The former Jacksonville State quarterback was released by the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in September and has been working out to stay football sharp for the call he’s confident will come soon. Last Monday, he started his new job doing community outreach for Sarrell Dental.
He’ll be based out of the non-profit’s headquarters in Anniston, but he’ll be traveling to schools across the state delivering age-appropriate messages about doing the right thing.
“I’m here to come back to a place that gave me my second opportunity to touch the lives of kids who watched me play when I was here and try to give them an opportunity,” Perrilloux said on his first day of work. “Just hearing the right thing sometimes clicks on that bulb that says, ‘OK, I can do it different.’”
Perrilloux was in need to some direction when he transferred to JSU shortly before the start of the 2008 season after being dismissed at LSU. He looks eons removed from those troubled times, both personally and professionally. He’s some 15 pounds lighter than what he played at for the Gamecocks and trimmed his body fat index to a tight 7.2 percent.
An NFL training regimen will do that to a guy.
“Ryan three years ago is not the same person he is now,” Sarrell CEO Jeff Parker said. “It’s one thing to be the best athlete in your county, in your state or even in your conference and Ryan went up and had to play with the world’s best where they don’t care unless you do your job. It’s a business there. He’s a different man.
“I remember the Ryan I had to tell I want to meet you and hope he showed up 30 minutes late; today, he was 30 minutes early on his first day. He’s a business man now, and that’s the biggest difference.”
The Giants gave Perrilloux what he called a “fair opportunity to compete” this summer. He was the third quarterback in training camp and had good success in the preseason — 8-of-9 passing for 96 yards, two touchdowns and a 150.7 passer rating — but was released with the final cuts in September because the team was keeping only two quarterbacks and one of them is Eli Manning. The backup is 11-year veteran David Carr, a former No. 1 overall pick.
The organization was complimentary when The Turk came to call and was surprised he didn’t clear waivers. Even Manning sent him an apologetic text when the decision came down. The year before Perrilloux famously bounced off and on the Giants’ practice squad; that’s how he earned his Super Bowl ring.
“They told me I got better, they said I could play in this league,” he said. “But it’s a business. I can respect the business, but I know I’m a player and I know somebody’s going to see it.”
He had a chance to play in Canada, but his agent, Bus Cook, thought it’d be best for him to wait for another NFL opportunity.
Living by the manta “don’t let nothing hold you back, just keep moving forward,” he’s certain that call will come.
“I’m very confident I’ll play football until I’m 35, whether it’s NFL, Canada, Arena, UFL; I love the game that much,” Perrilloux said. “I’ll chase it until the wheels fall off.”
Jacksonville State football coach Jack Crowe is confident his prize transfer will get another shot, and in the meantime this opportunity with Sarrell will be a good experience for him.
“I still think Ryan has an NFL future,” Crowe said. “I think he understands NFL stands for ‘not for long’ and he’s developing his other skill sets; he does have really strong personal and communication skils. I don’t think his NFL career is over with. I think it’s just getting back in camp.”
Parker knows that call could come any day, but he’s happy to have the quarterback in his organization for as long as it lasts. Parker has a history of hiring high-profile sports personalties for his companies, including former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer and former All-Pro tight end Wesley Walls. Former JSU women’s basketball coach Dave Dagostino has been growing Sarrell’s office in Selma.
Perrilloux wasted no time jumping into his new job Monday. He spent his first day signing many of the 4,000 Perrilloux pictures the company will distribute during his school visits and showing off the Super Bowl ring to the 7- and 8-year-olds getting dental screenings in Sarrell’s Anniston offices that afternoon.
“It’s up to Ryan to tell whatever he feels is appropriate,” Parker said. “That’s what he’s going to be doing, influencing kids in a positive light to live their life the right way and have a chance to succeed in life. We’re not going to script it. It’s whatever he feels is appropriate to the crowd that he’s speaking to.”
Perrilloux said if he had a person around him doing what he’s doing now when he was younger,”I wouldnt have gone through what I went through.” Thats what he’s going to try to do in this position.
“It lets them see somebody not far off from their age who’s doing something positive, who has done things in the past and come back,” Perrilloux said. “I’m not here to put on a front or anything like that. I’m here to let kids know I came from not a positive place and I made it out, I did some things that were not so positive and kept going and came back with the right supporting cast to help get back to where you want to be.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.