And every single one of those players has a story that would likely captivate us all, but there are some that make you take a second glance.
One such story is that of Chase Vaughn, a former 2010 NFL Draft hopeful out of Colorado State-Pueblo who ultimately ended up not getting picked up by an NFL team before signing on to play in the AFL, IFL, UFL and CFL in some capacity or another.
Vaughn was working at a hospital when he got a call to try out for the Denver Broncos, and he didn’t waste any time giving his notice.
“I said, ‘Thank you guys for the opportunity, but this is once in a lifetime. This is what I’ve been working toward for five years. And I’d like to put in two weeks’ notice and be professional about it, but obviously I can’t do that right now,’” Vaughn recounted in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“And they understood. They were like, ‘OK, well, it’s the Broncos, so go ahead.’”
As if bouncing around four different professional football leagues wasn’t enough, Vaughn has already overcome a major obstacle in his pursuit of an NFL dream — he made it past the tryout stage.
That’s something not a lot of guys do around the league. Teams fill out their roster with all sorts of players, but guys brought in for rookie tryouts generally don’t make the team, and a good percentage don’t even get a shot at the next mini camp or training camp.
For so many, the tryout period is a risk-free move for teams to bring players in, fill their camp with bodies, and fulfill virtually no contractual obligations.
Vaughn started his college career at DII Adams State, but was allowed to transfer with no penalty after the coaching staff was fired, so he ended up at CSU-Pueblo, where he set a record with 4.5 sacks in his first game.
The journey to the NFL is, as Vaughn himself described it, “weird.”
Someone put together a page on Facebook to get Vaughn a tryout with the Broncos, which has 94 likes. He spent time with and was shuffled around like a minor league baseball player from the IFL to the AFL and UFL (which went bankrupt) and the CFL before ending up without a job in football at all.
After deciding the cubicle wasn’t for him, he got back with a trainer to get ready for a potential shot at the NFL again.
“About a month of that and I was like, I can’t do this,” Vaughn said. “And I started working out again with my trainer. My trainer said I looked pretty good, probably the best I ever had looked. And that’s when the opportunity came along to work out with the Denver Broncos, and I did fantastic, I guess.”
The Broncos are pretty loaded at the DE/LB position, led by All-Pros Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. The Broncos also have some really interesting players coming up like Lerentee McCray and fellow undrafted free agent Shaquil Barrett.
But Denver knows what every good team in the NFL knows — you can never have too many good pass rushers. In the early stages of scouting Vaughn, it appears as though he has good quickness, uses leverage, has solid strength and pursuit to the ball, but the trait that stands out most is hand usage and good inside/outside combination pass rush moves.
He has a full YouTube channel of film you can view, so Broncos fans should check it out to see what this guy brings to the table.
Teams like the Colts have a handful of these players with backgrounds in other professional leagues coming in every year, but the Broncos don’t end up with many. Vaughn’s road to the NFL has been long and winding, but his hard work has finally earned him a potential shot at a training camp roster spot, and a chance to compete with one of the best pro sports franchises in the world.