The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off rookie minicamp on a sunny May day, but when you've laid brick under the smoldering Alabama sun, this weather is breezy.
"It gets hot," said Devaunte Sigler, a defensive tackle from Jacksonville State trying to make the Steelers' roster as an undrafted free agent. "A man has to earn every day out there."
After Sigler was dismissed from Auburn University for what the school called a violation of team rules, Sigler found himself without a job and a young daughter to support. A family member helped set him up as a brick mason while he waited for his next football opportunity, which Jacksonville State provided.
So, Sigler, a Mobile, Alabama, native, worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. It was decent money, he said, enough to help with expenses while he lived at home.
The job lasted about five weeks. JSU called. He could go back to football. And he was relieved. Bringing a lunch and wearing the hard hat every day was a grind. Plus, the shoulders and back start to give out. Those are commodities for a football player.
"It was very humbling," Sigler said. "Coming from a D-1 school to have to be home and work, I had to learn to be part of a solution."
Sigler has traded the hard hat for a Steelers helmet. Instead of a 7-to-3er, he's a 300-pound All-Ohio Valley Conference recipient, and one of the 10 undrafted free agents signed by Pittsburgh after the draft. His daughter, Essence, is his motivation to make the 53-man roster.
"Things are a whole lot different -- I’m living my dream," Sigler said. "Now you have to appreciate what you have."