Saturday, November 3, 2001
[ NFL HAWAII ]
Kynan Forney used to be in awe of Bryant Young from afar.
Forney finding out
about NFL life
By Nick Abramo
Now, he's in awe of the San Francisco 49ers star defensive lineman up close.
Forney, the former Hawaii starting guard, is in his rookie year with the Atlanta Falcons, and he's already been in combat twice against Young's 49ers.
"He (Young) asked me how my injured toe was doing and said, 'Take care of it, stay healthy,' " Forney said. "That right there just shocked me."
In the season opener, Forney gave up two sacks to Young.
"The first one, I was supposed to get help," the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Forney said. "The second time, that's when I hurt my toe, and he ran the loop on me.
"I promise you, he knew the snap count. Whenever Chris (Falcons quarterback Chandler) said hike, this sucker was already coming up the field and I was still in my stance. I knew what Young could do, but it's different when you see it out there. It's 100 times faster."
Except for those two sacks, Forney was able to recover and effectively block Young whenever they went head-to-head.
Forney will never forget that first NFL game, especially the first offensive huddle.
Height: 6 feet 2 inches
Weight: 304 pounds
College: University of Hawaii
Drafted: Seventh round, 2001
Birth: Sept. 8, 1978
Birthplace: Nacogdoches, Texas
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said. "I looked over and saw Young and (Dana) Stubblefield and said to myself, 'Dang, I used to see these guys on TV all the time.' And then there was Jeff (linebacker, former UH teammate Ulbrich) making their calls.
"It was gut-check time. I said, 'Hey Kynan, what you gonna do now?' and then I just said, 'Hey, let's do it.' "
A dislocated toe pushed him back from a starter on the depth chart to a backup, but he's still seeing game time and working to get his starting role back.
The Falcons are 3-3, trying to push higher in the tough NFC West and are coming off an upset of the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago before last Sunday's bye.
As a kid growing up in Texas, Forney was fascinated by one particular NFL offensive line.
"I really loved to watch the Dallas Cowboys play, especially during the Super Bowl years," he said. "I loved to watch Erik Williams, Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, Mark Tuinei, Derrek Kennard and Ray Donaldson. What's amazing is that whenever one of them went down, another one would step in and play just as hard, and they didn't miss a beat."
And so it fits that he's playing for coach Dan Reeves, a former Dallas Cowboys running back.
Reeves envisions a bright future for Forney.
"Kynan has been playing well all along, and I think the upside potential for him is going to be great," Reeves said. "He's a good, young man ... and (we drafted him because) we felt like he was a guy who can come in and compete."
Unfortunately, Forney has more than his share of off-field duties. He has to carry the veterans' pads off the practice field, and he's also in charge of supplying fruit juice, while another rookie offensive lineman must bring the doughnuts.
And when they go on a road trip, Forney and his fellow rookies have to bring the Popeye's Chicken and biscuits.
"I'm always telling them I'm going to boycott, and (veteran tackle, Bob) Whitfield is always saying, 'Yeah I wish you would boycott.' Because he knows there would be a lot tougher stuff for me if I did.
"One time, Whitfield grabbed two doughnuts, crushed 'em together and ate 'em in one bite. 'Combinations, homey,' he told me. It was blueberry and glazed.
"It's even gotten to the point where Coach Reeves is knocking on the door asking for some doughnuts."
Forney has fond memories of his Hawaii playing days. He keeps in touch with Warriors offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh all the time and frequently talks to former teammate Kevin Jackson.
But his Hawaii ties don't stop there. His girlfriend is Christine Pascua, a teacher and volleyball coach at University High School.
To get to the NFL, Forney was always willing to put in the effort to improve.
"When I was in college, bench pressing was one of my weaker areas, so I worked on my bench, always trying to get stronger, and right now that's one of my strongest areas," Forney said.
"Coach (Rich) Miano and Coach (Dennis) McKnight used to say, 'Work as hard as possible and do all of the extra stuff that you can.' And just a few short weeks ago Coach Reeves told me the same thing. It's no secret. It's what you've got to do. It's what I did in college and it's what I'm doing now.
"You can never be satisfied because when you start getting comfortable is when you start slipping."
Forney's goal is for the Falcons to make the playoffs.
"We had a team meeting as soon as we stepped off the field (after the second of two overtime losses to the 49ers), and the week (before the win over New Orleans) was by far the best practice we've had as a team," he said. "The team's attitude is real good."
This week, the Falcons will try to get above .500 at home against New England.
Individually, Forney wants to be known as the best at his position some day, and he knows that will require a lot more hard work.
"Right now, I feel I can do a lot better in all areas." Forney said. "One day, the run blocking will be good and the pass blocking will be subpar and then vice versa on the next day. I want to get to the point where I'm working on all cylinders."
Which means he needs to perfect run blocking, pass blocking, fruit juice, chicken, biscuits and, of course, he mustn't forget blueberry and glazed.
These are the combinations that make NFL warriors out of guys like Kynan Forney.