Brodie Croyle: At that young age I really didn’t catch the whole concept until I got to be around nine, 10 or 11. Then I started to figure out who Bear Bryant was and figured out it was pretty cool that my Dad played for such a great coach and had a good relationship with him. But it was cool growing up with the John Hannahs and Johnny Mussos - the guys like that who were friends of my dad’s. I really had no clue who they were, especially Mr. Hannah. When I got into high school it really started to sink in all the people that I had grown up around.
WPI: You graduated early from Westbrook Christian High School in Rainbow City, Alabama - was it ever in doubt when you were in high school that you'd go to any other school but Alabama?
Croyle: Actually up until the night before I was set to go to Florida State. I was gung ho about going. I loved Mark Richt and I loved their offense. Alabama had just fired their coach and hired Dennis Franchioni, and I didn’t think it would be a good fit for me. Then we caught wind that Mark Rick might be taking a job elsewhere so I decided “let’s do it” and I committed to Alabama.
WPI: You once threw seven touchdowns in a single game. I know statistics really don’t mean much, but as a young kid when you were setting one state record after another did they did mean anything to you?
Croyle: I mean they were cool, but you know we lost the state championship twice. The year that I ended up breaking all the individual records we lost the championship game on a field goal. So you know it really took away from all of those accomplishments.
WPI: At Alabama some credit was given to you and then head coach Mike Shula for resurrecting the football program that Dennis Franchioni left in a state of flux. You were one of Coach Shula’s top recruits. Being a home state kid that had to be a slight burden to you knowing the entire Alabama Nation was looking at both of you to resurrect a program that had been through some recent failures.
Croyle: You know, it was fun. When I came in there I had all the expectations. The fact I was the number one quarterback to come out of high school. Add the fact that my father played at Alabama and had a great career there and my sister was the homecoming queen, it was all tied together.
My freshman season was pretty good, we won 10 games, then the next two years we went through a lot of turmoil. That first year I separated my shoulder in the first game and played with it the entire season. Then my second year I tore my ACL, so my legacy was really hanging the last season to get us to becoming a top 10 team again. And I guess my legacy was riding in the balance on that last season. And we did become a Top 10 team and got to the Cotton Bowl. So that senior season was very fulfilling for me.
WPI: As you mentioned you had to overcome several injuries at Alabama, but still you broke every passing record in school history. You left Alabama with records for touchdowns, passing yards, completions and pass attempts. That's a pretty good feat considering some of the NFL’s greatest played at Alabama - like Bart Starr and Kenny Stabler - but one of them, and the man whose records you broke, was none other than Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath.
Croyle: With the quarterbacks there, it’s kind of like a brotherhood at Alabama. Actually when I went on visit to Alabama my senior year I walked into a room and there was Joe Namath, Bart Starr, Leroy Jordan, Ken Stabler and the athletic director and I just sat there and said absolutely nothing for about thirty minutes and just listened to them tell stories. From that point on they’d call to congratulate me, and in fact later on when I tore my ACL Joe Namath was one of the first guys to call and Kenny Stabler came and saw me. It’s really cool to have Super Bowl winners and league MVP’s who are generally concerned about what you’re doing. It made me really appreciate what it meant to play at Alabama.
WPI: Did that amazing quarterback legacy guide your decision to want to play for the Crimson Tide?
Croyle: It did. I was probably going to go there anyway, even though I said I was going to Florida State. You know it really did. All they kept telling me while they were recruiting me was the fact that there had not been an Alabama quarterback start a game in the NFL since Richard Todd back in the late 70’s. They were always getting in my ear about Quarterback U.
WPI: The Chiefs liked what you did at the Senior Bowl. Was there any indication they would be the team you'd begin your NFL career with? And were you happy they chose you?
Croyle: This is actually where I wanted to go. Honestly, when I did interviews back at Alabama and people would ask me where I wanted to play pro football, I told them Kansas City. It’s just like playing in a college game. You know it’s a great city with great fans in Kansas City, plus the hunting around here is phenomenal. It was just a fit. I knew they had an interest in me and I knew Coach Edwards talked to Coach Shula a lot about me and Coach Dick Curl worked me out and he really liked me.
Some guys were taken ahead of me that supposedly weren’t going to be drafted there. I learned about that when I was a freshman at Alabama from my college roommate Jarret Johnson, who just recently signed with the Baltimore Ravens. He thought he’d go in the second round and we had a draft party for him but he wasn’t picked until the beginning of the fourth round. From that point on I didn’t even think about where in the draft I might go.
WPI: Herm Edwards told me he saw something special in you. In fact, he mentioned traits you had that were similar to guys like Montana and Brady. Those are some big names to be compared to even though you’ve yet to start a regular season game. How do those comparisons affect you?
Croyle: It makes you feel good when guys say things like that, but as you said I have a lot of touchdown passes and wins to go before I can be mentioned in the same breath as those guys. Those are two of the best to ever play the game. Brady is still writing his legacy right now and I’ve got a long ways to go, but it makes you feel good that your coaches feel that you could reach that level someday.
Tomorrow: Part II, as Brodie talks about life in the NFL.
This article originally appeared in Warpaint Illustrated the Magazine. If you want more information about the only Magazine Dedicated to the Kansas City Chiefs, hit the banner below to learn how you can get 56 issues of Sports Illustrated when you order Warpaint Illustrated the magazine.