Tim Lukas’ football journey has taken him everywhere.
The wide receiver has played in five different football leagues in almost four years. His career has taken him to two different continents and three different countries. He’s also played in the International in Brazil, the American Indoor Football League, the Arena Football League, and the Canadian Football League.
Lukas started playing his college football at Carthage where he recorded 20 catches for 226 yards and three touchdowns during his time there. He starred in a contest against Lakeland, recording six receptions for 93 yards .
“My first year, year and half really, at Carthage was everything that I needed it to be,” Lukas said. “Carthage helped me see my potential because the first year I spent on the scout team, balling against the starters, until I was getting called out in drills specifically to go against the top defensive players. They saw what I was seeing, that there might be more to this skinny kid than meets the eye. The potential to be somebody. To grow into my body and be a beast out there.”
The stay was short-lived. Lukas transferred to the University of Illinois to finish his college career.
Of all places a football player could end up, Lukas ended up playing for the Juventude FA, a football club in Brazil as a quarterback. He said he’ll never forget the experience.
“Brazil was unforgettable because the experience I had there,” Lukas said. “The incredible people and culture they have, it’s something I carry with me every day. And I always will. I think the fact that I was able to help Juventude bring its first ever championship to [Caxias do sul] speaks volumes to what we were able to accomplish. I can’t say enough about how much love I was shown there, and still shown, by the Brazilians that I had an impact on, and vice versa.”
Lukas returned to the states and played for a trio of arena and indoor football league teams — the Tampa Bay Storm, the Colorado Crush, and the Green Bay Blizzard. The change in format was something Lukas took time to get used to.
It was the position he wasn’t born to play in Brazil that he attributes to his successful adjustment.
“The transition from Brazil to arena football with the Storm, Crush, and Blizzard was like all of my transitions. A learning curve,” Lukas said. “In Brazil I felt at my roots playing football outside, with a lively crowd, and even though it was a different country and most of the players and refs spoke a different language, the game was still the same. It’s still football. The only difference is that I was playing [quarterback] in Brazil. So I utilized the knowledge I have for the game to implement it in our plays, taught as much as I could in practice and meetings, but also learned a new perspective and added IQ from the quarterback position.”
He lives and dies by the his own slogan “grind don’t stop.” He carried this mentality all the way up to that fateful game with the Green Bay Blizzard. His 28-yard touchdown was a culmination of endless weeks of work.
“It’s a moment I’ll never forget,” Lukas said. “In my first game with, I scored a long [touchdown] in the final moments. It was big for me because I was dealing with a lot of adversity in a short period of time.”
The rewards didn’t stop there. Before practice, his phone rang off the hook as he got ready to leave the locker room.
“I was packing my things to get ready for practice, I checked my phone and saw it blowing up,” Lukas said. “It happens sometimes, you know when your friends get excited in a group chat, or with the way social media is nowadays, where your phone’s constantly buzzing. But this time was different. Four missed calls from your agent means something. I had missed them because we had an offensive lift that morning, and I was enjoying lunch with my teammates.”
Lukas returned his agent’s call, triggering the most hectic and exciting moment of his young life.
“He immediately said, “’Where are you,?”’ Lukas said. “I told him I just finished lunch and was getting ready for practice. His next questions were ‘Where’s all your things, where’s your passport?”’My eyes started to widen, and my heart started racing. I knew what that question meant. I told him everything was in my room, my passport was ready. He said get your things packed, now, get your passport ready, you’re going to Canada.”
Although brief, his stay in Montreal opened up numerous doors for the young man.
“It gave me tape to use, for my agent to push me to other teams, and it gave me more confidence in my abilities,” Lukas said. “It got me my next opportunity, that I’m not really at liberty to talk about just yet, to keep balling. All I can say is that I’ve got a lot of ammo stored up, with the best offseason of training and learning of my life, to unload. A phrase I like to say is the fuel-tanks always full. I’ve always got the gas to push the pedal to the metal, full throttle. It’s only a matter of time till the world sees me taking off.”
Lukas was given the opportunity to return to his home state of Illinois. With former Chicago Bears Jason McKie, and Alex Brown, Lukas is running a youth football camp at Halas Hall in the Walter Payton practice facility.
“To learn and be pushed by guys like Jason [McKie] and Alex [Brown], to work in their gym in Gurnee, Illinois at All Pro Sports Performance, it’s difficult to put in to words how thankful I am to have that,” Lukas said. These are guys that have been at the level I’m pursuing, guys that saw tremendous success with their careers, so they know what they’re talking about, what their training us to do. I soak it all in, every second I’m with them, because I know how valuable it is.”
Mckie praised the young Lukas’ tenacity which reminds him of himself during his football career.
“What I see in Tim [is what] I saw in myself as a player, me and Alex were talking about it the other day, is his drive, his desire to improve,” McKie said. “Some people have million dollar dreams, with a minimum wage work ethic. Tim’s not of them. He puts in the work, and backs up the goals he sets. That’s how we worked coming up, that’s how we made it, and we see that in him. He’s fun to work with, he’s got talent, a lot of passion and good energy, we all feed off each other.”
Lukas awestruck whenever he enters the facility and can’t help but think that one day he could dawn a Bears uniform.
“Halas hall is a special place, you can feel it as soon as you get in there,” Lukas said. “How many legendary players roamed those halls, the work that they did, the coaches and players that have been there and the ones who are there now, is something that’s unique. Halas was the founder of the NFL, so to be in his building, to step inside the Payton Center, and witness what they’re doing, and read about the tributes they have, is amazing.”