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Ramirez has ‘come too far to stop’ now

SEATTLE -- Sitting in the dugout on the sideline at Memorial Stadium, Santos Ramirez started to reflect.

Just a few months ago, his NFL dream was within reach. He was a backup safety with the Jets who played his way onto the depth chart after being signed as an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas.

Then everything changed. He was waived late in camp. His football career was instantly put on hold.

All of a sudden, instead of putting on a uniform on Sundays, he was working 10-hour shifts as a forklift driver in Irving, Texas.

“You know how the game goes, it’s a business,” the safety said. “I was released and out of football for a few months. I started driving a forklift. I had to get a real job and see what the real world is like. It was kind of discouraging to face that rejection.”

Ramirez was happy to have a job. The pay was good. But it wasn’t football.

“It was a humbling experience,” he said. “You’re working these 10, 12-hour shifts and it gets repetitive. You just feel like you’re not alive on the inside. You know you weren’t born to do this and it kind of eats at you a little bit.

“I’m not knocking anyone who drives a forklift, but if you have a passion for something, you’ve got to have no regrets in life and just go for it. Have no fear and just go for it.”

Ramirez had a goal to get back on the field. He just needed an opportunity. The 23-year-old refused to be someone who goes through life wondering, “what if?”

The XFL provided the opportunity he was looking for.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to get drafted, picked up or anything, but God made it happen,” he said. “Now that I’m here, I just want to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

This is Ramirez’s first chance to visit Seattle. And, with a day off Thursday, he was ready to explore his new football home.

“So far, so good,” he said. “We’ve got a little off day now, so I’ll really get a chance to explore the city. Today, I’m going to really see what Seattle’s like. But, so far, I love the scenery. The people are really friendly around here.”

When asked about other first impressions, he noted the weather: “The cold here, it’s like a dry cold. I love this cold. I didn’t know I liked it cold until I got up here.”

And the city's vibe: “People are just free. They can do what they want, wear what they want with no cares. I like that.”

As impressed as the 6-foot-1 defensive back has been with the city, Ramirez had an even better review of his new teammates.  

“Oh boy, I love my DB group,” he said. “Everybody has their own personalities and we’re all coming together. I’ve never been a part of my own little Legion of Boom, everybody’s like 6-2 or above. It’s really fun working with a lot of long guys. These guys got a lot of talent out here. I feel like we’ve got a great season ahead of us.”

From driving a forklift to getting a second chance to play professional football, Ramirez doesn’t plan on wasting the opportunity.

“When the opportunity came, I was just going to shoot straight on with it,” he said. “Football is my calling. Everybody’s got their story. They feel the same way, too. There’s only a certain amount of people in this world who can play this game and I’ve come too far to stop.”