WESTFIELD, Ind. – The name Darius Leonard It has become synonymous with the defensive play industry in the NFL.
But the Indianapolis Colts All-Pro midfielder no longer wanted to be referred to by that name.
When Leonard went to training camp on Tuesday, he asked reporters to call him Shaquille, which is his middle name and the name most people in his life use to refer to him.
“I went through Shakeel my whole life,” Leonard said. “My mom called me Shakeel, my family called me Shakeel, my friends and family called me Shakeel. I only went to Darius at school or if I was in trouble. Once I got into the NFL, people started calling me Darius. I hate it, but when I got in as a rookie, , I thought they didn’t want a newbie to come in and tell him to call him a different name. So, I went with him.”
Even after winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, Leonard hasn’t talked about his wishes. Now, as his fifth season begins, he has finally announced his position.
“I am entering a freshman year, talking to [Hall of Fame wide receiver] Leonard, Randy Moss, said the best advice he could give me was to keep your mouth shut and your ears and eyes open. “So, I came and worked. I didn’t want to come and get special treatment. If they called me Darius Leonard, I mean, that’s my name. That’s just what I went for.” [by]. I didn’t want to cause any problems.
“But I like to be called Shaquille and hate to be called Darius. I understand it would be difficult, but I would love for you to try calling me Shaquille or ‘D’ or ‘crazy’ and not Darius.”
Leonard began camping on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing back surgery in June. He first explained about his condition, explaining that two discs in his back were collide with two nerves, thus causing pain in the lower leg. Leonard said the team had been searching in vain for the source of this pain before finally discovering the nerve problem.
Leonard underwent ankle surgery during the 2021 off-season to treat “calcification” in the joint, he said. When the pain lasted all season, Leonard was left to play.
Now, though, he’s already feeling comfortable and optimistic about the end result.
“Now we’ve found the source of the whole problem,” Leonard said, “and we’ll be ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”