Longtime NFL vet Jon Condo discusses Emily Whitehead Foundation
Philipsburg native Jon Condo is a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the area’s most storied athletes.
He was an all-state linebacker at Philipsburg-Osceola, in addition to being named all-state at catcher and earning a state wrestling title. He graduated in 2000, went on to play college football at Maryland and then played 13 seasons as one of the NFL’s top long-snappers. (He’ll be 38 years old next month and, although he’s a free agent, he’s not ready to officially retire just yet.)
Condo was recently in town for the Emily Whitehead Foundation’s fifth annual “Tee Off for T-Cells” charity golf tournament at the Philipsburg Elks Lodge & Country Club. So we caught up with Condo to discuss his roots, his career, and more.
Centre Daily Times: What are you up to these days, and where are you in your NFL career?
Jon Condo: I wouldn’t say the door is completely shut on playing football. I’m kind of holding out and kind of holding on by a very, very thin string in hopes of a team calling me that their future is bright, playoff-wise and stuff. Having a family of three kids now, being out in California, is a factor. It’s tough to be able to be on the free agent market, where you’re traveling on planes every other week, with like a two-hour notice, to work that out with your family. It’s tough.
It’d be easy if I was just married and it was just my wife and I, but with kids, and then being in preschool and having a schedule, it’s just tough to coordinate everything. And I’ve had a great career. I’m satisfied with what I’ve accomplished. I think what I’m holding out for more is probably a Super Bowl ring. That’s definitely what’s really keeping me focused on if I do want to play again. That’s why I’m saying if the opportunity does arise here — that’s kind of what I’m holding out for.
CDT: So is there kind of a timetable for you, regarding that next potential NFL job?
JC: I kind of gave a window from March to early September if a team will call me to give me the opportunity. But I knew my chances of getting back in the league were really slim, just based on my age and teams not really wanting an older guy right now. They want a guy later in the year when their guy gets injured or starts to have some errant snaps. But I just didn’t want to hope for another situation that I had with the Falcons last year. (Editor’s note: Condo was signed in December by the Atlanta Falcons to finish out the season after their other long-snapper was put on injured reserve.)
So I’ve been telling people if (New England Patriots coach Bill) Belichick gives me a call, that’d be a tough scenario to turn down. And I don’t want to sound greedy or anything like that. That’d be a tough scenario to turn down and I love the game of football, but my family is starting to come up in the priority list of what is important in my life — and, right now, I’m having an awesome time spending time with them and being in their lives.
CDT: I imagine, back when you were at P-O, you weren’t daydreaming about becoming a long-snapper one day. When did you realize being a long-snapper could afford you the opportunity it has, and when did you start taking the position seriously?
JC: My second year in college, I was a linebacker and a fullback, and then I just tried it one day and the coaches thought I was good enough to play. So I started. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year, going into my senior year of college, where I knew that I had an opportunity to move on to the next level. Seeing the coaches and the scouts from NFL teams coming in and watching me, that’s when I realized that was happening.
CDT: When you do come back home to Philipsburg and Centre County, what’s one place you always have to stop at?
JC: It’s not so much where I had to go. I like my Middleswarth chips, my Gardners candies — stuff like that. And my wife didn’t really know what Sheetz was. But it’s hard to turn down their hot dogs, just because it’s so quick and easy. There’s so many options (at Sheetz) every time I come back, I usually try something new.
CDT: Let’s go back to football for a moment. You’ve had a long NFL career; is there a moment that especially stands out to you?
JC: It’s not to say there’s not really one that stands out — there’s several — but the ones that do stand out are usually me being involved in the final play of the game, and winning the game on game-winning field goals. And, ironically, the last snap in Atlanta was on a game-winning field goal as time expired. So, right after that play, I’m like, ‘Man, that might have been the last snap, the final game of my career.’
And I just wanted to have a hand in winning the game for the Falcons. So I thought that might’ve been someone telling me from up above that, ‘This is how I’m sending you out, Jon.’ (laughs) But it was a pretty remarkable moment at the time just because it was my last step in my career, potentially.
CDT: Who’s been the best player you’ve been able to play with in the NFL?
JC: Well, I did spend some time with the Patriots back in 2006 in their offseason. I played in preseason games with them, so I guess I could say I was teammates with Tom Brady. I snapped him the ball a couple times during drills; they needed long-snappers, so that was pretty special.
And, during the offseason workouts too, long-snappers and specialists would always be paired up with the quarterbacks. So I was there with Tom Brady, Teddy Bruschi, (Mike) Vrabel, all those guys. And so that’s pretty memorable. But I played with a lot of great, great players — being around Charles Woodson, probably the best defensive guy; Tom Brady, probably the best offensive guy.
CDT: Let’s take it back to your hometown of Philipsburg. You played on some pretty good high school teams back in your day, but the football team has struggled the last few years. As an alum, what’s that been like for you — and do you have any advice to the program?
JC: It’s tough for me to be speculating about things because I’m not in the area, so I don’t know what’s going on. Yeah, I follow them and they have my support 100 percent. I’m rooting for them. The only thing I can say is continue to work because tough times don’t last; tough people do. That’s a quote that my father said to me, and the only thing you can do is just keep on grinding, keep on wanting to work and, sometimes, luck can be involved — where the ball bounces one way, and that can spark something to start a winning streak. You just never know, but you just never want to give up. You never want to give up.
CDT: Final question, Jon. What do you miss most about Philipsburg — besides those Middleswarth chips?
JC: (laughs) My family and friends, my family friends. Growing up, our family’s always been pretty close. And I guess we’re kind of scattered around the East Coast now but within a three- or four-hour radius. We always seem to get together when I get back here.
And in my group of friends that I graduated with in high school, there’s a good core group of us that we always get together and keep in great contact with. But there’s something about getting back to central Pennsylvania that you don’t see in California. And I want to bring that part of the country to my kids’ lives, so it’s definitely going to be an integral part of my life to bring them back here, just to show them the different lifestyle in California.