Browns' Furrey Has Seen a Lot In His Career

Charles AllenCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2009

CLEVELAND - 2009:  Mike Furrey of the Cleveland Browns poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by NFL Photos)

When wide receiver Mike Furrey signed with the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2009 NFL season, he had realized a dream. The path he chose to take was unconventional, to say the least.

Football had been his passion. He was a star player for his high school team in Hilliard, Ohio and was able to play in nine games as a walk on at Ohio State in 1996. Realizing he wasn't going to gain the opportunity to play much behind stars David Boston, Demetrious Stanley, and Dee Miller, Furrey transferred to Division I-AA Northern Iowa.

While playing for the Panthers, Furrey would excel as the teams leading receiver. During his time with the school, he set conference records for catches, recieving yards, and touchdowns. He seemed to be on track to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL, signing with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2000.

Furrey was cut by the Colts before ever playing in a regular season game. He was down, but certainly not out. He had come too far to give up.

A new football league, the XFL, was set to begin its inaugural season in 2001, and Mike Furrey found his way back on to the field. He played in the first televised game for the Las Vegas Outlaws. Before the game, players introduced themselves to the national television audience. Mike Furrey, from Northern Iowa pronounced, "I'm not just a receiver, I'm a threat."

While the XFL only played one full season, Furrey was fairly productive, managing 18 catches with a single touchdown. The league folded after their championship game and Mike Furrey was again left wondering what might have been.

Furrey was one of several XFL players still longing to play pro football. He found a home in the Arena Football League with the New York Dragons. During his second season with the team, Furrey found himself  the premier receiver in the AFL. He was leading the league in catches, yards, touchdowns, and total points when he recieved the call he had been waiting his whole life for.

The St. Louis Rams were impressed with his work and had decided to take a chance on him. He signed a contract with the Rams in April of 2003 and found limited playing time in 13 games that season. While serving mainly as a special teams player, Furrey again made the roster for the 2004 season.

As 2005 rolled around, the Rams found themselves in a precarious position. They were depleted in the defensive secondary. In need of a free safety, Mike Furrey switched positions, showing his true character. By week five, Furrey had become the starter. His hard work and determination had paid off. He managed 38 tackles and 4 interceptions in his first season as a defensive player.

After the 2005 season, Furrey was released by the Rams and signed a deal with the Detroit Lions. He was able to go back to the offensive side of the ball, which is where his heart truly was.

He set an NFL record by catching 98 passes in 2006. He had zero catches the year before. This was the largest margin of difference by a non rookie player in league history. His totals that year also made him the leading reciever in the NFC, and second overall in the entire NFL.

During the offseason, the Lions drafted Calvin Johnson, a star wide receiver from Georgia Tech, in the first round. With Johnson and Roy Williams as the top two recievers, Furrey fell to number three. He had a respectable 2007 season, but nowhere near his output the year before. He played sparingly in 2008 before his season ended with a head injury. He was released by Detroit and again found himself looking for a job.

Due to his previous success, Furrey was rumored to be on many teams radar as the 2009 season approached. He was offered a job with his favorite team growing up, the Cleveland Browns. Furrey was impressive in pre season and made the roster as the teams number three receiver.

Thus far into the 2009 season, Mike Furrey has proven once again to be a dependable slot receiver with good hands and a tremendous work ethic. He has again been used on the defensive side of the ball, once again proving his team first attitude.

In an age where many players cry over their stats and how much money they should be paid, Mike Furrey is a true football player. His unselfishness and ability to put the team first are attributes sorely needed in the NFL. Not to mention his many charitable contributions off the field.

While he may never win a Super Bowl or be named league MVP, Mike Furrey is a player who fans, teammates, and opponents can look up to. He has gone about it the right way. He has earned it.