Mike Tolbert has never been short of chips for his broad shoulders.
The Buffalo Bills' running back has been doubted his entire NFL career. For being too short. For being too slow. For not being fast enough. Even for being "too fat."
All of those slights have been motivation for what has become a 10-year career. Tolbert's most recent motivational source is the way in which he found out his former team, the Carolina Panthers, were cutting him. Former General Manager Dave Gettleman opined that Tolbert's play had "deteriorated."
"To me, that was a shot below the belt," Tolbert said Thursday at his locker inside the ADPRO Sports Training Center. "We had a heated discussion about it. Ten years later, it's still giving me another reason to prove somebody wrong.
"So when you say that I've deteriorated, I'll prove to you that I'm not. At that time, I was 263, 264 pounds. I'm 247 now. I'm ready to run. I'm ready to play. I'm obviously doing a good job here. They like it. I'm going to show you and the rest of the league I haven't deteriorated."
Tolbert admitted to cracking a smile when he found out that Gettleman had been fired by the Panthers just a week before training camp started.
"I was kind of like, damn, karma is a (expletive), you know what I mean?" he said. "But you know what, at the end of the day, I wasn't wanted there. I'm happy to be here in Buffalo – a place that I'm wanted."
Tolbert reunited with coach Sean McDermott in Buffalo, and a couple months later was joined by Brandon Beane, the Panthers' former assistant general manager who was hired in May as the Bills' new GM.
"I'm happy to have Brandon Beane, a guy that wanted me from the jump -- didn't want me to leave," Tolbert said. "So I'm excited."
Story topics: Mike Tolbert