The story of New England Patriots wide receiver Brian Tyms is one that most NFL fans never heard of.
Why would you? The guy has already been bouncing around the league and in his career has only three career receptions in his two years of being on an active NFL roster. The problem is that like other players, Tyms has had his share of rough times, and if all goes to plan he hopes to make an impact for the Patriots as they get ready for another stretch run to the playoffs.
This is the Brian Tyms story.
To say that Tyms has had a troubled past would be quite the understatement. This is a young man who has seen it all in his short time on this planet. He had already lived in four group homes, been kicked out of the house by his foster family and spent two months sleeping in a car before he was able to join Florida A&M.
That’s nothing when you consider Tyms also lost both of his parents (who were reported to be drug-addled and physically abusive) along with a 13-year separation between him and his stepsister. Tyms already had a life full of problems when he finally made the decision to turn his life around. Tyms picked up the pieces and attended community college in Florida to try to get his life back on track. He certainly wasn’t going to go anywhere out of the back seat of his car.
Getting his start in the NFL
Tyms played his college ball at Florida A&M, where he walked on, and while being productive, never really had the big season that screamed he was going to be heading to the NFL.
The thing is, that Tyms barely played organized football at a youth, as his senior year of high school at Dillard High in Fort Lauderdale, FL was his first time strapping on the pads. He also spent two years at a community college in Tallahassee (FL) that didn’t even have a football program. He was such a raw talent when he left A&M after his senior year, that saw him have 38 receptions for 538 yards.
The physical side to his game was always there though. Tyms is listed at 6’ 3” and 204 lbs. He was blessed with amazing speed (he ran a 4.48 at his pro day) and has the uncanny ability to make a play when the ball is in the air, even if he has defenders draped all over him.
Tyms went undrafted and ended up signing with the San Francisco 49ers after the 2012 NFL draft. He spent the preseason on their practice squad before the Miami Dolphins signed him off of it in September 2012. He was able to travel with the team in their Week 17 matchup against the Patriots, but he did not appear in a snap for his Dolphins career.
The following year, Tyms found himself on the Cleveland Browns practice squad and was elevated to the active roster on December 4th, 2013. In all, he would appear in seven games for Cleveland, hauling in two receptions for 12 yards in the process.
When he signed with the New England Patriots with a 1-year/$495,000 contract after training camp this offseason, many people didn’t give him much of a chance to even make the team. The Patriots had a big question mark at wide receiver, but had so many guys who were all battling for a few spots. How was this basically unknown wide receiver going to come in and knock out some of these high draft picks that the Patriots were trying to get accustomed to their offense.
Early Season Suspension
A failed drug test almost derailed his career again, before he even got a chance to make an impact with the New England Patriots. Tyms tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, which he stated was a result of a prescription for Adderall that he never got cleared by the NFL.
“Technically, I’ve had a prescription for it since I was nine,” he said. “Like I said, it costs money to get all that stuff situated, money which I didn’t have to spend. It was my fault. I should have brought it to the NFL and said, ‘hey, this is my prescription’ before it got to that point, but it wasn’t like I was using it as something to — I guess — boost my ratings, know what I mean? I’ve been taking it since I was nine — that and Ritalin.”
A strong pre-season put the Patriots in a tough spot. Do they move on and cut their loses from the young wide out, or see if the potential will develop and give the guy a second chance? While using a roster exception for his four-week suspension, the Patriots decided to give Tyms a roster spot and a second chance. He was now apart of New England’s 53-man roster for the season.
First NFL Touchdown
Tyms first and only catch so far this season will always be a memorable for the young wide receiver.
It was 1st and 10 from the Buffalo 43 in a 13-7 game in the opening stages of the third quarter when Tom Brady looked deep after play action, lofting a ball up to Tyms even though the coverage was right on his hip on the play.
“Gilmore (the Buffalo Bills cornerback covering Tyms on his touchdown) is really good. I knew regarless if I ran past him, I knew he had make-up speed so I have to attack the ball,” Tyms commented after the game. “That’s just my M.O. I always try to attack the ball. I don’t like to let the ball come to me. There are a lot of good players in this league that can make a play. I wanted the ball more.”
“Yeah, Tom put it out there and Tyms went and got it,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said after New England’s Week Six 37-2 win over the Buffalo Bills. “So, nice job by Tom creating the coverage. Low safety there, put it up there and give Tyms the chance for the ball and he made the play. I’ve seen him do that several times this year during the preseason. It was good to see today.”
So from living in a car and working at McDonalds to the NFL in just a few short years, is something that you might not see anything quite like that again. This truly is a story of a man on his last chance in life, and he took his shot at community college, turned it into walking on at Flordia A&M and now that same strong work ethic has him in a position to make an impact playing the sport he loves on Sundays.
Even though he hasn’t locked down a starting role yet, he still is being used as an effective field stretcher for the Patriots, as his speed and size make him one of those guys who is open even when he isn’t. With another season of experience in the NFL, the sky is the limit for the 25-year-old who continues to work to try to improve in every aspect of his game.
“I just kept grinding and I wasn’t going to quit because I didn’t have anything else to do,” Tyms told the San Francisco Gate. “At least for a couple years, I wanted to enjoy a good dream. That’s what happened. I just wanted it so badly.”
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