Phillip Winters: Return to His True Passion
By: Michael Aaron Chase Jr.
The game of football is one that takes no prisoners. Those who play give it every ounce of there being to play at a high level. Some players have great long careers, and some are cut short, for various reasons. For some individuals though a career can start, and end, for Phillip Winters this path back into football is a reality on the horizon. Now in order to reclaim the ability to fulfill one of his passions, he is hard at work to restart his career. During a recent interview I learned about his personal drive, overall knowledge, and the skills he is imploring to guide him back to a professional playing career.
Phillip Anthony Winters, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 10, 1987. As he stated during a recent interview, “I have always loved football”. But I learned, he did not get into playing as early as some players do. He told me how he actually played mostly baseball competitively for 13 years during his youth. Winters called baseball his first love, and actually he did not begin playing football competitively until high school. He described to me when he first discovered an interest in football. Saying, “… when I watched my older brothers play football my interest grew.” Continuing, “I then told my parents I wanted to tryout and it took off from there.” Winters played football at Abraham Lincoln High School where he played both left and right guard, as well as, defensive tackle and defensive end. During his time there he was moved up quickly to varsity because of his talent and size. As he stated, “every game was a great game,” as he continued to speak on how his high school experiences really were good times with the Turkey Bowl being the highlight of his high school career.
We then moved toward the furthering of his football career after high school, which turned out to be quite the journey. He started by attending Berrian Institute where he played football under the Junior College football program. Winters described the experience as almost feeling like a professional. He spoke on the two-a-days they had, and the facilities provided were high end and high quality. Though unfortunately this experience only lasted a short few months; the school ended up closing due to financial issues. But as Winters described it was not the greatest time despite the perks. “The chemistry was just off with the teams. Everyone was for themselves. Just no love between teammates.” Clearly an interesting, albeit quick time at Berrian for Winters. Winters then went on to play football professionally beginning in the ACFL with the Philadelphia Blaze. He played with this team for about 5 to 6 years winning 5 league championships during that time. Though he said the best part of this time in his life was playing with both of his brothers who played on the team as well. He described how they all played multiple positions on the team. With his oldest brother playing tackle and guard, and the other brother running back. When they won championships they were all on the field playing defense together. He said, “That was an experience you can never replace. And it was a great opportunity that I thankfully got to experience with my brothers.” The other main stop Winters made during his professional career was when he played for the Philadelphia Soul scouting squad, the PA Vikings, who are part of the Indoor Gridiron League. He spoke on the opportunity to play in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. When I asked him about what lesson he has learned overall from football his personality shined. He stated,” I learned there No I in team. Not just you against the world, I learned that early.” I never got hyped before a game, you just give me direction and I will fulfill it. Quiet, but deadly. Encourage don’t berate teammates.” So overall his football career has had quite a few interesting stops, but all of which Winters has said he has grown from.
Now after all this Winters had to retire from football for a period of time. This was because he met his wife and they had a child and he took time to be with his family. Though as he described there came a point where he soon longed to play the game he loved again. He said he told his wife, “I miss the game.” Thus with the ok from his spouse to restart his football career he began his quest back into one of his true loves. As Winters further explained, “I have played sports my entire life.” He further went on to explain what drives him to get back into football and work to find future tryout opportunities. Stating,” What keeps me motivated is that I want my kids to play sports, and show my kids they can do the same things I can do, and do it better.” Continuing, “My children are my motivation, when they come to my games. I just love the games, it’s like being a part of something that is good.” Winters then went on to speak on how he is looking to play out of state. He depicted, “When you know what to expect. It does not help you grow as a player, going against the same competition.” Also stating,” I want to branch out more. Experience positivity. Change a lot of people’s mindsets, stand up and help people.”
We then got into the football specifics of his position, defensive end. First asking about what he considers the most challenging of playing defensive end. Winters described, “…it’s keeping your head on a swivel. Making sure I am not getting down field too fast and losing my assignment trying to make a play.” Winters also detailed, “Technique always plays a part. But every Defensive End is different and you must put your own twist on your skills to keep you from being basic.” Winters also spoke on specifics like hand placement and different moves. As well as, how he works on utilizing his speed and size effectively which told me he does know and works at his position very diligently. Winters even told me when I asked him about players he compares to he stated none. Saying,” No one, because comparisons do not help me grow and distinguish myself as player.” Basically stating he wants to build his own brand and be a unique player. Thus this will hopefully help him stand out to possible scouts and other important football influencers.
We then concluded our conversation with recapping his experience at his most recent football showcase opportunity at the Beyond Sports Network National Scouting Combine. We began with how he came to hear of the combine via phone call. As he described one of the combines main contributors D.J. Daniels him to alert him about it. He quickly signed up and began to prepare for this opportunity, trying to forget his nervousness leading up to the combine. Winters described his experience once he got there stating, “It was great to Have Mr. Daniels and Mr. Kibble (one of the main founders of Beyond Sports Network) watch us and provide us with one on one drills and because of a small number of guys there.” I like the fact that the BSN is Global, and allows networking with all kinds of people. But I wish I’d known about it when I was playing arena football.” Winters went on saying, Continuing, “Getting through the combine was challenging, especially with 3 and ½ hours of continuous running. But I persevered through.” He then concluded, “I am hoping to go to the next combine and improve my stats.” He spoke on how he “has a base”, and continued to speak on how this was a great stepping stone for his hopeful return to playing professionally. Time will now tell if Phillip Winters will find another opportunity playing the game he loves professionally. Though I can say it is worth cheering for someone who after being away from the game is putting in the work to get back to playing. All it will take now is for one to call that is in need of a physically imposing athlete and a man with great character.