(GRAND RAPIDS) Pro football dreams sometimes end on NFL draft weekend. That was not the case in 2013 for Grand Valley State offensive lineman Tim Lelito. The senior from St. Clair, Michigan went undrafted but was unfazed. As an undrafted free agent, he worked his way onto the New Orleans Saints roster, played in all 16 games in 2013 and even got to start twice.
"It's a business, it's an absolute business," Lelito told WZZM recently. "We're in the business of winning. That's what (head coach) Sean (Payton) comes up and tells us everyday. We're in the business of winning. And if you can't make that happen, if you take too long to learn something then you're not going be around anymore."
Lelito discovered quickly that being an NFL player is a fulltime job. "I was there last week for training camp. I was there six o'clock in the morning. Had to get there by 6:30 lifting and stuff like that. And didn't get home till 6 o'clock so it's the true essence of the word 'job.' It's not just going out and playing there's other commitments that you have to do to like going out and doing the community type stuff. Like a couple weeks ago, I did the special olympics bowling and I had a great time doing that. So it's stuff like that a lot of people don't think or realize there's so much more stuff to being an NFL player then what you see on Sundays."
Another part of NFL life the rest of us do not see: the battle of the bulk. "Being an offensive lineman, I've got to say the best part about it is the food. You can get overweight real quick down there. I can't get over my weight limit so I have to be careful doing that."
Lelito says there are too many tempting restaurants in New Orleans to count. His favorite food discovery may be something called a peanut butter-bacon burger at a French Quarter eatery called Yo Mama's. "It's fantastic, it's awesome."
Lelito says he's proud to represent Grand Valley State in the pros. And he says it's no big deal to face players from larger programs like LSU and Alabama.
"I don't think it makes a difference where you came from, How you got there makes no difference to them. I think you go there, you prove to them that you are able to compete with those type of guys, so just because you came from a small school like Grand Valley doesn't mean anything really. As long as you work your tail off and have a great work ethic those guys don't care."