Of the nearly 1,700 players collecting an NFL paycheck in 2001, a little more than 100 are still active in the league. A lot has changed since tragedy struck American Soil on September 11th, but everyone old enough to remember the event can place themselves on that date.
The Chiefs locker room is common place across the NFL. There are several players who were already playing for NFL teams when 9/11 occurred, some were in college, others were and high school and several were middle school students.
We’ve heard individual stories of 9/11 from our friends, family and public figures throughout the week as we remember the 10-year anniversary of that day. These are a few stories from the Chiefs locker room…
“I was at the doctor’s office waiting to get news back from my appendectomy to see if I was going to be able to play that coming week and was just sitting in the waiting room when it came on the news there.”
“It was a Tuesday, which was our day off, and I remember waking up to my mom calling. She asked me if I’d seen what happened and I hadn’t because I was in Arizona and three hours behind the east coast. I turned on the news and I saw the first plane had flown into the tower and thought it was an accident. As I was sitting there watching, I saw the other plane hit.
“It was unbelievable, and then just everything that followed it. The Pentagon…my family lives in Virginia and my girlfriend at the time lived right there by the Pentagon and it’s where I spent a lot of my offseason. I flew in and out of Dulles airport on morning flights to the west coast all of the time that entire offseason.”
“I was in junior college and getting ready to head out the door and go to class. When I was watching the news, I saw footage of the first plane, then I went to class and the second plane had hit. They canceled class and put a TV in there instead. We all just sat around and watched the news with our jaws on the floor.”
“I was in our athletic director’s office at the time. My first period was always in that office and I was there when we found out. People were all saying that planes had hit the towers, and were like, what? Then everyone was gathered around the TVs. Pittsburgh wasn’t that close, but you have family and friends close to it and you’re left wondering what was going to happen next.”
Le’Ron McClain was in a high school math class…
“I got to school a little late that day and saw the second plane hit the tower, but I didn’t see the first one. I had heard about it when I was walking into school. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Our offensive coordinator was my math teacher.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend with everything that’s going on to remember that day. I can’t wait to play.”
“There were televisions throughout our cafeteria and one of my teammates nudged me and said to look up because somebody had just attacked us. I looked up and saw the footage of someone flying a plane into the World Trade Center. My first reaction, I didn’t think that it was real.
“I thought it was some sort of movie re-creation from when they bombed the same building back in the 1990s. Then, I realized it was real and actually happening right then. It was just crazy.”
“A girl was presenting a project and the teacher stopped the project and turned on the TV. Everybody was watching TV after that; we didn’t even finish class that day. We just watched the news the entire day…
“I couldn’t even believe it, really. I was so young…I didn’t think it was real at first. The only thing I could compare it to at the time was watching a movie. But then when I realized it was real, I was really scared – are they going to come here next? I was all the way in Atlanta, but it was still scary being that young and seeing what was going on.
“Then I started putting myself in those kids’ situation with their parents working in the building. I just couldn’t imagine if my parents were working in any of those places. It was just a scary feeling for me as a younger kid.”
“I was in my seventh-grade English class and our teacher was reading at the time. News kind of got around the school quickly to turn on the TV and that’s when we all saw what was going on. We watched TV for the rest of the day in all of our classes.”
A reminder, the Chiefs are asking fans to enter the stadium 20 minutes prior to kickoff to take part in a nationally-televised remembrance of 9/11/01.