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DaRon Bland sends cleats, gloves to Hall of Fame


FRISCO, Texas — Despite breaking the NFL record for pick-sixes in a season in Thursday's 45-10 win, DaRon Bland walked into the locker room on Sunday as still the same humble, down-to-earth presence as he was before breaking the record.

His humility can sometimes be mistaken for shyness, as even his teammates tease him whenever the cameras are around him knowing that he's not a big talker.

But unfortunately for Bland, the attention is only beginning, both in the media and outside the media.

"Nothing crazy, just everyone congratulating me," Bland said about the messages he's received since Thursday from family and friends.

To commemorate the record, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be taking Bland's cleats and gloves to Canton, Ohio, but the ball that broke the record will stay exactly where it started: in the hands of the second-year cornerback.

That ball along with all five of his interceptions from 2022 will eventually get a trophy case in Bland's home, but that's for later down the road.

"All of the balls are still in the case right now," he said with a laugh.

His historic ballhawk skills are something that he has worked to perfect since he started playing football in elementary school, and it's allowed him to take the league by storm in his second NFL season.

"When I first started playing football, it was on offense," he said. "When I was a young kid, I was playing running back and transitioned to playing quarterback. Always played defense too but I played receiver in middle school."

"Every time the ball goes in the air, I go back to my offensive ways. Trying to get the ball and see what I can do with the ball in my hands."

What might be most impressive when looking at Bland's historic season is that despite having seven interceptions and five pick-sixes, it's not like he's chasing the ball and making bad risks at times. His sound coverage remains prevalent, and it's allowed him to be in the right spots at the right times.

"You can't go out there chasing plays or you won't make plays at all," he said. "I say just don't try to chase it."

His play has him sitting with the fourth-best odds to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, according to BetMGM, but for him, that's not on the front of his mind.

"I hear it, people talking and saying I should be in it," he said. "But if it happens, it happens."

For him, what's most important now is helping his team reach the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl win in 2023.

"Now, it's just trying to go all the way for the team and win the Super Bowl," he said. "I was always more into the team goals than anything, because the personal goals will come with it."

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