Area products again at center of ‘Super’ storm

Area products again at center of ‘Super’ storm

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012 12:00 pm

Area products again at center of ‘Super’ storm | Area products again at center of ‘Super’ storm

Donnie Etheridge (New York Giants) Jon Robinson ( New England Patriots)
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Press Sports
Who says lightning never strikes twice in the same place?
For the second time in four years, a pair of former West Tennessee prep athletes are in the eye of the perfect sports storm.
Union City natives Jon Robinson and Donnie Etheridge — both of whom played high school football for the Golden Tornadoes with Etheridge later going on to UT Martin — will again bask in the spotlight of the entertainment world’s biggest stage this weekend when the New England Patriots play the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Robinson, the director of college scouting for the Patriots, and Etheridge, an area scout for the Giants, are valued veteran personnel men in their respective team’s organization and will be part of the color and pageantry of the event just as they were in 2007.
And if the likelihood of two men from the same small rural West Tennessee town with a part in the world-renowned game was rightfully considered mind-boggling then, for it to happen on a second occasion — and in such a short time frame — simply is beyond the realm of imagination.
“Whoever would’ve thought two country boys from rural West Tennessee would make it to the NFL and have a chance to play in the Super Bowl,” Robinson playfully asked. “For it to happen a second time, and so quickly, is almost unbelievable.”
Etheridge, who actually coached Robinson for part of his freshman season and also played for UC before an injury cost him his senior season, shared those very same thoughts.
“The odds are stacked big against you to even make it to a Super Bowl, so it made for a pretty cool story after the 2007 season to make it there and to be playing New England, who Jonathan scouted for,” he said “Now to go back four years later facing the same team and once again to have (that) connection is off the charts.
“I have a lot of scouting friends who have been on the job for many more years than I have who haven’t made it to a Super Bowl against anyone — much less a guy from your little small home town.”
Both Robinson and Etheridge are involved in what’s considered the lifeblood of professional football.
Each estimates spending more than 100 nights a year away from home and their families, scouting potential draftees for their team’s needs.
That demanding travel process includes countless hours of watching both practice and game tape, interviewing coaches and filing their findings in reports. In addition to visiting college campuses of all sizes and watching games in the fall, they attend and evaluate postseason all-star games, do the same at pro personnel combines and then are involved in extensive meetings at team headquarters prior to the April draft.
The 36-year-old Robinson is considered a rising star in the business by many — including the Giants’ own General Manager Jerry Reese, the pride of Lake County who is third variable in this unique rural West Tennessee equation.
He joined the Patriots organization in 2002 as an area scout and already has two Super Bowl rings during his tenure with the club.
He was promoted to regional scout in ’06 and then assistant director of college scouting two years later.
Etheridge, 11 years Robinson’s elder, has been in the Giants’ organization for 11 years now as an area scout.
Etheridge was hired by his friend Reese, after the two coached together at UT Martin — the former as a student and then graduate assistant — the latter as a defensive assistant under coordinator Larry Shanks and head coach Don McLeary.
The two said they cross paths some on the scouting trail, but not on a regular basis. Conversation is mostly limited to work-related topics, but with some references to home on occasion.
Each said there’s been very little mention of the first time their teams met in the Super Bowl four years ago when the Giants upset New England 17-14, spoiling their bid for just the second unbeaten season in NFL history.
Robinson did break what could’ve been an awkward silence, though, when he, Etheridge and Reese were together at the league combine soon after the game.
“I told them they cost me a key to the city and probably Jon Robinson Historic Declaration Day with that game,” he chuckled.
Etheridge laughed, too, and said there’s not even good-natured kidding among the scouting fraternity about such a subject.
“It’s a tender subject when you lose a game like the Super Bowl. Just a handshake when you see him on the road or afterward and smile,” he said. “I wouldn’t ever pick at a friend about something like that. To make it that far and not win is really tough, I’m sure.
“I hope I don’t find out this weekend.”
Though Robinson is widely-considered in the profession as someone who will continue to ascend the business ladder, he wouldn’t speculate on such and took the company line as is commonplace in the New England organization.
“I’m just trying to help the Patriots win as much as possible in this stage of my career and that is as a college scouting director in the NFL,” he said. “When Scott Pioli left for the GM job at Kansas City, (Patriots head coach) Bill (Belichick) and our Director of Player Personnel, Nick Caserio, entrusted the college preps with me. I’ve tried to be creative. It’s a fairly young staff of scouts that we have. My job is to help these guys grow, be better evaluators, be more organized and show them the way.
“I’m not a coach, but a little bit like a coach to our staff. I want to be an important part of the scouts’ makeup and for them to look back one day and say, ‘Jon really helped me in this business.’”
Etheridge said he’s perfectly content with his current position in the Giants’ organization.
“I really don’t see myself as an ‘office’ guy, and if I moved into another set of responsibilities, I’d probably have to move my family and spend time in an office,” he said. “What I’m most happy about is that I believe I work for the best boss (Reese) and the best organization in the NFL. I’m sure Jon feels that way, too.”
And that’s just not fair-weather talk.By MIKE HUTCHENS
Press Sports
Who says lightning never strikes twice in the same place?
For the second time in four years, a pair of former West Tennessee prep athletes are in the eye of the perfect sports storm.
Union City natives Jon Robinson and Donnie Etheridge — both of whom played high school football for the Golden Tornadoes with Etheridge later going on to UT Martin — will again bask in the spotlight of the entertainment world’s biggest stage this weekend when the New England Patriots play the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Robinson, the director of college scouting for the Patriots, and Etheridge, an area scout for the Giants, are valued veteran personnel men in their respective team’s organization and will be part of the color and pageantry of the event just as they were in 2007.
And if the likelihood of two men from the same small rural West Tennessee town with a part in the world-renowned game was rightfully considered mind-boggling then, for it to happen on a second occasion — and in such a short time frame — simply is beyond the realm of imagination.
“Whoever would’ve thought two country boys from rural West Tennessee would make it to the NFL and have a chance to play in the Super Bowl,” Robinson playfully asked. “For it to happen a second time, and so quickly, is almost unbelievable.”
Etheridge, who actually coached Robinson for part of his freshman season and also played for UC before an injury cost him his senior season, shared those very same thoughts.
“The odds are stacked big against you to even make it to a Super Bowl, so it made for a pretty cool story after the 2007 season to make it there and to be playing New England, who Jonathan scouted for,” he said “Now to go back four years later facing the same team and once again to have (that) connection is off the charts.
“I have a lot of scouting friends who have been on the job for many more years than I have who haven’t made it to a Super Bowl against anyone — much less a guy from your little small home town.”
Both Robinson and Etheridge are involved in what’s considered the lifeblood of professional football.
Each estimates spending more than 100 nights a year away from home and their families, scouting potential draftees for their team’s needs.
That demanding travel process includes countless hours of watching both practice and game tape, interviewing coaches and filing their findings in reports. In addition to visiting college campuses of all sizes and watching games in the fall, they attend and evaluate postseason all-star games, do the same at pro personnel combines and then are involved in extensive meetings at team headquarters prior to the April draft.
The 36-year-old Robinson is considered a rising star in the business by many — including the Giants’ own General Manager Jerry Reese, the pride of Lake County who is third variable in this unique rural West Tennessee equation.
He joined the Patriots organization in 2002 as an area scout and already has two Super Bowl rings during his tenure with the club.
He was promoted to regional scout in ’06 and then assistant director of college scouting two years later.
Etheridge, 11 years Robinson’s elder, has been in the Giants’ organization for 11 years now as an area scout.
Etheridge was hired by his friend Reese, after the two coached together at UT Martin — the former as a student and then graduate assistant — the latter as a defensive assistant under coordinator Larry Shanks and head coach Don McLeary.
The two said they cross paths some on the scouting trail, but not on a regular basis. Conversation is mostly limited to work-related topics, but with some references to home on occasion.
Each said there’s been very little mention of the first time their teams met in the Super Bowl four years ago when the Giants upset New England 17-14, spoiling their bid for just the second unbeaten season in NFL history.
Robinson did break what could’ve been an awkward silence, though, when he, Etheridge and Reese were together at the league combine soon after the game.
“I told them they cost me a key to the city and probably Jon Robinson Historic Declaration Day with that game,” he chuckled.
Etheridge laughed, too, and said there’s not even good-natured kidding among the scouting fraternity about such a subject.
“It’s a tender subject when you lose a game like the Super Bowl. Just a handshake when you see him on the road or afterward and smile,” he said. “I wouldn’t ever pick at a friend about something like that. To make it that far and not win is really tough, I’m sure.
“I hope I don’t find out this weekend.”
Though Robinson is widely-considered in the profession as someone who will continue to ascend the business ladder, he wouldn’t speculate on such and took the company line as is commonplace in the New England organization.
“I’m just trying to help the Patriots win as much as possible in this stage of my career and that is as a college scouting director in the NFL,” he said. “When Scott Pioli left for the GM job at Kansas City, (Patriots head coach) Bill (Belichick) and our Director of Player Personnel, Nick Caserio, entrusted the college preps with me. I’ve tried to be creative. It’s a fairly young staff of scouts that we have. My job is to help these guys grow, be better evaluators, be more organized and show them the way.
“I’m not a coach, but a little bit like a coach to our staff. I want to be an important part of the scouts’ makeup and for them to look back one day and say, ‘Jon really helped me in this business.’”
Etheridge said he’s perfectly content with his current position in the Giants’ organization.
“I really don’t see myself as an ‘office’ guy, and if I moved into another set of responsibilities, I’d probably have to move my family and spend time in an office,” he said. “What I’m most happy about is that I believe I work for the best boss (Reese) and the best organization in the NFL. I’m sure Jon feels that way, too.”
And that’s just not fair-weather talk. Published in The WCP 2.2.12

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