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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Chris Farasopoulos

Catch Up with the 1971 NFL Draft Pick from BYU

Safety/kick returner Chris Farasopoulos, 1971-73.FarasopoulosCactionI

It's not uncommon for NFL scouts or coaches to meet with prospective players on the field, in the locker room, in a meeting room, or…

"Weeb Ewbank and his staff were the coaching staff for the South team at the Senior Bowl. John Riggins and I played for the North team, and Weeb, after the game, he wanted to buy John and I a beer at the party they had," said Chris Farasopoulos, a free safety and kick/punt returner.

"Well, he offered a beer. But having gone to Brigham Young University, you weren't supposed to do that, even if you were away from the campus. Even though I wasn't of the LDS faith, still, when you sign the honor code, you abide by the honor code."

Alcohol-free and back on the Provo, Utah campus when the NFL held its Draft in 1971, Farasopoulos was surprised by not only who chose him, but how he was told.

"I was walking across campus and our lead trainer came out of the training room and said, 'Hey, did you hear you were drafted by the Jets in the third round?' It was kind of out of the blue. I had been contacted by a lot of other teams, but never by the Jets," Farasopoulos said.

The way Farasopoulos learned he'd been drafted by the Jets would set the tone for how he'd learn he made the team.

"(Veteran free safety) W.K. Hicks had damaged his ribs at the Yale Bowl when we played the Giants in a preseason game," Farasopoulos said. "It was kind of interesting in that the team doctor, Dr. Jim Nicholas, came up to me after the game and said that I had made the team. And I thought, 'Why is the doctor telling me that?' He said that W.K. is going to be out, and so I got to start the first two games of that season.

"The first game, we were playing in Baltimore, and it was raining like crazy. It was just a sloppy, muddy day, and I had coverage of (future Hall of Fame tight end) John Mackey. And all I could remember was watching NFL Films in college when they'd highlight John Mackey. The term they said about him was, 'The lucky ones fell off when they tried to tackle him.'  

"And as I was going to tackle him, that went through my mind. So I brought him down. It was sloppy and wet, but he didn't run over me. I was always proud of that only because 'the lucky ones fall off.'"

Likely because it's easier to pronounce than Farasopoulos, Ewbank called the Greece native "The Kid," and had him in the starting lineup at free safety in the season-opener the following year when the Jets traveled to Buffalo.

And "The Kid" did his part in New York's 41-24 win, when in the first quarter, he had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown.

It was the first time a Jet scored on a punt return since Bill Baird found the end zone on a 93-yard return against the then-Houston Oilers in 1963.

"It reminded me a lot of the way things happened for me in college when bringing back punts and kickoffs. Everything opened up," Farasopoulos said. "When I look at videos of that, I just instinctively followed blocks, got to the wall, and off you go. I was used to doing that from high school and college, but I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to do it in the NFL because it's much harder to do. But it was just exhilarating. I guess what I remember about it is just the excitement of doing it."

With the Jets for three seasons, 1971-73, Farasopoulos started 21 of 36 games, totaling 51 kick returns for a 23-yard average, 50 punt returns or an 8.9-yard average, and collecting three interceptions. What makes him most proud of his career?

"I think leading the AFC in punt returns, grading out the highest of the defensive players that '72 season," said Farasopoulos, who spent his fourth and final season with New Orleans in 1974. "I prided myself in not making mistakes. Executing exactly what the defense was called. I studied it. I just always had been able to absorb the game plan week in, week out, and just executing."

Now enjoying his retirement, Farasopoulos and his wife, Geri, make their home in Folsom, California. They have three daughters: Ashley, Alyssia, and Andrea; and three grandchildren.

"I was in the semiconductor industry, the fabrication of integrated circuits. I did that for 25 years. Towards the end of my career, I was the Vice President of a technology company called Quicksil," said Farasopoulos, who was the operations manager at Integrated Device Technology prior to that. "I was in manufacturing operations, and that was really exciting for me because it was the closest thing to being sports as I could have possibly ever found because it was never the same two days in a row. Hardly ever the same two hours in a row.

"Our manufacturing operations had 600 people that were a part of my organization. There were multiple products. You had things going on all the time. I could never sit still. I had to keep moving. Being in that industry, it's just fast and furious and you'd better accomplish or you're not going to be around. It was really like the NFL."