EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In what had to be one of St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher's most difficult cuts in reducing the roster to 53 players on Saturday afternoon, he said goodbye (for now) to wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was, perhaps, one of the team's biggest long shots after signing as an undrafted free agent in the spring. At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Rodriguez doesn't much look the part of an NFL receiver, and ultimately, he wasn't. But Fisher's affinity for Rodriguez extends well beyond the football field and coincides with the admiration and respect that many have for him.
The former Army Sergeant served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, most notably earning a Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart for his courageous fighting at the Battle of Kamdesh, one of the bloodiest fights in the war in Afghanistan. In that fight, Rodriguez fought for more than 12 hours despite getting bullet fragments lodged in his shoulder and shrapnel in his neck and legs.
Rodriguez earned a tryout with the Rams after this year's draft and signed with the team soon after. Although the slim chance he had of making the roster vanished on Saturday, the always upbeat Rodriguez took to Twitter to express his gratitude for the chance in a series of tweets.
Thanks to the @STLouisRams organization, staff, and fan base for being quality people.— Daniel Rodriguez (@DanielRod_83) September 6, 2015
No regrets or hard feelings whatsoever. Made more great friends, competed at the highest level, and left it all out on the field every play.— Daniel Rodriguez (@DanielRod_83) September 6, 2015
Earlier this week, Rodriguez spoke to the airmen and women at Scott Air Force Base, telling his story. In the preseason finale, Rodriguez suffered a concussion when he took a big hit on a kick return. But the Rams didn't waive Rodriguez with an injury designation, which means he could still land on the team's practice squad in the next couple of days.
Either way, Rodriguez made it clear he plans to continue chasing the dream.
I'll never see this as a failure or opportunity wasted. I encourage all to pursue what you love and make the most of your life on this earth— Daniel Rodriguez (@DanielRod_83) September 6, 2015