It’s a journey that began way back in May with rookie minicamp and Organized Team Activities before giving way to the month-long grind of training camp and four preseason games.
From rookies to tenured veterans, it represents the realization of a lifelong dream. It’s an opportunity to strap on a helmet and run out onto a football field for a living.
That journey – at least in its present form - will come to an end for over 1,100 players across the National Football League this weekend as every team trims their roster down from 90 to 53 players ahead of the regular season.
“It’s probably the most difficult day from a coaching standpoint because these kids have given their heart and soul to you for a time,” said Head Coach Andy Reid. “So, when you see the ones that make it, it gives you a little boost, and the ones that don’t make it pull you back a little bit. It’s good and bad throughout the day. You’d love for them all to make it, but it’s just not how it works.”
It’s a process that weighs what every player has demonstrated throughout their time in Kansas City with the intent of making the final decisions as challenging as possible.
“We’re upfront with them [from the beginning] and we tell them all along that not everybody is going to make the team,” Reid added. “Certain guys are going to make it because they’re good special teams players and other guys who nobody thought were going to rise, [end up] rising. They go through the ups and downs of training camp, they work their way through it and we see who ends up on top.”
That work continued in Thursday night’s preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers, as several players fighting for a roster spot received an extended look at live action.
“They were able to get in and show on special teams as well as offense and defense, which was good,” Reid explained. “There were some tired bodies at the end of that, but they got a lot of good work.”
Each of those players will be evaluated heavily in the hours to come, and even if their path doesn’t continue on Kansas City’s active roster, Reid is hopeful that they’ll continue their careers either on the Chiefs’ 10-man practice squad or elsewhere.
“This is a small league with just 32 teams, so we’re hoping that some of the guys that don’t make it here have a chance to hook on with somebody else, on a practice squad somewhere or on our practice squad,” Reid said. “You want them to have a chance to make a living doing what they love doing.”