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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Dielman’s hard-nosed and well-respected
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – When Chargers guard Kris Dielman was voted to his first Pro Bowl following the 2007 season, he told a crowded room full of reporters that he was unsure if the honor would ever come for him.
“I just know I'm not making many friends out there when we’re playing,” Dielman said, acknowledging that opposing players make up one-third of the Pro Bowl vote.
Dielman’s game has been likened to that of a street brawler. His teammates lovingly refer to him as “Dirty Dielman.” He’s aggressive by nature and characterized by his physical style of play. He regularly refers to his mantra of “playing through the whistle, not to it.”
Dielman used to question whether those traits would prevent him from ever receiving the Pro Bowl honors that his coaches believed he was so deserving of. Now as he enjoys his third-consecutive Pro Bowl appearance this week, those questions have been answered.
“I know the Ravens voted for him,” said Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who has lined up across from Dielman three times in his young career. “He’s hard nosed and a hard worker. He’ll come at you. He doesn’t ever back down. I think that’s what makes him the player that he is.”
Dielman’s high level of play has earned the respect of his peers around the league, as evidence by Ngata’s words and Dielman’s popularity among his AFC teammates. Aside from the honor of being recognized as one of the best, Dielman’s favorite thing about Pro Bowl week is the time he gets to enjoy getting to know the cream of the NFL’s crop.
“I think once they realize I’m just playing ball, they all get it,” Dielman said. “There’s nothing real dirty going on there. I play hard and those guys realize it.”
While Dielman may be known best for his aggressiveness, Head Coach Norv Turner believes that’s not his star left guard’s only trait.
“He’s as complete an offensive guard as I’ve been around,” Turner said. “The one thing people lose sight of is this still is a game where you want to go after people and wear them down and get them to back off. And there’s no one who does that better than Kris.”
Dielman’s rags-to-riches story has been recounted often during his seven seasons with the Chargers. He played tight end and defensive tackle at Indiana. He signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent and made the team’s practice squad as a defensive lineman. Early in his rookie year of 2003, he was taken out of a defensive meeting and told that he’d be moving to guard. Two years later, he was a full-time starter, and in 2007 he made his first Pro Bowl.
“I definitely think I’m able to appreciate it as much as anyone because of the path I took to get here,” Dielman said. “Never in a million years could I have imagined it playing out this way. This is fun. It’s something special. It’s only going to get better once we achieve the goals we have as a team by winning a championship.”
Friday morning as he spoke of the honor of playing in a third-consecutive Pro Bowl, Dielman referred to his line mates, particularly Marcus McNeill and Nick Hardwick, three times in less than two minutes. He mentioned his offensive line coaches and the people who have helped him along the way. He paused a second for reflection, shook his head and smiled.”
“I’ve worked hard to get here and it’s an honor to be here three years in a row,” Dielman said. “It shows how hard I’ve worked and how good my teammates are around me to make me look good. I have a lot to be thankful for.”