It was meant to be.
In his University of Tulsa bio, Chris Chamberlain said that the St. Louis Rams were his favorite NFL team. They became even more so after selecting the linebacker in the seventh round of the 2008 Draft.
Helping his cause with a standout senior season – a school record 165 tackles, third in the NCAA with 101 solo tackles, and named first-team All-Conference USA – Chamberlain was nevertheless humbled to have been chosen by the Rams.
"It was really kind of surreal to think that I was going to get a chance to fulfill a dream and have an opportunity to make an NFL roster," he said. "Throughout the process, that's really all that I wanted. Just a chance. So regardless of what happened, I wouldn't have any regrets and would have at least been given an opportunity.
"But then once they drafted me, that was solidified. I was just excited about the opportunity to go compete with some of the best players in the world."
One of two linebackers drafted by the Rams that year, Chamberlain tried to make his mark with the coaches during the rookie minicamp, and then continue to do so after the veterans reported.
"It's kind of an interesting dynamic. On one hand, you are teammates, but on the next hand, you are all competing for a limited number of jobs," Chamberlain said. "And so those guys really take on the more mentorship kind of role once you make the team and you get into the season. But initially, when there's like 100 guys, yeah, you're trying to be a good teammate, but at the same time you're trying to put yourself in a position to secure a roster spot."
A strong performance during the preseason, especially on special teams, helped Chamberlain secure that spot. And continuing to do that the following season under new head coach Steve Spagnuolo, led him to becoming a starter in 2010.
"Special teams is a way for young guys who aren't superstars and starters right away to be able to earn a roster spot and hang around. When you only have 53 guys (on the roster), you've got to be able to do more than one thing," Chamberlain said.
"And so special teams was my avenue to make the team and contribute while I continued to try to earn my way into the starting lineup. When that finally happened, it was one of those things where I kind of never really looked back. Once I got out there, I feel like I was productive and did really well.
"The funny thing was, I was still on all the special teams. I remember Coach Spags told me, 'If you need a rest, we'll rest you on defense. We've got to have you out there on special teams.' So it would have been great to just play defense and start every possession fresh, but I was still covering all the kicks and punts. That's part of being in the league, making yourself valuable. Being able to play and learn multiple positions and do multiple things."
The 2011 season, Chamberlain's fourth, was a year of firsts for him. On and off the field. Particularly in Week 11 when the Rams hosted division-rival Seattle.
"That week, my oldest son was born on Tuesday, which was our day off and which was super convenient and nice of him to do that," Chamberlan laughed. "And in the game against the Seahawks, I got an interception (off of Tarvaris Jackson), which was my first ever. They gave me a game ball that said, 'First NFL Interception. First Game as a Dad.' And so that's a favorite memory of mine."
Even though the Rams – let's say, struggled – during his four seasons with the team, winning just 12 of 64 games, Chamberlain still has several fond memories from those days. Including…
"We were 0-6 (in 2011) and the Saints came to town and they were 5-2," Chamberlain said. "Our records were basically opposite, and we went on to beat them by I think right around 10 points[31-21]. We played really well and actually secured the win on an onside kick, on the hands team. So that was fun.
"Another big memory that sticks out too, was one year (2010), us at the Seahawks (in the season finale). We were both 7-8, and we played in the Sunday night primetime game. Basically, the winner won the division and went to the playoffs. And so it was like a playoff game. Super loud. Didn't win the game (16-6), but it was a really close, hard-fought game. It was just a great atmosphere and fun to play basically for a chance to go to the playoffs. It was the closest thing I got to play in what felt like a playoff game.
"And to get a chance in the NFL and be able to put together a decent career when, basically,there was no expectations for me at any level, I'm just proud of what I was able to accomplish. I guess just kind of the old school way: hard work, discipline, toughness, durability, playing hard,being coachable, being accountable. All those old school principles I feel like is what propelled me and allowed me to excel at every level. So I feel like that's what I'm most proud of. I feel like I did things the right way."
Concluding his five-year NFL career with New Orleans, Chamberlain and his wife, Amy, and their children: Carter, Colt, and Aisly; make their home in Oklahoma City, OK. Where a little over five years ago, he joined another team – the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
"My brother-in-law is a firefighter, and he had kind of been putting the bug in my ear those last couple of years when I was still playing. 'When you get done, you should really look at the fire department.' But I was solely focused on football and really wasn't paying any attention to it. Well, then you get injured and don't heal well, and all of a sudden, my career ends," Chamberlain said.
"I'm looking at what's next and end up going back to school and getting my master's degree. And while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I was also coaching at my old high school. I knew what I didn't want to do, and that was get stuck behind a desk and sell things. And so more and more, the fire department was looking better and better.
"I wanted to do something that I would enjoy and that would be meaningful and have an impact. And the fire department just kept checking all those boxes. So I decided to go for it. I got my EMT and ended up getting hired here in Oklahoma City, which is a great department. I enjoy the challenge, and the day-to-day of not knowing what you're going to do when you go to work, and helping people. It's a really challenging, yet rewarding career."
Assigned to the OKC Fire Department District 606 - Station 20, Chamberlain has noticed similarities in being a member of his former team, the Rams, and his current team.
"Everybody has their role, their job, their position, so to speak," he said. "It is very important to operate as a team and work together. Teamwork and communication. The toughness, the discipline, all that.
"So there's a lot that is interchangeable with sports and the fire service. And I think that's what is such a draw to so many former athletes. I wouldn't say it's an easy transition, but it is definitely a lot of the same strengths. And things that you enjoyed about sports are there in the fire service, as well. So it definitely has helped with the transition into normal life.
"People call us on their worst days, whether it's a medical problem or a fire or car wreck. And it's very rewarding to go and help people and help them solve their problems."