By Cassidy Thornburg
This past summer, former Thunder defensive-back Tyler Sigler practiced through training camp and signed a preseason contract with the Arizona Cardinals. During his four preseason games, Sigler recorded nine total tackles and had a notable pick off against the Chargers, returning it for 52 yards. Sigler, who was cut from the Cardinals’ regular season roster, joined the Wheaton Thunder Sports Network live broadcast during a Thunder football home game for a quick interview to share about his summer with the Cardinals. Here are our five key takeaways.
1. Playing in the NFL differs from playing for the Thunder
“It was a pretty big change from being here,” Sigler said. “Especially in terms of the relationships and the motivation to play as a team, but it was still a lot of fun. The first training camp practice, we walked out and there were more people than I’ve ever played in front of. While it was just a normal day to everybody else, it was pretty special for me, and I really enjoyed it.”
2. Most marriages don’t start out this way
From training camp in Arizona to his wedding in Grand Rapids and then back to Arizona for practice and preseason, Sigler’s summer was nonstop.
“It’s been a wild ride,” he said. “On the Wednesday before our wedding, I jumped on a flight after practice, then got home at about 1:30 in the morning. My fiancé at the time, now my wife, picked me up and I was in Grand Rapids for three days. We got married on Friday, had a one-day honeymoon, then got on a plane and were back in Phoenix on Sunday. We had a lot of fun, but at the same time our heads were spinning. We’ve experienced all of the major things of starting a marriage: moving across the country, having zero job security, so it’s been a ton of fun.” Sigler and his wife now live in Grand Rapids.
3. “The senior class is extremely impressive”
Since Sigler now lives closer to Wheaton, he has come out to watch his younger brother Caden, a senior defensive-back for the Thunder, in action.
“The senior class is extremely impressive; they are really competitive and a bunch of great leaders,” Sigler said. “It’s been really fun to watch Caden form a role as a significant contributor on defense and be a very vocal leader. It’s really exciting for me because there were no schools recruiting Caden out of high school. Wheaton knew him because he came around when I was here as a freshman and sophomore and they took a chance on him. You know they’ve never looked back because he’s made such a huge contribution to the team. I’m so proud not only that he’s played, but of the way that he’s played and the way that he’s led. He has another year, potentially, next year as a fifth year, so I’m really hoping he comes back because it’s been fun to watch him.”
4. No regrets in taking a fifth year
Before the 2017 season, Sigler was getting NFL looks, but then suffered a season-ending injury that changed his course and caused him to question if he would play another year of football.
“It was really hard at the time,” Sigler said. “It’s kind of like when you have your hand in front of your face, and you don’t really know what it is until it gets further away from you — I really struggled. I had a lot of different options: I thought about graduate transferring, trying to play football somewhere or potentially just being done playing, but I was lucky enough to have a lot of good conversations with Coach Swider. His sales pitch to me was, ‘In 35 years you’re not going to wish you worked one more year, you’re going to wish you played one more year of football,’ and he was absolutely right. I had a conversation with my parents too, and they said, ‘How could you ever resist another year around these incredible men and to be led spiritually by an incredible coach?’ I couldn’t turn it down, and I have no regrets about coming back here.”
5. God has a plan
There unfortunately have been many guys on the Thunder this season with injuries, including seniors Spencer Peterson and Daniel Herber. Having battled serious injuries of his own, Sigler shared some powerful advice.
“I would just tell them to trust in God’s plan more than their own which is really hard at the time, but as time goes on, it gets easier. In retrospect, things are a lot easier to understand and they still have a responsibility as a member of the team, especially the two seniors — Spencer and Daniel. I was close with both of them and it’s hard; I’m not trying to short that, it’s really hard to lose your season, but it’s a huge blessing to be here for another year, and to never lose sight of that. God has a plan for the two of them.”