Injuries are the worst part of football. At any level.
Injuries in the NFL can be career-ending. Few know that better than Stacy Tutt.
As a senior quarterback of the University of Richmond in 2005, Tutt passed for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 828 yards and 12 touchdowns. That's despite beginning the season as a wide receiver. He would lead the team to a 9-4 record and the NCAA I-AA quarterfinals.
However, undrafted the following year, any hope that Tutt had of making it in the NFL would have to come from playing almost anywhere other than under center.
"The Jets were actually the only team that brought me in for a visit before the Draft. I felt comfortable with the coaches. And just looking at the roster, I thought it gave me the best position to be able to make the team as a free agent," Tutt said. "During my workout, I did quarterback, running back, receiver and even some defensive back stuff. So, I was open to playing any position. And also, at the time there was Richie Anderson and Sam Gash, who were coaches. I just felt really good about my opportunity there.
"Richie Anderson, having played the H-back, it was a good situation where I could learn from him and be able to make the transition a lot smoother. And Sam Gash was huge in helping me make the transformation, especially with blocking. I could do the stuff as far as running out of the backfield but had to learn about leverage when it comes to blocking, the angle of attack. I had to take my lumps, but it was a good transition.
"I would have handed out water if it meant being on the team."
Signing with the Jets as a rookie free agent, Tutt was making progress at his new position of running back and on special teams. But then...
"The second week of preseason, I broke my hand," said Tutt, who would be placed on the practice squad. "I kind of knew the mentality of Coach (Eric) Mangini. The more you can do, the more valuable you'll be. I never missed a practice after I broke my hand, and I never slacked off at all.
"I think having that extra time to do some scout team and understand the ins and outs definitely helped. Some days on the scout team, any team that we played, I might be their No. 1 tight end or their fullback. I got to do a lot of different things that helped me get acclimated to playing at that level after a position change."
Seeing action at the end of his first year, Tutt was healthy for the 2007 campaign. Contributing on special teams and in the reserve role in the offensive backfield, Tutt played well during the first half of the season. However, in Week 11, he tore the ACL in his knee.
"We were coming off a bye week and struggling a little bit offensively. And at the time, Coach (Brian) Schottenheimer was the offensive coordinator, and we were kind of going to be doing stuff focused around me on the offense that week based on who we were playing," Tutt said. "I tore my ACL in practice, and on the way to the hospital, I was like, 'Well, since I'm going to miss the season, I might as well get an MRI on my shoulder, as well,' because I did something to that at the beginning of the season.
"So, I had knee surgery and was on crutches for two months and then I had shoulder surgery. The shoulder didn't give me any issues, but the knee, I did five days a week physical therapy and by the time I got through that, my knee was bone-on-bone. I wasn't able to do the things I could before."
Following football, Tutt has demonstrated the same work ethic he showed as a Jet and was a running backs coach at his college alma mater for two seasons, and then owned an insurance adjusting company. He's still an entrepreneur and now runs Tutt Enterprises, which includes a Barber shop in Richmond and residential real estate sales.
Tutt may have left New York much sooner than he would have liked because of the knee injury, but he did so having met the woman who would become his wife. Then Danielle Clyne, she worked in the Jets' marketing department.
They make their home in Richmond, and have a son and a daughter: Stacy IV, whom they call Q for quarto; and seven-year-old Callie.
"My son is eight, so he's been playing sports for the last three or so years. I coach him (in football, baseball, and basketball) and do stuff with his age group, sharing my experiences with them. Just trying to be a positive influence and reinforce all the things that their parents teach them that they choose not to listen to sometimes," Tutt said with a laugh.
And what's the best thing about being Stacy Tutt today?
"Being in good health, having a healthy, beautiful family," he said. "I'm able to live the life I want to live as far as functionality. No physical limitations that keep me from doing the things I want to do now and enjoying my family.
"Just being able to enjoy some of the successes that I had in the past, but also be able to have a bright future. I just turned 38, so hopefully I'll have a long life to live and I'm able to use my past experiences to help me moving forward."