Maz Made an Impact Worthy of a Champion

How many times can you say "underdog" and put a different spin on the word. Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike ‘Maz' Maslowski was old school. He was also a great football player who gave everything he had to the sport. Now if he wants to resume his career in the NFL it might be with another club, as the Chiefs let one of the good guys go on Tuesday.

In 2003, the Kansas City Chiefs were surging with a 9-1 record, and then Mike Maslowski went down with a knee injury. From that point on the defense had a huge hole in the middle and it never recovered. Maslowski was the heart and soul of the defense. He overcame long odds to get into the NFL, and now it appears that his playing days are over.

Not many players from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse make it to the NFL. Especially ones whom NFL scouts say wasn't good enough to play in the big show. But Maslowski wouldn't believe it, and nor would the Kansas City Chiefs. He left the state of Wisconsin bound and determined to make it in the NFL.

On his way to Kansas City, the Chiefs rented him out to the Barcelona Dragons in NFL Europe. In 1999, his first on the other side of the pond, he racked up 105 tackles on his way to defensive MVP honors. He was instrumental in getting the Dragons to the World Bowl, and that performance put him on the Chiefs' radar.

Over the next three NFL seasons, Maslowski moved from special teams to starting middle linebacker. In 2002 playing on an under-achieving defense, Maslowski lead the team in tackles with 126 (96 solo). He also intercepted a pass and forced three fumbles.

Armed with a new contract in 2003, Maz was the key cog in the Chiefs defense. He was the team's best defensive player and was on his way to another 100-tackle season. But in a game against the Cleveland Browns, he suffered a knee injury that would derail his NFL career.

Though he tried to get back on the field after multiple knee surgeries, including an experimental procedure, the Chiefs felt that couldn't save a roster spot for him anymore. It was a tough decision for the team because the organization clearly loses one of the team's true inspirational leaders, at least for the time being. One person clearly in his corner is Kansas City Chiefs President Carl Peterson.

"Mike Maslowski has been an extremely important player for this franchise since '99. He has grown with the Chiefs from his days as an NCAA Division III player, through NFL Europe, to starting linebacker and the most prolific tackler in a single season for this team (in 2002). I don't think it's a coincidence that our defense began to decline when we lost Mike to injury in 2003," Peterson said.

"Mike and his wife, Heidi, have been exemplary representatives of this franchise in the Kansas City community. We don't think this represents the conclusion to Mike's NFL career, but by releasing him at this time we give him the opportunity to return to the Chiefs in the future if he can get himself ready to play."

Maslowski has not spoken to the media this off-season, but this move was designated to clear a space on the roster so the team could add back-up quarterback Jonathan Quinn.

Maslowski and his agent Joe Linta plan on contacting the Chiefs after September 15th when its expected Maslowski will be fully recovered from his last surgical procedure. Maslowski had a metal plate and screws removed from his knee recently. It could be at least a month before he's ready to give football another shot. When that happens, he expects to rejoin Kansas City.

All parties understand the process, and the Chiefs would like nothing more than to have Maslowski on the roster. They are certainly not shutting the door on his possible return.

For now the Chiefs are willing to wait and give him all the time he needs to get back on the field. But knowing Maslowski, Chiefs fans might not have to wait very long.

"I wouldn't bet against Mike Maslowski," Peterson said. Top Stories