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July 19, 2013It wasn't too long when Mike Fladell was part of the best offensive line Rutgers put together in the modern era. Fladell started at offensive guard during the 2006 and '07 seasons when Rutgers allowed a mere 18 sacks and put together a combined record of 19-7 with two bowl victories.
Fladell was also part of the offensive line that helped clear the way for former RU running back Ray Rice, who gained a combined 3,806 rushing yards in those two seasons.
Nowadays, life has changed for the New York city native. He now lives in Charlotte, N.C., with his wife Amy and 20-month old son, Parker, as his playing days have passed him by.
But football was part of Fladell's life for a brief time after his Rutgers career had ended. Fladell was undrafted out of Rutgers but caught on with the New York Giants, where he spent the second half of the 2008 season on the practice squad.
"I went to mini camp with the Cincinnati Bengals and then I caught on with the Giants for a bit," Fladell said. "I was with them after the season but I was released two weeks before training camp [in 2009]. Then I failed a physical with the [New York] Jets and that is kind of what did me in. Then I got cleared to play and played one year in the UFL."
That last year of football came as a member of the New York Sentinels in 2009. After that, Fladell opted to hang up his cleats for good.
But football is something Fladell still misses on a daily basis.
"I miss it every day," Fladell said. "I look back and it was a stressful life living that sort of life, not knowing when you will get that knock on your door and being told 'the coach needs to see you, bring your playbook.' You don't know where your next step is. But on the other side, I really miss being with the guys, the camaraderie and I really miss playing ball."
Life after football began to move Fladell all over the country.
"I actually moved out to Arizona. I always wanted to live out there so I looked for a career and tried to start a life out there," Fladell said. "But nothing really panned out for me there. L'Oreal contacted me from Pisctaway. They have a plant back in Piscataway. They offered me a position as a production supervisor."
So it was back to New Jersey for Fladell as he snatched up that position. But it wasn't long before he was transferred out to Little Rock, Ark.
It was there that Fladell settled in, got married and started to really enjoy his new surroundings.
"I really loved it out there," Fladell said of Arkansas. "You are so free out there, free to do whatever. Everybody is friendly. There is plenty of space and it's beautiful. If you are an outdoors type of person, you would love it out there. It was so different. Businesses would even close down for the first week of hunting season."
Fladell was out in Arkansas last year when Rutgers came in and handed the Razorbacks a 35-26 loss. Fladell also made it a point to see that victory in person
"It was awesome. Living in Arkansas, I had people talking stuff to me all week before the game," Fladell said. "I made a bet with my boss that he would have to wear my Rutgers shirt all day if we won. This guy is like 5-foot-5 and he had to wear a three XL Rutgers polo all day. But it was great, I got to talk to coach Flood and some of the guys after the game. It was really nice."
Arkansas wouldn't remain home for long as Fladell headed back east to be closer to family and friends. He now works as a shipping supervisor for Guardian Industries, based out of Richburg, S.C., and makes his home in nearby Charlotte.
Now a family man, Fladell still looks back fondly on his time as a Scarlet Knight during an era where he helped change the face of the program.
"I am just proud to be part of the building process at Rutgers. I'm just proud to be part of one of the best offensive lines in school history back in '06 and '07. I'm proud to have played for Coach Schiano and his staff and proud to have been part of Coach Flood's offensive line."