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McGrath grabs his dream
After watching his son practice with the Seahawks on Thursday, Pat McGrath broke into a large smile and offered, “The dream is continuing.”
And that it is.
When No. 3 tight end Evan Moore was released on Tuesday, Sean McGrath was signed off the Seahawks’ practice squad to fill the spot on the 53-man roster. And the rookie free agent from Henderson State is scheduled to play in Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. He’ll be the third tight end with starter Zach Miler and backup Anthony McCoy in what the Seahawks’ call their trio personnel, and also play on the kickoff return unit.
“It’s more than exciting just to be active,” McGrath said. “It’s just icing on the cake.”
Among the 67,000-plus crazed fans in attendance will be McGrath’s parents, Pat and Nita, who already had planned to fly in from Chicago to spend Christmas with the son. Now, they’ll get to see his first NFL game.
“We planned this trip like six weeks ago,” said Nita McGrath, who then added, “And we’re planning on coming to a postseason game, too.”
Talk about your Merry Christmas.
“It just so happened to be by chance,” McGrath said in the locker room before practice. “Now they get to share this with me. It’s an early Christmas for everyone.”
But back to the dream his father mentioned. For McGrath, who started playing football when he was in the third grade, the dream began when he was in the fourth grade.
“We did these things in school where you could see how your handwriting changed and they would ask what your favorite color is and things like that. The last one was, ‘What do you be when you grow up?’ ” he said. “In third grade, I said I wanted to be an artist.”
And McGrath graduated from Henderson State with a degree in studio art.
“In the fourth grade, they did it again and when they asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said I wanted to play for the Chicago Bears,” he said. “Growing up in Chicago, it was one of those things.”
That foreshadowed fourth-grade assignment remains in the possession of his mother.
“I still have that hanging on the wall in my office,” Nita McGrath said. “It was a time capsule they did for school and the second part of it was in 1999. It was, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Sean put down a football player.”
But not just any football player, a player for his hometown Bears. “Which wasn’t far off, because we ended up beating the Chicago Bears,” he said with a laugh. “So that’s one better.”
Back to the reality of his current situation, McGrath has a new number (84, he had been wearing 48), new duties in practice and also a weekly paycheck that will triple now that he’s on the 53-man roster.
“It’s about love of the game, too,” McGrath said. “(The extra money) definitely is a bonus, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the realization of a dream is what it is. You’ve been working pretty much your whole life for something, so it’s a culmination of everything.”
It’s difficult not to root for a player – and person – like McGrath. He was signed as a free agent after the NFL Draft in April. After being released Aug. 31 on the roster cut to 53 players, he was signed to the practice squad the next day. Only to be released two days later. Only to be re-signed five days later. Only to be released on Sept. 27. Only to be re-signed on Oct. 2.
Since rejoining the team that last time, he has continued to do everything he can to do everything that has been asked of him. Blocking. Receiving. Special teams. Scout team that works against the Seahawks’ defense. The occasional rep with the Seahawks offense.
“Like my dad always says, it’s a war of attrition,” McGrath said. “If you keep plugging away at it, doing the right things, things will work out in your favor.”
All the work and attention to the smallest detail is about to pay off when he walks into CenturyLink Field in uniform, not as a member of the practice squad.
“It’s great for Sean,” Miller said. “He’s earned it by working hard every day out here, and the coaches noticed that. Pete (Carroll, the head coach) always has been great about guys that work get elevated when their time comes.
“Sean is constantly trying to improve himself. And he’s such a hard worker he’s definitely earned this. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to catch a ball on Sunday night.”
Now that would take the continuing dream to even a higher level.