KEARNEY, Mo. — There won’t be a lot of cheers for the Tennessee Titans during the AFC Championship at Arrowhead Stadium, but Chiefs fans should know that the blue jerseys in the stands might be supporting a player who grew up right down the road.
Titans long snapper Beau Brinkley is from Kearney, Missouri.
Kearney Head Football Coach Josh Gray, who was on the staff when Beau graduated in 2008, says Beau’s determination is the reason he’s been successful.
"The percentage of high school kids that, 'A,' go to play college football, and 'B,' go on to the NFL, is small," Gray said.
The chances of making it to this stage aren't great, especially for a guy who plays such a specific position.
Beau Brinkley is the long snapper for the Titans.
"He is the same then as he is now,” Gray said. “He has not changed, other than getting a lot bigger."
And you can find proof of that in pictures all around the school.
The locker room where Brinkley dressed as a member of the Kearney Bulldogs is still there, but it’s been expanded. The new section now includes Brinkley’s signed, framed Tennessee Titans jersey, and a pair of his game-worn cleats.
"He'll come in and lift with some of the football team, he'll come in and play basketball with some of our girls basketball players,” said Michaela Moorman, another coach at Kearney.
Moorman is also Brinkley’s younger sister, and she says she grew up wearing red on Sundays.
"We were all about the Chiefs, until..." Moorman said.
That ended when Beau got a call from Nashville right after the 2012 draft.
"He had this look in his eye like, ‘I did it,’" Moorman said. “And so we found out that he signed with the Titans, and it was surreal, it was really cool."
Beau’s cousin Marcus coaches at Kearney too. He says it was the game, not any team, that hooked Beau.
"With my Uncle Mike, his (Beau’s) dad, teaching him how to long snap as a kid, you know, that's just something an art that he picked up at an early age,” Brinkley said. “And football's just been one of those things that he's always been really passionate about."
Beau has won playoff games in Arrowhead Stadium before, just never with the stakes so high. That's why this game is more than just a trip home.
"This week is a business trip he said,” Moorman said. “So it's a little different."
And there will be more than a dozen friends and family members decked out in blue at Arrowhead Sunday, including Moorman, although even she admits the layers they’ll wear in the cold affords some extra opportunities to cheer.
"There might be a few that might wear red underneath,” Moorman said.