Marcus Sherels laughed when I asked him if he knows how many times he’s been cut in the court of public opinion in his career.
“I have no idea,” he said. “You’d probably know better than me.”
Let’s see, he’s been in the NFL six seasons so … six times.
It’s become an annual part of Vikings training camp. Same thing every summer: This is the year Marcus Sherels gets cut by the Vikings.
And every training camp ends with Sherels’ name listed on the final 53-man roster.
It happened last year. And the year before. And the year before. And the year before.
The former Gopher just keeps sticking around. According to my colleague Mark Craig, Sherels is one of only five Vikings players who was on the team before 2011. That does not include quarterback Shaun Hill, who is in his second stint with the team.
Sherels’ longevity remains a great NFL success story considering his career started with only a rookie weekend tryout.
“It’s kind of weird to think about, there’s only five or six of us here from my first year, so it’s pretty crazy,” he said.
Sherels is remarkably quiet and unassuming. He’s not a physical freak (5-10, 175 pounds).
But he’s kept his job and earned the trust of the organization and two different coaching staffs because he’s very reliable.
Sherels has lost only one fumble on 114 career punt returns and 100 fair catches.
“Coaches want guys that they can trust and who don’t make the same mistakes twice,” he said. “I try and pride myself on not making the same mistakes, and if I do, I learn from them.”
In that regard, Sherels’ ability to win a roster spot every season really isn’t surprising at all. Coaches trust him.
They trust him to catch punts and not fumble the ball. They trust him to be in the right place and do the right things. They trust that they can use him at cornerback in a pinch and he’ll know his assignments and compete hard.
“He’s a guy that when he gets opportunities, he keeps making plays,” Mike Zimmer said. “He’s the best gunner we have, he’s returned really well. He can kickoff return if we need him. We’ve had him playing in the nickel some this year. He’s a guy that has a lot of value because of all of the things he can do. It’s a nice story for a guy like him, like you say, everybody is trying to get him cut before the season, and he just keeps finding a way.”
Sherels has become a valuable punt returner along the way. His 10.5-yard career average ranks first in team history. He finished sixth in the NFL last season with an 11.0-yard average.
That’s allowed him to keep his job against a steady stream of challengers over the years.
“They always bring in competition,” he said. “But that makes me better and makes the team better.”