The end of the NFL preseason is typically a somber part of the season. While there are 53 players that make each NFL roster at the end of August, there are hundreds more that are left without a job despite giving it their full effort over the summer.
However, there are many instances in which this part of the year is very exciting as well. After the Tuesday, August 31, 4 p.m. deadline, 27 players had been removed from the Kansas City Chiefs roster. But there was one player in particular that remained on the 53-man roster, and had Chiefs Kingdom ecstatic:
ALL the latest Chiefs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Chiefs newsletter here!
How Fortson Did It
Fortson entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2019. His first and only stop in the NFL has been with the Chiefs, where he has been signed, released, and then re-signed to the practice squad every season leading up to 2021.
The biggest reason for Fortson making the active roster this year — a position change. This offseason he made the transition from wide receiver to tight end, and while it was a bumpy road at first, Fortson’s position change has worked out in his favor and has the organization on his side.
“Coming out here, he had some rough OTA days. You know, he was still kind of transitioning to that tight end position, and there were practices out here in the spring where the assignments weren’t right,” Kansas City general manager Brett Veach said of Fortson’s transition. “He’s always had good hands. When we had him at receiver, he was a tough guy to cover. Wanted to find a place we could really utilize him. He’s got the size and skillset, in regard to mismatches. Moving to tight end, and all of a sudden, the terminology was different as he mentioned yesterday, the three-point-stance was different, and then at OTA’s, he had a couple rough weeks where all of a sudden, the head was spinning and he was running the wrong routes and all of a sudden dropping balls, which is very uncharacteristic of Jody [Fortson].
“Guys like that, it’s easy to kind of feel sorry for yourself and just want to go start fresh somewhere else, but the kid came back to training camp with just a completely different mindset. It was like he had just wiped the slate clean and wants to attack this thing and get after it. You guys heard him mention about getting with [Dave] Toub and finding out how he can get better at teams. So, it was really an awesome story to see him get his position moved, struggle, but just continue to work and just put the blinders on and not listen to the outside noise.”
In the end, the leap of faith paid off for the 25-year-old. Fortson was visibly moved by the fact that he had taken a monumental step in his NFL career by making the initial 53-man roster this season during his Tuesday, August 31 press conference.
“It’s God is good man. I’ve put a lot of time into this and there were a lot of days that this wouldn’t come, but I had to stay true to it,” Fortson said. “I just kept working and here we are. I know there’s so much more work to do, but I was told to take my small victories as well and cherish them. So, it’s just been a long road, it’s been a long road.”
As for head coach Andy Reid, he laid out plainly why Fortson had made the initial regular-season roster.
“He busts his tail and he’s earned the right to have made that cut,” Reid said during his Tuesday press conference. “It’s been his attitude all the way through—just a positive attitude and fighting for a spot. That’s been the one common denominator that’s gotten him to this point. It was a matter of becoming more consistent, growing in the size part of it— remember, he was a junior college quarterback before that, then a receiver, then a tight end, so he’s kind of gone through a gamut of positions there.”
Fans of the Chiefs — but more so of Fortson — took to Twitter following the news that Fortson had made the roster to congratulate the third-year pro for his accomplishment.