Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike DeVito (70) celebrates after sacking Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during a 2016 NFL game. Credit: Ed Zurga / AP

Former University of Maine star defensive lineman Mike DeVito played in 110 NFL regular season games, amassing 250 tackles — including 17 tackles for loss — and 5.5 sacks with six forced and three recovered fumbles.

But he said there is no way he could play in the NFL now.

“There’s no way a two-down, run-stopping, unathletic, overweight defensive lineman could play now like I could back then,” said the 38-year-old DeVito, who was 6-foot-3, 298 pounds during his playing days as a defensive end.

DeVito — who is one of the featured clinicians at the annual Hermon Hawks Youth Football Camp in Hermon — played nine NFL seasons, including six with the New York Jets and three with the Kansas City Chiefs, before he retired in 2016. But he said recent changes to the NFL make him doubt he’d be able to play today’s game, even when he was in his prime.

“The guys are so much faster now. Everybody is a greyhound. Everybody is long, tall, has a long reach and is incredibly fast off the football. It’s really incredible to watch,” DeVito said. “And it’s not just the skill players. It’s your offensive linemen as well.”

In his nine playoff games, he was involved in 22 tackles with three for lost yardage and a sack. He also forced a fumble and was credited with a safety in the 2010 AFC Championship game against Pittsburgh.

He said a tell-tale sign in the evolution of the game are the numbers posted at the workout combines.

“When I played, guys would bench-press 225 pounds 40 to 50 times. Now they can only bench press 225 pounds 20 or 30 times,” he said.

“Nobody even cares. Guys aren’t worried about how much they can lift like we used to be. Now it’s, ‘How fast are you?’”

DeVito is puzzled by different change in the game: NFL’s decision to play 17 regular season games instead of 16, which was implemented for the first time last season.

“The NFL has done a lot of things to aid the safety of the players and add longevity to their careers,” said DeVito, a two-time All-Atlantic 10 defensive lineman at UMaine and a member of the UMaine and State of Maine Sports Halls of Fame.

“But adding a 17th game negates all the things they are doing to take care of the guys. If I was still playing, that would have ticked me off,” he said. “I know they are trying to make money. But that is a lot on the body. After week 18, you then go out and play in the playoffs. I don’t know how the body can make it.”

All teams get one weekend off during the season.

The NFL has made several rule changes over the years designed to protect players, especially those in a vulnerable position. One of those was moving the kickoff spot from the 30 to the 35-yard line in 2011 so there are fewer kickoff returns.

The NFL has also reduced the number of preseason games from four to three but that’s a moot point according to DeVito, because veteran players only played a total of three or four quarters during the preseason.

“Taking away one of those games does nothing,” said the former undrafted free agent who starred at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.

Kickoff returns have become rare these days because kickers usually kick the ball through the end zone for a touchback, which has helped reduce injuries, particularly concussions.

“I used to be on the kickoff return teams. It was like gladiators out there. I would be in the five-man wedge and you’d have guys my size running down the field and trying to blow everything up,” he said with a grin.

“But I do sympathize with the guys who make a living [on special teams]. It narrows down who has the opportunity to contribute on the roster. If you start getting rid of all of that stuff, you’re just going to have offensive and defensive players.”  

DeVito, who lives in Hampden with wife, Jessie (Martin), and sons Rocco, Sal and Louie, said he still misses the game.

He retired in 2016 due to health concerns. Late in his career, he suffered two concussions and ruptured his Achilles tendon.

“I hope one day [the desire to play] goes away. It still hasn’t. All of a sudden, I get this pit in my stomach when I realize there’s no more football,” DeVito said.

DeVito said he loves working at the Hermon football camp, which goes three nights from 5-7 p.m. at the Hermon Elementary School field.

“Jason Largay does a great job putting this on every year. To see 100 to 200 kids out in the heat, working hard and getting better [is impressive]. This is a special community out here.”