Bryan Witzmann returns to Kansas City Chiefs as a starter
Bryan Witzmann is all business in discussing his plans for the upcoming season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
But he’d much rather tell you about how his pickup truck became a Kansas City celebrity.
The 2017 NFL season was a dream come true for Witzmann. He became an NFL starter, starting 14 games at left guard for the Chiefs. The season also involved an incredible amount of on-the-job learning. The Chiefs shifted Witzmann from his lifelong tackle position to guard.
Witzmann and the Chiefs are scheduled to begin their 2018 training camp on July 25.
Witzmann isn’t taking anything for granted. He said he understands that there will be competition for the starting position. His team-first attitude was something that helped endear him to the coaching staff and he has maintained that approach.
“Wherever they put me is where I’ll fill in. I’ll do whatever they need me to do,” Witzmann said. “It’s always going to be a competition,” Witzmann said on trying to maintain his spot in the starting lineup. “You aren’t handed anything.”
Witzmann got a rare vote of confidence during the 2017 training camp. The Chiefs signed him to a two-year contract extension before he ever started an NFL game. That led into Witzmann earning the starting job in training camp at left guard. That produced Witzmann’s most memorable moment, starting the season opener against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
“Having your first start on national TV against the defending Super Bowl champions, that’s certainly something I’ll never forget,” he said. “Running out of the tunnel at Arrowhead Stadium (which has a capacity of more than 76,000), to be at that point from where I’ve come from, that’s pretty special.”
He said getting to do an introduction on Monday Night Football was also something he never thought he’d experience.
The switch to guard made last season a non-stop sequence of instruction for Witzmann on the finer points of playing his new position. Witzmann said guard is vastly different than tackle. He said playing guard puts a heavy emphasis on the first move and making solid contact against the defensive tackle he’s facing, while tackle involves more playing in space.
“I thought I hopped in and improved over the season. It was a good building block, going into this season,” Witzmann said.
The Chiefs led the NFL in rushing yardage last season, which Witzmann clearly took pride in. Quarterback Alex Smith also had one of his best seasons. With Smith’s trade to Washington, Patrick Mahomes takes over as the Chiefs’ quarterback.
“Mahomes is coming into his own as a leader. He’s a great locker room guy,” Witzmann said.
The off-season wasn’t all about football for Witzmann. He took a trip with a church group from Houston to Israel. He also took a trip to Belize and another to London and southern Portugal.
But what about his truck? One Friday last season, Witzmann went to his parking spot and his truck was gone. He filed a stolen vehicle claim and was called that night by the police, saying his truck was recovered. The next day, the police called again, informing Witzmann that his truck had been involved in a high-speed chase and the chase was televised in Kansas City.
“My truck made it onto TV in Kansas City before I did,” WItzmann said with a grin.