Allen Park — Darius Slay is coming off the best season of his young career. After leading the NFL with eight interceptions, the Detroit Lions cornerback earned his first Pro Bowl selection, was named to his first All-Pro team and was recognized by his peers as one of the top 100 players in the league.
But Slay’s goals are much loftier. As he first revealed on the “NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2018” program, he’s gunning for a gold jacket that comes with enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Anybody that plays this game, everybody that came into this game always dreaming that, so I’m going to try to reach that dream and accomplishment,” Slay said after Wednesday’s minicamp practice. “That’s the only way I can get better. That’s the ultimate goal for everybody. I feel like it should be, besides the Super Bowl.”
Slay isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s looking to build on last year’s successes, something coach Matt Patricia preaches.
“I think with everybody, good years, bad years, last year really doesn’t matter,” Patricia said. “Doesn’t matter, doesn’t transfer, doesn’t really have any application to this year. We’re just trying to go out there and get better.
“He’s trying to get back into the rhythm,” Patricia said. “What happens in the offseason of the NFL is when the season ends, you may be playing at one particular level and you don’t necessarily start at that level. Every single year you have to start over in the NFL and you have to improve. That’s just the phase that he’s at right now.”
Slay declined to define what a successful 2018 season would look like. New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins went on Instagram this week, boldly predicting he would intercept eight passes and return four for touchdowns. Slay praised his counterpart’s confidence, but said it’s not his style to make statistical predictions.
“I’m just a believer in the man above,” Slay said. “Whatever he bless me with. I’m not just going to throw stuff out there, because God forbid, anybody can get hurt on any given day. I’m just going to get me with what he bless me with.”
But if Slay is serious about reaching the Hall of Fame, he’ll need to string together at least a few more campaigns similar to last sesaon. To date, there are only 26 defensive backs in the Hall.
“It would just be an honor to be in there,” Slay said. “It’s not like I’m saying I’m going to get in there, that’s my goal to reach, my personal self, because I love the game so much that I want to work to be in there.”