Former 'Bow Forney thriving on Atlanta's offensive line
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Dreams don't usually begin with an angry mob and a 6-foot-4, 325-pound flesh-eater nicknamed "Big Daddy."
But little has made sense recently for Kynan Forney, a former University of Hawai'i football player.
Two years ago, he did not play after suffering successive injuries to both shoulders. In April, he was the Atlanta Falcons' seventh-round selection in the National Football League draft. The past weekend, after the Falcons shuffled their roster and lineup, Forney started at right guard in an exhibition against the Washington Redskins.
And that is how Forney received a special delivery of taunts from the FedEx Field fans, and how he came facemask-to-facemask with Dan "Big Daddy" Wilkinson, the first pick of the 1994 NFL draft.
"You line up out there and you see all of the stars you've seen on TV and the video games," Forney recalled. "I saw Marco Coleman, Champ Bailey, Darrell Green . . . then Big Daddy."
Forney is 6-2 and 313 pounds. But up close, Forney recalled, "Big Daddy is big and strong and agile."
Forney remembered how his line coach at UH, Mike Cavanaugh, always prodded him to trust his technique, to let style become substance. But in the blur of the moment, "I saw Big Daddy in the other huddle and I decided, 'I'm going to hit him in the mouth before he gets me,'" Forney said. "I got into him. I got him good."
During the celebration, Forney thought, "I knew I had it in me. Even though I surprised myself, it felt really good."
The Falcons have a bye this weekend, but Forney has been told he will start in the next game against Tampa Bay. Still, he does not feel at ease. Most of the players who attended rookie mini-camp in May are no longer on the team. On Monday, his best friend, defensive end Dave Zuiderveen, was released.
"It's a little different and difficult," Forney said. "It's not like college, where they redshirt you. When a guy gets cut, he's usually a friend and a good player. You keep thinking, 'That could have been me.' You're sad for the guy and nervous for yourself."
Forney said he often turns to defensive end Ed Jasper, who offered this advice: "Move on. It's the nature of the beast."
"That's why, even though I'm starting and have a little cushion, I want to keep working hard," Forney said. "I have to keep my edge. I could still get cut."