“It’s hard, because most of these guys have been high school all-Americans, college all-Americans,” Lorenzo Alexander told me. “You’ve always been at the top of your game at each level that you’ve played, and for a young guy, especially if you’ve never experienced being cut, it’s hard. You have to really look into yourself and it makes you really second guess yourself. Especially in the locker room where we’ve got a lot of pride, a lot of testosterone, a lot of big egos and it kinda humbles you.”
As for his own experience, Alexander has been cut three times in his career and admits that he cried the first time he was sent home.
“It brought me to tears,” he said. “This is your whole life, pretty much, trying to get here and then somebody is telling me, ‘You’re not good enough.’ It’s hard.”
The process of learning you’ve been cut isn’t as simple as finding a note in your locker that says, “Go see coach, bring your playbook.” Most players don’t even make it past the front desk.
“They have a guy that stands at the front lobby. We’ve kinda dubbed him as the ‘Sandman’ or the ‘Grim Reaper,’ depending on what team you’re on,” Alexander said. “He pretty much says, ‘You need to go grab your playbook. The coach wants to talk to you.’ At that point you turn your playbook in — or your iPad, these days — and go talk to coach Shanahan, then go talk to your positions coach.”
“They kinda give you the whys and what happeneds. Sometimes it’s a numbers game, or it didn’t work out, or, ‘We thought you needed to work on this.’ When I got cut [by Carolina], they told me I was too short. There’s nothing I can do about that. I can’t grow. Sometimes you get a reason like that and it’s the hardest because it’s something you can’t work on.”
Alexander also said that the veterans will sometimes get a mercy phone call, instead of a Sandman welcome.
“Sometimes if you’re a veteran guy they’ll call you and tell you to come in early, so you don’t have to go through the embarrassment in front of everybody. Everybody [in the locker room] is saying, ‘Are you all right?’ You don’t want to hear that when you initially get cut.”
Dezmon Briscoe, who has admitted that he’s worried about making it through this round of cuts, has been released twice before, by the Bengals and Buccaneers.
“It’s a humbling experience,” he told me. “Coming in here with all the accolades of college, being ‘that guy.’ Now you’re on a team full of everyone that’s talented and everybody’s good. It hurts a little bit, but you can’t hold onto it too long.”
Briscoe said if the Redskins cut him today or tomorrow, he knows where to go.
“I usually go to my mom about stuff,” he said. “She’s always a good person to keep my head up high.”