Chris Givens wants to be a hero.
For his brothers, for his new city, for himself.
In his mind, he has barely begun the journey. And in his mind, he is definitely going to make it, taking Ravens Nation along for the ride.
"I plan to play in this league for 12 to 15 years. I want to go out at the top and go out injury-free," Givens says. " I want the yellow jacket and I'm putting everything towards that."
This is the stuff that heroes are made of. Unblinking aspirations that shoot to the moon. And why not? Raised in a one-parent home, having torn not one but both of his ACL's in High School, and having people openly doubt his ability due to his size, he got used to being the dark horse and simply winning over and over again.
I will be one of those players that are in those situations where it's like "We need a big play, we need something to happen right here." That's when my blood gets going the most.
"Me being how I was, I would challenge anything that everybody said, such as, you can't jump this far. Why can't I?" Givens told Heroic Magazine reporter Antwan Pixley. "And that was my whole mindset growing up. I did not care what anyone said, I don't care what my circumstances may be, I was going to get what I wanted out of life, and that is just the mentality that I want a lot of young people to have, especially growing up in a small town in the South, where I grew up."
Givens has seen the high life of being a vaunted rookie, having been drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft out of Wake Forest University and turning his fortunes into an electric rookie year. The time with St. Louis soured for him, but the outcome has been very much to his liking. "I actually got traded, which is what I wanted," he recalled. "I have two former college teammates here. The city is great! It is a football town, the coaching staff is amazing, and everyone just wants to win. It is one of those places where, if you love football and one of your top goals is being the best, you can be."
Number 13 has never backed down from the spotlight or being the go-to guy. Another heroic trait. "I will be one of those players that are in those situations where it's like "We need a big play, we need something to happen right here." That's when my blood gets going the most. That's what you can expect from me, we need that first down, I'll be open, we need that big play, I'm getting back there, that's just my mentality. The way I work in the offseason, I put my mind to something, you can't stop me. You might get in the way for a little bit, but at the end of the day I'm going to catch that ball. That's just what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go out there and make big plays."
Sound familiar? Like a certain #89 for the Purple and Black? That's intentional. "Growing up, I played running back my whole life. I was a big running back fan from Terrell Davis, Eddie George, taking it back some, Gale Sayers and Eric Dickerson; those are the type of guys that I liked. And then once I moved to receiver, ironically Steve Smith was the guy that I used to watch, his highlight video all the way back to Utah, and I was similar, too, just in our demeanor and how we played the game. "
So with the vaunted Seattle defense coming up, what kind of mindset will this non-self proclaimed hero have? "I find motivation in all types of little stuff. Things like "This DB is good in the press." ...so it's like, ‘What are you saying, I can't beat him?’ You find little ways to keep the blood flowing and keep the fire inside, because when you get to this level you start making money and you get a little bit of recognition, and you can lose that fire. People are sometimes scared to take little things like that and use it as motivation."
Clearly, not #13.
Is it not fitting that, on Sunday, he will face the literally villainous moniker, "Legion of Boom"?
Perhaps, in the familiar face of absolute negative odds, a hero will rise.
Read the entire Chris Givens interview at Heroicmag.com.