BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – While some players never get a chance to experience a Super Bowl, Buffalo native and Chiefs tight end Jody Fortson is getting ready for his third. And he doesn’t take any of it for granted, especially since it didn’t come easy.
“It’s a blessed experience especially coming from Buffalo and being overlooked and having to go to multiple different schools to get here,” Jody Fortson told News 4 on Zoom ahead of the Super Bowl.
Jody had many stops on his way to the NFL. From playing high school football at South Park, to his college days at Erie Community College and then Valdosta State, it wasn’t a short journey. And even now as he gets ready for his third Super Bowl, Jody can’t help but think about how far he’s come.
“I mean I think about it all the time to be honest with you because I know jut so many people in my hometown that’s more talented than I am, that could be in this very same seat so I never take any of this for granted,” Jody said.
“I’m just very appreciative for all the support along the way, you know all the people that believed in me and all the people that didn’t because I fuel off both sides from the hate and the love. Now it’s starting to be the hate more but you know it is what it is,” Jody laughed.
Jody went undrafted in 2019 before getting the call from Chiefs head coach Andy Reid saying they want to sign him as an undrafted free agent.
“That whole process was really an emotional roller coaster because as a kid you play football, you play any sport, you dream of getting drafted, you dream of going number one, so when that doesn’t happen it’s kind of like a let down and you’re kind of in your feeling and what. And I’ll be the the first to tell you that’s where I was and I had my support system with my mom, my dad, my best friend, they were there to counsel me,” Jody explained.
“So when I didn’t get the call, when my name didn’t get called on draft day and I got the call from Andy Reid I was just like ‘man well, you’re still getting a chance, like you still have a chance to do what you plan to do’. So it’s either you’re gonna sit here and be in your feelings about not getting your name called or you’re gonna sit here and make the most of your opportunity that you just got blessed with.”
“So when I got the call I was just head over heels. It honestly felt like I got drafted because I’ve been overlooked, come from nothing the whole time so for somebody to be like ‘no you got what it takes to at least step on this field and show us what you got’, that’s all I needed to hear, that’s all I needed to hear.”
Jody was on the Chiefs practice squad when they beat the 49ers to win the Super Bowl after the 2019 season. In week 2 of the 2021 season against the Ravens, Jody had his first career NFL catch. The following week he had his first career NFL touchdown and followed it up with another the next week against the Eagles.
Fast forward to this past regular season and it couldn’t have started any better for Jody as he had another touchdown catch in the Chiefs opener against the Cardinals. He found the end zone again this year two weeks later against Tampa. And Jody knows playing not just in the NFL but especially with players like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and playing for a coach like Andy Reid is special. And that immediately makes him think of how he can use that to help those in his hometown.
“To be in this position, to be able to learn from these players that I can soak this knowledge up and then I can take this knowledge back home, you know what I’m saying, back to South Park to where the young guys are so I can help those guys get to where I am maybe one day, it’s just a blessing,” Jody explained.
Speaking of Buffalo, he says those experiences back home helped make him who he is today and helped him get to where he is today.
“I would say it made me tough initially just because going to an inner city school where we don’t have the best funding and we don’t have the best resources and support. So that just made me tough, coming from nothing essentially being able to ignore all the distractions and just fight through,” Jody said.
And now Jody looks to pass along what he’s learned in the NFL to kids in his hometown and he’s hoping along with that comes a second Super Bowl ring.
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.