“I’m about to cry, man. I’m shaking.” This was Qwan’Tez Stiggers’s response when he learned the New York Jets had drafted him with the 176th pick. This emotional phone call capped a remarkable football journey that defied the odds, taking him from Atlanta to Canada and ultimately to the NFL without ever playing a single down of college football.
Stiggers’s journey to the NFL started like any aspiring football player’s. After graduating in 2019 from the Business Engineering Science Tech Academy in Georgia with 46 tackles and five interceptions in just two years, he was ready to play at Lane College.

However, before he could compete in his first college game, his dad was injured in a car accident that put him in a coma for seven months. He eventually passed away in September of 2020. With his family in need, Stiggers dropped out of college to help provide for his thirteen siblings. He worked jobs like delivering for Instacart and DoorDash and washing cars at the airport, and he was ready to step away from football altogether.

“I just shut down because he meant the world to me,” he told reporters. “I didn’t eat. I turned off my phone. I didn’t come out of the house for a couple of weeks. I dropped out of school and stayed away from football. I gave up on my dream.”

A Mother’s Love

Soon after stepping away from the game, his mom saw an opportunity for him to play in the Fan Controlled Football League, a 7-on-7 league based out of Atlanta. This league allows fans to call the plays and features retired football players like Terrell Owens, Quinn Porter, and Johnny Manziel.
Stiggers followed his mother’s lead and decided to give football another shot. In his first season, Stiggers earned second-place votes for defensive player of the year, becoming the youngest player at 20.

Making History

After a year of competitive football, he earned a contract with the Toronto Argonauts, where he won the league’s Most Outstanding Player award after a season with 53 tackles and five interceptions.

In his acceptance speech, Stiggers admitted that he didn’t even think he would make the Argonauts’ roster. “I showed up to camp thinking I would be the first one cut, but I really tell you, the guys and coaches in that room believe in miracles,” he told the crowd.

The miracles didn’t stop there for Qwan’Tez Stiggers. In just four short years, he went from working multiple jobs to get by and thinking his football career was over to becoming the first Canadian Football League player in history to be drafted into the NFL.It’s amazing how much things can change if we don’t give up.