When the clock hit zero in the NFC Championship, Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi could not hold back his emotions as he is headed to his first Super Bowl of his career. His Eagles are going into the game as the underdog against the New England Patriots, but being an underdog is nothing new for Ajayi.
“I’ve always been an underdog throughout my career,” Ajayi said. “I’ve always been doubted and had a chip in my shoulder so that role is nothing new to me.”
The British born Ajayi moved to America when he was 14-years-old, went on to play collegiate football at Boise State University. In 2015, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins, but fell to the fifth round over concerns of an ACL injury he suffered in 2011.
After rushing for only 187 yards his rookie year, Ajayi went on to prove his doubters wrong in years two. He ran for 1,282 yards and eight touchdowns. In the same season, Ajayi ran for over 200 yards in a game three times. He became the fourth running back in NFL history to have three 200-yard games in the same season.
It was assumed Ajayi would become the Dolphins franchise back for years to come, but he was traded to the Eagles during the 2017 regular season. Ajayi would again have to prove himself, but was grateful he landed in a positive situation.
“To have come from a team where we were not performing well to a team that was successful and had a great locker room, a brotherhood, and I felt welcomed and appreciated, which was the most important thing for me,” Ajayi said on the trade.
The Eagles are using a running back by committee approach, but Ajayi has still found success rushing on limited touches. He ran for 408 yards while gaining 5.8 yards per carry in the regular season with the Eagles. In two postseason games, Ajayi has led the Eagles in rushing with 127 yards. Now in the biggest game of his life, Ajayi must continue to use his underdog approach as he is battling an ankle injury.
“I’m a little sore, but there’s no reason I won’t be playing in that Super Bowl,” Ajayi said. “Nothing is going to keep me from that.”
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