Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023


Four years into an All-Pro career, Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is done playing football, at least under his current name. Addressing reporters Tuesday at the start of Indianapolis’ training camp, Leonard revealed that he is now going by Shaquille, and would like to be referred to as such. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year apparently went by Shaquille, his middle name, while growing up and decided to bring the name back starting in 2022.

Leonard, who’d already advertised his middle name on Instagram, built quite a reputation for himself while going by Darius. A second-round draft pick out of South Carolina State in 2018, he’s been one of the NFL’s most productive linebackers since joining the Colts. A three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro, he’s racked up 538 tackles, 17 forced fumbles, 15 sacks and 11 interceptions in four seasons, separately leading the league in tackles and forced fumbles by the age of 26.

Leonard is currently recovering from back surgery he underwent in June, listed on the Colts’ Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start camp. The linebacker told reporters Tuesday his back is feeling better but declined to specify a targeted return date. The surgery partially stemmed from previous lower-leg pain, per ESPN. Leonard, meanwhile, can be activated and return to the field at any point before rosters are finalized on Aug. 30.

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