From basketball abroad to the NFL
Darren Fells is on his second stint with the Detroit Lions after re-signing this spring. The veteran tight end stopped to answer five questions for the free press ahead of the Lions game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.
You’re known as a blocking tight end, but you’ve had 11 touchdown passes in the past two seasons with the Houston Texans. What’s the best feeling, burying someone in the ground or stepping into the end zone?
Definitely bury someone on the ground. It’s a men’s sport, which means you just have the best of the person out there. Unless you’re lathering someone, you always get the best of them, so that’s a tough question, but I’m going to have to block, bury someone in the ground.
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Since you played professional basketball before you reached the NFL, who is the all-time GOAT, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, or anyone else?
Ooh. I have to go with Tom Brady. This is a much more difficult feat to achieve in football than in basketball. Nothing against Michael Jordan. I mean, obviously it’s the GOAT when it comes to basketball, but overall, Tom Brady, I think so.
It’s out of script, but since you just picked Brady, who’s more responsible for the Patriots dynasty, Tom Brady or Bill Belichick?
I’m going to plead the fifth on that one.
Fair enough. Returning to the storyline, you played five seasons of professional basketball abroad. It would be a dream for many people to play a sport they love and travel. But what was the hardest part?
The most important thing is to adapt to this culture and then to be alone. So many people are so used to being in their shells, so being able to come out of their shell and explore and experience different cultures, different languages, different foods, things like that, was definitely the hardest part.
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What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
Best investment? Financially or simply in general?
That’s why it’s vague. It could be financial, it could be something you did for yourself. All that you want.
Guess I would say myself, moving from basketball to soccer, I invested in myself knowing that I had a sure thing to play basketball, not knowing how soccer was going to go. unwind and just knowing that I had the work ethic and the mental motivation to do what I’m doing. And now, the 9th year in the NFL is pretty awesome.
How scary was it when you first made the switch?
100%. Because in fact I had already signed a contract to go overseas, so I knew I already had a best-case job, probably a training team. Because I hadn’t played football for nine years. So, it was really scary.
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So why do it?
I believed in myself that I could do it. I knew I wanted to come back to the United States and start raising a family, and I knew being overseas it was going to be difficult to be away 10 months out of the year, so I had to invest in myself and do it.
I know you have two children and every now and then you will enjoy a tea party with your daughter. Tell me your favorite snack story.
Now that my daughter is getting a little older, her new thing was makeup, so I remember walking in – I actually have a video on my phone; every time I look at him, I laugh – and she puts makeup on my son. It’s bright pink, everything is everywhere, and then she smiles and laughs, he smiles and laughs because obviously he doesn’t know. She said to me: ‘OK, your turn dad.’ So now I have a pretty extensive photoshoot with her doing her makeup, a little beauty store now. So adjustment of my daughter doing that to my son. He’s more of a fighter, he likes to ninja and soccer, stuff like that.
Since you’re playing in Chicago this week, what’s it like to block Khalil Mack?
Oh, you have to bring your A set every time. He’s a tough, tough guy. Obviously, his name, everyone knows who he is. It’s just one of those things, you have to prepare yourself every day, watch a movie, make sure you know exactly who you’re up against.