“If I stay healthy, I don’t see nobody that can really mess with me out there.”
When an NFL team is winning, its players pick up some personal perks. Just ask cornerback Brandon Flowers of the Kansas City Chiefs.
This past season, with new coach Andy Reid on the sidelines and a 2-14 record in the rearview, the Chiefs went 11-5 and made the playoffs. Flowers, who admits he had far from his best year as he dealt with a leg injury, was named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his six-year career.
The 5-9, 187-pound native of Del Ray, FL sees a clear correlation between the team’s success and his newfound national recognition.
“I had a solid year, but everybody was paying attention because our wins were piling up,” says Flowers, who has long been considered an upper echelon corner by Kansas City fans. “Your success in the league and winning go hand in hand.”
It won’t be easy for the Chiefs to win 11 games again in 2014. They have the seventh-toughest schedule in the NFL, won’t be able to sneak up on unsuspecting opponents and play in the same division as the Super Bowl runner-up Denver Broncos and the retooled San Diego Chargers. With that said, now that Flowers has taken a lap in victory lane, he’s not ready let his team revert back to 2-14 form.
“If I lack and slack, the whole team’s going to follow my lead and I can’t let my boys down like that,” says Flowers, who considers himself one of Kansas City’s leaders. “We’re brothers out there, and we have one goal—to get a ring. Whatever I got to do, whatever those other guys who’ve been there got to do, we’ve got to put it on our shoulders and carry our soldiers.”
Yesterday, during some time off from training and with his name swirling in the trade winds, an affable and talented Flowers (aka @BFlowers24 on Twitter) took some time to speak with TDdaily about the 2014 Draft, KC’s miraculous turnaround, the rising pay rate for cornerbacks, his status—both health and trade-wise—and so much more.
All eyes on him.
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TDdaily: Are you the type of player who was locked into the Draft last week?
Brandon Flowers: I always check out the first round. After the first round, I just see who my team selects. The more older I get in years, after the first round, I kind of fade off on it more and more.
TD: Do you follow free agency, trades and all that movement?
BF: To be honest, when I’m done with football for the year, I’m done. In the offseason, I spend time with fam. Obviously I have a trainer to stay in shape, but I just stay away from it. I don’t look at no moves, like, somebody would have to tell me when they see me, ‘You heard you guys let go of such and such,’ or ‘You signed such and such.’ When I’m away from it, I’m good, I’m away.
TD: By the same token, you probably can’t escape it when your own name is involved in the chatter, like it was last week.
BF: Yeah. With those type of things, with me being in my seventh year, I know business is business. It could’ve been just talk; it could’ve been real. The thing is, if I would’ve got traded, you don’t really know it until it comes up on TV. It’s not like they give you a warning ahead of time—you find out when everybody else finds out. So you can’t get too wrapped up in it. It’s a business, and wherever I go, that’s where I end up doing my thing at.
TD: With you guys winning and all, how different was it in Kansas City last year from the past?
BF: I’ve never seen nothing like it. My previous years we had like two wins, four wins, we made the playoffs one year I was there. But it just felt like, when Andy Reid came in we knew what we was gonna do. We always felt like we had a good team, but he’s just the perfect leader of grown men with different personalities, because he came from California and he came up in a rough area, so he knows how to relate to players from the inner city. It was the perfect fit for our team. We have a young team that likes to stunt and have fun, and he gives us the perfect balance between discipline and letting us be ourselves. With that alone, it took us to the next level on the field. We just had fun, and when you have fun that turns into winning games.
TD: Do you feel like you guys will be just picking up where you left off last year?
BF: Every year is different, so we can’t just go into this year thinking we’re going to be nice. But I think everybody is going to be more familiar with each other—you know, we all had new systems on both sides of the ball last year—and we’ve just got turn it up even more. I mean, Denver is in our division and they’re loading up; San Diego is loading up; and the rest of the league is loading up. So we can’t think we’re going to be nice—we have to turn up and put the work in to do our thing.
TD: It’s funny to say, cause at 28 you’re actually young, but do you feel like the young guys on the team look up to you?
BF: Definitely. From my rookie year, out of 55 guys on the team only five of us have been in the locker room the whole time. So I’m definitely one of the old heads walking around, and everyone follows what I do, follows my lead. If I say something, everybody do it. That’s why I’ve got to stay on point myself, because if I lack and slack the whole team’s going to follow my lead and I can’t let my boys down like that. We’re brothers out there, and we have one goal: To get a ring. Whatever I got to do, whatever those other guys who’ve been there got to do, we’ve got to put it on our shoulders and carry our soldiers, man.
TD: Personally, what do you expect from yourself this season? I know it’s not about interceptions and stuff, but what do you hope to do?
BF: My big key is to stay healthy. If I stay healthy, I don’t see nobody that can really mess with me out there. So I’ve just got to stay healthy, that’s the most important thing in the league, and then just turn up. Don’t have no regrets, don’t leave no plays on the field and just be accountable. When my boys look at me on the field like, ‘Make that play we need to make to win this game.’ That’s all I want to do is be accountable.
TD: There were a couple of years there were people were talking about all the great wide receivers and didn’t mention cornerbacks. And now, corners are finally getting headlines, getting paper. Do you feel like it’s about time people start respecting cornerbacks again?
BF: Yeah. It’s shifting over more and more because it’s a pass-happy league. These receivers, man, they’re getting better and better every year. It used to be one receiver to talk about on each team, and now every team wants to have three of those receivers. You need to load up on corners now, and to be honest corners are finally starting to get paid their due diligence. We got a hard job out there. We’re on an island and we have to shut everything down. It’s like a big fraternity among cornerbacks, too. Once one cornerback like Richard Sherman gets paid, that boosts the money up for everyone else. We’re kind’ve brothers in the cornerback backfield. You know, we got guys like Joe Haden and Patrick Peterson coming for their deals and they’re trying to match Sherman and keep that pot going higher so everybody behind them can come and do their thing. We all root each other on back there.
TD: It seems like when you’re on a winning team, everyone watches and everyone talks about you. Did that make last season feel different from previous ones?
BF: Definitely. I feel like I had my best years in the NFL the years that we had two and three wins, but nobody really ever paid attention or noticed. If you’re not winning, they’re not going to show you on TV and nobody’s going to really look at your squad. This past year right here, it wasn’t one of the best years I’ve had—I had one interception—but I made the Pro Bowl. I had a solid year, but everybody was paying attention because our wins were piling up. Your success in the league and winning go hand in hand.
TD: I know you had been in the playoffs once before, what was being back there like?
BF: It’s weird. You know how I said rappers and athletes come from the same area? In that situation, I feel like a rapper because the whole crowd is looking at you, the whole stage is on you, everybody watching your every move. You’ve got to put on a show, and you’ve got to perform. I love those bright lights. Some people shy away from them, but I feel like I have my best games when the big games come. So the playoffs were the best time of my life, just because I was having fun, the crowd was tight, we had music going during the game. It really felt like a concert out there. And we got up 35 points, but we just couldn’t pull that thing out.
TD: Yeah, you guys had a tough ending to the season losing that Wild Card game to Indy. Did that leave a bitter taste in your mouth?
BF: It definitely left a bitter taste, because I wasn’t able to finish the Indianapolis game. I would’ve probably felt better if I was out there with my boys when it was going downhill, if I was with them and just felt like there was nothing I could do on the field, but I was in the back of the locker room because I got a concussion. I had to watch in the locker room, which was like looking one of your brothers get in a fight and knowing you can’t help them at all. That definitely left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I can’t wait to get back out there on the field.
TD: Are you feeling totally healthy right now?
BF: I’m about 85-90 percent. When the season comes, I’ll definitely be 100. When minicamp starts next month, I should hopefully be 100. I’m just rehabbing, taking it day by day, just trying to make sure I’m 100 before I step on the field.
Tzvi Twersky is the senior editor of SLAM Magazine and TD Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @ttwersky. Photo via USA TODAY.