DAVIE, Fla. — Karlos Dansby wears a wristband that reads “Confidence.” Not that he ever needs to be reminded.
Dansby last season, even though he’s never made a Pro Bowl, proclaimed himself the best linebacker in the NFL. Take a look at what he’s now saying about himself.
The Miami Dolphins middle linebacker expects one day to end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That’s right, the one in Canton, Ohio.
“The Hall of Fame,” Dansby said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida. “If I lead men and I stay focused on what I need to do, I’ll get there.”
Dansby, who has 30.5 sacks and 11 interceptions over eight seasons, believes what will earn him enshrinement is becoming a member of the 20-20 club in those categories. Only 11 players in NFL history have done that, although sacks didn’t become an official statistic until 1982.
“To get that yellow jacket and be legendary, it’s right there,” Dansby said. “I’m nine picks away from that. Be legendary as one of the best ever to do it.
“The Hall of Fame, man. Without a doubt (Dansby will make it). If get in that club, it’s without a doubt. How can you not be in it? … Not one Pro Bowl has to be behind my name if I get in that 20-20 club. That separates me from everybody else.”
Let’s not get too carried away here. After all, Dansby, 30, only has had one interception in his two Miami seasons. And even using his career average of 1.4 interceptions per year, it would take him seven seasons to get nine more picks.
And even if Dansby were to reach the milestone, that hardly would assure him of making the Hall of Fame. Of the 11 known to be in the club (linebackers Seth Joyner, Brian Urlacher, Wilber Marshall, William Thomas, Donnie Edwards, Ray Lewis, safeties LeRoy Butler, Brian Dawkins, Lawyer Milloy and Adrian Wilson and cornerback Ronde Barber), not one actually is in the Hall, although Urlacher, Lewis and Dawkins are locks to get there and Barber also has a shot.
Of course, who said Dansby was being rational about his abilities? Never mind Dansby was rated by Pro Football Focus last season as 13th among 50 inside linebackers, he called himself the best overall linebacker in the NFL last November after getting 10 tackles, a sack and an interception in a win over Washington.
Nothing has changed since then. Dansby still believes he’s No. 1.
“I’m going to stand by my word,” Dansby said. “That’s just how I feel . . . Versatility. Instinct. I can do it all. I’ve been blessed with a great gift. God touched me, man. That’s all I can say.”
The Dolphins liked Dansby enough to sign him to a five-year, $43 million contract before the 2010 season after he had spent six years with Arizona. For the Cardinals, he did have two interception returns for touchdowns in 2005 and eight sacks in 2006. Dansby last season had 103 tackles (third on the Dolphins), two sacks and an interception.
But if Dansby is so good, why has he never made a Pro Bowl?
“All that stuff is political, man,” said Dansby, one of just six active NFL players with at least 30 sacks and 10 interceptions in his career. “There’s a lot of good players out there that get overlooked. . . . (Making a Pro Bowl) will come if I get all my goals reached.”
Dansby, excited about moving from an inside linebacker spot to the middle in Miami’s new 4-3 defense, said he’s set this season “by far” the highest goals of his career. But he wouldn’t be specific about them.
The 6-foot-4 Dansby said he weighs 242 pounds, 28 less than when he reported to training camp last year. Dansby believed he needed to put on weight for his new position but soon realized it was a mistake. He said he had dropped down to 246 when he “took off in that Washington game” and then dubbed himself the NFL’s best linebacker.
And now he’s talking about the Hall of Fame. As crazy as it might sound, his teammates aren’t doubting him.
“His game is built on confidence,” said outside linebacker Kevin Burnett. “And once you get on a roll, it’s contagious. He’s fighting for a football team, and, if you come out and say I believe I can be a Hall of Famer, then you have guys around you that want to see you get there.”
Count running back Steve Slaton as another not disputing that a bust could be molded one day of Dansby.
“People might think it’s cocky,” Slaton said. “But I think it starts with yourself. You got to have confidence. Nobody is going to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.”
Dansby hasn’t made like Chad Johnson, the recently cut Dolphins receiver who, after scoring a 2007 touchdown for Cincinnati, put on a yellow jacket that read, “Future H.O.F 20??” But he’s not shy in saying he’s eyeing Canton.
“You got to have swag,” Dansby said. “You got to be sure of who you are.”
If he ever has any doubts, Dansby needs only to glance down and read his wristband.