Super Bowl: Colts’ lineman goes from sub (teacher) to starter
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Indianapolis guard Kyle DeVan spent the past year working his way from sub to starter.
All it took was a cross-country odyssey, some hard work, a job change and a little trust from the Colts.
Now the man who spent last February living with his parents and waiting for the next substitute teaching job is getting ready to start in the Super Bowl.
“It’s been the longest year of my life,” DeVan said while preparing for the biggest game of his life. “But at the same time, it’s been the funnest year of my life. It’s just been tremendous.”
Especially after trading lesson plans for game plans.
DeVan grew up in Vacaville, Calif., played college ball at Oregon State, then signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins. He was cut before training camp opened in 2008, then briefly landed with the New York Jets before getting cut again in late August. Two months later, DeVan was back with the Jets, on the practice squad, where he stayed until getting cut a third time in mid-December.
Some players might have gotten the message: Give up the dream.
DeVan never retreated from it.
With bills to pay, he went back to work in his old school district where few students dared to mess with the 6-foot-2, 306-pound substitute who was as versatile in a classroom as he was on the field.
“I taught high school, junior high and elementary school,” DeVan said. “I taught everybody from fifth grade through seniors everything.”
But classwork only made DeVan’s vision clearer.
He still wanted to play football and when the Boise Burn, of arenafootball2, offered him a chance, DeVan put down the books, picked up the weights and headed to Idaho.
There the Colts saw enough from DeVan to bring him to training camp even though DeVan had been playing almost nonstop since mid-October. Nervous, weary and motivated, DeVan was impressive enough to earn a spot on the active roster.
“The thing that helped me was that I had nothing to lose,” DeVan said. “If they didn’t want me, I would have gone back to arena2.”
Possibly more teaching, too.
Winning respect took longer. During a Week 2 Monday night game at Miami, DeVan’s family and friends were shocked when they saw DeVan’s name pop up as a starter — for the Dolphins.
“It was just a mistake, his number was 66, too,” DeVan explained. “I didn’t know about that, but I started getting text messages from friends asking me what happened and whether I had been traded.”
Six weeks later, DeVan was starting for the Colts and solidifying himself as the starter.
If anyone can identify with DeVan, it’s four-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, another undrafted free agent who excelled with the Colts. Like DeVan, Saturday was cut before making it to his first training camp in Baltimore, then spent the next year out of football doing electrical work before the Colts gave him a second chance.
Perhaps that’s why Saturday has so much fun at DeVan’s expense.
“Hey, Peyton Manning may be the face of this team, but you’re the heart of the Colts,” Saturday shouted across the locker room Friday afternoon. “You’re the heart of the Colts.”
At the heart of DeVan’s rapid ascension, though, is his passion for football.
If arenafootball2 taught him anything, it was to never give up.
Now, a year after moving back in with his parents and teaching in his hometown, DeVan is bringing his family to Miami where they can share the greatest — and most improbable — moment of his life.
“When you think about it, not many guys get to play in the Super Bowl,” DeVan said. “It’s really neat, it’s been a dream year.
“My mom and dad and the family, they’ve been through a lot of three-day wrestling tournaments, Friday night football games, games in the rain up at Oregon State,” he said. “They’ve been there for me all the time, and it’s great to be able to bring them to the game and share it with them.”