Mardy Gilyard: The Man Who Could Have Played Football Blindfolded
By: Peter Roseman
April 22, 2021
Mardy Gilyard, also known to Pirates fans as “The Captain of the Ship,” spent two glorious years in Worcester. In his time as a Pirate, 2018-19, Gilyard compiled some mind-boggling numbers; 153 receptions, 1,697 yards receiving, and 48 touchdowns! But there’s much more to Mardy Gilyard than his ostentatious IFL stats. Check this out:
Did you know Gilyard once worked four jobs to maintain his scholarship at Cincinnati? Did you know Gilyard finished ninth overall in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior year? All he did was catch 87 passes for 1,191 yards and score 12 touchdowns. Did you realize Gilyard was drafted in the fourth round, 99th overall, by the LA Rams? His rookie season he played in 11 games, catching 6 passes for 63 yards and returning 16 kickoffs for 356 yards. Did you know Mardy Gilyard began his own foundation and devotes time and money to helping citizens from his hometown area, Flagler County, Florida? In the recent past, the Gilyard Group Foundation has provided cleats for Police Athletic League players, adopted a portion of State Road 100 for cleanup, provided money and clothing for student-athletes, and donated money to the local food pantry. The foundation even sponsors “field days” for local children with activities such as water gun fights, basketball tournaments, and magic shows. And he could have done it all while wearing a blindfold!
In April of 2010, Gilyard was a guest on ESPN’s Sports Science. His soft hands, lightning speed, and route precision were the show’s focus. After donning pressure censored gloves, Gilyard demonstrated he catches footballs with just 17.4 pounds of pressure. Then, he flew 17.6 mph in 2.6 seconds. He was able to fully stop in less than a second. For the real highlight, Gilyard was first instructed to run a standard 10-yard button-hook route. The host asked him to repeat the route…while wearing a blindfold. Gilyard ran the exact same route, “Houdini style,” taking the exact same number of steps to cover the route. Even more amazing, his right foot planted within an inch of where it planted on the original route. Truly remarkable precision.
Mardy Gilyard has taken over defensive back coaching responsibilities for Nichols College in Dudley, MA, and hopes to return to professional football in the future. Just maybe he’ll teach his players how to cover receivers blindfolded?
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