hands-on person. He lets me do my own thing.”
Ricky didn’t start playing football until he was 10. Once he started, he knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. As he got older, however, football became “my own journey to see how good” he could become. In high school, the two would exchange some playful banter, with Ricky saying his team could have beaten his dad’s team, and it would be Ricky winning MVP honors. Sam, who started 59 games and intercepted 11 passes during a decade with the Raiders, Chargers and Rams, disagreed, of course. (Keeping with team policy, a request for Sam to be interviewed for this story was denied.)
“We liked to talk trash to each other,” Ricky said.
Having the name “Seale” on the back of his jersey didn’t provide added pressure, though – the outside expectations notwithstanding. Rather, the focus was living up to the name off the field.
“My dad’s a real low-key person and I think to an extent I kind of inherited that from him,” he said. “I’m real low-key, too. He never put pressure on me football-wise because of the last name. It’s more about being a good person with his last name. It had nothing to do with football. He just wanted me to be the best person I could and represent his last name as a good person more than a good football player.”
For Ricky, pro day was a way to extend his football career. After a record-setting career at Escondido (Calif.) High School, Seale was Scout.com’s No. 28 running back. He was the CIF San Diego Section’s career rushing leader with 6,694 yards. As a junior and senior, he rushed for 2,695 yards and 32 touchdowns and 2,419 yards and 35 touchdowns, respectively.
Seale, however, couldn’t break through the Stanford depth chart. As a senior, he played in 11 games and carried a career-high 23 times for a career-high-tying 57 yards. Seale’s only career touchdown came in his final collegiate game, a bowl victory over Maryland.
“It meant a lot to me to score in that bowl game,” he said. “I had worked for five years trying to go out there and score. It was nice to end my career with a score and get the appreciation from all my teammates, which is all I ever wanted.”
Regardless of how little he played, there isn’t an ounce of disappointment in Seale’s voice when he looks back on a career that didn’t match anyone’s expectations. Instead, Seale talks about how he’s improved as a player and how those improvements will give him a shot in the NFL.
“I really appreciate the time that I had here, even though I didn’t play that much. I had some really great coaches that taught me little things that have made me a better running back. I had two quarterback coaches in Mike Samford and Tavita Pritchard. And they were very much about running routes to catch the ball. Out of high school, I had only caught the ball once, so it was really good to have those two, because now I’m a lot better at running routes and I can catch the ball, whether it be in the slot or in the backfield. Most recently, I had a coach, Lance Taylor, who was very, very particular on the footsteps because the footsteps are going to get you to do A, B and C. So, he really harped on getting the footsteps correct and doing them in the way they should be done.”
And how did that pro day go? Pretty well. Seale (5-9, 203) ran his 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. His short shuttle of 4.19 seconds and three-cone time of 7.10 would have ranked in the top one-third of the backs at the Combine. With his quickness and hands, his niche in the NFL could be as a versatile running back and slot receiver.
“I’m hoping to fill a role, like a (Darren) Sproles role, and just be quick and be able to be explosive and make plays when plays are needed to be made,” he said.
Even with his meager resume of 171 career rushing yards, Seale said he has no doubt he can make it in the NFL. He’s been dreaming about this moment for years.
“When I was younger, I thought about how excited I was going to be,” he said. “Now that I’m older, I’m waiting for that call because I’m waiting to go to work. I’m ready to go to work and I’m ready to prove that I can do all of those things that I’ve been saying I could do for the last couple of years.”
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