JJ Birden was 5’10” and 157 pounds when he suited up for Marty Schottenheimer and the Kansas City Chiefs throughout the early 1990s. Birden was a dependable receiver with a knack for getting open and making the tough catch. Fast forward to his post-NFL life, and Birden is still finding ways to be successful.
These days, Birden, 49, has a website (JJBirden.com) and a self-published book slated to hit stores in May, entitled When Opportunity Knocks, 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage, showcasing his thirst to help others. On Monday afternoon, I spoke with Birden on a litany of topics, ranging from his days with the Chiefs to the current team, and what Birden is doing today.
Q: During your nine-year NFL career, 1993 stands out. What do you recall about that season?
A: That was definitely a special year. We already had a solid playoff team and then you add two superstars to the team in Joe Montana and Marcus Allen. It was certainly a thrill to play with two of the greatest and now you are in the huddle with them. They helped us step up our game, from an athletic and confidence standpoint. Now we have the missing piece of the puzzle.
Q: In the wild-card round that year, Kansas City rallied late to beat the Steelers. How confident were you with Montana in the huddle?
A: It was unique because with Joe, you know you have a quarterback who was capable of marching down the field and scoring. You know it was on you, doing your job and realizing what was going on with the coverage and blitzes. You better do your job. Looking at Joe in those drives and being in those situations – where in the past maybe you didn’t have the complete confidence in the offense – you knew if we had time of the clock, we are driving down this field.
Q: You beat the Steelers and Oilers that year in the playoffs. Which was sweeter?
A: It would be the Houston game. Because the Pittsburgh game, we didn’t start out well. I had two drops in the first half. It was a rocky start because it was cold and we were wearing extra gloves and sweatshirts. Then we got things going and obviously the second half was so exciting. The Houston game stands out because they were playing great and kicked our butt early in the year, and we went in there and dominated the second half … The thing I remember most was how we felt after the game.
I played nine years and it was the closest I ever got to the Super Bowl. I remember the excitement in the locker room, and I had never felt that. I remember Willie Davis and I pausing and thinking ‘Woah, can you imagine what it will feel like next week, it will be double this.’ … When we got to the airport, I never saw a crowd that big before. I felt like a rock star. I was walking through the terminal and it was just jammed with people.
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