Darnell Sankey’s two-plus years spent pursuing his dream job are a testament to perseverance.
Darnell SankeyNOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Sankey signed a practice squad deal with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday (Sept. 19). After entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Sacramento State in 2016, New Orleans represents his ninth stop and eighth team on his path toward a regular job on an NFL roster.
“Everything’s about timing, it’s about God’s timing,” Sankey said. “I was blessed to play with seven other different organizations, learn different systems, meet different coaches and players. It’s all God’s plan to me. I haven’t found the right fit, but I’ll find it. It’s no problem.”
Sankey’s journey started with the Broncos in 2016. He was cut after training camp and eventually found his way to the Raiders and Chiefs practice squads.
He went through camp with the Vikings last season then latched on with the Colts practice squad. The Colts activated him twice before cutting him in November. He then joined the Ravens practice squad, was released, then re-signed with the Colts on a reserve/futures contract in January of this year.
The Colts cut him again in May. He spent training camp this year with the Lions, made the practice squad and was released four days later.
In two-plus years, he already has worn the uniform of a quarter of the NFL’s 32 teams.
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t get discouraged at some point,” Sankey said. “When you get cut or released, you’re not happy. Of course you’re down, but you snap out of it, you get back to your routine. I’ll go back home to California and get back to work.”
This jet-setting around the NFL has taught him some valuable lessons, and Sankey makes a point to learn something new at each place. It has helped him maintain his positive outlook.
“As my journey has been going, I’ve learned something new every time,” Sankey said. “Rather than getting discouraged, it’s, ‘I’ve got to do work on this next time, I’ve got to do this next time.'”
Sankey is currently living in a hotel and driving a rental car. One of the lessons learned in his transient couple of years: Never ship your car to a new place, like he used to do, because nothing is ever settled. He has been on the sharp end of the unpleasant business side too many times to think that.
He believes some people take their opportunity for granted. If there is anything his short and well-traveled time in the league has taught him specifically, it is the ease and quickness one can be replaced.
The Colts kept Sankey on their active roster for six games last season in a special teams role. Before he knew it, he was looking for a job again.
“That’s what happens,” Sankey said. “They bring in someone else and you wonder why you’re going home. You take it for granted. That’s one thing I try to never do.”
Clearly, it is one thing he has not done.
“If it’s your dream, you’ve got to chase it,” Sankey said. “That’s how I look at it. Who’s to stop me?”
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