Special teams captain. Pro Bowler. Safety. Motivator.
Those are just a few of the terms that one could use to describe the San Diego Chargers jack-of-all-trades Darrell Stuckey.
Stuckey was a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award last year. The honor was a direct result of his volunteerism not only in San Diego but also in his hometown of Kansas City. In Kansas City he conducts football camps, community projects and works with a non-profit organization called “Not For Sale”. The mission of Not For Sale is to protect people and communities from human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
The 5-foot-11 1/2, 212-pounder has been with San Diego since he was drafted in the fourth round (#110) of the 2010 draft. The former University of Kansas Jayhawk logged 295 career tackles, second-most all time behind Leroy Irvin (the former Rams/Lions defensive back). He also had eight interceptions and eleven tackles for loss in his four-year career there.
At the NFL Combine he clocked the 40-yard dash at 4.49 seconds. He also made a 39.5-inch vertical jump. His height may have been a bit of a concern, but the guy is a ball hawk.
In 73 games, Stuckey has 41 tackles to his name. Besides that, there are five defended passes, two forced fumbles and a sack. He also has five fumble recoveries, of which the best-known came on December 7, 2014 when New England’s wideout Brandon LaFell was hit by Jahleel Addae. Stuckey scooped up the ball and took it 60 yards to the house. It was the longest fumble recovery in Bolts history.
It’s no wonder that his play in the 2014 campaign resulted in his being voted to his first Pro Bowl appearance. His selection was initially as first alternate, however, he ended up joining then teammate Eric Weddle in Hawaii when Patriots player Matthew Slater had to bow out because New England was headed to the Super Bowl.
Those are all wonderful things to be able to be known for long after his football career is over. What seems to give Stuckey the most satisfaction in life is what he does off the field of play.
Being one of the most active Chargers players in the San Diego community is just a small part of who Darrell Stuckey is. He is a participant in the team’s annual “Community Corner” program, which purchases game tickets for charity. Additionally, he is involved with “Athletes for Charity”, a non-profit organization that is dedicated towards improving the lives of disadvantaged and underprivileged youth. In his hometown of Kansas City, he also dedicates his time to the Youth City Network and the KC United Dotte Football Camp.
Let me add just one more charity: Living4One. This organization was founded by Darrell and his wife, Lacie, in 2012. One of the reasons they created it is to assist individuals in recognizing that we each have a purpose in life and it is not solely our day-to-day existence.
To quote Stuckey from the Living4One webpage, their purpose is this: “We must discover our gifts and talents, perfect them, and incorporate them into the master plan. We all have a purpose to fulfill. Our purpose influences the people we are around in our workplace, team, family and community. We must use our gifts to better the world we live in. There is no greater joy than a purpose fulfilled.”
Stuckey is quite obviously a man who leads by example, whether on the field or in the community. His unpretentiousness and willingness to provide support for others in some of life’s most unfair and desperate times is refreshing.
Darrell Stuckey would certainly have my vote if fans could somehow publicly recognize his efforts once his playing days are over.
Take a bow, sir. You are a bright light in a sometimes unfair and discouraging world and I thank you for your selflessness.
Thanks for reading.
History shows that the Chargers do not perform well in the month of November. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons; warm to chilly air, or maybe the injuries tend to catch up and cripple them. Since 2006, Philip Rivers has played all sixteen games every season, leading the team to great accomplishments, playoff appearances and impressive numbers, yet there always seems to be a trend; a sub par record in November.
Not including the current season, the Chargers are only 17-15 in November since 2006; often having at least two of their games away. For the last five seasons, the Chargers have accumulated 122 penalties for 885 yards, yet have only scored 531 total points in November. Starting this month off like many of the previous ones, the team is 0-1; having lost to the Dolphins in Miami. Even last season, the Chargers went 1-3 with three away games in the month of November; entering December at 5-6. In the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons, the Chargers only managed a 4-7 record; they missed the playoffs all three of those seasons.
The Chargers return from a bye week with a 5-4 record and face off on Sunday at the Q against their division rivals the Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately, Rivers is 3-5 coming off a bye week. In the last three years, the Chargers have lost their second game in November every time; two of three were home games and one of the home game losses were against the Raiders. Since 2010, Rivers hasn’t been able to surpass a passer rating greater than 100.0%; only averaging 99.8% in the month of November. Let’s face it, the Chargers do not perform well in the middle of the season. However, December is a completely different story.
If you haven’t heard before, you should hear it now; Philip Rivers and the Chargers are red-hot in December. Rivers’ middle name should really be “clutch” since he continuously pulls through at the end of every season. Since 2006, he is 30-6 in December. Not enough to impress? Well, Rivers also has an average passer rating of 105.4% and has averaged only 2.6 interceptions opposed to the 3.8 average interceptions in November. In the 2013 season, Rivers led the team to win their last four games of the year and sneaking them into the playoffs. In the last six seasons, the Chargers went to the playoffs three times when the team had two or fewer losses in December. Since 2006, the team has a 5-3 record for their first December game; each opponent has been an AFC team. This year, the Chargers start December off at home versus the New England Patriots; an AFC East team. Unfortunately, Rivers is 1-3 against Tom Brady in the regular season. Why is this important? Defeating any AFC team will increase their chances of a post season appearance.
Unlike Peyton Manning, Rivers plays very well in outdoor stadiums with cold weather present. Yes, Rivers plays in an outdoor stadium in sunny San Diego, but the way he owns teams on their cold turf is incredible. For the last eight years, he has won 15 of 16 games played in outdoor stadiums during the cold December month. The last two games of this season are in outdoor stadiums; Kansas City and Santa Clara. Ending the season with two wins on the road in cold weather will impress more than just Charger fans.
For the Chargers to sneak into the playoffs this year, a winning November record is crucial. Luckily for them, they play the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams at home in the next two weeks; both teams only have a combined record of 3-15. Adding to that, Ryan Mathews, Melvin Ingram, Manti Te’o, and Jerry Attaochu all returned to practice this week. If Philip Rivers and company can continue their stellar December play and win games in November, there is no reason why they can’t turn heads and head into the 2014 playoffs. However, if history repeats itself, November can be another ugly month. Time will tell, but Rivers is capable of accomplishing the unheard of when most have already written him off.