By Joe Scalzo
In a matter of months, former Youngstown State guard Lamar Mady has gone from the Finish Line to the Oakland Raiders’ offensive line, which has provided a boost to his — and Uncle Sam’s — bottom line.
“The last time I talked to him, he said he didn’t like the taxes,” YSU coach Eric Wolford said. “In California, you pay a little more than most.”
“Yeah, the taxes are pretty high,” he said. “But the fact is, I’m still getting paid a lot more than the average person.
“It’s definitely a privilege.”
Mady, who spent last spring juggling classes, workouts and a part-time job at Finish Line, was called up from the Raiders’ practice squad last week and made his NFL debut against the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football.”
“The fact that I’ve made it this far, after not knowing if I’d make it this far, is awesome,” Mady said.
Mady signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in April, then was signed to the team’s practice squad on Sept. 1, one day after Oakland released him on the final cutdown day.
When Oakland’s starting guard, Lucas Nix, suffered an ankle injury in a Week 2 game against Jacksonville, Mady was promoted, boosting his salary from less than $6,000 a week to almost $23,000 per week.
Mady played three plays against the Broncos on the field goal and PAT units. Although he played in all four of Oakland’s preseason games, he said the regular season games are a lot different.
“It’s a lot faster,” he said. “You’re going against everybody’s 53-man roster, so it’s the best of the best out there. And the atmosphere is different. A lot more fans attend, there’s a lot more television cameras and a lot more publicity. And there’s a lot more grinding for a win.”
Mady is one of two former Penguins on the team. Third-year veteran Brandian Ross, who originally signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2011, is now a starting cornerback for the Raiders.
Although the two never played together — Mady signed with the Penguins in 2011 after two years at Butler County (Kan.) Community College — the two were familiar with each other.
“I talked with him a couple times back in Youngstown,” Mady said. “It’s great to have him on the team, coming from the same [situation] I did.”
Mady was one of three YSU players to sign as an undrafted free agent in April but he’s the only one still on an NFL roster. Running back Jamaine Cook (Browns) was released on the final cutdown day and tight end Will Shaw (Steelers, Eagles) was released a week earlier.
“We all got our opportunities and some didn’t pan out the way we wanted, but hopefully those guys can get opportunities down the road,” Mady said. “I’m just trying to make it the best I can for Youngstown and show that I do have the talent to play at this level.”
Wolford has no doubt that he does.
“I think he has a ton of potential and I still think it’s somewhat untapped,” Wolford said. “It’ll be interesting to see how well he plays.
“We’re obviously proud of him.”