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A Ball Watchers Guide to: Luis Castillo

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <strong>Movin on:</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://a.abcnews.com/images/Exclusiva/nm_luis_castillo_081022_ssh.jpg"><img title="Luis Castillo" src="http://a.abcnews.com/images/Exclusiva/nm_luis_castillo_081022_ssh.jpg" alt="Luis Castillo" width="256" height="197" /></a></div>

    It was an eventful childhood, being born in Brooklyn, New York, moving to the Dominican Republic, then back to the States, settling in New Jersey. Defensive End Luis Castillo was to become only the second player in the NFL of Dominican heritage to be drafted, and start.

    However, Luis had to fight and work hard to get to the NFL, like many other talented young men who make their way to the locker rooms and hallowed fields. At eleven years of age, reportedly Luis had asked for his mother's permission to quit football, However she let him know that he was not allowed to quit. He worked hard through school and then ended up playing for Northwestern where he played well, totaling 34 career starts and 251 career tackles. Northwestern reported that Castillo "<em>Possessed great work ethic, tremendous attitude and good strength level</em>", which along with his level of play led earned him first-team Academic All-America honors and <em>Pro Football Weekly</em> first-team All-America honors. However he was also slowed by an elbow injury his last season, and that led to an early challenge for this young NFL hopeful-

    <strong>Trouble and Acknowledgement:</strong>
    By all reports the elbow injury that Castillo suffered in college was healing slowly, and with the pain he played through as a senior in college and the prospect of entering the NFL Combine at less than 100% Castillo took androstenedione. That being a steroid which increases the amount of testosterone the body produces, which is believed to promote muscle growth and speed the healing process. However the substance was detected during a urine test at the combine.

    Now typically most ball watchers would write the young man off. However, what Castillo did then earned him some respect from this fan, and possibly some NFL teams as well. Castillo did not hide from what happened, deny it or try and make excuses for it. He manned up and wrote all 32 teams of the NFL admitting what he did and explaining himself. I think it was a brave move for a young man whose future could have hinged on how well the teams of the NFL took the letter. However, the letter must have had an impact as AJ Smith decided to draft Castillo with the 28th pick of the 2005 draft.

    When AJ Smith, Chargers General Manager was questioned about Castillo's steroid use, he responded saying "<em>Let me tell you -- this is a great kid. Did he cheat to try to get ready for the Combine? All of that is true. He has admitted it. He cheated to cut a corner because he was fearful. But I don't believe he gained an advantage. If we wouldn't have picked him, someone else would have -- because he's proven what a good kid he is and this was a one-time mistake.</em>"

    <strong>2005, making an impact:</strong>
    Castillo came into Boltsville with an energy that was easy to see. His smile seemed contagious and his presence was felt in the opening day against Dallas when he registered tow tackles. No I know typically a ball watcher does not bother to worry themselves about the defensive line, but the defensive line that year could not be missed. Against Oakland they held the hated Raiders to 39 yards rushing, then the next week in Philadelphia it was the line that helped hold the Eagles to just 24 yards rushing.

    In 2005 Catillo played in 16 games, he helped the defense improve and Charger fans were picking up on his nickname ‘the Dancing Bear' because of his speed, as well as his quick hands and feet. Castillo's Rookie year production of 37 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 defended passes got him named an All Rookie team selection by NFL.com, Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers of America.

    <strong>2006, and 2007:</strong>
    Castillo suffered thought 2006 and 2007 with some injuries, playing in only 10 games each season. However in the 2006 season Castillo set a career high with 7 sacks and made his first interception against San Francisco. Castillo In 2006 during the opening game, ESPN commentator Dick Vermeil called Castillo one of the best young defensive linemen he's seen in a long time. Castillo suffered a knee injury that put him on the shelf for six games.

    In 2007 it was an ankle injury that slowed the dancing bear and led some Charger fans to question his ability to stay healthy. However when in the games he played very well for the Chargers, upon returning after his ankle injury he made an immediate impact by sacking jay Cutler of the Denver Broncos for a six yard loss on a 3rd and 9 to go play. When on the field he did play well stopping many plays for losses.

    2008 saw Castillo rewarded with an extended contract of $43-million, with $18 million in guaranteed money. AJ Smith had these comments when the signing was announced: "<em>Since his arrival, Luis has played a huge role in the success we've had as a defense, he's an ascending player who is committed to getting better. We're thrilled that he'll be a Charger for years to come.</em>"

    Castillo started out the season well, combining on a stop of Bret Farve with Shaun Phillips on a two point conversion attempt. Castillo continued the next week when the Chargers harried and harassed Raiders Quarterback Jamarcus Russell, Castillo accounted for 1.5 of the 5 sacks that day. Castillo and the Chargers had a respectable pass rush the latter half of the season that got better as the defense spent more time under Coordinator Ron Rivera. It due in large to the improved was the play of the defensive line, and Castillo as the season went on that the Chargers were able to hang in and steal the division title from the Denver Broncos.

    Castillo by all reports is a man who is proud of his people and his heritage. He is a man that seems to be down to earth, and helps out in the community whenever possible. In 2008 Castillo took part in a USO tour where he was one of the NFL stars visiting with U.S. troops stationed at military bases throughout the Persian Gulf.

    He also finds time to return to his ancestral home where he still receives a welcome fitting of a national hero when he returns to visit the Dominican. In 2005, he was honored with the Youth of the Year Award for excellence outside of the Dominican Republic.

    "<em>The love I've gotten from that country for playing a sport they don't have another representative in has been something truly amazing, special and unbelievable it humbles me to think of how much love I've received for something that not all of them even understand.</em>"

    Even with all his success Castillo remains down to earth and credits his mother for her hard work and providing him with opportunities to succeed. She was raised in a small village in the Dominican that had no running water or electricity and few educational opportunities. Today, she runs a multimillion-dollar company in New York that imports hair-care products from her homeland. "<em>Because she dedicated so much to me, I'm accountable to her, I'm accountable to her to make sure I take every opportunity and make the best of it, because she worked very hard to give me an education.</em>"

    Castillo is also a community leader in San Diego. Where he has hosted "Shop with a Charger" for abused and neglected children. A true role model, who exemplifies the character that the Chargers promote, Castillo was selected as the cover athlete for the Spanish-language version of Madden NFL '08.
    "<em>That was a special honor I remember playing Madden growing up, and when I'd make my player on the video game, I'd think, ‘Castillo? That's not the last name of any NFL player.' I thought I'd have to change my name if I ever got lucky enough to play in the real NFL.</em>"

    Castillo, who is fluent in Spanish now uses his name and image to inspire other Hispanic youths. He has helped facilitate football camps in both Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

    "<em>We have to continue to do everything we can, especially as Hispanic players and role models, to show them it isn't a matter of where you come from it doesn't matter what nationality you are, how much money your family might or might not have, but really, that you can achieve anything you want. You set your own limits.</em>"

    Castillo was acknowledged for his contributions and awarded the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award for Sports Excellence. However, Castillo hopes to inspire youth to excel in all facets of life.
    "<em>I've had a lot of opportunities to interact with kids but it shouldn't be about letting them hang out with a football player. I want them to see how I treat my family and friends and to see the integrity and honesty I try and live my life with. Those are the things that are important.</em>"

    Entering the 2009 season Castillo says he is feeling healthy. With Rivera's emphasis on aggressive defensive play, and accountability, Castillo could have a banner year, If he is able to remain healthy, his combination of experience, size and speed can make his a difficult advisory to stop. Time will tell how the 09 season pans out for Castillo, but given his background and upbringing Charger fans can be certain that he will never quit.

    <strong>Ball Watcher <em>noun</em></strong> (as defined by Shamrock)
    1. Those fans that stare down the QB at the snap of the ball (whether watching on TV or at the stadium). They don't see the coverage, the DL/LB alignment, the offensive formation, or other nuances of the game.

    2. After the snap, those same fans simply follow the ball. Pulls, traps, OL slides, secondary coverage's, etc, all are foreign concepts to them.

    3. Advanced ball watchers become stat reading ball watchers. The "dirty" work, done by players in the trenches, or run support CB's, escape those fans knowledge of the game.

    4. Only skill position players (i.e. those that generate stats) are important to ball watchers.

    5. Concudan

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