Darren Sproles has certainly made a name for himself in the NFL, but it wasn't an easy road on the way to receiving Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. Prior to being drafted by San Diego in 2005, he heard constant criticism about his size. Standing at only 5-6, Sproles has proved his doubters wrong time and time again.
Over the past two seasons, Sproles is the NFL's leading punt returner, picking up 952 yards and four touchdowns, and was named to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive season. Recently, we spoke to Sproles about his NFL journey, including the ups, downs and lessons learned throughout his 11-season playing career. Find out what the journey was like through the eyes of the veteran.
On His Transition To The NFL
"I was happy, like a dream finally came true. You're finally in the NFL and I worked hard to get to it, so I was happy about it. When I first got to the Chargers it was Michael Turner and LaDainian Tomlinson. They really took me under their wing. They really showed me the ins and outs. They told me from the time you get here in the NFL, try to find your place. You got to keep on working hard each and every year.
"Norv Turner, he was the one that really gave me a chance. He was the one. He'd always tell me, 'Don't ever change. Don't ever change.' I think the spots where I've been, the way they used me, they put me in space. They used my strengths. From them doing that, that's what kept me in this league a long time."
On Learning The Ropes As A Return Specialist
"When I was a rookie, I had seen Dante Hall study punters in warm-ups and then ever since then, that's what I do before the game. I like to see the way the punter is kicking the ball and things like that. It feels good to be able to be a mentor now. I just hope when they see me working, see that I helped them in their future too, that they keep working hard too."
On The Advice He'd Give To His Younger Self
"You really learn when you're doing this for a while, that this is a business. You learn about the business side of stuff and you can't take stuff personal. Some people you meet are good people. You've got some that it's just about the business side of it. You just have to be able to be able to see that. I think with me, I normally keep to myself a lot. I don't really get caught up with a lot of stuff. I just go to work and go home. That's how I deal with it." !
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