CHIP ON SHOUL­DER BOOSTS SWEARINGER

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By Les Car­pen­ter The Wash­ing­ton Post

In­tense safety dis­proves doubters, hon­ors Sean Tay­lor

Red­skins safety D.J. Swearinger struts across foot­ball fields with fists clenched, the same Bone Thugs-N-Har­mony hook pound­ing through his head, wear­ing re­sent­ment like a pair of over­sized shoul­der pads. Burn­ing in his chest is a vol­cano of slights, filled with all the voices of the doubters, the dis­be­liev­ers and those who just don’t un­der­stand. The rage rises, build­ing, build­ing, build­ing un­til at last it erupts into a blast of spit and screams and fly­ing hair.

You don’t think D.J. Swearinger is the best safety in the NFL? Re­ally, you don’t? Be­cause here he comes now, 205 pounds of mus­cle carved in the same Mi­ami gym that molded the rip­pling arms of LeBron James, ready to make you re­al­ize you’ve been hit by the NFL’s top safety. No. 1. Get it? That’s D.J. Swearinger.

“It’s the thug­gish, rug­gish bone,” Shatasha Wil­liams sings on the Bone Thugs-N-Har­mony song Swearinger plays on con­stant re­peat.

In his mind, he hears the Hous­ton Tex­ans coaches who didn’t get him, the crit­ics who called him a dirty player and the cho­rus of foot­ball ex­perts who hardly seemed to know who he was. He seethes. He rages. Then he goes look­ing for an­other pass to in­ter­cept.

He wears his dead hero’s rookie num­ber, plays for his dead hero’s NFL team, imag­in­ing ev­ery minute that he’s prowl­ing the sec­ondary like Sean Tay­lor, hunt­ing for a re­ceiver to hit. And some­where it oc­curs to him that at age 27, he might ac­tu­ally be at ex­actly the right place.

ALEX BRAN­DON/AP FILE

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins free safety D.J. Swearinger (36) speaks to his team­mates in a hud­dle be­fore a vic­tory Oct. 21 against the Dal­las Cow­boys in Lan­dover, Md. After join­ing the Red­skins in 2017, he quickly be­came one of the de­fense’s lead­ers.

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