Bills NFL Europe assignee Chris Denney has always dreamed of playing games on national television. After playing his college ball at Division II Nebraska-Omaha, he knew if he was playing games important enough to be on television it likely meant he'd be playing in the NFL.
Denney, however, found another way to play football on national TV. As an extra on the hit NBC program Friday Night Lights. Currently living in Austin, Texas where the program is shot by NBC, Denney is enjoying the experience.
"It's something one of my buddies got into, doing the TV show, and he had talked to the casting director and they really liked that I played college ball and had been in an NFL training camp," said Denney. "So I help out in the football scenes and make sure it looks realistic. I don't get any face time or anything like that."
Denney lines up at a number of different positions, often for the opposition in the scenes. None of the episodes in which he appears have aired yet.
"It's real cool," said Denney who's living in Austin, Texas where the show is filmed. "It's a lot of fun and I get to meet a lot of people and see a different industry. You can never really see that it's me. They really focus on the stars of the show. Myself and a bunch of other guys are running around in the background."
But now Denney will have the opportunity to play in games that have an outcome that matters not only in the NFL Europe standings, but for his own playing career.
"That'll be a lot better," said Denney. "Especially coming from a Division II school, any time I can go up against better competition to more easily adjust to the higher level of the NFL it's a benefit."
Though his time as an extra on Friday Night Lights will have to end before the television season is over there are no complaints from this NFL hopeful.
"I'm going to have to cut it short, but that's not a bad thing," Denney said.
Denney (6'3", 219) who runs in the mid-4.5s finished his college career with 123 receptions for 2,445 yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged almost 20 yards a catch for his college career (19.9).
The undrafted rookie wideout had a respectable training camp with the Bills last summer, but just didn't get enough reps at the most crowded and talented position on the roster.
The tall and rangy receiver was adept at finding the soft spots in zone coverages and did make some plays downfield despite having the label of a possession receiver. His efforts while with the Bills apparently did not go unnoticed.
"I was real happy," Denney said of receiving the call from the Bills. "I've been waiting for something for a long time. I was getting close to start looking for a real job in a couple of months, but I'm glad that I didn't. I guess they saw something that I did well. Hopefully I get a lot better over in Europe and can stick the second time around."