I'm not sure if he's white ... but from this article, it seems so ... Furrey takes long route to become Lions slot receiver Wednesday, August 16, 2006 By Tom Kowalski ALLEN PARK -- When a prospective NFL player goes looking for a job, he's faced with many uncertainties: Which teams will want him? How much money will he make? What will the competition be? Will he land a starting job or struggle to make the roster? For the Detroit Lions' Mike Furrey, there was one other significant concern: What position would he play? "I was thinking I'd go somewhere and play safety," said Furrey, who wasn't thinking at the time that Mike Martz would eventually end up as the Lions' offensive coordinator. "When he got the job up here, he said he wanted me to play in the slot. I know the offense pretty good. He knew I could play in this offense. In the NFL, you just keep playing as long as you can." When Martz arrived in Detroit from the St. Louis Rams, he had a stable full of big fast receivers, but he didn't see many guys with the water-bug quickness and explosion to be the inside slot receiver. Which is why he called Furrey, who once again proved the adage that "It's not what you know, but who you know." Still, Furrey has earned his role as the Lions' No. 1 slot receiver because he makes very few mental mistakes, knows how to get open and has excellent hands. After catching 20 passes in his first season with the Rams in 2003, he only caught one the following season when some healthy draft picks -- Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald -- got more action. Furrey and Dane Looker, another reserve receiver, found themselves wondering if they'd be inactive from week to week. "The next season, Mike came to me (before the draft) and said, `Hey, what if I put you at safety for a couple of months just to learn the system? If you can understand what's going on at safety, we can dress all of you on game day and you'll be the fifth safety," Furrey said. "I think he wanted to make sure I was out there for special teams and then back up the receiver spots. "Then we went through the minicamps (and off-season workouts) and they came to me and said `You can make the full transition if you want because if you start, it's not going to surprise us.' That was it, I wanted to play and I had fun playing safety. It was something new, but it felt natural." Furrey, who bulked up 20 pounds to 210 to handle the free safety position, started 11 games, made 55 tackles, knocked down eight passes and had four interceptions. Which is why Furrey assumed his new job would be on defense. Not that he wasn't used to that side of the ball. Furrey was a walk-on receiver at Ohio State for two years before transferring to Northern Iowa to finish out his college career with a scholarship. The Indianapolis Colts gave him in a look in training camp but he didn't make it. "I was the last guy cut," Furrey said. "Then I went to the XFL in 2001 and then went to the Arena League later in 2001. I went back to Arena for two more years and then went to St. Louis." Why? Because it's that same "It's not what you know, but who you know" thing. Because he had played college ball and Arena ball in the same places as Kurt Warner, the St. Louis quarterback was aware of him. "I think Kurt brought my name up because I was having a pretty good Arena season and Kurt and I went to the same school and we had the same Arena League team -- his Iowa Barnstormers were the New York Dragons, they got bought out. We knew each other over there," Furrey said. After the Rams scouts checked him out, Furrey was signed as a free agent and made the team with his speed, route-running ability, hands and special teams work. Now, at 29 years old (and back down to 190 pounds), Furrey finds himself as the No. 1 slot receiver after his long odyssey through the lower ranks of football. "I wouldn't trade it in for anything," Furrey said. "It was a long journey, but as I look back it's helped me out so much, it's matured me. At each level and everything I went through, I kept fighting to try to get into the league. It was great for me."