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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keegan

Ex-KU lineman James McClinton faithful

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Teammates who fed off his energy, admired his spirituality and loved his humor, used to be fond of saying James McClinton “would play on Sundays,” meaning in the NFL.

Nearly four years later, McClinton hasn’t come any closer than an invitation to a Kansas City Chiefs mini-camp his first summer out of school. He didn’t fit the physical prototype for an NFL defensive tackle, which in that league tends to weigh heavily. He was to the Kansas defense what Todd Reesing was to the offense, a talented, relentless competitor, a constant source of irritation for the opposing coach, a superstar who didn’t project well in the eyes of scouts.

Just as the offense hasn’t been the same since Reesing’s departure, the defense hasn’t resembled that of the Orange Bowl unit led up front by McClinton and anchored by Aqib Talib, an NFL star.

Reesing has left football behind because it left him behind. He’s working in the business world in Austin for prominent KU graduate David Booth.

McClinton? The NFL dream still burns in him, so he keeps fanning its flames, even if that means playing in the Arena Football League in Green Bay and working as a bouncer at Stadium View Bar and Grill near Lambeau Field.

McClinton recently finished his second season in the AFL and played nose guard for a Green Bay Blizzard team that lost the title game. He registered 10.5 sacks in the regular season. His weight is up to 308 pounds, and he was generously listed by the team as being 6-feet tall.

“I’d like to play football another 10 years,” said McClinton, whose last game for KU was in the Orange Bowl in January, 2008. “It’s all how long the Lord allows me to play. I’m doing his will. I would like a long career, but I don’t plan on staying in this league. I’m hoping to move on up.”

McClinton, from Garland, Texas, said he has found living in Green Bay interesting, but it’s not where he wants to spend the rest of his life.

“I just haven’t figured out what there is to do in Green Bay,” McClinton said. “There is a lot of drinking going on here. These people love to drink, and they love their football. They like to say, ‘We might not have a drinking problem, but we have a football problem.’ These fans right here, they’re a step above regular fans. They love their Packers. They’re so into them. It’s amazing, and it’s also a little weird.”

On the day of the Super Bowl, McClinton said “there were about a thousand people at the bar.”

The odds of McClinton getting an NFL shot remain long, which won’t change the fact he was a second-team All-American on a 12-1 team that has records of 8-5, 5-7 and 3-9 since.

With one of the nation’s toughest schedules in store — the first under the format in which the four remaining teams from what was known as the North play six games against teams from what was known as the South — the trend isn’t likely to reverse. McClinton has faith it will. He is nothing if not a man of faith.

“I met Turner Gill at (former teammate) Micah Brown’s sister’s wedding,” McClinton said. “He played with Micah’s dad at Nebraska. He’s a good man. He’s the best man for the job right now.”

Comments

rastameta 2 years, 9 months ago

He had a free agent offer with the Raiders and turned it down, then had a seizure and no teams were willing to bring him in. It was a bad move to turn down the one team that offered to bring you into camp.

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number1jayhawker 2 years, 9 months ago

Heck if J Mac is up to 3 bills, then that should help him at least get an invite to an NFL training camp.

Uh don't the Chiefs need a DT? Hopefully he has a good agent with contacts.

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Keith Kienzle 2 years, 9 months ago

Keegan, this was a good article. Well written, you chose a topic that people want to read about, got some quotes, kept it positive and enjoyable. Good work!

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Jhawk59 2 years, 9 months ago

McClinton = John Randle 2.0, too bad John Randle would not get a shot in todays NFL either. Too many "he doesn't fit the mold" coaches around.

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jayhawkinnebr 2 years, 9 months ago

Why is KU starting off the season with a tough schedule like McNeese State? It will be a blowout like last year. No fans in the stands.

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jayhawkinnebr 2 years, 9 months ago

Well, jayhawks are you ready for another year in football like last year? Looks like the jayhawk basketball team didn't show much either, with the way Bill Self coached. Bonnie with the girls bb team didn't show anything that we can hang our hats on, so things don't look promising this year. I know that the Wildcats will have a good year.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 9 months ago

Great guy. Hope he gets a shot at the NFL.t

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zazavava 2 years, 9 months ago

http://www.benzlogo.com/

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panalytic 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, I miss that guy. He was a great player and fun to watch and listen to. Best of luck with pro football - in any league.

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holidaysmore 2 years, 9 months ago

J-Mac is one of the most underrated players in KU history. When Reesing gets his number in the Ring of Fame J-Mac should be right beside him. You go back and watch game tape from his senior year there wasn't a more dominant player on that defense and that includes Q. Beside all of that he is one of the most humble, genuine and all around great people I have ever met. My favorite story about J-Mac is during the magical run of 2008 I can remember walking back to my apartment and seeing J-Mac picking up trash on Wescoe Beach all by himself. J, I hope all is well w/ you and I hope and pray one day you do get your shot at the League.

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