Leger Douzable arrived in Buffalo to little fanfare.
The Bills signed the journeyman defensive lineman to a one-year, $885,000 contract that didn't feature a cent of guaranteed money. That mean Douzable needed to make the team to see any of it.
Not only has he done that, he's become a valuable member of the Bills' defensive line rotation, with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks the first five weeks.
In this week's "Getting to Know," Douzable talks about growing up in Tampa, Fla., his charitable work in Haiti, and the life of a journeyman.
The Buffalo News: Tell us about where you were raised?
Leger Douzable: "I grew up in Tampa, Florida. Went to high school there. Then for college, I went to the University of Central Florida."
BN: How does a Tampa guy end up at Central Florida and not South Florida (which is in Tampa)?
LD: "That’s funny. Actually, I was offered by both schools, and everybody else that came out with me that year decided to stay and go to USF, but I just always wanted to be different. I always wanted to play against guys who are from my neighborhood, or I had known growing up. It was always a competition thing for me, so I decided to be the only guy from Tampa to leave and go to UCF."
BN: From a South Florida graduate, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
LD: "It’s funny, my mom is a South Florida graduate, so every time we play them it’s a back-and-forth thing. Her and my aunt went to USF, so I always talk trash. It’s called 'Hate Week' when we play them. I might not talk to her that whole week."
BN: Tampa is a hotbed for football talent. Do you have any teammates or opponents who are in the NFL now?
LD: "Not that I know of, but there was a guy who was a few years after me at my school, Anthony Chickillo, he went to the University of Miami. He went to the same high school as me. I used to always go back home and watch the younger guys practice and talk to them. He’s doing well for the Pittsburgh Steelers now and I’m happy for him."
BN: What's the best thing to do in Tampa?
LD: "Busch Gardens is probably the No. 1. There’s a lot of good Hispanic food, too, but Busch Gardens I'd say."
BN: How about Ybor City?
LD: "Oh man, When I was younger, that's where it was at, Ybor. South Tampa has really grown since I left Tampa and when I get back I'm always amazed by how much that's grown."
BN: How about the beaches?
LD: "Definitely Clearwater Beach. We used to go there all the time in high school. I live in Fort Lauderdale now, so I’m on the beach all the time. But definitely in high school, senior ditch day, don’t tell nobody about that, we used to go to Clearwater."
BN: You're of Haitian descent, right?
LD: "My biological father is from Haiti. Although he didn’t raise me, I’m still close with the family. As a side note, myself and a few other NFL guys, Cliff Avril, Pierre Garcon, we've teamed up and are trying to build sustainable houses in Haiti. You can go to newstorycharity.org to donate any amount. Anything you can do will really help. After Hurricane Matthew, Haiti is in dire need right now.
BN: Have you been there?
LD: "Not since I was little, but I plan on going either during our bye week or right after the season."
BN: How did you get your name (which is pronounced Leh-je' DOO-zah-bull)
LD: "I’m a junior. My name still gets butchered. I have to tell somebody like 10 times, then they’ll get it. My teachers were like, 'Where’s your name from, it’s so nice.' It definitely makes me, me. It fits who I am."
BN: You've been on eight different NFL teams in your career. What's that been like?
LD: "People say that, but to me it’s not really eight. My first three years is when I really bounced around (five teams in three years). After that I’ve been pretty stable. Two years in Jacksonville, three years with the Jets, and then up here. So that bouncing around kind of stopped. Coming in as an undrafted free agent, you’re fighting every day. After camp my second year, I made the team (the New York Giants). We were deep at D-Line, a few running backs get hurt, you’re the low man on the totem pole, so that's how it goes. They were going to put me on practice squad, but I decided to leave so I could actually get some film. I didn’t get any film my whole rookie year because I was inactive. Ever since my second year I played in almost every game, except my fifth year when I tore my pec."
BN: So what's your preparation for the Buffalo winter been like?
LD: "I’ve been in New York the last three. I know it’s a little different, but it’s not like I’ve been in the South just chilling. I’ve heard that Lake Effect can get kind of crazy, but we’ll find out in the next couple months, but I think I’ll be all right."
BN: What have your impressions of Buffalo been?
LD: "It’s cool, man. Everybody was like, 'What are you going to do in Buffalo?' But it’s not what people think it is. It’s an up-and-coming city, I’d say. I stay not too far from Canalside. That area is becoming really nice. Right off the lake, it’s pretty nice. Anywhere I can be near the water, I love."