Saturday, August 28, 1999
Ankle injuryBy Pat Bigold
It's hard enough for a talented athlete to earn an NFL roster spot when he's healthy.
But 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman Troy Bailey, one of five former St. Louis School players under contract in the league, is up against even bigger odds.
He has been frustrated by a high ankle injury the past couple of weeks in the Washington Redskins' training camp. The team is about to make its cut to 65 players and is getting ready to break camp.
"It's an awful feeling, actually," said Bailey, who has been in camp with the Detroit Lions (1996) and Atlanta Falcons (1997) without making the cut.
He played for the B.C. Lions in the Canadian Football League last year.
"I haven't even been able to work out."
He was battling 6-7, 290-pound second-year man Doug Brown for the No. 4 spot at tackle. But the last thing Bailey needed was to lose any time to Brown, who started a few games last season.
"They have (6-5, 313-pound) Dan Wilkinson and (6-2, 315-pound) Dana Stubblefield starting and the third guy is (6-4, 307-pound) Marc Boutte, but the fourth position is wide open," said Bailey.
His ankle won't be ready for today's game at Pittsburgh, and Bailey is crossing his fingers that the Redskins will think enough of him to put him on injured reserve when the cuts are made.
"The coaches are really on my back to get healthy but there are some things you can't speed up," he said.
The 26-year-old California native graduated from St. Louis in 1991 after playing on two Oahu Prep Bowl championship teams.
Bailey found out exactly how small a world it is for former St. Louis players when he played for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe this year and ran into old teammate Kaipo McGuire.
"We had one night off and I walked into a local brew pub and saw Kaipo sitting there, and I was so surprised," said Bailey. "I didn't even know he was in the league. We talked and talked."
McGuire, now vying for a wide receiver job with the Indianapolis Colts, was starting for the Barcelona Dragons while Bailey was compiling 19 tackles and two-and-a-half sacks for the Admirals.
Bailey literally collided with another former Crusader a few weeks ago in Latrobe, Pa.
In a scrimmage with the Steelers, he got his chance to put a few hits on 5-11, 250-pound running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, younger brother of another St. Louis teammate in the early 1990s, guard Roy Ma'afala.
"He's a punishing runner," said Bailey. "When I was a senior, he was a sophomore. I thought of him as Roy's little brother."
"He intimidates people," said Bailey. "When we watched video on him before our scrimmage, our players were saying, 'Oh my God, who's that big back?' Last year in a scrimmage, he ran all over them and embarrassed them."
Bailey said he was so proud of what his Redskin teammates were saying about Fuamatu-Ma'afala that he had to tell them he went to the same high school.
But, like Bailey, Fuamatu-Ma'afala is also nursing a high ankle injury now and won't be in today's lineup.
"I know how bad he feels," said Bailey.
The other former St. Louis players in the NFL are defensive lineman Viliami Maumau of the Denver Broncos and center Olin Kreutz of the Chicago Bears.