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From the beginning, Mike Nixon's successful path to the NFL was a long shot. And even though he spent more than nine months working his tail off to get there, his professional-football dreams were halted when the San Diego Chargers gave the former Arizona State Sun Devils standout his unconditional release on Saturday.
In May, the Chargers signed Nixon to a free-agent deal after he went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. During his stint with the team, he made some impressive plays in limited preseason action and garnered props from the coaching staff. He also received some positive press in the North County Times about the intangibles -- elevated IQ, hard working, and fundamentally sound -- that made him one of ASU's most impressive scholar-athletes ever.
But all of that wasn't enough when the defending AFC West champions trimmed its roster from 75 to 53 players over the weekend. From the start, the six-foot-three, 232-pound rookie, who turned 28 on August 17, was buried on the depth chart. When he did see the field as a linebacker, he looked like a boy amongst men.
Nixon's football career isn't over; he could still be picked up by another franchise as a backup, special-teams guru, or practice-team player. However, as of the time this post was published, no team had signed him.