Sometimes dreams do come true. As children, most of us wanted to believe in fairy tales. After all, who doesn't like a feel-good story with a happy ending? However, in the National Football League, feel-good fairy tales rarely occur. It's a cold hard business in the NFL that doesn't have room for the weak hearted. But in New Orleans, there's an incredible story brewing that would put a smile on even the biggest skeptic.
Back in late January, the Saints signed a local New Orleans kid from McDonough 35 High School who was considered a longshot to even make the final roster. After all, cornerback Delvin Breaux had not even played a single down of college football.
The high school phenom broke three vertebrae in his neck on a diving kickoff return tackle, and it was assumed by most that Breaux would likely never wear a helmet on a football field again. And for 6 long years, they were right. The long scar down the back of his neck convinced Breaux himself that he was no longer going to play the game he loves so much.
The LSU Tiger football program did the right thing and honored the scholarship that Breaux committed to, but it didn't take long for the former star athlete to leave campus for good. His departure from Baton Rouge marked the ending of what was an incredibly promising career. And here's where the fairy tale part begins.
In 2012, six years after the last time Breaux played football, he decided to give it another try suiting up for a semi-pro team in Houma, Louisiana called the Louisiana Bayou Vipers. Yes, I've never heard of them either.
The success with the Bayou Vipers propelled him into a brief stint with the New Orleans Voodoo, the local Arena Football League team. But it was his next gig, two fruitful years in the Canadian Football League, that proved to Breaux that he still had what it takes to play with the "big boys."
The 6-foot-1, nearly 200 pound cornerback is put together well, and it showed it in the CFL. Last season, Breaux had a pick-6, a couple fumble recoveries and 33 tackles for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Despite all of that, one scout (who will remain unnamed) said that although Breaux had good size and exceptional speed, he didn't see him as a possible challenger for a starting job in the NFL. Boy, was he wrong.
Breaux arrived to training camp at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia as one of nine potential NFL cornerbacks. Only five or six of them are expected to make the team. Prized free agent acquisition Brandon Browner was brought in from the New England Patriots to give the Saints a much needed injection of attitude and chutzpah. The other starting cornerback is Keenan Lewis, perhaps the most consistent player on the Saints defense since he arrived from Pittsburgh two seasons ago.
The influx of cornerback candidates left Breaux fighting for a job with former 1st round pick Kyle Wilson, last year's Saints 2nd round pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste, two players drafted this year (P.J. Williams & Isaiah Swann), as well as two others who have NFL starting experience. Long odds indeed.
All it took was a couple of OTA (Organized Team Activities) practices to realize Delvin Breaux was legit, a real force to not only make the final roster, but be a true bona fide candidate to be the team's starting nickel cornerback. He made one acrobatic over-the-shoulder interception that would have made fellow New Orleans native Odell Beckham Jr. proud.
And now that the Saints penciled-in starter Brandon Browner is on the shelf for a few weeks with a banged up knee, it's looking more and more like this one-time longshot might just be the starter opposite Keenan Lewis on Opening Day vs the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, sometimes fairy tales do come true.