If Dee Delaney is active Thursday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys to get the new NFL season started, it’ll be just his fourth active game as a professional football player.
Stat-wise, he has none.
But he has some preseason stats this year. With the Bucs, Delaney tallied 12 tackles (9 solos), three passes defended, and 2 interceptions. Solid line for three games played after joining a squad where most jobs were perceived to be spoken for.
When you’re on the field though, there’s always a chance to show coaches you belong. And Delaney did just that.
“You never know when that break’s going to come,” Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said about Delaney coming to the team after previous stints with five different NFL teams. “He did a great job with his opportunity.”
Simple words, but impactful ones. And the culmination, so far, of Delaney’s rededicated efforts to his NFL dreams rooted in faith, and the birth of his daughter.
“I think first I just kept God first through it all,” Delaney told reporters. “I just kept my faith in him knowing that this is what I wanted to do. I would say my family. I just had a daughter last year – she’s one. She was extra motivation for me. My trainer, he never let off of me. He just kept me going like, ‘Man you’re going to get back in the NFL, so I want you to be ready by any means.’”
Delaney wasn’t in the NFL in 2020. Sometimes losing the game is a necessary step in a player’s success story.
“It was tough,” he said about missing last season. “I got off social media because I didn’t want to see anybody else in the league. I felt like I should have been there. It was hard.”
The young cornerback thought about joining the military at one point. Even took an entry test, and passed. In the end, he decided to stay on the rough road towards getting back to the league.
Now. He’s been rewarded with a spot on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ initial 53-man roster. Something earned, not given. An experience he can now share with his family, and a lesson he can pass on to his daughter if ever she should need it.