In early 2009, Jesse Holley was an out-of-work football player looking for a shot at an NFL roster. He found it via a reality show hosted by former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin.
Holley outlasted 11 other competitors on the program to win an invite to the team's training camp, played well enough to earn a spot on the practice squad, was called up to the main roster in the middle of last season and then on Sunday caught his first NFL pass and later hauled in a Tony Romo pass in overtime and went 77 yards to set up a game-winning field goal.
Holley played football at North Carolina (and also was a backup guard on the 2005 basketball team that won a national championship) and signed out of college with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was released from that team's practice squad in 2007 and continued his career in 2008 with a CFL team which also cut him midseason.
Irvin's reality show, broadcast on Spike TV during the summer of 2009, gave Holley an in with the Cowboys and he made the most of it. Nobody really expected anyone of substance would come from the program. Sure, the winner got an invite to training camp, but it was just a token slot. Like other programs of its ilk, "4th and Long" had a tenuous connection with reality. Or so we thought.
You can tell Holley is used to the spotlight by the way he celebrated his non-touchdown. It's a great story and even though I'm no Cowboys fan, I have to say that I got goosebumps when he caught that ball and streaked down the sideline. But, Jesse, put your hands down, dude. You didn't actually score the touchdown. In fact, you got chased down from behind after having a 7-yard lead on Donte Whitner and holding the ball up in the air at the 10-yard line like you were Michael Irvin.
Eh, on second thought, maybe it wasn't so bad after all.
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