Dave Wyman recalls his first NFL start
By Dave Wyman
Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor will be making his first NFL start this Sunday and it gets me thinking about my first start. Like Chancellor, I had seen some action as a rookie but that first start is always a little nerve-wracking. Here’s a short story I wrote about my experience:
I had dreamed of playing in the NFL ever since I was in kindergarten. So before my first game as a starting linebacker in the NFL, I was nervous! This came in Mile High Stadium against the Denver Broncos as we opened our season in 1988. I was so nervous; all I could eat at the pregame meal was a handful of grapes and a bowl of Froot Loops! 15 minutes before kickoff … I threw all of that up into a garbage can on the way out to the field.
During the second series of the game, the Broncos put a big tight end named Clarence Kay in the backfield. He came straight out to block me so I stepped up and met him at the line of scrimmage. It sounded like a car crash inside my helmet! In the meantime our nose guard Joe Nash had hit the Broncos ball carrier, Tony Dorsett, and caused him to fumble.
I temporarily reeled from the hit with Kay, but regained my balance and fell half-conscious onto the ball. I stumbled off the field and as I took my helmet off, I became aware that my chin was gashed open and bleeding down the front of my jersey (see above photo). As the doctors stapled my chin shut, I muttered, “I think that guy knocked the %$# out of me!” Trainer John Kasik, who was attending to me, pointed out to the field and said, “You ought a see the other guy.”
The Broncos training staff was hauling Clarence Kay off the field on a stretcher. I don’t remember feeling bad about it at the time, but I was relieved to see him standing on their sidelines at the end of the game in his street clothes. We won the game 21-14, partly because of my fumble recovery, and I had been “baptized by fire” that day as a full-fledged starting NFL linebacker.
Good luck, Kam!