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WNY coaches recall Chiefs player with Buffalo roots

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Jody Fortson played at South Park High School and Erie Community College.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As we get closer to the Super Bowl on Sunday, some Western New Yorkers will be watching for a particular player, No. 88 for the Kansas City Chiefs, Jody Fortson.

He is a Buffalo guy, born and bred, and as 2 On Your Side found out, his former coaches could not be more proud of him.

South Park High School coach Tim Delaney has been watching and will be watching Sunday as his former Sparks player could take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles are, of course, making their first Super Bowl appearance with coach Nick Sirianni and playing against Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who coached the Eagles for 12 seasons. The Eagles also have veteran punter Brett Kern, who is originally from Grand Island.     

"It's a surreal feeling to see a kid who played for us go on and play professional football, and now be able to participate in the Super Bowl. I mean, it doesn't get any higher than that," Delaney said.

And when Fortson went over to play at Erie County College with their Kats Stadium in the shadow of the Bills' stadium, former ECC Coach Scott Pilkey remembered his moves and body awareness. "His over-the-shoulder grabs. His ability to adjust on the fly on the sidelines and still get both feet in. We just saw him on film and said this kid's gonna play on Sundays."

Yeah, to the NFL. He got one Super Bowl ring as a Chiefs practice squad player following his signing after a 2019 tryout with the Chiefs and now is a fully active roster player. 

Delaney said that Fortson remembers his football roots and Pilkey said he had to work harder on his grades and football skills and body strength.

"It's a tremendous story about perseverance," Delaney said. "It's something that we hope that other people are able to see including our kids here. It's been really good for him and really good for our kids to see, for our kids to see somebody that came up through our program, the same way they did. To go on and have such success, and I think it's really good for him to be able to give that message back to younger kids."

Pilkey says Fortson also attended an ECC game to encourage the players and share his story about not being recruited or drafted but still making it to the NFL.

"It's common in Buffalo," Pilkey said. "You give us a little something, and we'll make something out of it  That's what Jody does. He competes for the football in tight spaces. That's why KC uses him down in the red zone.

"I won't be surprised if you see him catch the winning Super Bowl touchdown this week."


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