Skip to main content

Tony Gonzalez. Antonio Gates. Jimmy Graham. Julius Peppers.

Darren Fells?

The one thing in common with the names listed above is all five guys played college basketball before transitioning over to the NFL for their professional careers. And even though Fells doesn't have the NFL resume the other four guys has, he certainly has a better resume when it comes to the sport of basketball.

That's because Fells played overseas and in various parts of South America from 2008-2012 before the Seattle Seahawks signed him in 2013. The pinnacle of his basketball career came during the 2010-2011 season, where his team, the Kataja Basketball Club, finished as runners-up in the 2011 Korisliiga Finals. Fells averaged career-highs of 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game that year.

Now, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end is in his ninth year in the NFL after not playing a single snap of college football at U.C. Irvine. He's been on six different teams (including the Bucs) throughout the course of his career and has 127 and career receptions, 1,526 receiving yards, and 21 touchdowns to show for it. 

He's also gone from a winless Lions team to a Super Bowl contender in the Bucs. It's easy to say that Fells' journey to this point has been interesting, at the least. 

Even he knows that.

Read More

“I wasn’t even in the sport 15 years ago, and now [I am] in year nine with a Super Bowl championship team – it’s pretty surreal," Fells said Thursday. "I can’t even put it into words.”

When you add in the fact that he's playing with the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady, it gets even more surreal. Fells played with Deshaun Watson for a couple of years, but Brady is easily the best quarterback he's ever played with. 

And when you couple Brady's presence with the fact that Fells has a lot of experience playing in Bruce Arians' system, this is probably the best position he's ever been in when it comes to winning a championship.

"It helps a lot," Fells said when asked about his previous experience with Arians. "Most coaches stick to what they know, so a lot of things are very similar. Obviously with [Tom] Brady here, lots of things have changed for him to be comfortable in the offense, as well, so it’s a little bit of a mix of each.

"Physically, I feel like I’m pretty good. Obviously coming from Detroit, I had the season to get ready. Mentally, I’m going on year nine and I’ve been in the system before, so a lot of things carry over. I think I’ll be ready for Sunday.”

Per Arians, Fells will play Sunday, just four days after re-joining his former head coach. 

While there's still plenty left to tell when it comes to Fells' story, there's only one thing missing. And it would give said story the perfect ending.

And that's a Super Bowl ring.

Stay tuned to AllBucs for further coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and other NFL news and analysis. Follow along on social media at @SIBuccaneers on Twitter and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.