TEMPE, AZ – Daryn Colledge just signed a long term, 8 year deal, but not with an NFL team – with the National Guard.
Colledge, most recently a Miami Dolphin, also spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Caridnals during his NFL career. His newest team? The US Army. Colledge was officially sworn into the U.S. Army National Guard for an eight-year commitment Tuesday afternoon after passing a physical. The first chunk of six years will be on active duty with the last two being reserves, Colledge told ESPN when reporting on the story. The 34-year-old did say he’ll most likely transition those two reserve years into another eight years of active duty.
“I’ll do what I did in the league: I’ll grind my butt off and I’ll show that I have a commitment.”
The former guard will leave for a 10-week general training sometime in the next month with the other kind of guard. “It] is going to be different,” Colledge said. During basic training, he’ll be working alongside aspiring soldiers nearly half his age.
According WLS-TV, depending on if he makes it through, he’ll begin working as 15T, or a helicopter mechanic, for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters based in Boise, Idaho, where Colledge currently calls home.
Colledge, who is a private pilot as well, is trying to reach the level of Black Hawk crew chief, in lame man’s terms, the door gunner and the cable operator for rescue missions. He is a private pilot as well.
“This was the best and fastest way for me to get in the air and serve our country,” he said.
Colledge mentioned he decided two months ago to enlist after of course consulting with his family, specifically his wife and two daughters. Colledge said he nearly retired from the Cardinals a little more than two years ago to join the active duty Army, which rings of similarity to the all respectable case of Patt Tillman, who left the NFL to serve in active duty, tragically dying from friendly fire while on a mission in the Middle East. The reasons he held off included the birth of his now 2-year old daughter along with belief that his team was going in the right direction and commitment to the Cardinals coaching staff.
Since last playing in the NFL in 2014, he worked on losing weight from his playing weight, dropping from a massive 310 pounds down to 270, with plans on reaching 240. No matter the size, you won’t want to see this guy coming at you on the football field or battlefield.
“It’s just a little bit longer and a little more serious, but it”s going to be an awesome opportunity. It’s going to be a challenge to myself. I think basic training to me, it’s not combat. It’s the opportunity to go out and learn how to be a soldier and challenge yourself mentally and physically and try to get the most out of it. It’s just like anything else in the world. You get what you put in, and I get to put everything into it, and I expect to come out of it a changed man,” he said.
“You play football, you chase the money, you chase the dream, you go up a long time doing that, and then I think you get to a certain point in your life, and you decide the things that are important to you. For a long time it wasn’t about money for me. It became about other things, and I wanted to do something that was bigger than myself.”
With the feeling that his family was comfortable enough financially, Colledge retired from the NFL after spending the 2014 season with the Dolphins and moved back to Boise, where he played for Boise State University from 2002-2005.
Colledge said he felt this was the right time to pursue his dream of joining the Army.
“I get to give the National Guard here in Boise all the time in the world,” he said. “I get to give them as much as they need and hopefully some more time than I want, and I think that’s a rare opportunity. I get to do this because I want to serve and I want to take care of my country, and I want to take care of the residents here in Idaho. This gives me the best opportunity to do that.”
“This was not a decision made lightly. We live in an ever-changing world, at at this time in my life I feel it is best served with me in defense of my family, state, country.”