Mike Furrey Is Versatile and a Team Player: Just What Eric Mangini Wants

Daniel WolfSenior Writer IMay 14, 2009

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 7: Wide receiver Mike Furrey #87 of the Detroit Lions rushes upfield against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on September 7, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Does the name Mike Furrey ring a bell? Probably not.

Furrey's journey through the sport of football is a very interesting one, starting with his high school experience attending Hilliard Davidson High in Hilliard, Ohio. Furrey was a multi-sport athlete in football, basketball, and baseball.

As a senior football player, Furrey was a first-team honoree for the district, conference, and state.

In 1995, he enrolled at The Ohio State University and was a freshman walk-on playing in nine games. Unfortunately, Furrey was so far back in the depth charts that he decided he needed to transfer to another college where he had the chance to be a starter.

Furrey transferred to Northern Iowa in 1996, where he set conference receiving records and ended with college career totals of 242 receptions for 3,544 yards and 27 touchdowns.

After graduating from college, Furrey had hopes of playing in the NFL.

After not getting drafted, the Indianapolis Colts invited him to attend offseason camps for a chance to make the team roster.

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Furrey was cut during training camp.

With his dreams all but shattered, Furrey earned a roster spot for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL in 2001. He didn't have a great season, posting mediocre numbers (18 receptions for 243 yards and one touchdown).

Once the XFL fell apart, Furrey went to try out for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League in 2002. He once again impressed team coaches and earned himself a roster spot as a wide receiver and defensive back.

Furrey was a dominant force in the AFL, leading the league in receiving with 108 receptions for 1,574 yards and 46 touchdowns (which tied the league record for touchdowns).

In 2003, Furrey left the Dragons because he was offered a contract to play for the St. Louis Rams.

A dream to play in the NFL had finally been accomplished; Furrey played in 13 of the Rams' games as a wide receiver and as their special teams maven in '03, and eight regular season games and two playoff games in '04.

The following season, the Rams were experiencing major depth issues in their secondary, and coaches approached Furrey to possibly play some safety, seeing as how he played some defensive back in the Arena League.

Furrey agreed to make the switch and became one of only a few in the recent history of the NFL to ever be a starter on both offense and defense.

Transitioning to safety came naturally to Furrey, and he became the Rams' starting free safety in week five of the season.

An interception for a touchdown and a game-saving interception in the closing minutes of a game were a few of the highlights.

Furrey finished the '05 season with 49 tackles, four interceptions (one for a touchdown), and three fumble recoveries.

Then, all of a sudden, the Rams had a change of heart and released Furrey.

In 2006, the Detroit Lions offered Furrey a one-year contract to play wide receiver, and he became a concrete possession receiver for the team, finishing the season with 98 receptions for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns.

Furrey set the NFL record for the most receptions by a non-rookie in a season following a season without any receptions. He also led the NFC in receptions.

The Lions immediately signed Furrey to a new contract following his breakout year, but then they drafted highly touted wide receiver Calvin Johnson in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Furrey's production declined that year to 61 receptions for 664 yards and one touchdown.

With the emergence of Johnson as the Lions' No. 1 wide receiver, Furrey faded into the depths of the Lions' depth chart.

In 2009, Furrey was released from the Lions and then picked up by the Cleveland Browns.

Now with a new team and a new opportunity, Furrey is more focused than he has ever been in his career.

He has even been quoted as saying, "I am in the best shape of my life, and I feel like I'm 25 again!"

His chances of making the Browns' opening day roster are very high since the position has almost been completely rebuilt by new head coach Eric Mangini.

The addition of Furrey makes even more sense now that everyone understands Mangini is looking for football players who are willing to put the team first, have football smarts, and are versatile.

Mike Furrey is definitely a guy who always has put the team first, he is versatile—playing on offense, defense, and special teams—and he has the football smarts to learn the playbooks on all sides of the ball too.

Sounds like a perfect Mangini-type player.

Furrey's journey to Cleveland, OH may not have been an easy one, but this could be the beginning of something very special.


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