By Craille Maguire Gillies, with files from Kent Bruyneel
He’s the guy you hardly ever notice. If you passed him on the street, whether it’s outside Lucas Oil Stadium after a home game in Indianapolis or walking down South Railway Street in his hometown of Medicine Hat, you might think he was your boss’s son, or that guy you went to high school with. Whatever happened to him? With his bouncer-like physique – broad shoulders, tree trunk neck, legs the girth of a small child, impressive stomach and youthful oafishness – Daniel Hubert Federkeil’s extreme ordinariness is his biggest asset. That and his size.
As offensive tackle with the Indianapolis Colts, D-Fed’s job, or part of it, is to blend in. If quarterback Peyton Manning is an army general, then Federkeil is one of his foot soldiers. He’s the guy who might influence the outcome of a game but won’t get the credit. Manning has his own website, peytonmanning.com; Federkeil has a page on the Colt’s domain with a few stats and a headshot that looks like a bad driver’s licence photo. Manning has a wiki with enough information to create his very own annual report; Federkeil has a two-line entry on Wikipedia. Federkeil may watch Saturday Night Live; Manning hosted SNL in an appearance that brought in the highest household rating in almost a year. During his short career – the average career of an offensive lineman is four years – Federkeil will rarely, if ever, touch the football, but if he does his job well, Peyton Manning will take those touchdowns all the way to the bank with sponsorships and an eight-digit salary.
The relationship between a quarterback and his offensive linemen is built on trust and devotion. Like a CEO, the quarterback calls the shots, barking out the plays as his 10 other offensive players – his subordinates – toe the line. Quarterbacks like Manning identify where defensive rushes will come from and hand out line assignments to the 11 offensive and 11 defensive players to protect against the rush.