PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Alejandro Villanueva was a long shot to begin with, and a fan favorite to make the Eagles, but there he was walking from the NovaCare Complex on a gray Saturday morning with a trash bag full of his Eagles’ locker stuff in his left hand and a content look on his face.
Villanueva, the U.S. Army Ranger captain who served three tours in Afghanistan and received the Bronze Star for Valor for moving forward under enemy fire to pull wounded rangers from an isolated position, said he was grateful for the opportunity that the Eagles gave him and was uncertain about his future.
He was making an impossible move trying to make an NFL team at a position he never played before—heaped upon the fact that it had been four years since Villanueva last played football—and that was as a wide receiver at Army.
The odds were terribly long that he made the team—though he had overcome long odds before, frequently facing gunfire in Afghanistan.
And despite the football layoff, you still hoped that Villanueva, definitely a project, made the Eagles’ 10-man practice squad. But that ended on Saturday.
At least for a few months, however, the 6-foot-9, 290-pound West Point grad signed by the Eagles as a rookie free agent defensive lineman enjoyed the moment.
Villanueva said he was unsure whether he’d try to rejoin the military, since his commitment is up, or try with another NFL team.
Then he walked to his car in the NovaCare parking lot, his handful of belongings in a trash bag, ending one brief chapter in his narrative, which at 25 years old has already been filled with pretty amazing life-altering experiences.