Kansas City, Mo. — This seems to be the year of the lost cause for Rocky Boiman.
First he works door-to-door for a Republican Congressional candidate in Ohio. In a year when Democrats take over the presidency and solidify their hold on the House and Senate, his man is voted out of office.
Then he becomes a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, and they’re having an even worse year than the GOP.
While everyone agrees Boiman has done well since he was signed “off the street” in mid-October, Kansas City’s young and injury-ravaged defense already has set records for futility. For the team overall, 2008 will probably go down as the worst season in team history.
Nevertheless, the core beliefs Boiman learned growing up in a working-class neighborhood in Cincinnati will not allow the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder to get discouraged.
“I believe every person in America has a chance to reach as high as he wants,” he said. “You just stay busy and keep working toward your goals.”
Since joining the rebuilding Chiefs, Boiman has played just about everywhere in the linebacker scheme. Last week, he was moved from the inside to the outside while Derrick Johnson, a former first-round pick who has been largely a disappointment, tries to reignite himself by playing in the middle.
Moving around is nothing new to Boiman.
“I’ve kind of taken a lot of pride in being able to play any position and do whatever the coach asks me to do,” he said. “I’m able to line up and play. I do a lot of studying, a lot of work. I just try to do a good job.”
In a year when injury and ineffectiveness have played havoc up and down the lineup, Boiman’s ability and willingness to play different positions is prized.
“Rocky was sitting at home just a few weeks ago, and now he’s had to move around and play just about everywhere,” coach Herm Edwards said. “That’s asking a lot of any guy because it’s not an easy position to play. It’s not easy mentally because there’s a lot to know, a lot to learn.”
A fourth-round pick by Tennessee in 2002 out of Notre Dame, Boiman also spent time with Dallas and Indianapolis and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Colts.
When he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of training camp last summer, he went back to his parents’ home in Cincinnati.
“I was working out, waiting for the phone to ring, wondering what was going to happen,” he said. “It was kind of a rough time. You sit there and watch games on TV and get mad when you see guys playing out there who you know you’re better than. I was really, really down. But I soon realized I wanted to get back, and believed that I would.”
He filled much of his spare time working for the re-election of Steve Chabot, a Republican Congressman from Ohio’s 1st District.
“I would show up at events. I also went door-to-door and handed out flyers, things like that. I just tried to see all aspects of it. I wanted to meet people from the Republican party, do all I could.”
The more he saw, the more intrigued he became.
“It’s amazing. You wonder why anybody would want to do it,” Boiman said. “You get run through the wringer, you get criticized, everybody takes a shot at you. You get picked to pieces.”
Sort of like playing linebacker for a team that’s 2-11?
“Maybe even worse,” he said with a smile. “I’ve really developed an interest in politics and public service.”
Chabot was narrowly defeated by State Rep. Steve Driehaus, ending his 14-year Congressional tenure.
“Unfortunately, he got swept out with the Democratic overhauling,” Boiman said. “It’s too bad. He’s a good man.”
Being temporarily out of work gave Boiman time to think about life after football.
“I want to go into politics,” he said.
If he ever does run for office, it will be as a Republican.
“I guess it’s kind of how you’re raised.” he said. “I was raised in a middle class kind of situation. My dad got laid off when I was young and he fought his way out of it. I’m pro the American dream of capitalism, that you can become whatever you want. My dad has made a lot of himself without ever asking for a handout. I have that same philosophy.”