Overton's road to NFL keeps life in perspective

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm •  Published: December 24, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Matt Overton looks around the Colts' locker room and feels like the luckiest guy in town.

It's not just because he's playing for the winners of the AFC South and preparing for a second straight playoff run. Or that he participated in one of the greatest one-season turnarounds in NFL history. Or just that he's here at all, fulfilling an improbable NFL dream.

For the long snapper, life has always been about more than football.

"I think it started with my grandfather, who played college football at the University of Washington and coached football for years and was always serving his teammates and coaches and those around the church," Overton said Tuesday. "My dad was a police officer and it was the same thing. Giving back was something I wanted to do."

Overton has done his part better than most.

Long before he made it to the NFL, he teamed with Maurice Clarett to run a football camp for children in Omaha, Neb. Yes, that Maurice Clarett.

This summer, Overton invited 10 patients from Riley Hospital for Children to a Justin Bieber concert in Indianapolis and he's planning to make a Christmas Day visit to the one girl, Mia Benge, who couldn't attend the concert because she was too ill.

Serving others came naturally to Overton because it was in his genes. Reaching the big stage of the NFL was not.

The 6-foot-1, 242-pound Overton played his college ball at Western Washington, a Division II school that's hardly a mandatory stop for NFL scouts. His pro career began in the barely recognizable arenafootball2 league.

He made two stops in the Arena Football League, was cut twice by the Seahawks in training camp and once by the Texans. And when the AFL's best long snapper couldn't find a full-time job in 2010, he challenged his agent to get him one — explaining that if a guy recently released from prison could get signed, he should have a contract, too.

"It was odd because my first year in the UFL, our punter was Todd Sauerbrun and he was with Maurice in Denver, so I'd heard all those stories about Maurice," Overton said, recalling his initial thoughts after getting cut by Seattle in 2010. "I thought 'Man, how can a guy like that, who's been incarcerated get a shot and I can't?'"

Eventually, Overton did get his shot alongside Clarett in Omaha, and the odd couple became close friends.

Overton helped provide Clarett, the guy who led Ohio State to a national championship and served prison time for robbery, with a new perspective on life.

Clarett wouldn't allow Overton to let go of his NFL dream, no matter how far-fetched it may have seemed.

So when the rebuilding Colts signed Overton during the 2012 offseason, they shared the joy.

"He's undersized, he's five years removed from college, he got cut by the UFL, he comes from a situation where he's not supposed to make it. He had plenty of excuses or reasons to give up. My brother Matt doesn't give up," said Clarett, who is now pursuing a rugby career. "It's a Hollywood story how the guy from Western Washington hooked up with the guy from prison. But he's living the American dream."

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