Everything that John Dorsey has done to mold the Kansas City Chiefs since becoming their general manager in January has been influenced by a career spent with the Green Bay Packers.
Fighting for jobs on special teams honed his blue-collar work ethic. His attention to detail was no doubt shaped by coaches such as Mike Holmgren. Longtime front-office executives Bob Harlan, Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson helped Dorsey to develop his approach to player personnel.
So when he showed up at Arrowhead Stadium for Thursday night's preseason game against the Packers, it will meant more to Dorsey than just another dress rehearsal for the regular season, or one last chance to evaluate players fence heading into the final round of cuts this weekend. It is a convergence of his past and present.
"I'd been there for a long time," Dorsey told The Associated Press, "but I'm also of the belief that you learn from the past, you live in the present and you build on the future."
Dorsey was drafted by the Packers in 1984, and managed to hang on for five years largely as a special teams standout. His career finally ended with a devastating knee injury, but he's willing to admit his passion for playing the game had started to wane.
"I was smart enough to realize I had lost it and it was time to move on," he said. "I had lived out the dream and I was perfectly content with the dream that I lived in terms of a player."
Indeed, Dorsey had started to have other dreams in football.
He started at the bottom as a college scout for the Packers, slowly rising through the ranks to director of college scouting. He followed Holmgren to the Seahawks as their director of player personnel, but returned to the Packers after a little over a year. He eventually rose to director of football operations in 2011, helping to shape Green Bay's successful playoff run.
Dorsey was approached several times for general manager positions over the years, but he was always content in Green Bay — that is, until Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt came calling. The allure of another of the NFL's historic franchises combined with the same Midwestern values that Dorsey had become so enamored of in Green Bay proved to be enough to pry Dorsey out of Wisconsin.
"It looks like John's been doing a great job," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Looking forward to seeing John as you always do briefly before the game. We all are very fond of John."
Dorsey comes off nostalgic by nature, but he's also a professional to the core, and once he catches up with his old friends on Thursday night, it'll be time to get down to business.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has been coy about how much he'll play his starters, and it's safe to assume Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won't be on the field much. But for guys in a fight for a backup job, or simply trying to make the team, there's a lot on the line.
Tight ends Kevin Brock and Demetrius Harris are fighting for a job for Kansas City, and the wide receiver corps is still up in the air. Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray are still battling for a running back spot and depth along the offensive and defensive lines remain in flux.
"New offense, new team. We really value every single one of these preseason games," said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who figures to play at most one series against Green Bay.
Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay are still vying for the right tackle job for the Packers, though Newhouse has moved ahead on the depth chart for their rejiggered offensive line.
The Packers are also trying to decide on a replacement for Charles Woodson at safety. MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian have mostly played to a draw, and both of them were expected to see action against the Chiefs this week. Now, Jennings and McMillian both could start with one of them at strong safety and the other filling in for Morgan Burnett at free safety.
Burnett left the Packers' preseason game against Seattle with a hamstring injury.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said that Jennings and McMillian have been competing all camp, and "that experience of having gone through it and been there before, I certainly feel a lot better with those guys heading into the opener this year than I did a year ago."
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