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Running Back Darren Evans is an Indianapolis product trying to make his hometown team again. He recently visited with





Question:  You're in the NFL now, the latest step in a lifelong dream.  But when did it begin?  When did you first start playing football?

Answer:  "My first year was in second grade.  I was playing in a flag football league and my dad was coaching.  I remember running around.  I started playing tackle in the third grade.  I was playing with older guys.  My dad would put me in older leagues because I was bigger than the other kids my age.  I still would do well and stand out.  I loved football at a young age, and I've always loved it.  It just felt like the right thing to do."

Q:  What do you remember about your first team?

A:  "I started off as a guard because I was bigger than everybody, and I wore number 70.  After the first game, we had a reverse and the guy who was supposed to run it was hurt.  I ran it and went for a touchdown.  That was the only play they had for me.  After that, I was a running back."

Q:  To get to this level, it has to be about more than money, or fame – the things a lot of people associate with the NFL.  What do you love about the game that has kept you playing?

A:  "I like being out there with the guys and the camaraderie that is formed by playing.  I have a lot of friends who I have known from third grade right on up through college, and I've kept in touch with them because of the bonds we formed.  You feel like you're going work with them, even though I know it's really not quite like that.  The friendships I have gained through the game are great.  I also like being out there running around playing a great sport.  For me to do it in my hometown is something extra.  Last year, being here around guys like Peyton Manning, just watching him and being around some of the established veterans I had followed for years there was nothing better for me.  I know the friends I have made through football will last for life.  I've never been on a team where there were groups.  Everyone was together and friendly, they talked freely.  There were no cliques or popularity-type deals.  With real teams you don't have to worry about that.  I've been lucky."

Q:  What was your best sport growing up?  It wasn't football for all NFL players . . .

A:  "It always was football for me.  My dad wanted me to play other sports because I was athletic enough and I would, but they never grabbed my attention and caught my heart like football did.  I remember my dad was upset when I was in high school and quit other sports so I could focus on football.  He didn't understand it, but I felt it was the right thing that I needed to do."

Q:  When did you move to your position?  Were you always a running back?

A:  "After that first reverse when I was young, I was a running back.  I did play linebacker.  My dad always wanted me to play linebacker more than running back.  I always was bigger than most of my teammates.  I never was one of the smaller guys.  I have pretty good genes.  My dad is 6-5, and everybody on his side of the family is really tall.  In family terms, I got the tail end of it because I'm only 6-1.  Everyone else is up there.  I've always had good size, though.  I sprouted up before everyone else.  I started doing push-ups in middle school.  That helped me get some muscle.  It put me ahead of other kids."

Q:  What was it like growing up in Indianapolis?  Were you a "sports" guy?

A:  "Reggie Miller was my guy.  I'll never forget the playoff game when they were playing Chicago, where he pushed off Michael Jordan, ran behind the three-point line and hit the shot.  He was my guy, but the Colts were my team, too.  I watched Jim Harbaugh, Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James, everybody really.  If I could meet one guy in particular, it would be Edgerrin James.  I loved the way he ran.  I'd like to run like him.  I'm wearing the same number as he did.  I heard last year when I picked it that I wouldn't have it too long because they might retire it.  Hopefully, I can hold onto it a little longer and try to uphold that tradition.  The number 32 feels good on me.  I had it in college, but it feels even better here because of the person who wore it for so many years.  I want to bring that style of play to the team now.  You have to dream big to achieve big."

Q:  What's your best football memory?

A:  "One of the best has to be my freshman redshirt year at Virginia Tech when we went to the Orange Bowl against Cincinnati.  I won the Orange Bowl MVP award.  I didn't realize how big it was at the time.  Thinking about it now, that trophy and our win means a great deal.  The trophy sits in my case, and people like to see it.  It's nice, and so were the accomplishments of our team that year."

Q:  When did you first think this was real?  When did you first think, 'I have a chance to play in the NFL?'

A:  "I sat out a year, then played next year.  I didn't start right off, but I ended up beating out a teammate ahead of me and rushed for more than 1,000 yards.  I just kept feeling that I could get even better.  I worked hard and started thinking I might have a chance at the NFL."

Q:  Do you have a pre-game ritual?

A:  "Not really.  I just pray and ask God for as much strength as I can have so I can battle on the field.  This game is all about who is strong and who can push through and persevere the most.  I pray for strength, and I know none of this could be possible without Jesus."

Q:  What about after football?  Do you have any post-career plans?

A:  "I plan to play as long as I can.  The game is demanding on a body and you can break down.  After that, I am thinking about law enforcement.  I tried to set up a ride-along with one of our security people last year, but we didn't get it done.  I think I want to be in that field so I can end up helping people, not necessarily arresting people or the tough parts of the job but things I can contribute to help others in their lives.  I want to support people because of how I have been supported.  I know I still will be young whenever football is over, so I want to be prepared for the years afterward."

Q:  Who's the person most responsible for you being in the NFL?

A:  "My mom and dad were very good parents for me.  I would have to credit them, along with my brother and sister.  My parents taught us how to do things the right way.  When you're young, you want to do things your own way because you want to learn on your own.  Now that I have kids, I can see why my parents did what they did.  The world is scary, and you want to protect your children from harm.  You don't want them to make mistakes and suffer.  I learned the hard way a couple of times.  I have a five-year son named James and a nine-month old daughter named Taylor.  I want to teach them like my parents taught me.  I want to be there for them the same way I was brought up.  The other person who is responsible is my wife, Taneesha.  We were high school sweethearts, and this is our eighth year together.  Taneesha has been with me through thick and thin.  She has been an awesome mother.  She has been my motivation, and she is a person I can turn to when I've had a tough day.  She's helped me through a lot."

Q:  Do you have a particular high school coach or teacher who means a great deal to you?  If so, why?

A:  "Coach (Steve) Tutsie at Warren Central was our defensive coordinator and became head coach my senior year.  He later moved back to coordinator.  There were four of us who were being recruited off the team.  He took us to a bunch of different colleges and we met coaches.  In particular, we went to Virginia Tech, and that was the main reason they picked me up.  They weren't really interested in me initially.  They were looking at a safety.  I did some drills there and the running back coach liked me.  I met the coaches and saw the campus, and the rest is history.  I appreciated Coach Tutsie's guidance."

*Q:  Was it tough to leave your hometown?  Was it good to get away?
*A:  "It was tough and good at the same time.  I knew if I ended up being close to home I would have been going home a bunch, and it might have thrown me off.  It was tough, though, because I had my son in high school.  That was all I could think about.  Being so far away, it was hard to see him.  It was more difficult to just talk to your son rather than seeing him and watching him grow up.  I did miss my whole family.  I didn't get to go home much.  It wasn't the same as being at home."

Q:  Did you have a favorite player growing up?

A:  "Even though I liked Edgerrin James a lot, I really didn't have that one particular favorite.  I have admired the game since I was little, and I like the different types of running backs.  I followed every position because I've played almost every position except receiver and quarterback."

Q:  What was your first car?

A:  "My first car was a 1997 Pontiac Grand Am.  It was red.  It was only $1,000, and my grandmother helped me pay it off.  I think I had $700, and she helped with the rest.  I can't remember the number of miles it had on it.  It didn't even last me long.  The transmission ended up going out on it.  I got gypped on that (laughs).  After that, I got a Chevrolet Impala."

Q:  What was your first job?  What was your toughest job?

A:  "I worked at an Arby's on the east side of town on Washington Street.  My dad helped me get that job.  He was a manager there.  It was cool.  I worked on weekends, and I ended up working after school when we weren't in football season.  The toughest job I had was at Star Environmental the summer I was supposed to Virginia Tech.  They did asbestos cleaning.  I worked in the garage and in the complex.  I did a lot of cleaning.  The toughest thing I had to do there was break up bricks.  If you've never done that, you're swinging a sledgehammer.  After I broke them, I had to load them in a truck.  It was in June, and it was hot.  It was tough.  Working is good for you, though.  At one point I had two jobs.  I worked at Arby's and at a Meijer's.  That was the second semester of my senior year when I had three classes.  I would go to Arby's first, then to Meijer's.  I was a cashier there.  It is good to work for your own money.  You really get to appreciate it more." 

Q:  Do you have a favorite quote that has inspired you in football or life?  If so, what is it and why does it mean something to you?

A:  "The Bible verse Philippians 4:13 says, 'I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.'  That is what I live by.  None of this would be possible without Him."

Q:  What is it about football that drives you the most?

A:  "It used to be competition, but I have a wife and children now.  I know this game helped me stay away from things that could have made my life different.  I've always felt football was important.  If I had gotten into other things, my life would have been different.  I want to show my children the same thing.  It may not be just through athletics, but having something to go to is important.  It keeps you from being out on the streets.  Football also gives me a chance to be a role model to young people.  You see it when you go to events for the team.  Kids react when they see Colts players, and you like what you see in their faces.  You want to be a role model to help others.  That's what I get from the sport now."

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