Your life can change in the matter of a few seconds, you could be going through financial hardship in the early morning and by the afternoon you could get a call that will change your life forever. We all have seen the stories on social media about these amazing stories. It is important to stay ready because when that call comes for an opportunity you need to be able to make the most of it. I spoke with the XFL’s 5th leading rusher Darius Victor about his time in the NFL, coming to America from the Ivory Coast, his perception of the XFL and more.
Your team was fighting for a playoff spot with a 3-2 record and then the season gets canceled. How did you take the news and where were you?
“It was devasting with the fact that we can’t play football anymore. Also as a team, we were getting off on the right foot, we just won two games in a row, we felt confident and were about to play an undefeated Houston team (Roughnecks) at our house and we were excited for the challenge.
“I was in the equipment room with some of my teammates, then the news came down that the season was over. Our head coach, Kevin Gilbride, came in and said, ‘You guys just heard the news and they are trying to see if it’s indefinite or just a couple of weeks.’ He came in a little later and said it’s over and that the whole season would be done. It was a shocker and for a guy like me that’s been chasing an opportunity to play football to end is just mind-blowing and hard to wrap my head around that. But it’s about the bigger picture, it’s more than just me, I like playing football but it’s about being safe.”
What does the 10-day phrase mean and where did it come from?
“Me and my boy Jarrell Carter (Former NFL player) we lived together in Arizona when we played for the Cardinals and we have both been cut and had our hardships and things like that. So we coined a mindset that’s biblical in the book of Daniel and in the movie Paid In Full. And it’s a part in the movie when he said ‘I’m thinking we can be the George Jeffersons of the neighborhood in the next 10 years’ then he said ’10 years? I’m thinking 10 days’ You just have to have that mindset you put in the work, success could be around the corner. We worship God, we believe that God could make it happen with the snap of his fingers. That’s the mindset me and Jarrell had and it helps us in everyday life being prepared and putting in the work knowing things can change by the snap of a finger and God is in control at the end of the day.”
Talk about the season you had this year. You were the fifth-leading rusher in the XFL. Also, talk about your running style at running back. You remind me of Doug Martin.
“I think my running style is unique. People don’t run like me anymore. I believe I’m the toughest guy on the field and I play that way whether it’s picking up a block or it’s running the ball, I try to leave an impact. I believe my running style is not common. I’m a power running back that can make you miss or run through you. I just think my style is different from others and you don’t see many running backs that run like me.
What was your overall perception of the XFL five games in?
“I think it was a dream come true. It was just like the NFL, the only thing different was the number of fans and the money we made. Everything else was the same. My teammates and the guys I played against, played in the NFL or had some pro experience. We played in the same facilities. Growing up, my favorite team was the New York Giants and I always dreamed of playing in MetLife Stadium. Being with the Guardians, my home stadium was MetLife so it was a dream come true, I still played on TV every week and people still were watching me. The only thing different was the number of fans, but the fans we did have were amazing. They made us feel at home and like they knew us their whole lives.”
Talk about playing under head coach Kelvin Gilbride and running backs coach Jerald Ingram. Both had significant time in the NFL.
“Talking to coach Ingram I told him I had been watching him the whole time and I’ve been a part of your team the whole time as he was the running back coach for Giants and I had been rooting for them my whole life… Those two great men have a lot of knowledge about football and when they speak you have to listen or you will be missing out on some hidden gems. They are great men and great coaches and I was honored that they decided to coach me. A lot of people wanted the opportunity and I was blessed to have that opportunity. So learning from those guys was a great experience and I will forever be grateful for that opportunity.
Talk about coming to America from the Ivory Coast and escaping the war.
“I don’t really remember much about it, but I watched documentaries and remember what my parents told me. But it’s an eye-opener and a blessing to just be here. Just to be on the phone with you now is a blessing, I’m not supposed to be here. During the war, it was crazy over there. So I just have that perspective that’s different from others. I try to take it all, embrace every moment and try to make the most of every moment because I know where I came from, where my family came from and how extremely blessed we are to have opportunities that we do have. So coming from that background makes me work hard, makes me take the most out of every moment because I don’t know which one will be my last. I run with a chip on my shoulder, not so much that no one believed in me, but I’m doing something that I wasn’t supposed to do. I’m not supposed to be here. So having that extra motivation helps me out with the way I play football.
Talk about your NFL experience.
“I was with Saints for the preseason and on the practice squad with the Cardinals. But it was amazing just living out my dream. I scored an NFL touchdown even though it was in the preseason, but it still counts to me. I scored an NFL touchdown at the Superdome with the crowd rocking. It was amazing. Player, teammates I miss it all, to this day I still communicate with some of them. Just living the dream, I wasn’t supposed to be playing in the NFL. … I am extremely blessed and I am grateful for it all and I try to make the most of every situation, but playing in the NFL was a life-long dream. I am still trying to get back in the NFL. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it and it’s beautiful. Once you’ve done it, you know it can happen again. So I’m staying motivated and trying to do what I can to make it back to the NFL.”