One-time San Francisco 49ers linebacker Darius Fleming is in the news this week, and it's a positive story! We complain about athletes getting in trouble, but this some good old-fashioned good guy stuff.
The 2012 fifth round pick plays for the New England Patriots, who are preparing for the AFC Championship Game. Fleming is a rotational guy on defense and special teams, and he was an unexpected addition to the injury report on Wednesday. After no reports of issues in recent weeks, he was listed as limited in practice with back and shin ailments.
It turns out there is a really good reason for this. Two days prior to the Patriots divisional round win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Fleming helped pull a woman from a wrecked car. He had to kick in the glass to help her out of the vehicle, and he suffered an injury that required 22 stitches on his right leg.
Initial reports said Fleming saw smoke and felt compelled to act. A later police report said there was no smoke, but rather, an airbag deployment that to the untrained eye could look like smoke. Fleming did not tell anybody initially, but then Tuesday evening, a local high school where Fleming visits on occasion posted something about it on Facebook. Fleming's agent shared that, and it became a story. Fleming eventually told his teammates, but otherwise has kept pretty low key.
After the story broke, our friends at TMZ decided to do some digging. They claimed police stations had no record of an accident, and TMZ began pushing the narrative that this was made up. After a couple hours of confusion, the Walpole Police Department finally cleared things up, issuing a statement that confirmed Fleming was a good samaritan.
Full statement from the Walpole Police Department on Darius Fleming's account of pulling a woman from a wrecked car pic.twitter.com/t7EiNmbO3W— Lorenzo Reyes (@LorenzoGReyes) January 20, 2016
Fleming has remained mostly silent on the matter, but following the TMZ report and the police clearing things up, he tweeted this out.
People are quick to try and bring you down....so sad— Darius Fleming (@dfleming58) January 20, 2016
Fleming has not been with the 49ers since early 2014, but I thought it was still worth a mention. He was already a rather inspiring individual. He tore his ACL during 2012 rookie minicamp, and then re-tore it a year later during training camp. He was released in May 2014, and shortly thereafter signed with the New England Patriots. He spent most of 2014 on the practice squad, but was activated late in the season and for the playoffs. This season, he spent much of the season on the practice squad, before being activated to the 53-man roster in late November. Add in good samaritan, and it's easy to be a Darius Fleming fan!