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November 16, 2012

Flowers on his way to becoming one of NFL's best defensive backs

By: Jimmy Robertson

Brandon FlowersFormer Tech defensive back Brandon Flowers has shown the
Kansas City Chiefs his talents in his five years there, including
this interception against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 7.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Sanders/Kansas City Chiefs)

Obviously, the NFL differs from college football in many ways, but former Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers gave this interesting comparison:

“It’s definitely more like a business,” he said. “In college, your teammates are like your brothers. You see them at practice and then you see them in class and you hang out with them all the time. In the NFL, most of the guys are married and have kids, and you only see them at practice. You might never see them outside of practice. So it’s more like a business.”

So Flowers needs to get married and start having kids to better fit in among his teammates, right?

“Oh, no,” he laughed. “I’m not rushing that.”

Actually, Flowers has adjusted to life quite nicely in the NFL both on and off the field in his five years with the Kansas City Chiefs. The former Associated Press All-American went to the Chiefs in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and started 13 of the 14 games he played in as a rookie, recording 69 tackles and two interceptions.

In fact, both of those interceptions came against Brett Favre, the future Hall of Famer who was playing for the New York Jets at the time. Flowers returned the second interception 91 yards for a touchdown - easily one of the biggest moments of his life.

“When you’re out there doing it, it goes by so fast that you really don’t think about it being Brett Favre,” Flowers said. “You just think about trying to make plays. But when I got home and started thinking about it, it just hit me. It’s like, ‘Wow, I intercepted Brett Favre twice and returned one for a touchdown.’

“I kept thinking that this is where I had wanted to be and what I had been working for. But you can’t take anything for granted. In this league, if you’re not getting it done, they’ll [the coaches] replace you. So I just try to stay focused on improving and getting better.”

Since his rookie campaign, Flowers has started every game he’s played in for the Chiefs, only missing a game here or there because of an injury. A year ago, he started every single game and recorded 59 tackles and four interceptions. He hasn’t recorded fewer than 59 tackles in any of his first four seasons and has intercepted 15 passes in his relatively young career.

“I don’t mean to sound cocky, but I’m not surprised,” Flowers said of his success. “I’ve always had great coaching, even going back to playing Little League in South Florida and then playing for Coach [Chris] Bean at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach [Fla.]. Then when I got to Tech, Coach [Torrian] Gray [Tech’s defensive backs coach] did a great job of coaching me and teaching me all the proper techniques. It’s hard to get beat when you’re playing with good technique.

“So I give him a lot of credit. He helped make my transition much easier than I thought it would be.”

Flowers also credited former Chiefs teammates Brandon Carr and Patrick Surtain for helping him. Carr, one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, teamed with Flowers at the cornerbacks spots in the Chiefs defense for four years before signing with the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason. Surtain played for the Chiefs for three seasons, including Flowers’ first two seasons.

Surtain, in particular, is someone whom Flowers respects. He grew up watching the three-time Pro Bowler when Surtain played for the Miami Dolphins (1998-2004) and considered him a role model.

“I used to go to Dolphins games, and I’d watch him,” Flowers said. “So to be lining up with him was just a surreal feeling.

“He knew what it was like to be in the league, and he showed me the ropes. He showed me what to do on and off the field, and he always told me to take things one play at a time and one game at a time. He told me never to get too stressed. A lot of guys have had it harder than me, but people like Patrick Surtain and Coach Gray have really showed me the way.”

Even though he learned quite a bit from others, he still needed to get it done on the field, and Flowers deserves all the credit for doing that. He is on the cusp of becoming a Pro Bowler, and the Chiefs organization realizes that.

In September of 2011, Chiefs officials locked up Flowers for the long term, signing him to a five-year extension even though his contract had yet to run out. Flowers signed the $50 million deal, which included $22 million guaranteed.

“It just shows that hard work pays off,” Flowers said. “I’m glad they felt confident in me, and I’m glad they want me here. They gave it to me for a reason, and I’ve got to keep going and keep playing well.”

The only thing lacking for Flowers is team success. The Chiefs have made the playoffs just once since Flowers arrived, and this season, the team had just one win at press time. In fact, they hadn’t led in regulation this entire season, winning their only game in overtime against the New Orleans Saints.

Flowers hopes to see the team’s fortunes change in the second half of the season.

“It’s been very frustrating,” he said. “I’m a very competitive person. I played there at Virginia Tech, so I’m not used to losses. But it’s a whole different game at this level. We’ve got to adjust and get everyone on the same page, and then go out and get some W’s.”

Flowers does keep up with a few of his former Tech teammates, including guys like D.J. Parker and Duane Brown, and he hopes to return to Blacksburg for the spring game, a time when many former players come back. He hasn’t been back to Blacksburg in the past two years.

He also keeps up with a few of Tech’s current players. He reaches out to both Luther Maddy and Mark Leal, two former Atlantic High School players themselves who played at the school several years after Flowers left.

“I like seeing those guys do well,” Flowers said. “I know how difficult it is to come out of that area [South Florida] and do well. I know so many guys who were great athletes, but didn’t have the grades, so I like to support those guys [Leal and Maddy], and I applaud them. I want them to know I’m watching them, and I wish them great success.”

He’ll keep up with the Hokies from his home in Kansas City. He loves the area because it reminds him of a place where he used to live – and it’s not South Florida.

Kansas City, in certain respects, resembles Blacksburg, a place where Flowers enjoyed life for four years.

“I love it here,” Flowers said of the city. “In Delray, things are so fast paced, but here, it’s a lot more laid back. It’s a lot like Blacksburg. The people here are so supportive of their football team. It’s like when I was in college, when we were so appreciative of the fans and they were appreciative of us. It’s that same way here.

“It’s been the best fit for me. I’m really lucky that Kansas City picked me, and that things have fallen in place the way they have.”