Delvin Breaux isn’t just another rookie free agent trying to make it with the Saints.
His story — the LSU-bound cornerback from McDonogh 35 whose career seemed over when he suffered a broken neck in a game nine years ago, who could not get medically cleared to play in college but who has made an incredible comeback — in just three years going from a local semipro team to the Arena League to the CFL and now to the Saints — has been well chronicled.
If the Breaux Show makes its home debut in Saturday’s exhibition game against the New England Patriots, he’ll be the starting nickel back. His status is in doubt after suffering an injury last week against the Ravens and not practicing throughout the week.
As Saints coach Sean Payton told Breaux when he signed with his hometown team, “Someday this is going to be a movie.”
You never know.
Until then, it’s hard to imagine anyone not rooting for Breaux to make the Saints’ 53-man roster, which at this point seems like a foregone conclusion.
Here’s how some people with a particular rooting interest view things:
KASEY BREAUX (Wife): They met in 2007 at LSU, but it wasn’t until this summer they felt they could afford to get married.
“It’s been pretty crazy. We’ve never had anything, and now we’re buying a house and talking about how many kids we want.
“Chip (the name he’s called by friends and family) is still so awestruck that he has fans. That’s why he’ll never turn down an autograph request.
On her emotions at seeing her husband playing for the Saints in person for the first time:
“I’m going to be nervous, not so much because I’m afraid he’ll get hurt but I don’t want him to mess up like getting in the wrong formation or something. I just want him to do well.
“Right now, I have so much pride in Chip and I’m giddy that he’s finally going to be playing on the big stage. There are so many people in his corner. It’s like everybody wants to cheer for the home town guy.”
JUANITA SMITH (Stepmother): “When he signed with the Saints, I told him it’s going to be ugly, but in a good way. Everywhere he goes, everybody he sees, wants to tell him how much they’re pulling for him. But he appreciates every one of them, because that’s just the kind of person he’s always been.
“Everybody wants to buy his jersey, but you can’t get them until he makes the team. Then you’re going to see a lot of them all over New Orleans.”
Wayne Reese (Breaux’s coach at McDonogh 35): “What people may not remember is how good he was. I’d put him up there with (Arizona Cardinals cornerback) Patrick Peterson and those guys. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, he’d be in the same position they’re in today.
“LSU was going to honor his scholarship, but in the back of his mind there was something going on that the rest of the world didn’t know about how he was going to overcome all of the adversity against him.
“Each step of the way since then, it’s been about Delvin just getting the chance to show what he can do. And now that he’s with the Saints, everybody’s going to jump on the bandwagon with him.”
Ron M cC alebb (Coach, Bayou Vipers, Gridiron Developmental Football League): Breaux made his return to football with the Bayou Vipers in 2012.
“When Delvin first contacted me, I remembered about him breaking his neck and was surprised he still wanted to play.
But in our first practice, he locked down all of our receivers. I told our other coach, ‘There goes the next Darrelle Revis.’
“Now that he’s with the Saints, my phone is blowing up with calls from people who, first off, can’t believe that’s really him.
“Delvin is living out his dream and he’s getting to do it with his hometown team. It just shows you what determination can do.”
Pat O’Hara (former coach, New Orleans VooDoo, now an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans): “Delvin came in for our open tryout, and when he ran a 4.3 (-second) 40 and shut down every receiver. We couldn’t believe this was the kid with the broken neck we’d heard about.
“We had doctors check him out to make sure he could play, and beyond having a bionic neck, they were amazed at how well-conditioned he was, especially since he’d done it on his own.
“We were so proud to have been able to help him along the way. It’s not that he made it back from injury, because we all love a good comeback story. But he’s such a good character kid.”
D ominique Jolly (teammate with the Goretti Saints and at McDonogh 35. Best man at his Breaux’s wedding): “When the Saints signed Chip, everybody thought he’d be on the bubble. And then they drafted DBs and signed Brandon Browner, so you thought, ‘Uh, oh.’
“But he’s fooled everybody again. It’s just his passion to play. When they told him he couldn’t play tackle, he kept in shape playing flag football. He just never gave up and got a little more motivated each step along the way.
“Chips’ still so humble and unspoiled by it all. I told him, ‘Dude, you’re a brand now. Get out and advertise yourself.’ But he knows stuff like that would just go to his head. That’s why the fans love him so much.”
T ara Pruitt (Baton Rouge, Breaux’ mother in law): “At first we didn’t want him to play. But Chip loved football and had this conviction in himself.
“I don’t think anybody else, other than Kasey, really felt he would go all the way though. Others would tell him it was a pipe dream, and the coaches at LSU told him he was done. The negativity was beating him up. But he has something internally that, unless something stopped him, he wasn’t going to stop.
“I still think people are kind of shocked by it all, although they’re getting more on board with it.”
K ierra Breaux (Delvin’s younger sister): “The other day during the Ravens game I couldn’t keep up with the texts, Facebook messages, Instagrams and phone calls I was getting. Everybody is so excited that he’s playing for the Saints.
“When he was playing park ball, I was a cheerleader and in high school I was at every game and every track meet. I’m still his No. 1 fan. I am just so proud of seeing Chip fulfill his dream because it’s a dream come true for me, too.”
K eenan Lewis (Saints teammate and fellow New Orleanian): “Chip’s my guy, even if he doesn’t like me talking about how I used to smoke him in AAU track.
“It was a sad story when he broke his neck. But he had a passion to play and it’s a blessing for him to get this opportunity.
“I’m pulling for everybody to make the team. But I really want my guy to.”