In these aggravatingly sportless times, Razorback fans have pondered the past more than ever. All-timer questions such as “What is the best Hogs football team of the SEC era” and “Who are the best Pro Hogs ever?” dominate local media outlets and social media pages alike.
Through it all, when talking about individual greats, one name keeps popping up with the most regularity. No, not Sidney Moncrief. Not Corliss Williamson. Nor Andrew Benintendi.
Darren McFadden racked up 4,590 career rushing yards for the Hogs in only three seasons. Rightfully hailed as the greatest player in Razorback football history, the Little Rock native ranks with Vince Young, Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson as the best college players not to win a Heisman Trophy in the 21st century.
McFadden was so fearsome as an offensive threat in his day that the Associated Press writers covering him likened him to Superman.
My, how Superman has fallen.
Recently, McFadden again made national headlines — this time for all the wrong reasons.
A police video surfaced of Darren McFadden’s arrest in the drive-thru of a DFW area Whataburger’s in early 2019.
It begins with the police finding McFadden quite drunk and asleep at his wheel. “Is he alive?” one officer frantically asked the two other police beside him.
McFadden then rouses to push the gas pedal, causing the three officers to panic. Fortunately, D-Mac runs his car into the side of the restaurant. Had his wheel been turned the other way, he could have gone off into a parking lot to cause a lot of damage and perhaps injury or worse.
The officers then started rocking the car back and forth, trying to stop it from moving, before using a flashlight to break into the vehicle and grab McFadden.
McFadden seemed very disoriented through it all — his struggling will be very hard for some Hog fans to watch. He seemed to try and break free from the cops, who were trying to muscle him out of the car.
Finally, once D-Mac was on the concrete, the police took out their guns and tasers to elicit D-Mac’s surrender. Thank God they didn’t shoot.
“McFadden was charged with resisting arrest and a DWI with a [Blood Alcohol Content] of greater than or equal to .15,” according to the Bleacher Report. “He reached a plea deal in February, which called for the resisting arrest charge to be dropped in exchange for him pleading guilty to DWI. A judge sentenced him to four days in jail, with one day served, and suspended his driver’s license for 90 days.”
On the YouTube video, haters have a field day making fun of the former Oakland Raider and Dallas Cowboy. “What’s wrong with these cops?,” one commenter writes. “He went down so easy when he played for the Raiders.”
A big part of me will always respect D-Mac for the pride in Arkansas sports (and coming from “the 501”) he made me feel when watching him destroy the likes of Georgia, Alabama and LSU. To this day, when I see the below highlights, l smile at how proud I was to have him on “our” side.
Nobody has ever repped lil’ ol’ Arkansas with as much swaggering alpha confidence as McFadden.
But the fact he made us feel good about ourselves doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that he also broke his toe getting into fight at a club, or lost millions to a shady financial adviser friend, or nearly lost it all in the parking lot of a Whataburger’s.
No matter how fun it is to pretend otherwise, D-Mac isn’t Superman. He never was and he never will be.
He’s a 32-year-old man who appears to be having a hard time finding his footing in the world after hanging up his cleats for good. Yet lots of former athletes struggle with finding a way to thrive in the world once their ability to make fans gasp is gone. That’s fine. He can struggle, just like we all do at times when trying to find our own way.
This embarrassing arrest video is something that will always hang around his neck, just as Ryan Mallet’s hangs around his. My hope is that it will always remain the lowest point Darren McFadden ever sunk. I hope through this arrest, and the shame that has followed, he resolves to never let something like his happen again.
If not himself, then for his beautiful family:
Even through this, D-Mac, Arkansas loves you very much.
We hope you are learning to love yourself just as much.