What would Marcus Ezeff do if the NFL locked out the players and asked him to cross the picket line this fall and play in the league as a replacement player? Would Ezeff, the former Montgomery and Cal star, risk the scorn of the veteran players who have made a very good living because of their union? Would Ezeff be OK if someone called him a scab (as replacement players were called in 1987)?

The answer lies within this snapshot: Marcus Ezeff is 5 years old, sitting at home, watching Marcus Allen run the ball for the Raiders.

"I saw Marcus Allen jump in the air to score and I imagined myself doing the same thing," Ezeff said. "I told my parents then I wanted to grow up and play in the NFL. That was my dream back then. That's my dream now."

So, if you were asked?

"You mean, not go after my dream?" Ezeff asked. He sounded a bit insulted. The game, the thrill, the challenge of football runs through him like a hot wire. He had that tryout last April 30-May 2 with the New York Jets, but wasn't signed. He played six games last fall for the UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions. This week he will drive down to San Jose for a tryout with the Arena League's SabreCats. Next weekend he'll be down at Santa Monica Junior College working out for Canadian Football League scouts.

Ezeff is pursuing pro football like a defensive back, which he is, on a wide receiver; he's all over it. He's keeping his name out there, as well as his body.

"I know I will play in the NFL one day," said Ezeff, 5-foot-11, 208 pounds. "I know it. I will get the opportunity. When I was with the Jets, they said they really liked me. They said I was smart, had good instincts. I know I can play."

That Ezeff is getting a lot of action from the Arena League and the CFL are two more examples that verify his self-confidence. He walked on at Cal and ended up starting 17 of 34 games. Climbing the ladder is nothing new to him. He likes the exercise.

"I work out with Dante DePaola (former Cal star) all the time," Ezeff said, "and I talk about this (being a replacement player) with him all the time."

Yes, Ezeff knows the importance of a workers' union. He knows the value and the protection it provides. But that thing he felt when he was 5, that trumps all.

"I can't stop my dream," Ezeff said.

"I'd go after it (if asked to be a replacement player)."

That the decision might invite scorn, that he would have to work on proving to the veterans he belonged, that would require hard work. Hard work never scared Marcus Ezeff.

"I'm just 23 years old," Ezeff said. "Football is all I know. And if I have to work at another job, I still have the rest of my life to do that."

For more North Bay sports, go to Bob Padecky's blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.