Tim Boyle is set to make his first NFL start on Sunday when the Detroit Lions face off against the Cleveland Browns. It’s the accomplishment of a lifetime goal for many quarterbacks—starting an NFL game—but for Boyle, he’s treating it like every other week.
“Every week, you mentally have to place yourself in the position to, alright, all of a sudden your number is called. Here you go, you have to play football,” Boyle said on Friday. “To answer your question, I like living in the present, but you’re always ready to go play if your number is called.”
Boyle is set to start because the Lions starting quarterback, Jared Goff, is dealing with an oblique injury. Although he has not been officially declared out, Goff did not practice all week, and head coach Dan Campbell said he wanted to make a decision on his starting quarterback by the end of Friday.
The Lions signed Boyle this offseason due to his big arm and big-play potential, having spent the last few years backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. The challenge for Boyle is playing catch-up. He suffered a broken thumb this preseason and only returned to practice last week. However, even while on injured reserve, Boyle has been staying mentally engaged to make sure he was ready if they needed him when he was physically ready again.
“Coach Campbell, fortunately, allowed me to stay in every single meeting,” Boyle said. “I was on the sideline for every game. I traveled to away games, so my mind has been in it. I’ve been staying in the playbook, I’ve been sharp, helping Jared prepare so from a mental standpoint I don’t feel like I’ve really skipped a beat.”
It’s been a long journey for Boyle. His college career got off to a rough start. In three years at UConn, Boyle threw one touchdown to 13 interceptions. He made the challenging decision to transfer to Western Kentucky. There he played “okay” (his words), completing 61 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Finding an NFL opportunity after a college career like that seems unlikely from the outside, but Boyle attributes his success to his positive attitude and ability to block out negative distractions.
“The number one thing, and this is going to carry me for life, just believing in myself and not relying on external factors to build my confidence,” Boyle said. “Always having that steady confidence about my game and what I can do on the field. And the tough part, when adversity hits, it’s just persevering and just telling yourself — I’ve told this in a few other media sessions — just thinking positive. Good things happen to good people who work hard. I’ve always told myself that. I feel like I’m a good person. I try to spread kindness, love and do my thing. Yeah, reflecting on my journey, it’s been perseverance and self-confidence.”
Boyle enters this week with a tough task on his hands. The Lions offense currently ranks 29th in points scored and Detroit has the third-lowest yards per attempt mark in the league. A showdown against a solid Browns defense awaits, but Boyle isn’t focused on Cleveland or their daunting pass rush.
“To be quite honest with you, I’m worried about us,” Boyle said. “We have two first-round tackles and whoever plays I’m going to have ultimate confidence they’re going to block their edge rushers, to answer that question. But I’m not really necessarily focused on them, I’m focused on our execution, scoring points, and getting our first win.”
And while Boyle may be approaching this week just like every other week, he admits this is, indeed, the culmination of a long, arduous journey. And he won’t be taking it for granted.
“Opportunities, especially in the NFL, come very few times, unfortunately, but that’s the beauty of the NFL, it’s so competitive,” Boyle said. “It’s been a long journey. Just kind of reminiscing on my story, starting football when I was six years old, and here I am as a 27-year-old and still blessed to have this opportunity. So it really is, it’s about preparation and always staying ready so yeah, I’ll be ready to go.”