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Ricky Stanzi fighting to extend NFL career

[ 0 ] July 27, 2013 |
Ricky Stanzi, left, is the only Kansas City Chiefs quarterback on the roster that first-year coach Andy Reid, center, didn't bring in himself. (USA TODAY Sports photo)

Ricky Stanzi, left, is the only Kansas City Chiefs quarterback on the roster that first-year coach Andy Reid, center, didn’t bring in himself. (USA TODAY Sports photo)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Don’t feel sorry for Ricky Stanzi.

The former Iowa quarterback might be fighting to extend his professional football career, but he’d rather talk about his recent wedding than throw a pity party.

“I’ve never been that kind of person,” said Stanzi, who is entering his third season with the Kansas City Chiefs. “I’m never going to fall into that. It’s just not my style.”

Stanzi’s style is dutiful and diligent, making the beloved ex-Hawkeye a well-respected reserve in the NFL.

Nice guys, however, don’t always make the 53-man roster.

“I admire Ricky,” said Mitch Holthus, play-by-play voice for Chiefs Radio Network. “And I admire Ricky for a lot of reasons, mainly because he’s been resilient, he’s been a good soldier.

“He’s stayed tough and he’s kept right in there … working his tail off.”

Stanzi is heading into his third year in the NFL and must beat out Tennessee rookie Tyler Brey for the third-string quarterback spot on the Kansas City roster. (USA TODAY Sports photo)

Stanzi is heading into his third year in the NFL and must beat out Tennessee rookie Tyler Bray for the third-string quarterback spot on the Kansas City roster. (USA TODAY Sports photo)

That might not be enough.

The Chiefs have four quarterbacks, and only need three.

Alex Smith, a former No. 1 overall draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers, is the clear starter. Chase Daniel is the backup.

Stanzi or Tyler Bray, a rookie from Tennessee, will earn the final spot.

“It’s going to be a great competition between those two,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “That’s what you want. It not only makes them better, it makes the team better.”

Some feel Stanzi arrived at summer camp with three strikes against him:

  • He’s the only Chiefs quarterback who wasn’t brought in by first-year coach Andy Reid.
  • Bray made a good impression during offseason workouts.
  • Stanzi’s limited opportunities in preseason games have produced lackluster results.

“Whatever snaps he gets this year during the preseason are Ricky Stanzi’s Super Bowl,” Holthus said. “I don’t know how many snaps Ricky is going to get, but whatever he gets, he has got to maximize to the nth degree.”

If Stanzi feels the heat, he doesn’t show it.

“Same old Ricky,” said tight end Tony Moeaki, another former Hawkeye. “Nothing has changed.”

Moeaki was a groomsman when Stanzi and Lauren Yama were married July 6 near Cleveland.

A.J. Edds, Brett Morse and Jeff Tarpinian also stood alongside their former Hawkeye teammate.

“The only bad part was, we had to come straight back to Kansas City,” Stanzi said, “because there really wasn’t much time to go off to a honeymoon.

“We’ll catch up to that.”

Stanzi met his future wife when he was in high school in Mentor, Ohio — long before etching his name in Iowa lore.

He posted a 26-9 record as a Hawkeyes starter, becoming the first quarterback in school history to celebrate three bowl victories.

“We had a great run,” Stanzi said. “We had a great class of guys who came in, stuck it out.

“It was so fast when it was happening. To be removed, and look back on it … I just really appreciate that opportunity I was given.”

Stanzi left Iowa after compiling 7,377 passing yards and 56 touchdowns, but is perhaps best remembered for a postgame interview after the Hawkeyes beat Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl.

Fox Sports’ Chris Myers asked about Iowa representing middle America. Stanzi answered: “There’s nothing better than being American. This is the greatest feeling. If you don’t love it, leave it. USA No. 1.”

Those words morphed into a Hawkeyes rallying cry.

“If I would have known that one, little moment would have been that big … ,” Stanzi said with a smile. “At the time, I didn’t even think about it.”

Chiefs fans once clamored for coaches to put Stanzi in a regular-season game, especially last fall as they plummeted to 2-14.

Now, he faces an uncertain football future that could end sometime in August.

“I’ve always been a person, when I get to the bridge, I’ll cross it,” Stanzi said. “There is so much to think about right now, just starting camp, that it’s kind of hard to think too far forward.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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