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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Now McFadden just wants to be a great dad

by Wally Hall | September 21, 2021 at 2:07 a.m.

Darren McFadden sounded more proud talking about his children than he did his considerable accomplishments on the football field.

He and his wife Tita celebrated the arrival of their third child a month ago.

They met at a party when he was playing for the Oakland Raiders.

She said he approached her, introduced herself and said he played for the Raiders.

"I told him I don't know anything about the Raiders," she said, "but you kind of cute."

McFadden was the guest speaker at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday and KATV's Steve Sullivan had put together some highlights of McFadden's playing career, mostly at Arkansas.

It took just the first clip to bring back the memories of the greatest Razorback player in history.

Which brought up the discussion of retiring his number, something the UA has only done twice in its history, No. 12 in honor of Clyde "Smackover" Scott and Brandon Burlsworth's No. 77.

In three seasons at Arkansas, McFadden ran for a school record 4,590 yards, which is amazing considering he shared the backfield with Peyton Hillis and Felix Jones, who is sixth on the all-time rushing list with 2,956 yards.

He is one of only four in the 85-year history of the Heisman Trophy to be runner-up two years in a row.

Many believe he should have won it his senior year, but that season ESPN could not get enough of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who ran for 20 touchdowns and passed for another 20.

McFadden, who has a million dollar smile, admitted he was disappointed but turned the conversation to his home state and his hometown of Little Rock. Passion and pride are obvious.

McFadden started at safety and running back for Oak Grove High School, but that was because he went out for football in the ninth grade at Central High, just a few blocks from his mother's house.

After a week of not seeing the field during scrimmages, he transferred to Oak Grove.

That was the same time he committed to being an Arkansas Razorback and never wavered.

He has "501" -- the Central Arkansas telephone area code -- tattooed on his bicep and when he scored touchdowns, he scored 41 as a Razorback, he'd flash his smile and his muscles.

Lately, he has spent a lot of time in his home state.

He attended the Texas game and before the Georgia Southern game he was inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Honor. But between that game and Monday's meeting at the LRTDC, McFadden flew home.

"I hate to be away from my family," he said. "I love being a dad."

A couple of years ago, he and his wife came to Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame day. He spent almost the entire time baby talking to his youngest daughter while he gently pushed her stroller back and forth.

When McFadden was inducted in the Hall of Fame, he had a Razorback red tuxedo made for the occasion.

A two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in the nation, McFadden was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated before his junior year and declared the No. 1 back in the land in the year of running backs.

He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the fourth pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

On Monday, McFadden mentioned the great blocking he had at Arkansas. He didn't say anything about the Raiders, but those who follow pro football know he played behind some very mediocre offensive lines.

He spent seven seasons with the Raiders, too much of it hurt, and three with the Dallas Cowboys.

Darren McFadden was a great football player, but these days he devotes his time and energy trying to be a great dad and husband.

Print Headline: Now McFadden just wants to be a great dad

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