When the Super Bowl kicks off this Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in Miami, Baylor University graduate Porter Ellett, 30, will be front and center or maybe a little behind the center of the action as head coach Andy Reid's assistant.
BU graduate Porter Ellett (left) is known as Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s “right hand man” although the 2017 Baylor graduate doesn’t have a right hand or arm as the result of a childhood accident. (Courtesy photo)
“Coach Reid called me and said he had this position open and he described the job. He said ‘you’d be like my right hand man’ and at the end of the conversation I said ‘well would you be OK if your right hand man only has a left hand?’”
The Loa, Utah native lost the use of his right arm when he was 4 after he was thrown from a pickup truck while working sheep.
He had crawled onto the back of a motorcycle in the bed of the truck.
He suffered a severe head injury and significant nerve damage.
His arm was amputated by the time he was 16.
But his disability has never gotten in the way of achieving great things.
Throughout high school, Ellett played basketball, baseball and ran cross country for his small school in Utah.
As a junior baseball player, he was selected state MVP and by his senior year he was a unanimous selection for all-state.
His school was too small to offer football, but when he got to Brigham Young University, he fell in love with the game.
“I worked in the equipment room for one year at BYU,” Ellett said.
And that’s where I really fell in love with football.”
Ellett’s newfound love of football led him to hunt for the best college for a master’s degree program in education sports management.
His research eventually led him some 1,200 miles from home to Baylor University and Waco, a town he knew nothing about.
“I had never been to Waco and I went down on a visit and told my wife ‘I’m going to go check it out just to see,’” he said.
“We went down and I loved the campus, loved the professors (and) loved the school. I had already paid initial fees to go somewhere else and we changed it and ended up in Baylor and we loved it. It’s just a different kind of education.”
Ellett and his wife moved to Waco where he attended Baylor from 2016 to early 2017.
He wasn’t quite through with his degree when he made a connection that would change his life following a Chiefs game in December 2016.
“I was a friend of coach Reid’s son-in-law. We worked together. We came to a game in Kansas City and after a game I got to meet coach Reid and I told him I would pay money to follow him around and learn from him.”
Almost two months to the day later, Reid took Ellett up on his offer as he called him and offered him the job as the senior assistant to the head coach.
Ellett and his wife packed up and moved to Kansas City where Ellett finished his degree from Baylor online.
He immediately got to work with job responsibilities a mile long that likely keep him with the head coach more than anyone else in the organization.
“I do whatever he needs me to do. I do practice scheduling for the week and I make the call sheet for game day. I work with the quarterbacks a bit and wide receivers. During practice I help them with their drill work. I catch balls for them. I give them things to study, review of calls and plays.”
Ellett says Reid had a brother who only had the use of one arm so he’s used to being around someone like him.
But he says the coach treats him no differently than anyone else.
“Some people baby people if they’re different or have challenges but he’s not like that,” Ellett said.
“He knows I can do the job. He doesn’t take it easy on me. He’s the same with players. He believes in them and expects them to do what they can do.”
Ellett says making it to the Super Bowl Sunday is a dream come true for the boy from small town Utah and nothing would make him happier than winning it all for the coach who took a chance on him.
“I don’t have any predictions. I think both teams will show up. But they’re a great team and we’re a great team,” Ellett said.
“Our whole team wants to win one for coach Reid.”