- Darius Slay’s been among the NFL’s best cornerbacks since being drafted in 2013.
- Slay continued playing at a high level after going to Philadelphia in 2020.
No amount of experience could ever quell the anxiousness Darius Slay has felt in the most pivotal moments of life.
The Eagles cornerback became a father at a young age and was scared to change diapers once he got a whiff of them. He said he was “nervous as [expletive]” when he had to speak in front of his team after becoming a captain. And despite thriving at the highest level under the most brutal of scrutiny, he continues to feel on edge before every game.
Simultaneously, Slay exudes unparalleled confidence in who he is. He does, after all, correct anyone who calls him Darius. He would rather go by his surname.
“I slay at video games. I slay at basketball,” he said with a laugh at the Super Bowl’s media night. “I slay at everything I kinda do.”
Slay found a way to live out his dream while raising his kids with the help of his family. He feels the weight of team captaincy has only boosted his performance. And despite playing in his first Super Bowl on Sunday against the Chiefs, he eagerly awaits the opportunity.
He expects any nerves will wash away following the opening kickoff. They usually do.
“It’s a long journey,” Slay said. “It’s my first time making it past the first round (of the playoffs), and I’m in Year 10. I’m just very thankful for this moment. I’m just cherishing it.
“I’m ready to play.”
— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2023
Darius Slay Drafted By Detroit
Slay was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Lions out of Mississippi State. But he wasn’t a full-time starter right away.
Rihanna is performing for the halftime show of his first Super Bowl. It’s fitting for Slay. His favorite song by her is “Work,” which features a chorus with that very word repeated.
He had to work to be drafted at all. He had to work his way into the starting lineup. And he had to work to become an All-Pro by his fifth season, a year in which he led the NFL with eight interceptions.
He credits this dedication for his success. He didn’t shy away from challenges. In fact, he believes playing cornerback is nearly as demanding as quarterback, the most burdensome position in sports.
But Slay loves it all the same.
“You’re going out there to dominate a person,” Slay said. “That’s why I like defense.”
BIG. PLAY. SLAY.
— NFL (@NFL) October 17, 2022
Darius Slay Traded to Philadelphia
Slay was traded to the Eagles in 2020 for third-round and fifth-round picks in that same year’s draft. That seems like a slim return in retrospect, considering Slay’s production and how pivotal his presence has been.
Slay said he has “nothing but love” for the Lions, a team he said “made me the man I am today.” In spite of an abundance of talent on some of those teams, they made the playoffs just twice during his time there.
But his tenure in Philadelphia has been different.
According to Slay, seasons in Detroit eclipsed slowly. This one has flown by. That’s probably, he confessed, because the Eagles keep winning.
Slay is self-aware. At 32 years old, he doesn’t think he’s the best cornerback in the game, like many in the NFL would claim for themselves. He gives that honor to Patrick Surtain II of the Broncos.
But he’s confident nonetheless. Slay ranks himself second.
“Got smarter as time went by,” Slay said. “The game slowed down tremendously. So the only thing I did is continue to get better each and every day.”
DB teach tape @bigplay24slay 👀
— NFL (@NFL) November 15, 2022
Slay insists the Eagles’ success is predicated on a team-first mentality. Everyone fulfilling their responsibilities will result in the defense doing its duty for the Eagles to win.
Philadelphia’s defense has been a highly complementary unit.
The Eagles led the league with 70 sacks thanks to NFL-best pressure and sack rates. That helped them rank in the top five for interceptions with 17 and total takeaways with 27. And in the playoffs, they’ve allowed an average of less than 200 yards per game.
“We’re playing hot,” Slay said.
Slay has been a captain of this unit. That provided him only more motivation to be at his best.
“He may have the biggest personality in the building,” Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick said. “Slay, man, he’s charismatic. He makes it easy to be around him, talk to him, laugh with him. Truly he has a great personality.”
Slay believes his teammates made him better. They say the same about him.
Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown had never played against Slay before arriving in Philadelphia last offseason. Then they had to practice against each other on a regular basis.
Similar to Slay’s mindset, Brown looked forward to the challenge.
“Very savvy. Very smart,” Brown said. “He recognizes things very quickly at that position. I’m glad he’s on my team.”
That expertise will be crucial in the coming days. Slay recognizes a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs will be bound to escape pressure, complete passes and even score.
However, Slay underscored, the Eagles can’t lose confidence in those moments.
That’s never been a problem for Slay in the past. No one should expect that to change.
“Hell yeah,” Slay said. “I was made for moments like this.”
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