Earl Wolff's professional football career has been one of adversity and disappointment. The 26-year-old defensive back got off to a strong start with the Eagles after being taken in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, recording 45 tackles and one interception in six starts as a rookie. But his knee quickly deteriorated, and he underwent the first of two microfracture surgeries in 2014. He's currently competing for a spot in camp with the Jackson Jaguars after spending 2015 on their practice squad.
And yet Wolff feels happy to even have a chance at hanging on to a spot in the league. Hell, he's happy just to be alive. Wolff took to Sports Illustrated's MMQB to tell the harrowing tale of the night he was kidnapped by a group of armed robbers in his hometown of Fayetteville, NC.
Wolfe had just left a friend's house on the evening of February 23 when he was approached outside his Range Rover by a masked man wielding an AK-47. The robber took his wallet and cellphone while two more men with shotguns forced him into the car.
"My 2011 white Range Rover is parked on the street. As I get in and reach for the seatbelt, someone yanks my door open. There's a man wearing a black ski mask and pointing an AK-47 inches from my face.
"Give me the keys!" he barks. "And get out of the car!"
Though I can't see their faces, I can tell by their voices that they are young. They ask for my name.
'Earl,' I say. 'Earl Wolff.'
'Wait,' one of the men says. 'The one that plays in the league?'
'Yes,' I say.
'And you're telling me you have no money?'
One of the men next to me slashes me twice in the right knee with his gun. I'm bleeding."
The gunmen took him back to his friend's house, but his friend slammed the door in his face. They then bound his feet and drove him out to the woods, leaving him there. Wolff struggled his way to the nearest house, only to be turned away by a warning gunshot. He was finally discovered at a gas station by a good samaritan who called the police.
In March, Bobby DeShawn Bailey was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree kidnapping, conspiracy, larceny, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle in Wolf's case. Wolff doesn't believe that his fame had any part to play in the robbery:
"There's a chance someone might have had a petty beef with my friend; or the kidnappers may have simply been attracted to my car. I don't think I was targeted because I am in the NFL. Wrong place, wrong time—it can happen to anyone."