Whenever the Kansas City Chiefs sign a free agent player, there are a lot of boxes we like to see get checked off in the affirmative. After Kansas City signed him last week, we already knew that former Los Angeles Rams center Austin Blythe had checked off a few of them.
Experience with multiple NFL teams, enabling him to have an easier transition to a new one? Check.
A solid record of availability over multiple seasons? Check.
A willingness to sign a team-friendly contact with a Super Bowl contender? Check.
But as Blythe met with Kansas City media for the first time on Monday, we learned he checks quite a few more — starting with the amplification that he wanted to come to a contending team.
“My mindset is that I just wanted to be here,” he told reporters, “to come in and play for a great organization, a great team — and come in and play on the offensive line. Wherever my piece may fit, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Blythe not only revealed that he has the willingness to play at center or either guard position — long considered an important attribute in head coach Andy Reid’s offensive lines — but the experience to be effective while doing so.
“I’m comfortable in any of those three spots,” he explained. “I’ve got experience in all three. Played a lot of center in college, a lot of guard in college. My college and NFL careers have kind of mirrored each other; played a lot of guard and center in college — and here I am in the NFL, playing guard and center. So any spot that the team thinks I can help the most is the spot that I’ll be eager to play.”
But since the team is already flush with experienced guards, center is the position where he is most likely to be used. And he acknowledged the most important relationship will be with his new quarterback Patrick Mahomes — whom he said he had just met in the training room.
“Seems like a great guy,” Blythe allowed. “I’m really excited to work with him. As far as the communication and camaraderie goes between the center and the quarterback, I think it’s very important; the offense kind of goes how that relationship goes. Being able to communicate well together is something that’s going to be very important — [but] I don’t forsee any problems there.”
We had already been able to ascertain that Blythe had played with two former Iowa Hawkeyes who now wear Kansas City red and gold: linebackers Ben Niemann and Anthony Hitchens. Blythe knows them well.
“I played with both of them,” confirmed Blythe. “There’s a guy in the front office operation/administration side — Brock Baumert — who was actually our offensive line equipment assistant in college. So I know all three of those guys very well. All of those guys have reached out. I’ve always had a good relationship with them — and I’m excited to get to play with them again. Ben and Hitch are great players.”
We already knew that as an Iowa native, it was likely that Blythe had grown up as a Chiefs fan. He not only confirmed that this was true, but also exposed another connection.
“I was born in the Kansas City area,” he said. “My parents were living in Liberty at the time. They moved shortly after I was born. So I have Kansas City roots.”
Things were going very well. But then the press uncovered a problem: those Kansas City roots didn’t run quite as deep as we might have imagined.
“I’m not a huge barbecue fan,” he said.
“I don’t know if I’m going to get roasted for that,” he added.
“I enjoy pulled pork — without any barbecue sauce,” he continued.
“So I don’t know if that’s really barbecue or not,” he concluded.
Uhhh... yeah. It isn’t — at least not in this part of the country.
But take heart, dear reader. At this point, we’re a long way from full-fledged Steve Bono-style heresy, in which a newly-signed free agent professes to have tried local cuisine — and then rejects it in favor of what was available in their previous city.
It’s certainly possible that with the proper education, we can bring this otherwise-excellent young man around to the true faith. After all... he could be a key player at an important position on our championship-caliber team. As such, he deserves our best effort.
Where should his education begin?
Where should Austin Blythe’s Bar-B-Cation start?
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