BOSTON (CBS) — He’s as strong as an ox and his work ethic is second to none.
Meet Danny Shelton, New England’s new 6-foot-2, 335-pound nose tackle. Acquired from the Cleveland Browns for a third- and fifth-round pick in the offseason, Shelton is up to the challenge of eating up opposing running backs for the Patriots.
“You have to have a mindset of being a bulldog. Being ready for whatever comes because it’s a nasty position,”Shelton told WBZ-TV ahead of training camp. “You get double teamed. You get triple teamed. You get those little illegal blocks high, and sometimes low.”
The 24-year-old has had his share of highs and lows, and the lows have been devastating. When he was 17, Shelton saw his older brother, Shennon, get shot and killed trying to stick up for someone else.
“I hear two shots,” Shelton recalled. “I see the second shot — it was right in front of me. My oldest brother gets shot, he goes down. I look to my left and the gunman pointed at me. I grabbed a chair — quick instincts — but his gun jammed. I threw the chair at him and tackled him down.
“I turned around and see my little brother crying over my older brother. And that’s what happened. Dead on the scene,” said Shelton. “It was tough. It was tough for a couple of months. It was graduation month for me. I was going to college and had to leave my family after that. It was a lot to deal with, but we were able to move forward. My family feels comfortable … and are doing well now.”
Shelton now plays for his brother every time he steps on the field. To help cope with that lasting pain, Shelton turns to his four dogs. He loves dogs, especially rescue dogs, and for good reason.
“I was just feeling this emptiness in my family. Losing a brother at a young age, and being away from family at college, my dogs were that way of coping and being able to feel whole again,” he said. “I’m trying to help people see the impact dogs can make.
“I aspire to one day to have my own dog shelter. I have big plans,” he said.
Shelton considers his four furry friends as members of his family, and they even had important roles in his wedding.
“I told my wife that I had to have my kids in there,” Shelton said with a smile. “She was like, ‘I don’t want them to be all the attention. They can walk down the aisle, but then they have to be out of the wedding ceremony.'”
So there were Shelton’s four dogs on his wedding day. His two girls, Moni and Juicy, were wearing little white skirts as they made their trip down the aisle. The boys, Mojo and Juju, wore little tuxes.
“I’m a big family guy, so I had to do that,” he chuckles.
Now Shelton is hoping to be a bulldog for his new team, another big bodied player that Bill Belichick can plug in on his defensive line. Coming over from Cleveland has meant a major change in culture, but the former 12th overall pick is loving every minute of his new setting.
“It’s a different lifestyle; more challenging, more demanding. Personally, I felt I needed that to grow in my game,” Shelton admits. “I love it. I love the challenges I’ve been brought upon. I’ve been able to work with these guys and we’re having some good times out there.”