What I didn't know until very recently was that Dareus had a personality to match his physical stature and high football pedigree. I found this out thanks to a video attached to a gushing article about Dareus by NFL.com writer Gregg Rosenthal. It's from the "Sound FX" series, which features choice clips from a single game where a chosen player is "mic'd up."
At the 0:12 mark, Dareus is found belting out the Star-Spangled Banner, going hard after the notes of "the bombs bursting in air" as if it were a quarterback in a collapsing pocket, but without any commensurate voice skill. The clip is only a few seconds long, but it's enough to hear Dareus painfully miss every note and see Chris Kelsay grimace standing next to him as Dareus lets it go with "aaaaiiiiiirrrrrr!" The best part of the short sequence is knowing that Dareus probably doesn't care how he sounds - he's having fun and can't wait to play the game.
Remember, the Bills came into the game on a seven-game losing streak that saw the once-promising season go down in flames. They had long been eliminated from playoff contention, were injury-riddled, and had to play before a paltry crowd the day before a holiday. The Bills had every reason to mail it in.
And in this spirit, at the 0:24 mark, Dareus leads the team in a pre-game huddle, appropriately saying, "We're doing this for self-pride, we're doing this for the fans, we're doing this for ourselves!" After stumbling over his words and saying something like "let's kill these guys again," and "ain't much need to be said," Dareus closes with "if you're not amped up right now, I don't need you to be out here with me!"
I watched every game last year like any good Bills fan, and had no idea what a leader Dareus had become for the team. I'm not calling his pre-game huddle Drew Brees-like or anything, but I do think it's worth noting that it's a rookie in there keeping the energy high and holding his teammates accountable.
At 1:58, after a first half in which Dareus, according strictly to the edits of the film, had a tough time getting off of blocks and through the Denver double team, tells his Nick Barnett and Alex Carrington, "I live for the second half. First half's just fun, baby, fun and introductions."
The clips that follow show Dareus pursuing the play, making tackles, and containing a rolling Tebow that leads to an interception. Back on the bench, Dareus says of Tebow, "Let him throw it." And pertaining to Tebow's lackluster qualities as a passer, "This is him!"
But the best part of the film is his interchange with now ex-Bills cornerback Drayton Florence at the end of the video, where Florence has a big brother to little type of conversation - you know the kind, where the big brother is allowed to give the little brother a hard time (out of love, of course). I love the exchange; here it is in theater quotes:
- FLORENCE: You might be satisfied with four sacks your rookie year, got a little money in the bank.
- DAREUS: It's five and a half.
- FLORENCE: Five and half. [raises his arms to mean "whatever"]
- DAREUS: [sounds like] I still got some of this game and the next to improve on that number.
- FLORENCE: Third overall pick, you satisfied. You ain't tryin' to work, man.
- DAREUS: You'll see.
- FLORENCE: You satisfied.
- DAREUS: You'll see.
- FLORENCE: You happy. Country boy from Alabama got some money, don't wanna get more money.
- DAREUS: [just taking it] All right.
- FLORENCE: You could be great, dog, you could be great, bro. You could be a Hall of Famer, bro... if you want it.
Florence has had a pretty good career for himself, a former second-round pick, playing in his ninth season for this third different team. But watching this, one really gets the sense that Florence has enough experience as a player and enough smarts to recognize that Dareus is something special, and has the potential to get better and better. If he wants it.