At 25-years-old, former Pack standout Chase Vaughn was not ready to sit in a cubical. For eight months Vaughn, who was the Thunderwovles all-time sack leader, worked as a health and wellness coach at National Jewish Health Hospital in Denver.
"The toughest thing to grasp is being the biggest, strongest, fastest guy in an office and there's nothing you can do about it." Vaughn said. "I guess I'd just have to wait for a company softball game or something to show what I can do."
But before Vaughn got to show the Broncos what he could do, and before the day job, he saw just about every football league after playing at CSU-Pueblo.
It started in the United Football League (UFL), with his first of three stints with the Las Vegas Locomotives. The first time he was cut after training camp.
Then he was off to the Indoor Football League (IFL), where he played five games with the Colorado Ice.
"The IFL is just kind of a weird game, it's kind of a mix between the AFL and outdoor football," said Vaughn.
His next stop took him back outside for his second try with the Locomotive in the UFL, and again, Vaughn was cut. But this time he immediately had a contract in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Calgary Stampeeders.
"Definitely a lot of interesting food up there, like ketchup chips," said Vaughn. " I got a lot of, I guess, PR on my Twitter because I was tweeting pictures of ketchup chips and things I was eating up there that I thought was really cool, so, I liked Canada, really enjoyed Canada."
But Vaughn's time North of the border was short lived. The Stampeeders cut him after the preseason. So it was back to the UFL and the Locomotives, where this time Vaughn made the team. But a few games into the season, the league went bankrupt and folded.
"When it went bankrupt probably after the third game and we still hadn't got paid yet, that was kind of awkward, probably the most awkward team meetings I've ever been in," said Vaughn.
But after that, Vaughn packed his bags and headed to the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League (AFL).
"[The AFL] is just a different game, it's hard to count it as football because there's certain tricks and things veterans learn to be good at that game. You could be good outdoor and not good indoor and that's the hardest thing to grasp there, it's just a whole different skill set really," said Vaughn.
After a solid season with the Shock is when Vaughn started the day job, and missed the game of football.
"Got that itch to kind of tackle someone and that's why I just kept working out and made sure I was still in shape and I was ready for when the time came," said Vaughn.
And when he got his opportunity at the Broncos three day rookie camp he took full advantage of it. And when he found out he made the team it was a feeling of relief and disbelief.
"The guy told me 'yeah, we're going to sign you,' and I wasn't sure if he was serious," said Vaughn. "Honestly, I just sat in my car in the parking lot for a good ten minutes and just thought about things, thought about how far I came. Then I just started driving, I was not even really driving home, I just started driving just thinking about things, and then probably thirty minutes went by and I finally called my mom, and I was like okay, let me head to my grandparents and tell them."
For Vaughn there was never a thought of giving up. And now that he's in the league, looking back at his journey brings a smile to his face.
"It's just kind of funny looking back on it," said Vaughn. But there was always that thing in my head that said, just keep going, keep going and everything is going to work out in the end, and just keep having faith and keep doing the right things and you'll be blessed with that opportunity. That's why I can look back at it and laugh. I'm glad I did keep up with it, I listened to that voice in my head and just kept going."
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