A lot of players seem to struggle with what to do after leaving the game, so that has to be nice that you stepped right into that.
For a lot of guys, football or even sports has been the crux or mainstay of their life for so long that they don’t know what the next step is. They’re unsure about detaching from football. I know a lot of guys who’ve spent a lot of money trying to stay in the game of football, trying to get picked up as a free agent, etc. They pay for private workouts by trainers. They travel. They couldn’t detach.
I was extremely fortunate and very blessed by my Christian relationship with God that I could pray about it and talk with my wife and feel like when it was time to give up football, it was time. I was okay with it. That allowed me to open up my mind to new opportunities.
Was it a very obvious moment for you?
It wasn’t obvious. A couple days before I retired, I was talking with a rookie in training camp with the New Orleans Saints and he asked me how long I wanted to play. I said, “I want to play about four more years so I can play at least 10.” Then after 72 hours, I was totally at peace with retiring. So it wasn’t something that was obvious, but I had peace of mind with it and that made it more important.
You played your six seasons under Marty Schottenheimer. Do you still have a relationship?
I still see Marty when he’s come to Kansas City and I talk to him periodically. I was one of Marty’s guys and Marty was one of my guys. We understood each other as both sort of blue collar guys that left everything on the field as a player or coach. I think there’s a level of dependability that he knew he could have in me. I knew all of the receiver positions. I knew all of the plays. I was the emergency quarterback. It was one of those things where there wasn’t going to be any surprise. What he got from me in year one or two was the same growth he got in year six. I kinda knew the writing was on the wall when he got fired, when Gunther [Cunningham] took over. I thought that this might be coming to an end, and that’s how it went.
That was a tremendous stretch for the Chiefs with a couple 13-win seasons with a lot to be proud of. Is there something you’re most proud of, either individually or as a team?
I’ve never been asked that, to be honest. I’ve been asked about favorite moments and memories or generalizations, but I’ve never been asked about proudest moments. I guess one would have to be being voted a team captain in my second year. As a rookie, I was on the practice squad until Week 10, so I only played six weeks during the regular season and then three weeks of the postseason when we made it to the AFC Championship. So I only played 8 or 9 games and then coming into the next season, I’d garnered enough respect from my teammates that they voted me a captain.
So I was a captain with Marcus [Allen] and Joe [Montana] and a few defensive guys going out there for the coin toss every week. Marty was one of those guys who had the captains stay the captains all year long. It wasn’t week to week. Whoever was voted on in the beginning was there all 16 weeks of the season. That was probably my proudest moment. Not only did they vote me in as captain that year but for four years.