When the casual fan thinks of NFL players, an image often comes of an athletically gifted but pampered superstars who have had everything handed to them on a silver platter.
But those fans have never met new Vikings RB Ciatrick Fason. His road to the NFL hasn't been filled with fancy cars and bling. He's had to work hard for everything he's received – from the time he left high school until the minute he got the call from Mike Tice telling him he was being taken by the Vikings.
Fason was highly recruited out of high school but only wanted to play for the University of Florida and committed immediately with the Gators. But, after sitting for a year, Fason's frustration began to mount – to the point he was prepared to leave the Gators program.
"I wasn't quitting," Fason said. "I was about to transfer because I felt in my sophomore year I was the best running back on the roster and I didn't play in the first five games. (Once I got my chance) from that point on, that's when I made my mark."
Fason became a full-time starter in 2004 and made the most of it – rushing 222 times for 1,267 yards and 10 TDs, along with 35 receptions and two more scores. Had he stayed at Florida for his senior year, he likely would have been a potential first-round choice, but he had more pressing concerns. A married father of two small children, Fason's wife had a full-time job as a cook at California Chicken Grill – a restaurant near the UF campus. Mixing that with motherhood and a full course load at college caused its share of strain, but coming to the NFL put that to an end.
"It makes me feel so much better knowing that my wife doesn't have to work 13-hour days and struggle to pay our kids' daycare," Fason said. "It makes me a more mature person just having my family along with me (in Minnesota)."
Fason's problems didn't end Saturday. After being projected as a second-rounder by many scouts – including the Vikings –watching and waiting as other names left board became a source of frustration.
"It was upsetting," Fason said. "I know how the draft goes. It always goes different ways. I always said no matter which round I got drafted in I was going to get picked. I always said no matter which round I got drafted in, I was going to be the steal of the draft."
That sounds vaguely familiar among fourth-round running backs for the Vikings, doesn't it?
Fason Family Needs NFL Paycheck
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