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Remembering 4 players who were Chiefs for just one game

Recalling the stories of some players whose careers started in Kansas City — and didn’t last long.

Kansas City Chiefs Mini-Camp Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

As the league’s annual summer doldrums continue, ESPN published an article focusing on seven men who played exactly one NFL game. Reading it, I wondered how many players appeared in a single Kansas City Chiefs game.

As I looked over the list, four caught my eye.

Guard Tre’ Stallings

A sixth-round pick for the Chiefs in 2006, the 6-foot-4, 317-pound Mississippi product was active for four Kansas City games at the end of the 2007 season. He played as a backup in the Week 17 game against the New York Jets, collecting a false start penalty as the Chiefs finished the season 4-12 with a 13-10 overtime loss.

Stallings spent time with the Baltimore Ravens in the next two seasons but never appeared in another NFL game. He then began a career in sports administration, with stops including service as the director of player engagement for the Tennessee Titans, the director of player development at the University of Illinois and as an assistant director for enforcement for the NCAA. In 2020, he was named the associate commissioner of Conference USA.

Quarterback Mike Elkins

When people talk about the 34 years between the Chiefs using a first-round draft pick for quarterback Todd Blackledge in 1983 and Patrick Mahomes in 2017, I always like to bring up Elkins. While he was taken in 1989’s second round, he was the 32nd overall pick — so if he had been selected in a more-recent season, he would have been a first-round pick, too.

Unfortunately, the former Wake Forest quarterback didn’t live up to his draft position. In Week 12 of his rookie season, Kansas City was administering a 34-0 beatdown of the Houston Oilers when Elkins was asked to put down his clipboard and step in for Steve DeBerg. He threw two passes. One was a five-yard completion. The other was intercepted.

While Elkins later spent time with both the Oilers and Cleveland Browns (and the Sacramento Surge of the World League of American Football), that was the only game Elkins ever played in the NFL. Today, he’s a regional sales manager for Biotronik, a company that specializes in medical electronics.

Placekicker Justin Medlock

When the 2007 NFL Draft arrived, the Chiefs’ franchise had spent almost half its history with either Jan Stenerud or Nick Lowery as the team’s placekicker. It would be fair to say that fans had come to expect excellence at the position — but except for the times the club had brought in aging veterans like Pete Stoyanovich or Morten Anderson, the team wasn’t usually getting that result.

Lawrence Tynes had come the closest to being a young kicker the team could depend upon — but in three seasons, he had never ranked higher than 16th in field-goal accuracy. So Tynes was off to the New York Giants — where he would win two Super Bowl rings over the next six seasons — while Kansas City general manager Carl Peterson used a fifth-round draft pick to acquire Medlock from UCLA.

But in Week 1 of 2007, Medlock went 1-for-2 in his only game for the Chiefs: a 20-3 loss to the Houston Texans. Peterson pulled the plug, installing third-year player Dave Rayner as the placekicker for the next 10 games — and then finishing the season with 43-year-old John Carney.

Unlike Stallings and Elkins, however, Medlock eventually did play for another NFL team. In 2012, the Carolina Panthers became the fifth team to sign him — but just the second to put him on the field. He appeared in 10 games that season but was released in November after missing field goals in three consecutive contests. Those were the last NFL games he ever played.

But Medlock kept his dream alive. After a stint with the Oakland Raiders in 2013, he returned to the Canadian Football League (where he had been a significant contributor for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2011), eventually helping the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup in 2019 as both a placekicker and a punter. Now 39, he is a free agent.

Quarterback Tyler Bray

Someday, you’ll be able to win a bar bet by knowing that Bray was the first backup quarterback to take over for Mahomes in an NFL game. Most people will think it was Chad Henne (who became Kansas City’s backup in 2018), forgetting that Bray came in for Mahomes during the final game of the 2017 season against the Denver Broncos.

First signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2013, Bray spent five seasons tied to the Chiefs. One of those was spent on injured reserve. Another was spent on the non-football-injury reserve list. In both 2016 and 2017, the team repeatedly activated (and de-activated) him from the roster. The common idea was that head coach Andy Reid strongly believed that Bray could be a contributor; the team certainly went through a lot of trouble to maintain their rights to him.

So in that Broncos game — after Kansas City’s Terrance Mitchell intercepted a pass that he returned for 40 yards midway through the fourth quarter — Reid decided that a 24-10 lead was big enough to give another Chiefs quarterback his first NFL playing time.

Bray, however, fumbled away the first snap of his debut — and the Broncos returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. On the next drive, Kansas City went three-and-out; Bray’s only pass fell incomplete. Denver then engineered an eight-play, 2:23 touchdown drive to tie the game at 24 with 2:53 left — and then Mahomes turned in the first game-winning drive of his career, setting up Harrison Butker for a 30-yard field goal with four seconds remaining.

Bray followed Matt Nagy to the shores of Lake Michigan when the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach became head coach of the Chicago Bears in 2018. Nagy also kept Bray around for a while (It might be that Nagy — not Reid — was the coach who was so impressed with him). But in his second (and last) NFL game in Week 10 of 2020, Bray appeared for five snaps, completing one pass for 18 yards on five attempts as the Bears fell to the Minnesota Vikings 19-13.

Over his nine-year NFL career (he spent two games on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad in 2021), Bray appeared in two games, completing one pass on six attempts for 18 yards — and lost a fumble. For that, Spotrac estimates that he earned $4.4 million.

Like Medlock, the 31-year-old Bray is a free agent.

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