Jeff Severson is one of those players the St. Louis Cardinals shoot out of a cannon on the special teams.
Up until now he has had bit parts, but Thursday he gets his chance as a starter against probably the fastest young wide receiver in the National Football League and his concern is that he not play a major tragic role against the Miami Dolphins.
Severson will be at free safety because regular Mike Sensibaugh suffered a broken arm Sunday against Philadelphia. The Cardinals beat the Eagles, extended their record to 7-3, and faced up to their third game in 11 days, having defeated the Cowboys the previous Monday night.
If the Cardinals wish to enjoy feasting on turkey later, they'll have to get by the fish course first - the Dolphins, who also have a 7-3 record and notions of winning at least a wild-card berth in the playoffs.
Severson will be under the additional pressure of knowing that Bill Bradley, the onetime Eagle safety and punter, has been picked up after being dropped by Minnesota and looked at a week ago by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Cardinals also signed corner-back Randy Colbert, who was dropped in his second season by the New York Giants, in September. Lee Nelson underwent knee surgery Monday and rookie Carl Allen of Southern Mississippi will make his first start at cornerback for the Cardinals.
Some may remember Severson as a former Redskin, who learned on the cab squad as a rookie in George Allen's first season in Washington and then played on the special teams. He was one of five players traded to Houston in the deal for Ken Houston. Though only 185 pounds he was a big hitter who played as if he had suicidal tendencies.
The product of Long Beach State now owns apartment complexes in the Long Beach, Calif., area. He buys and sells real estate, writes local television and radio commercials and composes the music and performs in some of the commercials.
He has a walk-on part in playing field and locker-room scenes in the film, "Semi-Tough."
Severson is said to be close to making his first million dollars, mostly from real estate of course, at age 27.
"Everything is falling into place," he said, "my football career, entertainment career, real estate . . . I hooked into that during the boom in beach property.And it's all because of football."
Tom Fears, the onetime Ram wide receiver and later head coach of the New Orleans Saints of the NFL and Southern California of the World Football League, got together some pros living in California for the movie. They were paid $150 a day.
Severson came away from the shooting sessions, some of which lasted from 8 a.m. to midnight, with a high regard for Burt Reynolds, a former college player at Florida State who has the starring role as Billy Clyde Pucket.
"There was one scene where I was tackling Reynolds and he just didn't like the way it come out," Severson said. "He asked me, 'Can I lower my head and hit you in the chest with my helmet to make it look better?' and I said sure. He did, spun out of my tackle, and went in for the touchdown in the scenario. He liked it and said so.
"We had a lot of time to waste while doing the film and I'd bring my guitar and sing with Kris Kristofferson (who plays Shake Tiller). In fact, I composed a little ditty called 'The Singing Safety." It begins like: 'This acting ain't so tough, now that I'm a star in Semi-Tough.'"
Once past Miami, Severson is looking forward to playing against the Redskins here Saturday, Dec. 10.
"You always want to prove that your old team made a mistake in trading you. I have total respect for George Allen, but I know he used me as a vehicle to get Houston.
"I knew I was too young to be in his plans. They told me I was in their plans but Allen told me he had to let me go because he had a chance to improve the team with a veteran like Houston.
"I was only 21 or 22 years old then and had been in pro ball only two years. I've got seven years under my belt now. I've got confidence in myself. Every year I start at the bottom; I like being in that position.
"It will be interesting to see how the Redskins will evolve. I thought they would be back in the Super Bowl again by now."