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Chargers' star overcoming demons

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    The Press-Enterprise

    SAN DIEGO - For Darren Sproles, running with the football is the easy part. Talking about it? That's not something he looks forward to.

    Sproles' 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns last Saturday against Indianapolis -- including the game-winning 22-yard burst in overtime -- grabbed the public's attention. But his more impressive feat may have been afterward, when he stepped to the podium in the Chargers' interview room and handled himself with nary a stumble.

    It's a case of a young athlete confronting his demons.

    Sproles has had a stuttering problem dating back to when he was 4. When he first joined the Chargers in 2005 he was a curiosity as a 5-foot-6 running back. But those who were curious didn't get much of a chance to know him because Sproles avoided interviews whenever possible.

    Over time, one-on-one interviews or sessions in small groups became tolerable. But the podium, where the team's stars are traditionally taken after games or midweek practices, might as well have been as frightening as the Grand Canyon.

    "I've got to learn how to do it, how to deal with it, really," he said. "It's just something that I want to get better at."

    Sproles has become a spokesman for the Stuttering Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps those with the problem. He majored in speech pathology at Kansas State because of his own situation, and he has received advice from Basketball Hall of Famer and TV analyst Bill Walton, who had a severe stuttering problem earlier in his life.

    The trick, Sproles has said, has been to take his time answering questions and allow the words to "flow." When he faced questions at Saturday's post-game news conference, he would visibly pause and take a deep breath before answering.

    "I just wanted to hurry up and get through it," he said with a laugh. "Once you work at it, then you can get comfortable with it and actually do pretty good at it."

    At this rate he might not be able to avoid the podium.

    Adding tailback duties to his regular workload of kickoff and punt returns because of LaDainian Tomlinson's injury, Sproles averaged 4.6 yards a carry Saturday, a potential glimpse of what Life After LT might look like in San Diego.

    Sproles is a free agent after this season, but the Chargers might be inclined to make him their "franchise" player to make sure he stays.

    "I think when they (Tomlinson and Sproles) are both healthy, we've done more with Darren this year than any other year as far as regular off-tackle runs, regular play-action stuff," quarterback Philip Rivers said.

    "Previously he's been the screen/draw guy, so you know certainly defenses are alert for that when he's in there.

    "The fact that he had (23) carries last week and will be more of an every-down back this week ... I think he showed last week he can do it all, make every run and pass protect."

    As for the idea that a 5-foot-6 guy isn't durable enough to be a feature back?

    "There are different types of small," Coach Norv Turner said. "He's a powerfully-built guy and is one of the strongest guys on the team ... He's a powerful guy and has shown that he can break tackles and run through people."


    Chargers running back Darren Sproles breaks through a hole against the Colts' Robert Mathis, right, and Clint Session during the fourth quarter of Saturday's AFC playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium. ​
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Aggieman

    Aggieman I bleed blue and gold

    Aug 14, 2008
    If he keeps winning games for us in The Playoffs I don't care if he's deaf, dumb, and blind. That kid sure plays a mean game of ball!
    • Like Like x 1

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    I give the man all the credit in the world, hell he's already doing something no one said he could do.:bolt: :tup: :icon_toast:
  4. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    I love this dude.

    Must resign him. MUST.
  5. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Mighty Mouse, Little Tank, whatever - to me, he's da man! It's the size of the fight in the man & Sproles has plenty!! :bolt:

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

    Oct 13, 2006
    I want him here next season but it's not going to be easy when we have Rivers and Merriman to lock up.
  7. auctoritas

    auctoritas BoltTalker

    Dec 17, 2006
    It takes some serious courage to face your biggest fear like Sproles did after the game...he deserves a lot of respect.

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