Craphonso Thorpe Has a Steady Duo in Mom and Dad

As Craphonso Thorpe has learned, adversity and disappointment are a part of life. After a crushing leg injury that would have left most young men of his age devastated and defeated, he rose from the pain and remarkably returned to the playing field just ten months after breaking his leg in two places. He did all that with the support of a pair of loving parents Craig and Michelle who have always stood by their children.

It's one thing to face the disappointment of being a second day draft pick when you know in your heart that you deserved to be a first or second round draft pick. But when Craphonso Thorpe was not drafted in the first day of the draft last April, he had to be upset.

But as teams quickly adjusted their draft boards for the second day, without a doubt the number one player still on the board was Florida State Wide Receiver Craphonso Thorpe. If the injury had never taken place, its possible he might have been a first round draft pick in 2005. In fact, Thorpe might have been the first receiver taken in the entire draft.

His valiant effort to return to the 2004 Seminole squad was impressive to say the least. But his struggles a year ago had little to do with the recovery of his broken leg or his attempts to regain his blazing 4.3 speed. It was the inconsistent offense at Florida State that hindered his ability to show scouts that he deserved a better fate in the NFL draft. All that did was drive Thorpe to work harder and get as familiar with the Chiefs offense as fast as possible after in OTA's after he accepted the fact he'll start his NFL career as fourth round draft choice.

Initially he struggled in OTA's but he gradually improved each week and once he began to understand the complexities of the Chiefs offense, he started making plays when he knew where he needed to be on the field.

Still part of those initial difficulties on the practice field might have had something to do with the fact he wanted to prove to the other 31 teams that didn't draft him; they'd make a mistake. To his credit, he quickly adjusted and Thorpe was a more polished receiver at the end of Mini-Camp than he was at the start of the OTA's.

Now he's focused but he still wants people to take notice at how driven he is to perform on the field in the same manner that put him on track to be a first round draft pick before the injury derailed those hopes a year ago.

For Thorpe he has to prove that he is back and that his draft lot could have been better but there is little that he can do about it now as he's driven by more than that now.

"I think every draft pick that comes in here regardless if you're a first or seventh pick round pick and has something to prove. It's all about getting your respect and having people respect you," Thorpe said after Saturdays practice.

For the Chiefs they knew he was a special player who only needed better coaching and time to incorporate his amazing pass receiving skills into an offense that is designed to stretch the field and make chunks of yards. For the rest of the NFL teams that passed on him in day one, the Chiefs kept their eye on the Florida State Wide Receiver because V.P. of Player Personnel Lynn Stiles did his homework on Thorpe.

In talking with Stiles shortly after the draft he pointed out those passes that hit Thorpe in stride in 2003 were nowhere as crisp as they needed to be the next season so Thorpe looked like he'd lost a step. But that wasn't the case and and to their credit the Chiefs kept talking about Thorpe up until the time he was selected by Kansas City in the fourth round.

For Thorpe he could have sat out a year but his team needed him to get back on the field as soon as possible; so he sacrificed a year of eligibility and did everything he could to be on the field for the Seminole team at the start of the 2004 college season. He knew that being a team player meant you do what's best for the team and not yourself. That's a lesson you learn when you have a solid support staff within the family.

But he wasn't done learning. Another of those valuable lessons Thorpe had to learn before he stepped on the practice field on Friday morning was you can't play in the NFL until you sign a contract. Though the deal took a day longer to get worked out; he came to camp in shape.

"I was ready to get here. I don't like the idea of missing practice when my teammates are out here working hard and I am at home. I am still working, but it is not like being out here with the guys. I was antsy," Thorpe said about the wait.

Based on his first two days of practice it looks like Thorpe is ready to play football. But hearing his Mother Michelle talk, she felt that he could have waited another year altogether.

"If he had listened to his mother, he would have had one more year in college and he would not be here but he didn't so it is what is," she said only as a mother can say.

But she understood her sons decision. She also respected it and along with her husband; they stood by Craphonso and his decision to jump to the NFL this year. "Because he was such a team player then (at Florida State) the coaches need him to be on the field so whatever the Chiefs need him to do that's what he'll do," Mrs. Thorpe said.

Though it feels great that their son signed his first NFL contract, they know that he'll face other challenges. In the early stages of OTA's and Mini-Camp veteran receiver Eddie Kennison took Thorpe under his wing and that's helped a lot. It also helped that the Chiefs have a ‘Family Atmosphere' within the organization and she sees that as a benefit for her son.

"We had heard some horror stories about players on other teams that they would have coaches just walk past you and say nothing but nothing like that happened here with the Chiefs," said Mrs. Thorpe.

"We've met some very good and genuine people here in Chiefs camp. So I'm very glad there are people in the organization that are like that because we heard some horror stories about other players and their first experiences in camp. But we've not seen anything like that with the Chiefs. They've been nice to us and I think the family atmosphere here will help him out a lot because he's a long way from home. He's going to be ok."

When you combine all those factors that have made Thorpe the person that he is today; it's easy to see why he loves to have his parents with him. They have a relationship that is built on love, trust and faith. He for one doesn't mind doesn't mind that his parents are in River Falls with him.

"It's always good to have them around," Thorpe said of his Mother and Father. "They don't ever really miss anything with me and my brother. They travel everywhere with us they never miss any of our events. Not a lot of kids have that kind of support and I really appreciate it and I tell them that on an everyday basis."

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