If you’re not already born tough, growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, will make you tough. It’s an area begat by Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and wears the same blue-collar attitude as a badge of honor.
Kyle McCarthy traded the Rust Belt for a gold helmet but held onto his hometown edge, and the safety left his mark on the Notre Dame football program as the first Fighting Irish defensive back to record 100 or more tackles in a season. He accomplished that feat in each of his final two campaigns, leaving South Bend in 2010 with 241 career tackles and eight interceptions in 38 games (26 starts).
As an undrafted free agent that spring, he ended up signing with the Denver Broncos. McCarthy (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) bounced back and forth between the active roster and practice squad, appearing in 12 games and registering seven tackles over two seasons. He was waived by Denver on Jan. 4 and was signed by Kansas City five weeks later.
“It’s been great,” said McCarthy, a former Irish captain who only looks at the bright side of an up-and-down professional career to date. “I had two great years in Denver, which I’m very thankful for. I’m excited for my opportunity in Kansas City. I actually just moved out here [a few weeks ago] and started working out with the team.”
He’ll join former Irish and Broncos teammate Brady Quinn (quarterback), who also signed with Kansas City in the offseason, and incoming rookie free agent Ethan Johnson (defensive end). It’s not the large alumni group that resided in Denver in 2010, which included McCarthy, Quinn, Ryan Harris, Eric Olsen and David Bruton, but it makes for a familiar vibe.
“It was awesome,” McCarthy said of the Irish contingent from his days in Denver. At one point we had five guys on the roster in Denver. We’d get together on Thursday nights and have Domer Dinner. Fortunately I’ll have some running mates here [in Kansas City] and somebody to watch the Irish on Saturdays.”
McCarthy is confident that Quinn will turn some heads in camp.
“There’s no doubt about [the talent he has],” he said. “Hopefully he gets the opportunity. There’s not question he has the talent.”
McCarthy also feels Kansas City is the right place to further his own career.
“I’m excited for things to come and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to competing with the guys that are here and helping this team in any way I can.
“One thing about the NFL is you really can’t worry about which guys are where; you just have to go where you feel comfortable and compete. That’s definitely something I’m not afraid to do. I just felt comfortable in Kansas City, with the coaching staff and the scheme here. I’m ready to compete for playing time and try to help this team win the AFC West.”