When the Los Angeles Chargers added Dan Feeney in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, they bolstered their offensive line with a smart, tough and nasty guard out of Indiana.
Rewind to 14 years ago and a Hoosier with gritty, similar qualities made the Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent: Kris Dielman.
Like all Chargers fan, Feeney knows who Dielman is and is ecstatic about following in his highly decorated footsteps.
"It's crazy!" he exclaimed. "One of our IU football ops guys texted me, 'You're the next damn Dielman!' That was the funniest thing. It's an honor. He was an amazing player. He came and talked to us when I was a sophomore about life in and after the NFL. Having him talk to us and now being on the team he went to, it's crazy."
The Dielman seminar resonated with Feeney. So much so that he can recall the lessons of the meeting like it happened yesterday. Being that Feeney is about to embark on his new career in the NFL, Dielman's sage advice couldn't mean more.
"He just said that the NFL is different from college. It's a business, but it's fair. You have to do your job and be a badass at your job. After the NFL, you have to get a financial manager to manage your money and just be smart with it. You can't blow it away on stupid stuff. You just have to be a pro."
If anyone knows what it means to be a pro, it's Dielman. Through his nine-year career with the Bolts, he was a four-time Pro Bowler and earned second-team All-Pro honors in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Feeney acknowledged knowing what the former Charger and Hoosier accomplished is beyond incredible, but ultimately, it fuels his fire to pave his own path.
"It motivated me a whole lot. Just to see a guy who put in the work and has had the heartache. He got hurt, came back and did everything he could do. It's just so motivating for me to see him and hear about his career. Going to the Chargers just like Dielman is a huge honor for Indiana, and especially for myself."