Good morning! One more day till we avenge the Week 1 defeat. Yesterday, we caught up with Donnell Bennett and it was very nice to see all of the memories listed in the comments section. Today we are fortunate to have our second former Chief reconnect with us, and that is former RB Derrick Blaylock. Some weeks we may not connect with anyone, but this is a great week for us to catch up with another super-talented former Chief (as an aside, I do have one already setup for next week. No hints).
Derrick Blaylock was a 5thround draft choice for the Chiefs in 2001 out of Stephen F. Austin, and spent three seasons on the active roster. All Chiefs fans will remember the spark that Derrick would bring when he got out on to the field (especially the open field!), but as luck would have it, he spent most of his career backing up (at the time) some of the biggest names in football. I spoke with Derrick this week and because of the Lions matchup I wanted to focus initially on the December 14, 2003 matchup withthem in which he had 5 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. Derrick was very excited to talk about his time with the Chiefs and let's take a look at what he has been up to in our second edition of "Where Are They Now?"
The following was part of a telephone conversation that I had with Derrick Blaylock. All attempts were made to ensure that the accuracy of his quotes was maintained. Some questions of mine were verbatim, some were paraphrased for the sake of continuity. Some aspects of the conversation were omitted. Enjoy.
After some initial small talk, I asked Derrick if he specifically recalled the aforementioned Lions game, and like many athletes I have encountered, he remembered it vividly.
Derrick: Oh yeah, I remember that well. I was offset and the Lions were showing blitz. Trent saw the blitz right away and hit me with a quick pass, I split two defenders and it was off to the races (for a 63 yard TD). I remember that one very well.
Me:Of course, when your name gets brought up, most people automatically think of the Falcons game in 2004. 8 rushing touchdowns. 4 for you and 4 for Priest. Take us back to that one because that is the type of game that may never be duplicated.
Derrick:We saw that game as a challenge. I don't know if you know this, but Atlanta had the #1 rushing defense in the league going into that game. Priest (Holmes) got it going for us in the first half and then I came in and was able to have similar success. But it wasn't just us. The offensive line was tremendous that day as was Tony Richardson. Those were the people that made it possible for the two of us. We tried to establish the run in every game and that one was no different. It's one of those games you never forget.
Me: Excellent. So tell me, what was your favorite Arrowhead memory in your time in KC? Anything in particular?
Derrick:The thing about Arrowhead that is just different from everywhere else is you get the gameday feel hours before kickoff. You pull up to the stadium and you can smell the barbecue, you see the cars waiting to get in, the tailgating, no other place is like this. I really feel like the fans in KC make the team what they are. Anytime you have a fan base that is always behind you it helps and the players would always talk about things like that.
Me: Ok, a couple of easy ones. Do you still follow the Chiefs and if so, what player do you enjoy watching the most?
Derrick: Oh yeah I definitely still keep my eye on the Chiefs. I honestly keep my attention on the running backs like Jamaal (Charles) and Thomas (Jones). Jamaal is a game changer. If you have a guy like that on the team, you are always going to have a chance.
I then asked him who the best player he played with was. He asked if he could list more than one and I told him of course! I loved his answer though. Very humble and a really classy response.
Derrick:The best players I played with were John Tait, Casey Wiegmann, Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Brian Waters, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Dunn, Tony Richardson and Trent Green. Once you leave a place like KC you realize how good you had it up front. I gotta mention two more from my days in New York and that would be Curtis Martin and Chad Pennington. Two really smart players and hard workers.
Me: How about best player you played against?
Derrick: Gotta be a guy like Ray Lewis, even though Roaf and Waters put it on him, he was one of the best and still is. Also, Rodney Harrison was just a really great player to play against.
Me: Did you have a least favorite team, or a team you got extra amped up to play?
Derrick: The thing is when you become a Chief, it is drilled into you that you hate the Raiders. It's just the way it is. You try to win every game, but you just hate the Raiders.
I always love hearing that and I am now 2 for 2 on getting the Raiders as an answer. I then asked Derrick about the end of his career and how things kind of ended up for him.
Derrick: I spent two seasons in New York and then I was with Washington in the preseason in 2007 but that was about it. I just said to myself it was time. I got a few phone calls from other teams asking me to give them a call when I felt healthy, but I never returned any of those calls. I just felt like it was time.
I found that to be a very honest and refreshing answer. So many times we see athletes hanging on for too long and sadly we watch their physical skills erode before our eyes. My only thought is that I wish we could have seen Derrick have a chance to be on a team where he was "the guy". I always loved his running style.
I then asked him to bring us up to speed on what he has been up to in his post-football life, specifically his successful business Athletic Republic.
Derrick: Yeah, my friend James Dearth, who was the long snapper in New York when I was there, and I are the owners of the Athletic Republic facility in the Houston area. It's a science based training facility, unlike any other training facility that you usually would see. We specialize in speed, power and agility and we want our athletes to become faster, stronger, and more agile at any age. Our approach is very personal. We treat even our youngest athletes like adults and we give them our complete individual attention. We chart mehanics, focus on running style, stride length, stride frequency, arm swing, knee movements, etc. We really harp on the mechanics and the science behind the proper techniques. We have a wide variety of talent levels but we like taking that third-string guy or the guy not getting on the field or court, and instill good habits into them and give them the confidence they need to go back to their team and show their coaches how much they have improved.....Right now we have this one facility, but we are eventually looking to expand around the Houston area. But we are happy with what we are doing right now and hopefully we will have a hand in producing some college and pro athletes.
I found that to be very very interesting. I have an athletic background in playing and coaching and I think Derrick and James are on the right track in developing these trends that many of us never thought of in years and decades past.
I wrapped things up by asking Derrick to take a moment to deliver his own personal message to the Chiefs fans.
Derrick: I just want the fans to know they are extremely important. They make everything worthwhile and make everything go. They are the driving force behind everything. Whether they know it or not. It's all important. From the tailgating, the face painting, everything. Always support the team and we hear it when the boos come out. We know when we are doing poorly. Just stay positive and better days will always be ahead. But thank you all for everything.
On a personal note, this was great thrill for me. I was a big Derrick Blaylock fan and always hoped he would get his chance. Truthis, not every story ends in super-stardom. But this story ends with Derrick playing a role in creating some of the superstars of tomorrow and that is one of the greatest gifts a former athlete can pass on.
Thank you all for reading and Derrick will be checking this article out so feel free to leave your messages for him below. I hope you enjoyed another edition of "Where Are They Now?" and until next time, enjoy your day.