Deandre was a tall fella who stepped into my backseat with a 5.0 rating. Usually, as an uber driver, when I see a 5.0 rating on a rider I'm picking up, I assume that the rider is either a) abundantly polite, or b) new to the uber process. Standing around 6'2", Deandre slid his large athletic frame into the backseat of the Dodge Caliber and we were on our way to the Walmart fifteen minutes away to get Deandre some groceries.
It was obvious in his first couple of seconds in the car that Deandre was not from Michigan. "Man, it's cold here."...the first words from the backseat, on a day that most Michiganders would say was a very pleasant Spring afternoon; Sunny and 54.
"What are you up to today?", a question I ask nearly all of the riders I have.
"I'm in town from Houston. I have a workout in the morning with the Lions, and then I gotta fly out right after to work out for Oakland."
As a sports fan, my interest was piqued. Here's a guy pursuing his dream to play in the National Football League, and after playing a year at the University of Houston, then transferring to a Division 2 school to finish his college career, Deandre was going through one of the longest and most public interview processes that exist, professional sports workouts, just days before the 2016 NFL Draft.
"My 40 time has been on point so far, so I'm hoping I can show these guys what I can do catching the ball in traffic. Like anyone, all I'm looking for is a shot." Deandre didn't play in the BCS, and he wasn't headlining anyone's wish lists going into the final week before the draft. But in a few minutes of chatter, it was obvious that there was one team that didn't lack confidence in Deandre's skills, and that was Team Deandre. His management, his family, his college teammates all texted him while he was in the uber to wish him luck at his tryout the next morning.
After the ride, I paid attention to Deandre's fate. I looked up his college stats, his scouting report, and for what teams he officially worked out. In the football world, there weren't many people giving Deandre two seconds of thought as a pro prospect. "Too old", "Too slow", and "Not enough experience" were all comments you can find scouts writing about him. In short, Deandre is a longshot.
But that's why Deandre is worthy of a blog post as an uber rider. Deandre's story is the same story that many of us share. Other people have labeled him a longshot. If you're reading this, there's a chance that you've been labeled as a longshot at one point in your life. You had long odds to beat a disease, you had a goal that seemed too far to reach from the outside, or you had obstacles that seemed like they were too much to overcome. But you also have people around you that believe in you, that text you encouragement, that love you. So there you stand, in the middle of two competing choirs of voices.
In Deandre's case, what outsiders said about him didn't shake his belief in himself, or his dedication to his call. He tuned his ear to the radio station of his supporters. He never considered himself a longshot. Neither should you. If your call is noble, if your goal is right and praiseworthy, then be a Deandre.
Listen to your team, because they don't see you as a longshot...they see you as an inspiration.
Deandre ended up going through the three days of the NFL draft without getting drafted. He's a free agent. But in 15 minutes of riding with him in the car, I can guess that this is not the end for him. And I can guess that's exactly what Team Deandre is telling him.