Erle Ladson was full prepared to put his football career on hold until he received the call he’d been hoping for.
The former Cardinal Hayes and Delaware offensive lineman was in the process of finishing up his season with the Orlando Predators of the of the Arena Football League when he was contacted by the Cleveland Brown. Ladson jumped on a plane last Monday night, tried out the following afternoon and signed a contract for training camp later that day.
The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Ladson, who made it to the last cut with the Raiders in 2014, stuck with football in the hope that a second chance at the NFL would present itself. If it hadn’t, he was prepared to use his degree and teach history at Cardinal Hayes. Ladson’s life after the game will have to wait.
“Playing arena ball was all part of the plan to stay in shape so people can see that [the NFL] was where I’m suppose to be,” Ladson said.
He was a four-year letter winner at Delaware and was named the team’s offensive MVP at left tackle as a senior. After just missing out with the Raiders, Ladson played with the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League. He then caught on with the Predators, for whom he played 12 games. It was there the Browns took a liking to him.
“People don’t look at the arena league and learn much about it,” Ladson said. “It’s good competition. We had a good team. I just played hard and gave everything I could. I’m grateful that while playing for Orlando was able to get exposure.”
He won’t be the only Cardinal Hayes alum and lineman in an NFL training camp this fall. Guard Willie Colon of the New York Jets is a nine-year veteran of the league and Carlif Taylor is in his second season at defensive tackle with the New York Giants.
“We teach kids how to work,” Hayes football coach C.J. O’Neil said. “If you are going to become an NFL lineman, there is a lot more to it than just having the size and the athletic ability. There is having the character in you that is going to allow you to put in the work to get there.”
Ladson has had all of that, even from when he was in the Bronx school’s hallways. O’Neil always felt he could make a run at the NFL because of his athleticism, smarts and integrity.
“In the days of professional athletes doing some dumb things, he’s a guy you want in your locker room more than anything,” he said.
Ladson has learned from this time trying out for the Raiders. He admitted there was an initial culture shock. Ladson now knows what it means to be a professional.
Colon in a conversation last year told him another opportunity will come and to be ready for it. He believes he is.
“He just told me to be humble and be ready for the next experience,” Ladson said. “When it comes along, attack it and give it everything you got.”
Fordham’s Jones picked up by Titan: Former Rams receiver Tebucky Jones was added to the Tennessee Titans training camp roster last week. He caught 163 passes for 2,356 yards and 17 touchdowns the last two season’s at Fordham. Jones, whose father also named Tebucky Jones, played eight seasons in the NFL, took part in the team’s rookie mini camp.