From WC to the NFL, Barlow making a name on the sidelines

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 16, 2002

[08/16/02]From Warren Central’s football field, to the campus of Mississippi State, and on to the Houston Texans’ two-a-days in the unforgiving summer sun, Jeff Barlow makes his way across the football landscape.

It wouldn’t be uncommon to see Barlow carrying a football, or grabbing a face mask, or even knocking the dust off a uniform, but what may come as a surprise is that Barlow does it all as an equipment manager.

“It kind of staggers me when realizing how far I’ve come,” said Barlow, a 1998 WC graduate. “I never thought I would make a career out of this. You learn something new everyday.”

Barlow’s NFL career will end for the time being when his summer internship with the Texans comes to a close today. From there he will return to his fall duties as a graduate assistant at MSU, where he is working on a Masters in Sports Administration.

But for someone who never saw himself involved in sports, Barlow’s trip across the fields of the SEC and NFL started simply enough.

“Back in Warren Central, in my sophomore year, me and my friend were on the practice field when he asked me, Why don’t you give me some help with the team?'” Barlow said. “Next thing I know I got to liking it. I never thought I’d be where I am now.”

Barlow’s climb up the football ladder was braced with helping hands. After graduating from WC, Vikings coach Robert Morgan guided Barlow to MSU, where his sons played football.

“Jeff did us an astounding job here and showed interest in Mississippi State, and I knew some different people to talk to,” Morgan said. “He’s one of those positive cases and I’m really proud of him. He has a wonderful future ahead of him.”

But it was a lack of something to do during the summer that got Barlow involved with the Texans. His supervisor at State, Phil Silva, had learned about an internship position with the first year NFL team, and Barlow hit the ground running.

“I knew that Houston was a new team and thought that this might be fun,” Barlow said. “It just fell in my lap. It was as simple as, Hey, an internship is open, you want it?’ Heck yeah.’ I took it and didn’t think twice about it.”

But an internship with the NFL is not as glamorous as it sounds. There is plenty of work involved, Silva said.

“(Barlow) does a good job and this is something he’s always wanted to do, but I won’t send anybody down to the camps unless they’re good workers,” Silva said. “They don’t have time to play around.”

Yes, Barlow has met the team’s number one draft pick, David Carr, who he describes as “a real cool guy who will be real successful soon.”

And coach Don Capers?

“When we spot balls and follow scripts I’m not always concentrating and end up putting it in the wrong spot,” Barlow said. “Then he’ll get on me. But off the field he’s a real nice guy.”

Off the field Barlow is busy in the laundry room, washing NFL uniforms that have been worn in the Texas sun for up to two hours.

Though the experience has helped define a possible career for Barlow, he doesn’t intend to provide laundry service forever.

“I’m definitely seeing where this will take me,” Barlow said. “Maybe a full-time assistant at a major college, or the NFL down the road if possible.”

With his upcoming degree from MSU, Barlow can get involved in marketing, equipment management, or even land an athletic director job at a college or an administrative position with a pro team. With his experience as an equipment manager, Barlow has provided himself a clear future.

“It’s definitely an experience to be out here, and I’ve enjoyed it,” Barlow said. “Its a lot of hard work but tons of fun. But I love the college game and am ready to get back.”