Redskins' Daniels Embarks on a Quest to Prove 36 is Not Too Old for an NFL Comeback

After blowing out his knee on the first day of camp last season, Phillip Daniels dedicated himself to proving 36 is not too old for a comeback.
After blowing out his knee on the first day of camp last season, Phillip Daniels dedicated himself to proving 36 is not too old for a comeback. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Mike Wise
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On the bus ride up to Baltimore last Thursday night, stuck with his teammates in traffic on I-95, Phillip Daniels watched a thunderstorm come and go. "Then, all of a sudden, I just remember getting emotional," the Washington Redskins' aging defensive lineman said. "Emotional about a preseason game."

Fourteen-year veterans, it should be noted, don't cry over exhibitions; they try to get out of them. Make an excuse about their tight hamstring. Complain of tendinitis. Use anything to escape the drudgery of another training camp and preseason.

But as Daniels sat quietly in the middle of the bus, as the rain pitter-pattered against his window, as he listened to gospel music, he felt his insides percolating -- feelings coming up he didn't know were there.

"Because of faith, I have a brand new day

"The sun will shine -- and I will be okay

"That's when I told the storm!"

Tears formed in the corner of Daniels's eyes as the words of Greg O'Quin 'N Joyful Noize played in his headset. The strongest man on the roster -- able to squat 722 pounds in one of those must-click YouTubes -- let it go.

"Every time the rain hit the window, it made me think of a teardrop," he said. "After everything that happened a year ago, I just felt so much joy -- joy that I was back."

Playing in the NFL again.

At age 36, a year after he lay in agony on the first day of training camp, clutching his left knee.

Waiting for a motorized cart to take him away and his career to end.

Wasn't it supposed to end that way for Phillip Daniels?


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