Darius Leonard, aka The Maniac, discusses his journey to the top of the NFL and his lockdown training routine.
When Darius Leonard first entered the NFL, he was labeled by many sports news outlets as the worst pick of the year. That’s not the kind of attention you want going into your first year in the pro leagues. Fast forward to the end of the season and suddenly Leonard is ranked as one of the best. He was awarded Rookie Of The Year and is now considered one of the top linebackers in the NFL. Certainly a big change in a short amount of time – and a well deserved one at that. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Colts Linebacker Darius Leonard describes his journey from worst pick to Rookie Of The Year and details how he’s training during the countrywide lockdown.
Speaking with Darius Leonard via our video interview call, you wouldn’t expect him to be the kind of player with the nickname Maniac. He’s causal and relaxed despite being on of the best linebackers currently playing in the NFL.
“I have two different personas,” Darius Leonard states in our interview. “When I’m on the field, I’m just that wild and crazy guy who’s just a competitor. And then when I’m off the field I’m just a polite guy, respectful, who’s going to talk to anyone he can.”
That’s the kind of class you want in a top NFL player. He’s aggressive on the field and gets impressive results – but he also represents himself and the sport with candor and respect. But don’t let that fool you, he’s a freight train on the field that seems truly unstoppable. He has a career combined total of 244 tackles and he’s only now just about to start his third year. He’s parlayed his success on the field into a successful social media presence with hundreds of thousands of followers. He’s ready to take over the world.
A celebratory pose of Darius Leonard on the field (above).
Of course 2020 is no longer an ordinary year. With the world in crises and the current state of nearly all professional sports in jeopardy for the year, things are still very uncertain for what will happen come the fall and the start of the new NFL season. As of right now, there are no official plans to stop or slow down the season. The NFL has the luxury of not starting until much later this year – so a lot can change.
That being said, this period of time is still an important one for the players and certainly for Darius Leonard. With facilities and gyms closed around the country – how is Leonard keeping himself on point for the upcoming season? How will The Maniac maintain his momentum of becoming the best in the NFL if the entire world is stunted by a society halting crisis?
Again, Leonard keeps his cool and maintains his casual and logical demeanor, not very befitting of the name Maniac. He understands that people’s health comes first and that whatever happens with this season, he will understand that world healing comes before the NFL.
On top of that, he’s honestly not too worried as he’s still able to train at his home. The NFL has sent some equipment for him to train with. He honestly see this as returning to his roots of how he prepped and trained back before his time in the NFL. It’s what got him there in the first place. So he’ll certainly be ready to go whenever things return back to normal.
“The NFL sent some weights and stuff for us to use. And you know I’m from the country so that’s nothing new to me,” Leonard casually states.
“I didn’t have much equipment growing up anyway. I just went back to everything that – my foundation. Pulling tires, pushing tires, flipping tires, running around the field. Working in the yard. That’s the stuff that built me into who I am now. So I just went back to it.”
Darius continues to go into detail about his training regimen and how strength and athletic training differs from the kind of training bodybuilders focus on for competitions. This may be an obvious difference in training tactics – but it’s certainly fascinating to see how one of the top pros in the NFL handles training and prep compared to the top pros of bodybuilding.
We also touch upon a few other topics such as what year a football player hits his prime int the NFL compared to other sports and about the controversial topic of concussions in the sport. Specifically after the film Concussion brought a lot of scrutiny onto the NFL upon its release in theaters.
Ultimately, Darius Leonard ends off our interview focusing on the positives. How grateful he is to be an all star football plater in the NFL only about to start his third year. The younger version of himself would never believe it to be true – as it’s all he ever wanted for his future. He made that future a reality – and how he has his eyes on the Super Bowl. Based on how he’s handled everything else so far – we wouldn’t be surprised to see that coming some time soon.
You can check out our full GI Exclusive interview with Darius Leonard above.