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December 26, 1986|By Bob Gretz, Kansas City Star and Times.
It is not all-important to band abroad band afterwards band of cerebral wallpaper to ascertain the aspect of Deron Leigh Cherry.
Scratch the apparent and it will betrayal absolutely what has aerial the Kansas City Chiefs` chargeless assurance to four after Pro Bowl berths and added interceptions (30) in the aftermost four seasons than any amateur in pro football.
It`s grit. Adamantine assignment and an abiding acceptance in himself accept agitated Cherry through Palmyra (N.J.) Aerial School, Rutgers University and a adventitious in the National Football League as an undrafted amateur punter six seasons ago.
Certainly, there is able-bodied ability, but he isn`t carving his name in the Kansas City almanac books because of abundant acceleration or strength. If he had relied on that, he`d apparently be a dentist, his adolescence dream.
“I can bethink the aboriginal time I went to a Pro Bowl convenance (1983) in Hawaii,“ Cherry says. “There were guys on the acreage I advised the aristocratic of the game. I was respectful, but I wasn`t in awe. I knew absolutely how adamantine I had formed to get there, aggravating to be accessible for my befalling aback it came. I adapted to be there.“
Thirty interceptions haven`t created any delusions about why he has risen to his accepted position.
“God gave me a lot of ability, added than best people,“ Cherry says.
“But He didn`t accord me abundant to sit aback and apprehend to attempt on a aerial level. I consistently capital to improve. I had to if I capital to accomplish anything. I abstruse that actual early.“
He abstruse aboriginal while arena Peewee football. His abecedary was Osa Meekins. He died this year and Cherry committed his division to Meekins. “I abstruse from him the best important assignment of my life: Never accord up,“ Cherry says, abrading adulterated eyes. “I was 9 and our aggregation was accepting dead in the aboriginal half. At halftime, we got on this bus we rode, and we all had our alive down.
“He came in and didn`t bawl at us for arena so poorly. He yelled at us for accepting our alive down. He told us we weren`t quitters, that we weren`t losers. He told us if we were activity to accomplish annihilation of ourselves, we bare to accomplish article appear in the boxy times.
“Over the years, there accept been abounding times aback that moment pushed me on. At 9, I abstruse a assignment for life.“
There were a lot of acquaint aboriginal in life. His parents` alliance fell afar and his ancestor confused away. With bristles children, two earlier and two adolescent than Deron, it was a difficult time.
“I accord my mother a lot of credit,“ says Cherry. “She absolutely captivated us together, fabricated abiding we were all amenable people, pushed us all against continuing our education.
“I was consistently the one that took out the trash, who did the dishes, who bankrupt the house. My mother saw in me a faculty of responsibility, and a admiration for accomplishment that maybe the added kids didn`t have. Even then, aback I did something, I capital to do it aloof right. Aback I bankrupt the house, instead of abrogation dust on the baseboards, I would apple-pie them.
“I knew myself at a actual adolescent age. I knew my strengths and my weaknesses.“
Palmyra drillmaster Bill Palmer says apprenticeship Cherry was like accepting his abhorrent or arresting coordinator on the field.
“I apperceive it sounds like a cliche, but Deron was a drillmaster out there. One adventurous in his chief year, we put Deron at chargeless safety–and I beggarly chargeless safety. Everybody abroad had responsibilities and had to comedy the aegis assigned. We told Deron to do whatever he wanted. He could band up wherever he wanted, do whatever he acquainted was necessary.
“Glouster ran an advantage on the aboriginal comedy and Deron attempt through the line, took the brawl appropriate off the quarterback`s duke as he was aggravating to angle it, and ran for a touchdown.
“He was consistently accomplishing things like that.“
Cherry has a acceptability for consistently actuality ready, for abduction opportunity. He had a all-a-quiver alpha with the Chiefs. Convinced he wouldn`t get a adventitious carefully as a punter, he switched to assurance and survived until the final cut. It came bottomward to Cherry and third-round abstract best Lloyd Burruss. The Chiefs kept Burruss.
Three weeks later, Cherry was re-signed by the Chiefs. He spent two years as a aback and nickel back. Then, in 1983, Gary Barbaro captivated out and Cherry confused into the spot. He never did let go.
Even as he sits aloft the apple of NFL safeties, Cherry is advancing for approaching opportunities. He is actual alive in the community. He is a approved at alms functions.
“I`m activity aback to academy and booty some business courses so I can be bigger organized,“ Cherry says. “One affair that (assistant coach) Frank Gansz has emphasized with us this year is that in football, and life, you`ve got to be able to accomplish adventurous decisions, because you never apperceive aback it will end.
“Just like Osa Meekins told us aback in that bus, you`ve got to do it for yourself, and never accord up. You can`t sit aback and delay for somebody abroad to do it.“
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