FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - As everyone gets ready to say goodbye to 2015, plenty of people are reminded of where they were one year ago. One Falcons tight end has seen quite a lot of change, especially in his occupation.
"[A year ago] I worked at detention centers with troubled youth," said Atlanta tight end DJ Tialavea of the jobs he worked while out of football; often several at the same time. "I've done security at clubs, carpet cleaning. I've cleaned out construction buildings. I've done pretty much anything."
Tialavea was added from the Falcons practice squad to the active roster on Tuesday. It's the kind of move that, especially for a non-playoff team, that can get lost in the wash; but for the Utah State product it meant the world.
Tialavea was undrafted out of college, spending time with the Jaguars and on Buffalo's practice squad. There was a time though, during his senior year that Tialavea thought his career might be done.
"I broke my foot, it was a season ending injury," said Tialavea. "About two weeks later my father passed away. Everything, my whole world kind of crumbled in two weeks. It took a long time to climb out of that deep dark hole."
He caught on with those two NFL teams in 2014, but after spending time with the Falcons during training camp and the preseason he was let go. Tialavea was in limbo before returning to Atlanta in Week 12.
The promotion to the active roster will only cover Week 17 of this year, and it's no guarantee he'll even be active on gameday. Still, Tialavea thinks back to the tough times, the moments he almost gave up football as he now makes his first NFL 53-man roster.
"I thought about that all last night, I couldn't sleep. I just kept thinking to myself about all those times where I planned in my head to go off and do this, get a job here, to live here. Myself and obviously my family, it means the world. It's such a blessing and G-d's put his whole plan to this moment."