NFL's Spurlock finds his home in Philadelphia
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1:00 AM
For current NFL player and former Ole Miss football standout Micheal Spurlock, Mississippi was never intended to be home.
Michael Spurlock, left, trains with Desmond Jones and Rich Miller.
"Growing up I never wanted to live in Mississippi," Spurlock said. "I always had a dream of living in Miami. I just thought Miami was the best place."
Spurlock is a Mississippi native, graduating from Gentry High School in Indianola in 2000 and being recruited to play for the Ole Miss Rebels. For the Rebels, he played quarterback from 2002-2005 after being redshirted in 2001, taking over the job following Eli Manning's tenure at the position.
Following his senior year, Spurlock signed an undrafted free agent rookie contract with the Arizona Cardinals as a wide receiver. Entering his ninth year in the league, Spurlock has bounced around various teams, making his mark as a punt and kick return specialist.
Spurlock met his wife Danielle while at Ole Miss, and he now has five children, E'landria, 11, Giselle, 6, Macie, 4, Payton, 2, and Micheal Jr., six months. Upon signing his deal with the Cardinals, Spurlock came to a stark realization.
"When you have kids, your mind changes. You become protective. I don't think you're ever prepared for kids, just an instinct kicks in and it's too hard to raise kids in the city."
Spurlock eventually found a house he liked in Danielle's hometown of Philadelphia when his mother-in-law sent him a link to a website about rental property.
"I actually brought Danielle back to Philadelphia," he said. "It's a great opportunity, the grandparents are here. They play a key part in the kids' lives, but also our life. When we moved to Arizona, you're living in the city, but you don't realize how big of a part grandparents play."
Even with a home in Neshoba County, Spurlock says the family comes with him to live in the city of Spurlock's current team during the football season.
"I don't know many women that will pick up and move," he said, "but travel with five kids on a plane or in a car. She also stays at home and homeschools. She's supermom. She makes my job easier."
Spurlock was adamantly against the idea of homeschooling his children at the beginning, but his mindset shifted after a short time.
"I'll be the first to tell you I was so against homeschool," Spurlock said. "I thought my kids needed to be in school, they need to have friend time. I just think kids don't do well with that. But after seeing my kids, just day in and day out how much they progress."
Mainly, having his family with him during the season eases the recovery from the strenuous activities and mental toll football takes on him.
"It breaks up the strict schedule of playing football," Spurlock said. "When I leave the facility and come home, once I hit that door, football is outside, and I'm Daddy, I'm husband, I'm those things."
But when they return to Philadelphia at season's end, Spurlock says they try to return to a normal lifestyle.
"When we come here in January and February, we put the kids in school to kind of get the best of both worlds. It gives us a break, because when we get back we have so much going on but also it's a way for them and us to get involved in the school system."
Diving into that normal lifestyle includes giving back to the community for the Spurlocks. Besides various speaking engagements, Spurlock recently opened up Divine Serenity Memorial Chapel, a new funeral home in Philadelphia, which has been open for three months now. Spurlock says the experience has given him an opportunity to make a deeper connection with members of the community.
"It makes you look at life a lot differently," he said. "You don't realize how much it is or what it is to put your loved ones in the ground and give them a proper burial. I've met so many different people, and especially in that time in their lives, just being able to ease their pain as much as possible. But it's a different aspect of life."
However, the offseason does not mean Spurlock can cast football off to the side. He is constantly working out with his trainers Rich Miller and Desmond Jones, preparing for the next season. At 31 years old, Spurlock has seen what it takes to make it in the league. That sentiment carries on with his next stop in Chicago.
"If you're not hard working, then it's the wrong place to be," he said. "I was there (in Chicago) almost a month ago, and just seeing the guys, it rubs off. It's a culture. It has to become second nature to you. I'm going to be energized and ready to take on whatever responsibility they give me."
Football fanatics across the nation fantasize about what it is like to be an NFL player and be surrounded by the fame that comes with it. Spurlock says that even entering his ninth year of service, he still gets excited to be around all of the talented players.
"I'm like a kid too," Spurlock said. "I get to see them [on TV] and now I'm in the locker room with them. It's phenomenal for me just to see the work they put in. You see them on highlights. You see them on gameday, but to know they put in the work. When Sunday comes, it's no coincidence that they are able to perform like they perform."
Switching from small towns to big cities during the season can provide a mess of changes. Being a high-profile individual and living a world away from your comfort zone can mean big differences in lifestyle. The biggest difference, Spurlock says, is simpler than you would think.
"I can't stand traffic," he said. "For six months, traveling is all I do. I'm packing a bag. I'm getting on an airplane, living in a hotel room, eating hotel food, eating on the plane. I do this like every other weekend, so when I come here, as much as possible, I try to stay at home and just enjoy sleeping in my bed, enjoy watching my TV, driving my own car.
"It's just little things, and I don't think people really realize it. I think the biggest thing people don't understand that it's a great living and you get access to a lot of stuff, but it's hard. I have to pick up and leave my house to go live somewhere else for six months. I think the biggest thing is going from living in my house to getting adjusted to the highways and cities and the house that you're living in."
Spurlock is currently in Chicago with his family since training camp began on July 25, but no matter how the season goes or where his career takes him, he will be able to return to a loving family and home.