Championship-level teams can’t be made up only of star players. While they definitely make things easier, it’s important to complement them by filling out the rest of the roster with players who understand their roles and selflessly execute them — no matter how big or small they may be.
For the Kansas City Chiefs, a great example of such a player is wide receiver Byron Pringle, who is now entering his fourth year with the team — his third as an on-field contributor. When he gets one of his rare opportunities — whether it’s on offense or on special teams — he always seems to make a big play. But even when you don’t see him making those plays, he’s still impacting the game in smaller ways.
He says he just wants to help the team succeed in any way he can — the sentiment he expressed to reporters after the second full-team practice of Chiefs training camp on Thursday.
“I don’t really care about the spotlight, as long as we come out with that [win] at the end of the game,” said the former Kansas State wide receiver. “That’s what I come here to do: play football — not be in the spotlight. I want to be a great teammate in the locker room and on the field.”
It’s a big year for Pringle; he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after 2021. So while there’s more on the line for him than there has been in any of his previous seasons, his priorities haven’t changed.
“That I can play ball and that I’m a hard worker,” Pringle said of the assets he brings to this crucial year. “I may not talk a lot; I’m just going to smile and work every play. Even if it’s on special teams, I’m going to work so they know they got somebody they can count on — on and off the field.”
One way he’s proving his willingness to work hard is by losing weight over the offseason. Pringle has always been a strong, well-built player. That’s helped him make catches in traffic, take on tackles and block — but he said that he felt a change was necessary.
“I used to be kind of heavy,” Pringle admitted. “This offseason, I wanted to slim up a little bit. Cut back some of my bad eating — and get more fit.”
Pringle revealed that he had lost seven pounds coming into training camp — largely by cutting out sweets and some of his favorite foods from local restaurants near his Florida home. He has always played at a weight just north of 200 pounds, but it sounds like he’ll be closer to 190 or 195 this season.
That lost weight could make Pringle faster — and that’s saying something. In a straight line, Pringle gets a full head of steam; it’s hard for defenders to keep up. That helps him the most as a kickoff returner. Against the Denver Broncos in 2020’s Week 7, he returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown — the team’s only kick return touchdown of the season.
It’s an aspect of the game that he enjoys.
“Oh, I’m eager. I’m eager. I’m eager.” Pringle said of his readiness to return kicks in 2021. “Coming out, I wanted to do it — but eventually I got injured. It set me back. Then in my second year, I didn’t have a shot. Then last year, Coach Toub threw me back there for my first game against Denver — and I think I can contribute a lot in a special teams role as a returner.”
He has yet to return a punt in his NFL career. While he hasn’t asked for a chance to do it, he said he is prepared.
“I didn’t ask [the coaching staff],” Pringle noted. “But if they put me back there, I’m ready. If we can win, I’m down for it.”
That’s Pringle in a nutshell: willing to play whatever role he can to help the team succeed. He’s been one of the lesser-known reasons the Chiefs have made back-to-back Super Bowls. If that success continues, he’ll be smiling and happy — whether he’s scoring touchdowns or not touching the ball at all.