|09-09-2011, 12:13 PM|
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Northern Kansas
Casino cash: $5165
Keary Colbert Article.
Pretty good story, even if it is nothing really new. Hope he breaks out here.
DAVE SKRETTA Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Keary Colbert never thought his playing days were finished, even if everyone else did.
He was supposedly a washed-up flameout with prodigious talent never quite realized, safely onto the next phase of his life as an assistant coach at Southern Cal. His days as a wide receiver in the NFL were over, his rookie season that showed so much potential a distant memory.
Then he decided to make a comeback, the sort of longshot story that Disney likes to spin into tear-jerking films. Colbert asked USC coach Lane Kiffin to give him some time to work out, his agent Gary Uberstine taped him running a few routes and catching a few passes and the video was posted to YouTube.
It wound up in the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, almost. Nothing is ever quite that easy.
"That lockout, man. I didn't need that going on," Colbert said.
The lockout prevented teams from conducting business with players over the summer, even ones who had been out of the league for two seasons. Colbert felt that he needed a minicamp to impress talent evaluators, but all he could offer was a homemade video of him working out.
"The lockout ended and we posted the video to YouTube and sent it around to teams, probably a couple of days before he signed," Uberstine said. "I knew the odds were stacked against him because people usually don't sit out of football that long and make a successful comeback.
"I give a lot of credit to the Chiefs evaluating the film and giving him a chance."
Kansas City already had breakout star Dwayne Bowe, drafted Jonathan Baldwin in the first round, signed Steve Breaston in free agency and had Jerheme Urban coming back from an injury.
But coach Todd Haley has a background in coaching wide receivers, and he was able to see a spark in Colbert that didn't exist just a few short years ago.
"It's a testament to his desire to give it another shot after having things maybe not go quite as he imagined or thought it would," Haley said. "If that's a complete stranger, I don't know if you look at it quite the same, but you knew it was a guy who'd done it in the NFL."
It wasn't long ago that Colbert was a can't-miss prospect oozing potential.
He was drafted in the second round in 2004 by the Carolina Panthers after a standout career at USC, where Colbert's name still dots the record book along with names like Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Williams and Johnnie Morton. Colbert boasted the size and speed to be an elite wide receiver, and he showed glimpses of it his rookie season, when he caught 47 passes for 754 yards and five TDs.
Nobody figured those would be career highs.
His production declined dramatically in 2005, when he started all 16 games but caught just 25 passes. Colbert started 11 games total the next two seasons before the Panthers finally cut him loose.
He bounced through Denver, Seattle and Detroit during the 2008 season, and then right out of the NFL, another 26-year-old has-been.
The last time he put on a game uniform was in the UFL, and Colbert had resigned himself to a second life as an assistant coach, catching on under Kiffin at his alma mater.
"It was about in January that I kind of told myself I was going to start training," Colbert said. "I still had responsibilities at USC, so I didn't necessarily get away from that, but I started to get ready, working out, whether it was running, lifting, stuff like that. And once I finished recruiting and signing day and stuff, that's when I had the conversation with coach Kiffin and what I was planning to do."
It didn't come as much of a surprise to Kiffin.
He could see in Colbert a burning desire to play.
"I was watching him, and it just occurred to me -- I mean, I've been up there, so I know what the fourth, fifth receivers making the roster are like, and it was obvious that he can still play," Kiffin said. "I just encouraged him to do it, because that window is going to close. You can never go back through it."
Colbert started working out, his agent made the video and the Chiefs took a chance.
"I was in Atlanta training at the time, and I just wanted someone to give me a call," Colbert said. "My agent called me and told me I was probably going to be flying to KC, trying to figure it out, 'Can you get to the airport?' I got on a plane the same day, and the next day I was working out with the team.
"It was crazy for me. Can you imagine?" he said. "Being out a couple of years, you know, I'm out there but I wasn't between the lines per se. That was hard for me. That was the toughest thing about coaching, being around it every day but not able to be out there. And like I said, that second day, I had a helmet on, I had a jersey on. I couldn't believe it."
Few people could, and even fewer believed he would survive the cut.
Last Saturday, Colbert spent most of the day fretting while the Chiefs decided how to whittle an 80-man roster down to 53 players. He was at the team facility late in the afternoon when he was told to head upstairs and talk to Haley and Chiefs general manger Scott Pioli.
"My wife and I had prayed on it the night before, and I left it at that. Left it to God's will," Colbert said. "I had to go upstairs and talk to Scott and Todd, so it was like, 'OK.' But I've been down the road before, I've seen it happen, so I kind of understand what to expect from this business."
When he heard that he made the team, Colbert could only smile.
For the time being, he had defied the longest of odds.
There's no guarantee that he'll stick, or ever step on the field for the Chiefs. Colbert could be released at any time, and he knows it. But he also knows that every day he's still around is another day he can pursue all of those unrealized dreams.
"A comeback like that is unusual," Kiffin said. "I mean, once you're gone, you're usually gone. They don't open the doors back up for many people once you've been sitting out, because the league always wants to be young, and the way the salary cap is set up, it's hard to keep older guys. It's just a great story."
|09-09-2011, 03:52 PM||#4|
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