The Washington Football Team is full of players with unique, inspirational stories. Taylor Heinicke was sleeping on his sister's couch when he got an opportunity. Sammis Reyes hadn't even played football until this year.
Now it has a player who was shipping boxes for UPS last week before being told he was going to be Washington's new kicker.
Chris Blewitt doesn't have much in the way of NFL experience. He finished up his college career at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016 as the program's all-time kick scoring leader, but he's spent the past five years rolling through tryouts with various teams. He impressed Ron Rivera with his consistency during workouts, though, and finally being elevated to a 53-man roster is the realization of a lifelong dream.
"It's been up and down, but you understand what the ultimate goal is, to get yourself an opportunity," Blewitt said Wednesday. "There's going to be a lot of 'no's,' turned away at the door kind of thing. You just gotta keep pushing."
Blewitt can speak from experience in that area. A four-year starter at Pittsburgh, Blewitt received some interest from the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, but those plans never fully materialized. It was the same story with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who invited him to their rookie minicamp in 2017, the Dallas Cowboys, who explored the possibility of adding him as a punter, and a brief stint with the Chicago Bears.
During that time, Blewitt held a number of odd jobs that provided enough money to pay the bills. He worked as a flooring associate at Home Depot, and later, when he returned to his hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, he worked as a personal trainer in the morning, and then he would go to a UPS warehouse in Springfield, Virginia, to haul boxes for four to five hours.
So, that was Blewitt's life. He would help people train, then go through his own workouts. If he had extra time, he would either spend time with his nieces or practice his kicks. Then he would go to work at UPS and repeat the cycle. Over and over again.
Some people might call that grueling; Blewitt saw it as "character building."
"It's hard work, understanding some things...you just have to get done," he said. "It's the same thing with going out on the field. Like, yeah maybe I could take a day off. But no, I get to do this. I have the opportunity to do it. Why would I go home and sit on the couch?"
Being out of the game for so long forces people to grow up, Blewitt said. He had to train by himself for years with no guarantees. For him, it was all about getting into the groove of understanding his situation and trusting his own beliefs that he belonged.
"I think it all comes down to how much confidence you have in yourself," Blewitt said. "For me, I have the ultimate confidence in myself. It was, again, pushing through and saying, 'What do I need to do to get better?' I could see myself there, and I could see all the work I put in again and again."
The Washington Football Team begins preparations for its Week 7 matchup against the Green Bay Packers. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Karlee Sell/Washington Football Team)
What Blewitt sees after countless hours of solitary work is a more mentally mature version of himself. He has a better understanding of how to be a professional. He trusted and believed in the process he had set for himself -- in addition to his regular routine, he worked with his coach that he had known since high school -- and used it to improve the smaller details of his game and strengthen his consistency.
Blewitt was able to show the results of that work when Washington gave him a call for a workout. The details of a workout for an NFL kicker varies from team to team in his experience. Sometimes they involve a snapper and a holder; other times players have to make due with the sticks.
Still, what Blewitt showed was enough to please Rivera. The only field goal he missed was more than 50 yards out. He kicked into the wind for kickoffs, and one of his kicks had about four seconds of hang time and was 70 yards deep.
It helped earn Blewitt a spot on the practice squad, and when Washington made the decision to release Dustin Hopkins, Rivera called Blewitt to his office.
"We sat down and talked and just told him this is your opportunity," Rivera told Blewitt. "You've been working for this your whole career, so now is your shot. Go out and make the best of it."
It's exactly what Blewitt aims to do. After all, it beats making a living off moving boxes.
"It's nice not bending over and busting your back," Blewitt said with a smile. "I mean, you're still here busting your back in a different way."