It’s rare when an NFL team takes a chance on signing an athlete whose main focus is another sport.
But it’s darn near impossible to find a team willing to sign one who both has zero football experience and whose main competitive athletic endeavor has been throwing the discus really, really far – but that was the case when the Kansas City Chiefs added Tautvydas Kieras on Friday.
Kieras, who is from Lithuania, set the Mississippi State school record for discus in 2015 and also competed in the shot put, but it wasn’t his track and field skills that caught the Chiefs’ eye. According to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, he competed in the school’s pro day last month even though he was not required to enter the NFL Draft because he had never played college football.
Kieras had never even seen a football game before arriving at the school in 2014.
“People love football here. I fell in love with it, too,” Kieras told the Clarion-Ledger. “It’s different. I never liked soccer. I’m from Europe. They’re going to hang me for that, but it’s fun and it’s contact. I love it.”
At the combine, he reportedly measured 6-foot-3, 271 pounds and ran a 4.69 40. His 35-inch vertical wasn’t too shabby, and he also did stuff like this:
All that got him a tryout with the Chiefs. According to Kieras via the Hail State Beat, discus – amazingly – helped him learn how to train for football in his initial workouts:
“Coaches were so surprised that I had never done stuff. They’d tell me to do something, first or second try I’d do it correctly. It might not look as fluid, but then the fifth or sixth time, I look like another football player … It helped me a lot, discus.”
The Chiefs have him listed as a linebacker, and he’ll participate in their offseason program this spring. The odds against him making the team are long – but no longer than they were of his making it this far, for sure.