Last season Paul Fanaika was living on the edge of being one of those guys that had their cup of coffee in the league and have moved on to lesser position in life, such as Walmart worker or quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. It pays the bills, but not exactly what was planned - especially when you have All Day to hand off to, or your college degree in Manufacturing just didn't cut it. You feel like your potential isn't being fulfilled or used correctly. You feel like a loser.
Good thing Paul Fanaika didn't apply at a Minnesota Supercenter after being cut by the Seahawks last season and spending a year out of the league.
Quite an accomplishment for a free agent player that was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round from Arizona State and has bounced around from Washington, Cleveland and Seattle, where most teams had targeted him for tackle. A bulls-eye for which he didn't feel comfortable. "I would say guard is my position", he said in Seattle, "I think I'm pretty good at run blocking...just coming off the ball hard and being stout in pass protection."
New Arizona Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim agreed on the offensive line change that provided the player a chance to make the roster. "One of the things that has helped him is the move inside (to guard)", Keim said. "He's played right tackle quite a bit in the past and had some issues on the edge, whether it was foot speed or change of direction."
"And then, quite frankly, when you take away a guy's livelihood and know this may be his last opportunity to shine and he's taking full advantage of it."
To Fanaika's conviction, he hasn't wavered. "I knew I had some good football in me", he said. " I knew it all along. When the Cardinals called I was ready to take advantage of the opportunity."
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians evidently likes what he has seen so far. " You put him in a phone booth and he's a pretty good player. You really root for those guys. This a chance. You might have thought you were done and here you may be starting for us and playing well. Playing at a high level."
Next Sunday, Fanaika will possibly be lined up against the St. Louis Rams Micheal Brocker, Chris Long and/or James Laurinaitis protecting Carson Palmer's strong side. Good game and heroes welcomes in the locker room.
And if things go badly, there's always a people greeter or Christian Ponder's job he can take.