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Athens High graduate Lee Vickers played at The University of North Alabama before spending last season on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad.
Dad knows best
Vickers credits father, hard work for shot at NFL
By Ashley Hargrove
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
ATHENS — Growing up, Lee Vickers spent many hours on the football and baseball practice fields, as well as the basketball court.
And thanks to his dad Jim, he can finally say some of that hard work has paid off. Vickers, 26, is on an NFL roster.
"If you know my dad, you know he made us practice as much as possible," Vickers said. "There were days that I didn't want to go practice, but because he pushed us to get better, it has helped me to get where I am today. He was at every practice during high school and came to at least two practices a day while I was at UNA. If he could come to practices in Philadelphia, I'm sure he would."
The former Athens High standout signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers before last season, but was released. The next day the Philadelphia Eagles gave him a contract, and now he's vying for a chance at some playing time. Vickers is one of two healthy tight ends on Philadelphia's roster.
"I was a bit disappointed that the Steelers cut me," Vickers said.
"I felt like I could have played there, but I've enjoyed my time with the Eagles. It's hard to say if I'm going to get any playing time. I'm just going to take it one day at a time and try to prepare myself as best I can so I can show them that I can play."
Vickers has had his share of switching positions. While at Athens, he played cornerback and quarterback behind current San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
After graduating from Athens in 1999, he signed with Calhoun Community College to play baseball.
From there, he took 18 months off before walking on to play defensive end at North Alabama, where he joined his brother Randy.
"I felt like playing baseball was the right decision at the time after I graduated," Vickers said. "After the season ended, I felt like I didn't want to play anymore and decided it was time to move on."
Even though he doesn't get home often, Vickers said he tries to get his wife, the former Delana Barker of Athens, and daughter Jillian, 3, up to see him in Philadelphia.
"It's tough being away from home," Vickers said. "I flew them up for Christmas so I could spend the holidays with them. My mom has helped out a whole lot since I've been gone so that makes it a little easier."
Lee isn't the only one in the Vickers family who has had success on the football field. His brother Jonathan plays for Auburn and his other brother Lance plays at Alabama.
"None of us have had the easy road — that's for sure," Lee said. "All of our determination has made things successful. That shows the character of our family."
With Athens having two players in the NFL now, Vickers said that just goes to show the character and strong tradition of the football program.
"It's good for the kids who are playing for Athens," Vickers said. "That's got to be a little motivation to the kids playing now to know that they are using the same equipment and playing on the same field that we did."
Vickers said his main goal for the upcoming season is getting a chance to play.
"The main thing is not to be on the practice squad," Vickers said. "I plan on improving as a tight end and hopefully things will work out for the best."
Lee Vickers bio
Graduated from Athens High School in 1999 and helped his squad to three state playoff appearances.
Attended Calhoun and played baseball, where he pitched.
While at UNA, posted 67 tackles, 1.5 sacks in his 4-year career.
Signed free agent contract with Pittsburgh Steelers before being released in 2006.
Added to the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad when the NFL team released tight end Tim Day on Sept. 21, 2006.
Added to Philadelphia Eagles active roster as a tight end Jan. 19.
Son of Jim and Sheila Vickers of Athens.
Has three brothers; Randy, former teammate at UNA and a police officer in Athens; Jonathan, a strong safety at Auburn; and Lance, a defensive end at Alabama.
Married to the former Delana Barker of Athens. They have a daughter, Jillian, 3.
- Ashley Hargrove
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