graduate Kevin Haslam is packing his bags. The offensive tackle who just wrapped up a two-year stint playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars is leaving for California this Friday to train for his new gig, playing for the Oakland Raiders.
Haslam, who played football all four years of high school in Mahwah and at Rutgers, was first signed to the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2010, reports say. He played in five games for the Jags in 2010, but a knee injury kept him from playing last season, and he was released in March. Haslam was signed to a one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders in May, reports said.
The 6-foot-5, 304-pound football player said he is excited to make the move across the country. “I think it is a good fit for me, the team seems really cool,” he told Patch Tuesday. “After being injured last season, I am really just looking forward to playing.” Haslam said his knee is “perfectly fine” now, and should not keep him from playing any games in the upcoming NFL season.
Since being signed to the Raiders, Haslam said he has been going back and forth to California for mini training camps and workout sessions. “My mom still lives in Mahwah, so whenever I am not traveling, I come home to Mahwah,” he said. He has spent a large part of the summer working out an conditioning, he said, often at the Mahwah High School track and the township’s New York Sports Club.
This year and last, Haslam also run by his former coach, current MHS football coach Jeff Remo. “I love coming back to help out,” Haslam said. “There is something about helping kids who are doing something that you did, where you did it. It just means a little more to you,” he said.
Remo, who said he remembers Haslam as a “great player who was smart in school and in football, and was just a good kid,” said he appreciates the help. “He made it to the top. He’s in the NFL and he still wants to come back every year to help the kids in Mahwah. That says something about him.”
Remo also said he thought the move to Oakland is “a good thing for [Haslam]. It’s the best place for him to play.”
For current Mahwah football players, Haslam said the childhood dream of playing in the NFL could be a reality. “I tell kids they need to take in every bit of coaching they can get. Coach Remo is a great coach, they should listen to him and to other coaches they get the chance to work with,” he said.
Kids should also be aware that “this is a job, and it’s hard work. Playing football is a high-stress environment.” But, for him at least, the stress is worth it.
“I am looking forward to my first season with the Raiders," Haslam said. "I am really excited to play.”