For Dan DePalma, Lessons On And Off The Field


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No matter who they cheer for on Sundays in the fall, a lot of people in Verona have been paying attention lately to the Jets, because a 2007 graduate of Verona High School has been working for a chance at the NFL team. Dan DePalma joined the Jets as an undrafted free agent in late July when the lockout ended, and has been working hard ever since to make the team. The wide receiver was a standout in the preseason opener against the Houstan Texans, and last night, at the Meadowlands against the Philadelphia Eagles in the last preseason game, DePalma had the best yardage of any of his teammates.

Fred Goode was at the game and put together the video below. He also caught up with DePalma after the game, which ended in a 24-14 loss for the Jets. The team has until 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 3 to decide who will be on the final roster.

Fred Goode: When did you feel that you had the skills to play in the NFL?

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Dan DePalma: It wasn’t about the skills. It was about the hard work and the effort that I put into it. It has been a long-time dream of mine, so I knew that if I put the time in and worked hard and studied and got good grades, that I could set myself up for an opportunity.

You mentioned grades. A lot of guys think that it’s just about lifting and working out. The opportunity for young guys to get into the league was shortened because of the strike. Do you think that working hard in college, being a student as well as an athlete helped you progress faster than some of the other guys out there?

DePalma: Absolutely. Studying is a huge part of the NFL. When they give you the playbook it’s like learning another language. You have to be in there studying the playbook just as much as you are out on the field, if not more. It’s no joke when you get to this level; it definitely requires a lot of studying.

How did being at Verona High School help you?

DePalma: They worked us hard in Verona. Coach Racioppe was great coach at pushing you; the weight room too. There were a lot of life lessons that they taught us there. Get up when you’re knocked down, play hard and keep finishing.

What did you take from college that helps you now?

DePalma: Everything. College turned me into the person that I am today. Playing football out there [West Chester University] and it was a great school as well. Work hard and sacrifice and good things will come to you.

When you look at the speed of the game from high school to college, and college to pro, is it crazy fast?

DePalma: It’s definitely faster. It was a shock when I first got here. Playing against the Jets defense is flying all over the field playing crazy coverages. But the counter side to that is that when you get into the game you don’t see anything like that. You’re not playing against the Jets defense. It’s a little more basic, a little more relaxed. It kind of slows down a bit. It’s good that we’re going against the Jets defense in practice. When you get to the game, it’s more calm.

What do you miss most about Verona?

DePalma: All the people. I have a lot of supporters back there. It’s always nice to go home and see everybody.

What do you like most about being in the NFL?

DePalma: Everything. It’s a crazy experience, living a dream. You’re playing with guys that you idolize and you’re sitting in a room learning from guys who were in the Super Bowl, picking apart their brains. It’s about the best thing I could do.

All images copyright 2011 Fred Goode.

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  1. This story is great. This just shows the power of hard work. Dan should know that he has so so many people rooting for him. He’s an inspiration to many. He has a wonderful family and he’s a winner no matter what the end result….he has already accomplished so much. Nice job Fred on the interview!!!


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