Safety D.J. Swearinger Sr. enters his second year in Washington as the vocal leader and hype man for the defense. As the home opener approaches, he chats about his veteran status, his early life in South Carolina and the newest addition to his family.
How is the season-opening victory settling in for you?
It’s good to have a win. Ready to get back to work and ready to get on the Colts.
Where does the season opener rank emotionally for you throughout the year?
It ranks big emotionally, confidence-wise, especially for all the new guys. Not only the new guys, but the young guys, to see how it feels to win. The most important things is the young guys. They don’t understand how important it is to go to somebody else’s house to win Game 1. That’s huge. And not only win but to blow them out in dominant fashion. That’s definitely a plus, something we can build on, something we can have confidence on, but it’s only a start so we’ve just got to keep grinding.
How was it being back in Phoenix for you?
It was great, man. I had an opportunity to chop it up with some of my old boys, Pat [Peterson] and Larry [Fitzgerald] so it was good. Always good to beat them. 2-0 against the Cardinals. That’s a great feeling.
How did you deal with the heat down there when you played in Arizona?
Well, we didn’t have to really deal with it as much.
It was bad over the weekend.
Yeah it was. In camp when it’s like 115 [degrees], we’re in the inside [facility]. When we go 45 minutes away in Tempe, that’s when we’re back outside, it’s definitely hot but they tell us to drink extra. I just remember times I couldn’t leave my car outside because it’s extremely hot. You leave your car outside for 30 minutes you won’t be able to get in.
People keep calling it a dry heat.
It’s dry but it still sticks to you.
It felt like a blow dryer on me the entire time.
That’s exactly what it is.
Check out the top photos from the Redskins' Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, September 9th, 2018 at Stats Farm Stadium.
Did you hit up any favorite spots there?
Lolo’s Chicken, I used to tear that up even though that’s a little bad. But I wasn’t as healthy then. I didn’t do that this weekend. I just got some Steak 44.
You’ve got the home opener this week. Does this place finally feel like home to you?
Oh yeah, it’s definitely home to me. More than home to me. I’m ready to get this season opener going. We already got the win away, now it’s time to give the home crowd something to be happy about, something positive.
How long did it take to feel like this was home?
Almost immediately when I got here, especially after camp last year. Getting in and having the season I had, it definitely felt like home.
It’s funny, a lot of people talk about you being the veteran and this older guy, but you’re only 27. Do you have to do a reality check sometimes? You’re still only 27.
27 years young. You know why? Because I guess being on four teams in six years, having five different head coaches, seeing this vet, that vet, I’ve seen a lot things in six years that the average six-year guy that’s been on one or two teams wouldn’t see. I kind of got a lot of experience from each head coach or each player that I looked up to on each team that’s helped me to have the experience I’ve had.
And you wouldn’t regret having that.
Not at all because nobody else has this type of experience, especially on the defensive side, me playing for four different teams. I know the ins and outs of each defense, played in each conference – the AFC South, the NFC West, NFC East.
You’ve seen every scheme.
Seen every scheme, it’s like every player on the roster I’ve played. So it’s like, man I’m definitely a vet. If I was in one conference my whole life, I wouldn’t have been able to see those different conferences, I wouldn’t change that for the world.
I think it’s also because you have a deeper, gravelly voice.
Yeah, yeah. I’m South Carolina, I’m a country boy. Country boys tend to be more old school and act like their grandparents.
Was that kind of the family dynamic growing up for you?
I lived with my grandparents up until I was five, and they were a big part of my life all the way up. Just seeing the countryside of things at my grandparents’ house, but being in Greenwood, sort of that country-city life, it was definitely an old school mentality.
When you go back home, what’s it like when you first enter the city limits of Greenwood?
It used to be like, it’s crazy what I came from, seeing what I came from, seeing the city and the time. It’s a blessing. A lot of people don’t let alone make it out of the state of South Carolina. We’re a small state, we only have five million in the whole state. It’s a blessing when I hit the city, see all the different people that I grew up with had a part of my young life. It’s definitely a blessing and humbling.
Are you parents still there?
Yeah they still live in Greenwood, they still hold it down.
When you visit them, do they see you as an outsider now or is it back to when you were growing up?
No they want it to be regular like we were growing up. But they know it’s different now. I’ve got a family of my own. When I go to my room, that used to be my room. My mom got all her stuff in there that she sleeps in there sometimes.
It’s the same house?
Same house from 10th grade. We moved around a lot. I stayed in 11 different houses growing up. The last one in 10th grade was the best one.
Why did you move so much?
Um, it was a number of things. For one thing, my parents aren’t from Greenwood, they’re from near North Augusta County, they weren’t from the city, so when we moved to the city when I was five or six, they lived in some areas they weren’t familiar with and we just would always move around. Always in Greenwood. 10th grade it was the same house that we still have now.
What kind of memorabilia is still in your room?
I got some pictures up from me in high school, just like posters. My senior year I used to help an elementary school, so I’ve got posters from the kids. I was like a volunteer, but it was a class. I needed an extra class, something where I chaperoned a teacher but it was an actual credit. Kind of like a student teacher for a whole semester. I could have gone to college earlier so I took some other classes.
Did you ever offer your parents a place to live once you got into the NFL, out here or wherever?
I don’t know, man, they never wanted to leave Greenwood. There’s been times when I was in high school, we were supposed to move to Atlanta, even went out there, my sister was playing basketball in Atlanta, but they just didn’t want to leave the country. If I ask them they’d probably be like, “I want to stay in Greenwood,” because you know after moving so many times, finally the 12th time we moved was the best house we had. I guess moving all the time, you don’t want to do that no more. I feel them on that.
How’s being a father for the last year or so?
It’s great being a father, man. Having my second child is definitely a different ballgame. I had a baby queen. Daija Queen Swearinger, August 13th.
Congrats! You kept that on the down low.
I kept it on the low a little bit. But it’s been great, seeing my son get older and I’ve got video of him, he’s actually rocking my baby girl. Seeing that is definitely a blessing.
You’re nickname is “2 Spoons.” Have you ever eaten with two spoons?
Yes, I have.
As a gimmick or for real?
Yeah when I was little. You try some stuff as a kid eating with two spoons, like, “Man I’m hungry.” But never thought it would be trademarked.
So is D.J. Jr. going to be doing the same thing or is he not hungry like that yet?
Oh he’s definitely hungry. He’s greedy actually.
Since it’s a new football year, do you have a resolution for the 2018 season?
To be the best I can be. Try to get us a championship. That’s the goal. Whatever I can do to get this team a championship, I’ll be satisfied.