NFL players are supposed to state their college when they're announced as starters on Sunday Night Football, but sometimes guys mess around. They say they went to Ball So Hard University or their middle school or whatever. So if you heard Delvin Breaux identify himself as having attended McDonogh 35 High School rather than a college, you probably didn't think about it.
But Breaux has a good reason for that. I first heard of Breaux when our site was busy making fun of him for his role as CONFUSED SAINTS DEFENDER flailing at a pass, and I immediately felt kinda bad for mocking him. Because his story is amazing.
Breaux did go to McDonogh 35 high school in New Orleans, and earned a scholarship to play cornerback at LSU.
But in 2006, Breaux was trying to make a tackle on a kickoff return, and things went very, very wrong. Just two days after his 17th birthday, he broke his C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae, as well as a blood vessel in his neck. He was told he should've died on the field.
Breaux didn't say LSU on SNF's intros because although the Tigers honored his scholarship, he would never take the field. He never got the medical okay to play. They called him a "player-coach," but he never played anything more than flag football.
But he never let his dream die. In 2012, he suited up for something called the Louisiana Bayou Vipers of the Gridiron Developmental League, a semi-pro outfit. Their Twitter account has 62 followers. There might be a team in your city, and you probably have no idea. Their coach was very surprised he wanted to play football after his neck injury. But never mind that nobody cared or nobody knew why he wanted to play. He was an all star.
In 2013, he bumped up a level, playing with the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League. Never mind the level, he dominated.
In 2014, he signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, pretty much the highest level of football below the NFL. The TiCats made the Grey Cup, the CFL's Super Bowl. Breaux blew everybody away with his talent, and he was named to the CFL's All-Star team.
This offseason, the Saints signed him. Neat! They signed a kid from their hometown who had a bad neck injury and did well in the CFL. Neat! Totally neat! But he's not gonna make the 53-man roster, right? Except he did. And then he played. And then starting CB Keenan Lewis got injured, and he's the starter. Breaux called it a dream come true, but, to be honest, I don't have dreams as far-fetched as his comeback has been.
Breaux's road to the NFL has been long as hell. He took six years off. He played with amateurs. He played with semi-pros. He played with pros. And now he's playing in the NFL.
But Breaux shouting out his high school reminds us that while that road might be metaphorically long, he's actually just about two miles from where his journey started. It's still about New Orleans; New Orleans from beginning to end.