Porter J. Ellett is a senior assistant to NFL Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid. Reid explained to Ellett during his job interview, “Basically you need to be me when I’m not here. Or when I am here, you need to be my right-hand man and keep me going in the right direction.” Ellett responded that it would be no problem, as long as Reid would be okay with “your right-hand man not having a right hand.” Reid replied, “All right, then you’ll be my left-hand man.” So Ellett got the job and the nickname stuck.
Ellett lost the use of his right arm in a farming accident when he was four. At the age of 16, his parents respected his wish to have it surgically removed.
- In a [basketball] game at age 16, Ellett dislocated his shoulder and elbow and broke his right arm—for the sixth time. He’d had enough. During the hour-long car ride to the nearest hospital, he said, “Mom, can we get it amputated? I don’t want to deal with this anymore.” She said, “That’s up to you.”
- Later that year Ellett had his right arm removed. Of the operation, he mentions only one regret: “I ended up missing the state cross-country meet that year.”
Ellett had long felt a deep attachment to sports and excelled in high school baseball, basketball, and track. In baseball, he was 1A MVP as a junior and selected as first team all-state his senior year. In basketball, his Wayne County Badgers won the regional championship and were invited to New York City for an appearance on Good Morning America.
Throughout his life on his family farm in Loa, Utah, his parents insisted that he learn how to manage without the use of two arms. “The world would probably call it tough love,” Ellett said, “but I would call it real love.”
- “My parents, they deserve a lot of credit because they didn’t baby me. They let me struggle, figure it out, so I was able to learn and grow from it.”
- Ellett would defy the odds and master a host of other skills with one hand: tossing sheep into a corral, shooting a shotgun accurately, doing pushups, and batting over .400. Equally impressive, he can zip up a jacket, cross monkey bars, reel in a fish, and ride a motorcycle.
After Ellett served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brigham Young University and worked as a tax analyst with Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City.
- After one long day, sensing that Porter was just sticking it out to provide for the family, Carlie asked him, “Do you really love what you do? Can you see yourself doing this for 20 or 30 years?”
- Porter shrugged it off and kept working. But Carlie kept asking, so he finally said, “Okay. You’re right. I don’t love what I do, but 90 percent of the world’s like that.” And she said, “We don’t have anything right now that’s holding us back. Let’s take a chance.”
- Porter confided that he would love to find a way to make his passion for sports into a profession. And so, after evaluating sports-management programs, he earned a spot at Baylor, obtaining a master’s degree in 2016.
Ellett’s big break came through fellow MTC teacher, Devin Woodhouse; the two had made a pact to help each other in their careers. Woodhouse had married Drew Reid, daughter of NFL coach Andy Reid. At the end of 2016, Ellett and his wife, Carlie, traveled to attend a wedding in Kansas City and to watch a Chiefs game with Devin and Drew. In a gathering at the Reid home afterward, Ellett found himself in an informal job interview, and after the season ended, Reid had a job opening that he wanted to consider Ellett for.
- I ended up bringing him in, interviewed him with a couple other guys, and thought he was the best,” says Reid.
Ellett was assisting Reid with the Chiefs during their Super Bowl win in 2020. In addition to his work as Andy Reid’s senior assistant, Ellett is a motivational speaker.
- When he talks to youth at firesides, he tells them, “You should laugh at yourself. You should smile. You should ignore people whose opinions don’t matter. Pick the three or four people you are going to listen to. For me, my parents’ opinions matter, my wife’s, God’s, and then Coach Reid’s, as far as my job goes. Pick who you’re listening to and just listen to them.”