HOUSTON – Tight end Darren Fells didn’t travel the most traditional route to the NFL, but by the looks of things, he has finally found a home with the Houston Texans.
And at home-at home, where his wife, Lindsay, put her foot down when it came to COVID-19 – because, Fells jokes, he’s “the money-maker.”
Before that happened, though? A non-traditional route …
After spending the first few years of his professional sports career in Europe playing basketball, Fells finally made his way to the NFL in 2014, where he caught on with the Arizona Cardinals.
Following a couple of stops in Cleveland and Detroit along the way, Fells eventually landed with the Texans where, with the help of Deshaun Watson at quarterback, 2019 was the best year of his career, catching 34 passes on 48 targets for 341 yards and seven touchdowns, all of which were career-highs.
“Here’s a guy that didn’t even play college football, he was a basketball player,” said Texans coach Bill O’Brien. “Really a guy that is just a really mature, good person who cares about winning, who cares about being a good teammate. He really works hard to improve. We do a lot of things with the tight ends and he came into our system last year and he really learns well.”
That career-year resulted in more than just an increased opportunity and more wins, but also into a new future after he signed a two-year, $6.3 million contract with Houston this offseason.
For Fells, that investment from the Texans means everything.
“Still surreal,” Fells said. “One more year and I’ve actually played football longer than I’ve played basketball, college and professional combined. … Being able to play in the league for eight years and build great relationships and play football is a dream.”
This offseason wasn’t without its challenge for Fells, however, as with young children, the coronavirus pandemic kept him away from his traditional offseason regiment. … Though that time at home with his wife and children seemed to be a nice change of pace for the veteran.
“My wife made me stay home because she said I’m the money-maker, so I’m not allowed to get sick,” Fells said. “I was doing a lot more fatherhood stuff, just spending a lot of time with my kids and enjoying that time that I had.”
Now, with a brand new contract, one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the NFL and an offense full of weapons at his side, the 34-year-old has a chance to have an even more productive 2020 season, as the Texans quest towards their third straight AFC South title. … and more money-making.