Remembering the stories of some players whose careers started in Kansas City – and didn’t last long.
As the league’s annual summer hiatus continues, ESPN published a article focusing on seven men who played exactly one NFL game. When I read that, I wondered how many players appeared in a single Kansas City Chiefs game.
Looking over the list, four caught my eye.
Guard Tre’ Stallings
A sixth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2006, the 6-foot-4, 317-pound Mississippi product was active in four Kansas City games at the end of the 2007 season. He played as a backup in the Week 17 game against New York Jetsand cashed in on a false start penalty as the Chiefs finished the season 4-12 with a 13-10 overtime loss.
Stallings spent time with Baltimore Ravens for the next two seasons, but never appeared in another NFL game. He then began a career in sports administration, with stops including serving as director of player engagement for Tennessee Titans, director of player development at the University of Illinois and as assistant director of enforcement for the NCAA. In 2020, he was named Associate Commissioner of Conference USA.
Quarterback Mike Elkins
When people talk about the 34 years between the Chiefs using a first-round draft pick on 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 had he been selected in a more recent season, he would have been a first-round pick as well.
Unfortunately the former Wake Forest quarterback didn’t live up to his draft position. In Week 12 of his rookie season, Kansas City was managing 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), it was the only game Elkins ever played in the NFL. Today he is regional sales manager for Biotronik, a company specializing in medical electronics.
Place kicker Justin Medlock
Then 2007 NFL Draft arrived, the Chiefs’ franchise had spent nearly half of 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 aside from the times the club had brought in aging veterans like Pete Stoyanovich or Morten Anderson, the team usually didn’t get that result.
Lawrence Tynes had come the closest to being a young kicker the team could trust — but in three seasons he had never ranked higher than 16th in field goal accuracy. So Tynes was off to 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 Houston Texas. Peterson pulled the plug, installed third-year player Dave Rayner as the placekicker for the next 10 games — then finished the season with 43-year-old John Carney.
Unlike Stallings and Elkins, however, Medlock eventually played for another NFL team. In 2012 was Carolina Panthers became the fifth team to sign him – but only 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 major contributor for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2011), eventually helping the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Gray Cup in 2019 as both a placekicker and a tipper. Now 39, he is a free agent.
Quarterback Tyler Bray
One day you’ll be able to win a bar bet knowing that Bray was the first backup quarterback to take over for Mahomes in an NFL game. Most 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 Denver Broncos.
First signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2013, Bray spent five seasons tied to the Chiefs. One of them was used on injured reserve. Another was used on the non-football injury reserve list. In both 2016 and 2017, the team repeatedly activated (and deactivated) him from the roster. The common idea was that head coach Andy Reid strongly believed that Bray could be a contributor; the team sure went through a lot of trouble to retain their rights to him.
So in that Broncos game — after Kansas City’s Terrance Mitchell intercepted a pass that he returned 40 yards midway through the fourth quarter — Reid decided a 24-10 lead was big enough to give another Chiefs quarterback his first NFL playing time.
However, Bray fumbled 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 delivered the first game-winning drive of his career, setting up Harrison Butker for a 30-yard field goal. goal with four seconds left.
Bray followed Matt Nagy to the shores of Lake Michigan when the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach became head coach Chicago Bears in 2018. Nagy also kept Bray around for a while (It may be that Nagy – not Reid – was the coach who was so impressed with him). But in his second (and final) NFL game in Week 10 of 2020, Bray appeared for five snaps and completed one pass for 18 yards on five attempts as the Bears fell to Minnesota Vikings 19-13.
During his nine-year NFL career (he spent two games at San Francisco 49ers‘ practice squad in 2021), Bray appeared in two games, completing six passes for 18 yards — and losing a fumble. Before that, Spotrac estimates he earned $4.4 million.
Like Medlock, the 31-year-old Bray is a free agent.