The Super Bowl ring on Darian Stewart’s right hand takes up most of the space on his fist. It’s a large nugget encrusted with diamonds around the gold number ‘50’.
“I gotta keep my jewelry with me at all times,” he said. “It goes with me wherever I go. It just happened to be in the truck this time.”
Stewart is walking off the Swansea football field while the 50-plus young athletes at the Eric Norwood football camp are taking a lunch break. The starting safety for the Denver Broncos and former USC standout said he didn’t wear it to impress the kids at the camp.
But the size of the ring doubtless left an impression, as well as the man who wore it. Stewart, who was a noted defender for the Gamecocks through the 2009 season, went undrafted in 2010.
Since then, he’s gone from unnoticed to a 2016 Pro Bowl selection who recently solidified his tenure with the Broncos with a long-term deal.
“I love everything about Denver, man,” Stewart said. “From just the city itself to all of my teammates. That’s the best place for me to be. I can say a lot about it, but words don’t do it any justice. It’s a fun town.”
Finding his place in Denver wasn’t easy. He knew the pressure was on him, and kept working.
“The mistakes, you’re very limited,” Stewart said. “You can’t have any mental errors. My academic director (at USC) Charles Waddell told me when I was coming out, there’s no room for mental errors. When I got to St. Louis, that’s the one thing I stuck with. I stayed in my playbook. I wanted to be the best safety out there.”
Stewart signed with the Rams after the draft and played in St. Louis for three seasons.
He signed a one-year contract with the Ravens in 2014 and played all 16 games. His prospects were promising in Baltimore, especially considering he picked off a Ben Roethlesberger pass in the fourth quarter of the Ravens’ 30-17 AFC Wild Card win, but the Ravens let him go.
Denver snapped him up before the 2015 season, signing him to a two-year deal. Stewart returned the gratitude, making 63 tackles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and 10 PBUs. Denver went on to a 12-4 record and beat the Patriots to get into Super Bowl 50.
That was where Stewart and the Broncos defense shut down Cam Newton and the Panthers, 24-10, and claimed the championship – and a very large ring.
Now that he has signed a 4-year, $30 million contract with the Broncos, Stewart said he has found his home in Denver. But when he’s not helping his teammates put on youth camps, he goes back to his home in Huntsville, Ala., where he has hosted a camp of his own every summer for the past four years.
“It’s important,” Stewart said. “It’s only right for us having that experience to make sure that they know what it takes to get to that point.”