Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Joe Schobert has had a ‘crazy’ past couple of months during this year’s offseason.
To start, Schobert and his wife, Megan, welcomed their son, Simon, just four days prior to what was slated to be the start of free agency. The day before he was born on March 13th, the NBA canceled games due to Covid-19, and hospitals were beginning to enact new rules, not allowing anyone but a spouse in the delivery room — surely an unorthodox start to any player’s offseason.
Schobert said via a Zoom media availability on Tuesday teams around the league questioned — at first —, if free agency would even start on time, or if the league should hold back due to players not being able to take physicals or visitations, something that ultimately did hamper some portions of free agency, but not all.
It did start on time, however, four days after his son was born.
“I went through the whole process signing with Jacksonville and being able to sign my contract, but I did not get my physical until I drove down and looked for houses a couple weeks ago. I was finally able to get my physical done,” said Schobert.
For free agents this year, physicals were quite delayed. Players had to trust in teams and teams had to trust in players to simply “agree to terms” and officially sign when they were able due to the on-going quarantine.
“You agree to terms and then there is no contract there. I agreed to terms, but is it really for real or is something going to happen in a week or two where for some reason, this is not seen through? On top of that, you are getting no sleep trying to figure out how to raise a kid for the first time.”
Juggling all of this to go along with the birth of a new child, was tough, but because neither he nor his wife had to go to work every day they have been able to balance it quite well, even while traveling from Wisconsin to Ohio to Jacksonville — a 13 hour ‘straight shot’ from Ohio to Jacksonville — to check out houses in his new city.
“We get to take naps during the day. That pays off. That is one of the positives that this whole situation has provided for us.”
Training has become yet another obstacle as well. Without the ability to practice with his teammates or lift weights with his teammates, Schobert had to create a makeshift gym in his in-law’s house. It’s there that Schobert is able to get the majority of his workouts done, with the rest occurring at a local elementary school field.
“I usually have to wait until the afternoon,” Schobert conceded. “We usually sleep in the morning because we are waking up and falling asleep all the time during the night with the feeding and changing the diapers and everything. We sleep in a little bit, and after these meetings in the afternoon, it is usually kind of my free time of the day.
MLB @TheSchoGoesOn53 was pure class on today’s Zoom, and we appreciate him making himself available to local media.— Tad Dickman (@TDickman89) May 5, 2020
Talked about leading by example, studying the heck out of the playbook & being a new father on a new team in a unique offseason.
SCHO https://t.co/dRMbcHdkQz pic.twitter.com/fPOE0DP5je
Schobert, once a walk-on at Wisconsin, knows how tough it is to climb through the ranks in football. Not highly recruited, Schobert worked his way through the system with the Badgers and eventually started during his junior season, taking off during his senior season and parlaying that into being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
While Schobert doesn’t get the “undrafted” label, he still carries the “walk-on” chip on his shoulder to this day, still striving to prove himself capable day in and day out.
“That process is proof to myself that if you do things the right way, you put your head down, you work hard and you listen to your coaches, you are going to be able to get to where you want. I have taken that to the NFL,” Schobert said Tuesday.
Schobert ultimately hopes that his passion for working hard and climbing through the ranks to become the best player he can be will translate into wins in Jacksonville. In Cleveland, Schobert and the Browns were only able to net one victory over his first two seasons in the league, he hopes, with the Jaguars that will not be the case, and the team will become a consistent winning franchise for years to come.
“ In 2017, the Jaguars went to the AFC Championship game, but I want to be able to change the culture into a traditional winning culture to be a team that can go to the playoffs year after year and become one of the more successful franchises in the AFC, competing for titles every year,” he said.
That much will be gladly taken by every member of the Jaguars organization, one that has not lived up to expectations or their own standards over the past two seasons. The team’s newest starting middle linebacker hopes, with time, good things will happen in Jacksonville.