Why Slay had to fight back tears after being named captain


Darius Slay is known for his goofy personality. He’s known for cracking jokes. He’s known for keeping things loose.

He doesn’t have the prototypical personality of a team captain.

“That’s what made it shocking,” Slay admitted.

But that’s what also made it so special last week when he found out he was named one of the Eagles’ seven captains for the 2022 season after a team-wide vote.

Slay had to fight back some tears when he got the news.

“That means a lot to me,” Slay said. “That’s probably one of the biggest achievements of my career. Never been a captain before. So I’m like, ‘yeah, man, had me a little teary-eyed for a minute.’ I ain’t gonna lie. I was in the huddle like, ‘Oh snap.’ It’s a blessing, man, to be honored like that. I appreciate that from my teammates.”

For the second straight year under Nick Sirianni, Eagles players voted for their captains. We saw some expected names: Jalen Hurts, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham. Even Lane Johnson and Jake Elliott are logical.

And then there’s Slay, who might seem like a bit of a surprise to everyone who isn’t teammates with him.

“He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around,” Avonte Maddox said. “One of the best.”

It’s notable that Slay called being named a captain one of the biggest accomplishments of his career. After all, he’s entering double digits in the NFL, he’s been a four-time Pro Bowler, an All-Pro and has 23 career interceptions to his name.


But this is really special to him.

Why does Slay think his teammates voted for him?

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’m a guy that leads by example. I’m not a big speech guy, I’m not a BG guy that can just talk to the whole group. But I am a guy you can follow, the work ethic I put in. I just go hard every day and I just try to be the best version of me, like I always said. Just compete and do my job at a high level and lead by example.”

Really, it’s just his teammates recognizing the leader Slay has been since he arrived in Philadelphia back in 2020. It’s not uncommon to see him stick around after practice to work with young defensive backs or young receivers, offering any bit of advice he can give. He’s always ready to answer any question from his understudies. And his teammates say everyone gets invited to his house, not just star players, not just defensive backs.

Slay has time for everyone.

“I’m new to this team,” undrafted rookie safety Reed Blankenship said. “And just me being here for a few months, I’ve seen how good of a leader he is inside our DB room and out on the field. He’s a very approachable guy, especially for a rookie.

“I was in a leadership role in college and I understand the younger guys want to come and ask questions and he’s one of those guys. You ask him any question and he’s down to answer it. He really deserves this and I’m really proud of him.”

Slay was a second-round pick back in 2013 was a starter as a rookie. He clearly had the talent to become a great cornerback and he has gone on to have a long and productive career, but he always credits the teammates who helped him out along the way.

Slay has mentioned the names before: Rashean Mathis, Glover Quin, Chris Houston, Louis Delmas. Those guys showed Slay how to be a professional and he’s now happy to pass those tips along to his younger teammates.

Second-year corner Zech McPhearson has been a major beneficiary.

“Me being a younger player and Slay being my teammate,” McPhearson said, “that’s probably the best thing I could have asked for. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. He’s a selfless guy willing to help anybody. I think he deserves it all.”

This honor seems like a source of pride for Slay’s defensive back teammates. They know how important he’s been during his first two years in Philadelphia.

As goofy as Slay is most of the time, there’s a serious side behind it. His teammates see it.

“He said he held back tears talking about it the other day because it means that much to him,” Jalen Hurts said. “That’s a guy that I want. I want that guy leading.”


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