Tight end’s injury let Western grad make a few plays of his own
by: Chris McGrath, Kevin Boss used to play football just “for fun.” Now his team, the New York Giants, is a Super Bowl candidate.

Growing up, Kevin Boss’ childhood athletic dreams included an opportunity to play in the NBA finals. “My whole life, basketball was No. 1,” Boss says. “Football was just something to play for fun.” Imagine the surprise, then, that Boss will line up as the New York Giants’ starting tight end in Sunday’s NFC championship game at Green Bay. “It doesn’t seem real yet,” says the Giants’ 6-7, 265-pound rookie, a Philomath High and Western Oregon graduate who turned 24 last Friday. The fifth-round draft pick moved into the New York lineup after Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey broke a leg Dec. 17 against Washington. Boss started the final two regular-season games, catching four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown in the finale, a 38-35 loss to New England. Boss caught two passes for 14 yards in the Giants’ playoff opener, a 24-14 win over Tampa Bay. Then he hauled in a 19-yard reception that set up a late first-half TD in last Sunday’s 21-17 victory over Dallas. “Just seeing what Kevin has done in the (limited) opportunities he’s gotten, you can’t ask for much more,” New York receiver Amani Toomer told the national media. “I don’t think he’s dropped a ball yet. He’s a guy that if you don’t pay attention to, he can make plays just like Shockey does.” “I’m not going to do everything Jeremy does,” Boss says, “but I’ve been able to do a few things to contribute. I’m getting more comfortable with each game.” Boss remains the soft-spoken, down-to-earth guy he was as a 6-7, 200-pound senior at Philomath, the son of Bob, a probation officer with Benton County, and Teresa. (Older brother Terry is a goalkeeper for the United Soccer Leagues Puerto Rico Islanders.) After his senior season — he was all-league and honorable mention all-state — Boss expected to end his football career and pursue his first love, basketball. But Warrior defensive coordinator Jay Faxon told Boss, “I don’t think your football career should be over.’ ” Western Oregon beckoned, “and I didn’t even put myself out to any other schools,” says Boss, who was on his way to helping Philomath to the state basketball championship that winter. “I just decided to go there.” Enlisted on a partial scholarship for both sports, Boss played basketball as a sophomore and junior, serving as a backup post player. In football, he blossomed into a 250-pound tight end and prime receiving threat in the Wolves’ multiple offense. Boss’ collegiate career was cut short by a shoulder injury in the sixth game of the 2006 season, but he fared well at the NFL combine and on Pro Day in Monmouth, convincing the Giants he had pro potential. After playing mostly on New York’s kickoff return and punt teams this fall, Boss got his big break with Shockey’s injury, and he has made the most of it. And when he scores a touchdown — he’s had two as a rookie — he emulates his family’s athletic hero. “Dad raised us as Detroit Lions fans, and Barry Sanders was our favorite,” Boss says. “I always looked up to him as a real classy player. We always appreciated that whenever he scored he just ran over and handed the ball to the referee.” Boss has developed a relationship with Giant quarterback Eli Manning — finally. “He’s relatively shy until you get to know him,” Boss says. “Me being on the quiet side, too, it took a while for us to get to know one another. But I’ve found Eli to be a good leader, a great guy in the locker room, a funny guy who keeps things light. And he’s playing outstanding ball right now.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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