G Davin Joseph called football a
Elie Joseph came to the United States 24 years ago looking for a better opportunity than those he could find in Haiti, his homeland. In the decades since, Joseph has worked steadily, found and married the love of his life and raised three children. In the process, he succeeded in the ultimate American dream: Passing on an even greater opportunity to his kids.
Davin Joseph, Elie's youngest son, was selected 23rd overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2006 NFL Draft on Sunday, which means he will soon be a) pursuing his passion at the highest level and, b) very wealthy.
Elie Joseph works in industrialized cleaning. Minnie Joseph, Davin's mother, does maintenance at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. When they met, they were both working at a hotel. However, the specifics of their employment isn't what matters to Davin Joseph; it's the manner in which they approach their jobs that counts.
"They worked [at the hotel] together, ended up getting married and had me," said Joseph. "From there, they're just hard-working people. The thing I love about my parents is they're hard-working people, they go to work every day, they don't complain about anything and they did everything in their power to make sure that me and my brother had everything we could ever need."
In the final analysis, Elie and Minnie may have passed on something even greater than opportunity to their sons: The drive and work ethic to make the most of it.
"They don't miss work," said Joseph of his parents. "They don't miss anything. When it comes to something, they do everything they do 100%, 110%. That's the same take I take with football. Everything I do is 110% or else you might as well not even do it. That's something I carry with myself, knowing that you have to seize every opportunity that you get and everything you do has to be quality."
That type of attitude explains how Joseph, who had started for two seasons at right guard on a very strong Oklahoma offense, was able to make a seamless move to left tackle as a senior. The move was made out of necessity given injuries and the Sooners' personnel, but it was never a switch that either he or the team came to regret. Because he approached the move with his father's brand of hard work, he managed to make it work, both for the Sooners in 2005 and for his long-term career plans.
"Switching to left tackle, I learned a lot," said Joseph, who also credited his coaches and teammates with making the move as painless as possible. "I became better as a player. I was able to learn more going back my senior season. It helped me in the NFL now. It was a great decision for me. I had a lot of fun my senior year. It started off rough, but it ended well."
Joseph is expected to start his NFL career back at guard, though he knows unforeseen circumstances could make his abilities at tackle quite valuable again at some point. He is in for another significant transition, though, as the challenges at the pro level are significantly greater than in the NCAA. Joseph welcomes the trials ahead.
"Football is such a beautiful game," he said. "You look at Xs and Os and it's such an aggressive and tough and nasty game when you look at the film. Learning football is something that I love to do. It will be a lot of fun trying to catch up to [Head Coach Jon Gruden]. That's what I think is a lot of fun, trying to learn the game. It's always something different, it's always a different perspective. That's what has always fascinated me about Xs and Os."
Think that kind of talk revs Gruden's engines? You bet.
"He is a great young man," said the coach as he introduced Joseph to Tampa on Monday morning. "He loves football and he's one hell of a player. I'm not going to make a lot of predictions today, but I do know that he brings tremendous character, passion for the game. Davin Joseph is what we are looking for as a football player."
Joseph was there to be found because of the hard work and sacrifices of his parents, because of the opportunity they gave him and his decision to make the most of it. That's why he was just as happy for his family as he was for himself when the Buccaneers came calling on Saturday.
"It means a lot to my family because they always wanted me to have something they never had," said Joseph. "They wanted me to have an opportunity to fulfill my dreams. So they helped me, they supported me, they gave me everything I needed up here [in my head] to be able to go out and get anything I wanted. They're happy that I'm here, they're happy that I'm finally getting this chance to play pro football and they look forward to experiencing it with me."