Stull Exemplifies Harsh NFL Realities

Stull knows odds are long.

If I were to ask you last week who Bill Stull was, you probably wouldn't think he was a football player. Maybe he's the guy who works on your car or lives down the street. He sounds like an every day guy, and in fact he is.

In his first week in Kansas City, Stull has come to exemplify the undrafted rookie experience at training camp. He's the typical late addition to a training camp roster that fans become curious about for a brief moment, and the typical player who gets a miraculous shot at their lifelong dream to play in the NFL.

Stull's a guy who had previously been called in by the Chiefs in spring practice, but was let go in order for the Chiefs to sign other players. He had agreed to a contract with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League, but was released from that roster when he got a call from the Chiefs to come to St. Joseph.

He was called upon because an injury has temporarily sidelined Brodie Croyle, and the Chiefs knew that they would be crazy to have just two active quarterbacks on their roster. Matt Gutierrez is long gone from Kansas City, and after a lighthearted practical joke which saw assistant coach Nick Sirianni suit up as a quarterback on Monday, the Chiefs actually have a fourth quarterback on their roster heading into their second preseason game.

Stull won ten games as a Senior Starter at Pittsburgh.
Getty Images

Stull is an undrafted rookie free agent from the University of Pittsburgh. As head coach Todd Haley put it, Stull is another "Western P.A. guy" to fit in with another Pennsylvania native, Tyler Palko. Stull served as Palko's backup quarterback and emerged as the Panthers' starter by 2007. Two years later, he became the first Panthers quarterback to lead the team to 10 wins since Dan Marino nearly 30 years earlier.

Now the days of Panthers football are long gone and both Palko and Stull could possibly be battling for the third quarterback spot on the depth chart. For both of the quarterbacks, the coming weeks are as crucial to them as they are to any NFL player hoping to make a roster. Even if Croyle is sidelined for the foreseeable future, he won't likely lose his spot on the depth chart, only leaving competition between the left-handed Palko and the right-handed Stull.

While it's not quite the most intriguing battle in training camp, it could be crucial being that the Chiefs' quarterback position as a whole has been mediocre in the past week or so. I won't go so far as to say that Stull could be the starting quarterback for the Chiefs, but he could provide enough depth to push the quarterbacks above him on the depth chart to start producing.

Haley joked about his seemingly coincidental knack for collecting former Pitt quarterbacks, saying, "I've got a new Western PA guy I can root for (Stull) and the old Western P.A. guy (Palko) now I can get after a little bit."

Will Stull survive initial roster cut?
Justin Olson/Warpaint

No matter how much Haley says he would ‘root' for him, Stull doesn't necessarily have a guaranteed spot on the roster despite coming to St. Joseph in the final days of training camp. He's not Brett Favre, where he can skip a majority of camp and pick up with no turbulence. In fact, Stull has jumped head first into a playbook that he's going to have to grasp onto before the team lands in Tampa Bay this weekend.

On the final day of training camp in St. Joseph last Thursday, Stull struggled in practice, making his first couple solid practices from the days before a mere afterthought. Some of his passes sailed over receivers' heads while he struggled with handling snaps from center Lemuel Jeanpierre. His worst play came when one of his passes was picked off by defensive end John Russell right at the goal line in 11-on-11 drills.

However, one bad practice won't necessarily faze Stull, as it shouldn't any player looking to make a name for himself.

"I've just got to play to the best of my ability, study as much as I can, and try and impress the coaches as much as I can," he said.

Stull's best chance to make a name for himself could have been last Saturday night against the Buccaneers. But he didn't see any action in the game. And while Brodie Croyle is recovering from his injury, and the deadline for the Chiefs to cut down their roster is looming, his chances to make the roster are slim. But those factors are out of Stull's hands, and he's fully aware of it.

"I'm just trying to do what I can control," he added, "and that's how hard I work and how hard I study."

Stull might be an option if back-up Brodie Croyle continues his injury struggles.
Justin Olson/Warpaint

In conclusion, I couldn't help but think of what it would be like to be Stull. For a guy who gets a call to come back to practice with a team now late in its training camp would surely be a thrill. For a guy who just happens to be battling with a quarterback whom he trailed in college and now has the opportunity to leapfrog him on the roster, it would be a tremendous achievement.

One of the most heartbreaking things of training camp for a player is hear that they're not on a team's final roster, but Stull hopes to not be one of those players.

In the end, he may be just another player who got a miraculous shot at making a roster late in training camp, just another "Western P.A. guy", or just another casualty of the waiver wire.

Regardless, Bill Stull is just like every other young football player in late August – hoping to get his foot in the door to the NFL, wishing to get his shot. Recommended Stories