Meet the personable Tyler Palko: Philosopher, comedian, new Chiefs starting QB
|11.16.11 at 9:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots are saying all the right things about Tyler Palko.
He’s a competent quarterback and they will be ready for him on Monday night at Gillette. He beat out Joe Flacco for a starting job at the University of Pittsburgh, sending Flacco packing for the University of Delaware. He is a strong-armed lefty who can scramble and can throw the ball from any arm angle.
All of which may be true, but ask Palko about his own future and he’s not about to draw conclusions or comparisons to Matt Cassel’s path to Kansas City.
“That’s nice for you guys to talk about, all that stuff, but you can’t write the story before it’s written,” Palko said Wednesday in a conference call, channeling his inner-Yogi Berra. “It’s obviously comparisons and all that other stuff, but that’s not going to win the game ‘ because it’s aligning this way or it’s not aligning this way. Right now, my job is to go out and to give our team a chance to win. I don’t have enough time to think about all that stuff and if you’re thinking about playing for a contract or playing because you’re facing a guy that it happened [to] or the guy that you’re replacing this happened to him and it’s going to happen to me, then you’re really taking your focus off what’s really important and that’s the game plan.
“And the task at hand is to try to beat the Patriots and it’s a heck of a task for us. Everybody on the team that night is going to need to be locked in and focused on one goal and that’s winning the football game because these guys that we’re facing on Monday night, they’re no slouch. They’re a great football team and the reason why they’re the New England Patriots is because they’ve done it over a long period of time.”
What did he see from the short-handed Patriots defensively, particularly against the Jets?
“That just goes to show you how good Coach [Bill Belichick] is,” Palko said. “He’s a defensive genius and he has a lot of guys out and they do a great job of trying to take away your strengths. They try to get you to make mistakes and get you behind the chains and put you in long yardage situations and try to make you make mistakes. I think Coach Belichick, he’s proven that he’s a defensive genius and I wouldn’t expect anything less. I’m sure he’s not feeling sorry for himself because he’s got some guys out. He’s got an untested quarterback and I’m sure he’s not going to take it easy on me.”
What was particularly interesting was his own take on the limited amount of NFL film on him and how that might be to his advantage. Can that be a help in a game like this?
“I don’t know how to answer that question ‘ I’m not a coach so I don’t know how they face it or how they look at it,” he said.
Once Palko finished up at Pitt in 2006, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Saints in 2007. The Saints released him after the season. After not playing in 2008, Palko had the biggest rollercoaster of his career in ’09.
He was released by the Cardinals, signed and released by the California Redwoods of the UFL, signed by Montreal of the CFL and then released by the Alouettes, allowing him to sign on with the Steelers when Ben Roethlisberger got hurt.
“It really was just something that happened and you kind of keep plugging along,” Palko said of being cut by a UFL team. “Things don’t always go the way you want them to go in your career. I don’t think anybody, at least the way I was raised, you’re not too good to be brought down to Earth or to get fired. They play football there too and for whatever reason the coaching staff chose to do that. I don’t really look at it as a low point in my career. It’s a process. I’m not a big quote guy, but this thing is a marathon not a sprint and sometimes you have to scrape the bottom before you can reap some benefits. Getting cut anytime, getting fired is not a positive experience, whether it was by them or by an NFL team, it’s not a positive experience.
Isn’t life really weird sometimes?
“I guess,” Palko said of the off-beat, out-of-the-blue question to the off-beat, out-of-the-blue quarterback. “You guys do a good job of putting those stories together ‘ the feel good stories or the make-you-feel-bad stories. I don’t really look at it that way. It’s football and there’s no blueprint on anything. Whether you want to be a teacher, a garbage man, whatever you want to do ‘ there’s no blueprint on getting where you want to go. There are obstacles, there’s adversity you need to overcome and it’s just the way that life is. Anyone that has ever accomplished anything great has had to overcome some obstacles, whether it’s at the highest level in the NFL or like I said, whether it’s being a garbage man.
“But everybody in life has to overcome their own adversity and their own personal struggles. You can never really knock anyone’s struggle on how they’ve gotten there, why they got to the situation you’re in. I can’t explain it. I don’t sit back and try to make sense of everything. You live your life a certain way and you work hard and try to do good for other people and whatever happens along that line, you control those certain things you can control. Everything else kind of works out, either good or bad and you have to deal with it on either end.”
So where does all the great perspective come from?
“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows,” Palko said. “I’m not saying I’ve never had a bad day. But as you get older and you go through things and you experience life I think you just learn how to handle situations differently. I’m sure that I’ll handle things differently in five years from now and look back on how I handled certain situations and learn from them. Everything is a work in progress. Again, I don’t want to sound like a quote book, but you just try to take everything day-by-day. You’re not guaranteed anything today; you have to earn everything you get. That’s pretty much how I attack everything: with a tough mentality of going at it with as much as you can and getting up the next day and doing the same thing over again. It’s just the way I was raised, I guess, and the way I try to look at it.”