Goss: After a year away, Tony Pashos becomes a Redskin
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2013 9:32PM
Tony Pashos | File photo
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:39AM
He was an All-Big offensive tackle at Illinois, helping the Illini to a Big Ten title and Sugar Bowl appearance.
He has been in the NFL since being picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2003 draft.
When he walks into a room, his 6-foot-6, 315-pound frame resembles a mountain on legs.
But Lockport graduate Tony Pashos is so much more than a big man who has made a nice living playing America’s favorite game. With his work for charity, his gift to the University of Illinois, his involvement in the national political scene, his refusal to condemn a team that he believes did him wrong and his outlook on playing his first season in the fall with the Washington Redskins, Pashos is the thinking man’s offensive lineman.
He sat out last season. After having ankle surgery in 2012, the Cleveland Browns said he failed his physical and released him.
Pashos, 32, did not make a scene over his disagreement with the Browns’ decision; he did not sit around and mope. Instead, he dedicated himself to hard work with an eye toward continuing his career. The Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs eventually made him offers, and he signed a one-year deal with the ’Skins on March 11 of this year.
Earlier, his agent told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Pashos suffered a ruptured peroneus longus tendon in his left foot during the final preseason game in 2011, but that the peroneus brevis tendon remained intact. He gutted it out and played the entire season, opting for surgery the following offseason.
Pashos thought the Browns needed him, and he wanted to help them even though he was hurting. He needed pain pills and shots to continue playing and late in the season was hospitalized because of ulcers caused by the medications. Then came the ankle surgery and his release.
He also suffered a right ankle injury with the Browns in October 2010 that prematurely ended that season. He spent Halloween having surgery.
Between stints with the Ravens and Browns, Pashos played with Jacksonville and San Francisco, so the Redskins are his fifth team.
“I’m excited for this opportunity with the Redskins,” Pashos said. “I’m healthy. I’m moving well and feel strong. I’m going to camp (beginning July 24) at 315 pounds (down from 325). A lot of the young guys in this game put on weight, but you see massive guys get beat by quick defensive ends. You basically have to get good at football, not get bigger.
“I know now, after going to minicamp, that I can be as good as or better than I ever was. I always had the drive to be the best I can be. I’m relearning the right tackle position after being away for a year, and that’s exciting to me. It’s not like riding a bike. It’s a lot less forgiving in pro football.”
Pashos has played in 92 NFL games, starting 70. Whether he starts with Washington depends on beating out Tyler Polumbus, who started at right tackle all last season and reupped with the Redskins shortly after Pashos signed.
“My focus isn’t on starting, it’s to go in and be the best I can be,” Pashos said. “When we go into camp, I want to continue learning how I can help this team win.
“This is my 11th year out of college. My focus is to work hard and win a lot of games. I want to get a ring.”
Pashos has not been involved in the playoffs since 2007, when he was with the Jaguars.
“I need to get back,” he said. “That’s what you play for, to get in the postseason and have a shot at getting that ring. When you don’t get in the playoffs, it stinks. That’s what you play any sport for.”
Pashos will do anything necessary to reach that point, even if that means playing with pain, as he has proved.
“I’m really thankful for this opportunity,” he said. “I’m happy and at peace. I am entering my twilight years, and I finally have a good taste in my mouth.”
One move would make it better, however.
“I wish I could fold up Jimmy Hall and put him in my suitcase and take him with me,” Pashos said of his good friend and one of his former Lockport coaches. “It’s unfortunate that people like him have to retire from teaching and coaching. What he has meant to me on every level is unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, Pashos’ 2012 season off the field showed more of what he is about.
Whether you agree with his political stance, Pashos is not afraid to take a stand. A history buff, he is interested in what is happening in the world. He studied the political scene and delivered a well thought-out endorsement of Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul.
In November, at a University of Illinois football game, Pashos, who has done a significant amount of charitable work with children’s hospitals and children with autism, was recognized for his gift to his university as he established the Tony Pashos Offensive Lineman Meeting Room.
“It was easy to give back because the university has given my family and me so many opportunities, and has given me some great friends,” Pashos told reporters then. “The university has meant so much to my family and it is dear to my heart.”
He’s a big man, all right, with a giant heart. You can’t help but pull for him to get that ring he so deeply wants.