Like a made-for-TV movie

Sand­burg grad­u­ates Feeney, Schofeld share im­prob­a­ble jour­ney to the NFL

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - SPORTS - Pat Dis­abato pdis­[email protected] Twit­ter @dis­abato

Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield are part of a fra­ter­nity of lo­cal play­ers who have re­al­ized their dream of mak­ing it to the NFL.

Other ac­tive NFL play­ers in­clude Min­nesota Vik­ings re­ceiver Laquon Tread­well, a Crete-Monee grad­u­ate, and De­troit Lions re­ceiverKenny Gol­la­day, a St. Rita grad.

But play­ing in the NFL is only part ofwhat makes the jour­ney of Feeney and Schofield so unique.

Both grad­u­ated fromSand­burg— Schofield in 2009, Feeney in 2012. They grewup in­Or­land Park, where Schofield’s fa­ther, Mike, is a fire chief.

It gets bet­ter.

What if I told you Schofield and Feeney play on the same team, the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers? Pretty crazy, right? That’s not the end of it. Schofield, 28, and Feeney, 24, start to­gether on the of­fen­sive line. The 6-foot-6, 301-pound Schofield plays right guard, while the 6-4, 310-pound Feeney plays left guard.

Two kids fromthe same high school start­ing on the of­fen­sive line for the same NFL team.

Sounds like a made-for-TV movie.

“It’s re­ally un­be­liev­able,” Schofield said.

“It’s a small­world,” Feeney said.

So when the duo had an op­por­tu­nity to let the whole­world knowwhere they came from, they seized the mo­ment.

Be­fore a na­tion­ally tele­vised Sun­day night game against the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, Schofield ap­proached Feeney with an idea.

“I said to him, ‘How­many high schools have two guys in the NFL, much less two who play on the same NFL team and on the same line?’” Schofield re­called. “We agreed that when­wewere go­ing to tape our parts forNBC say­ing our name and col­lege, we were go­ing to say our high school in­stead.”

I hap­pened to be­watch­ing that Dec. 2 game when Schofield and Feeney proudly said “Sand­burg” in­stead of their col­leges.

It­was a su­per-cool­mo­ment. A sin­cere dis­play of grat­i­tude to the high school that set them on a path to the NFL.

“Sand­burg is a great place,” Schofield said. “It­was a huge part in prepar­ingme aca­dem­i­cally and ath­let­i­cally for life af­ter high school. We had to do it this one time.”

Feeney didn’t need­much con­vinc­ing.

“I had great coaches and teach­ers at Sand­burg,” Feeney said. “It set the foun­da­tion for me.”

When­word cir­cu­lated around the locker room of the rare con­nec­tion, team­mateswere stunned.

“They couldn’t be­lieve it,” Schofield said. “The same team is crazy enough, but start­ing on the same line makes it even cra­zier.”

Schofield and Feeney didn’t cross paths at Sand­burg.

Schofield­was a se­nior when Feeney­was a fresh­man. Feeney, how­ever, knew about the Ea­gles’ star se­nior whowas at­tract­ing in­ter­est from­ma­jorDivi­sion I col­leges.

“I think ev­ery­one in the school knew about Mike,” Feeney said. “A big, strong kid whowas get­ting re­cruited by schools through­out the coun­try.”

A few years later, Feeney would be the one re­ceiv­ing simi- lar in­ter­est.

Schofield picked Michi­gan. Feeney chose In­di­ana.

There’s an­other con­nec­tion. Both­were se­lected in the third round of the NFL draft. The Den­ver Bron­cos took Schofield in 2014, while the Charg­ers grabbed Feeney in 2017.

Schofield, who’s mar­ried to U.S. Olympic­women’s hockey play­erKen­dall Coyne, won a Su­per Bowl with the Bron­cos in 2016 be­fore be­ing cut.

He landed with the Charg­ers — and Feeney— in 2017.

They­would like to share an­other achieve­ment, and that’s win­ning a Su­per Bowl.

The Charg­ers (12-4) play the Bal­ti­more Ravens (10-6) at 12:05 p.m. Sun­day in an AFC wild-card game.

“How­in­cred­i­ble­would that be?” Feeney said. “To be able to share that with­Dan, two kids from Sand­burg, would be re­ally spe­cial.”

Re­ally spe­cial, in­deed.

JACK DEMPSEY/AP

Los An­ge­les Charg­ers of­fen­sive line­man Dan Feeney, a Sand­burg grad­u­ate, gets set be­fore the snap against the Den­ver Bron­cos on Sun­day.

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