As a defensive end, Elvis Dumervil has always been a contradiction. He's always been dogged about his "diminutive" size for his position – he's 5-foot-11 and 257 pounds – and theories that he would be a liability as a defensive end in college and the NFL. Despite starring on the high school scene in Miami, the Hurricanes refused to recruit him as a defensive end. And despite setting multiple sack records at Louisville (he owns the single-game (6) and single-season (20) marks) he slipped to the end of the fourth round in the 2006 NFL draft.
But Dumervil just keeps producing, notching 16½ sacks in his first 22 NFL games. One of those came Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, when he jarred the ball loose from quarterback Damon Huard – a game-changing fumble that was returned for a 17-yard touchdown by Broncos linebacker Nate Webster.
Dumervil took time out with Yahoo! Sports to talk about his name, the art of forcing fumbles and some of his recent philanthropy.
Robinson: I know you get this question all the time, but I've yet to hear the explanation from you – where did the name Elvis come from?
Dumervil: I don't know man. I've never asked my mom that. I've never really been interested, to be honest.
Robinson: But growing up with that name, that's got to be interesting.
Dumervil: Yeah. You've got to be a star. You better be good at something.
Robinson: You must have really gotten it from kids growing up. I don't think I ever heard of another kid named Elvis.
Dumervil: (Laughing) Yeah, especially when it's a black kid. There were a lot of jokes, man. It was like that until about high school, when I started doing something with football. Then it became more popular.
Robinson: Yeah, you had those 78 sacks in high school. Eighteen sacks as a sophomore, 30 as a junior and then 30 more as a senior – that's just astronomical.
Dumervil: I haven't looked back at any of those accolades. Like my dad always said, after you climb one mountain you've got to go to the next mountain. I know that was a record for Miami-Dade County, but I haven't really looked back at those things.
Robinson: I heard that during your bye week, you went back to Miami and furnished a house for a family that had lost its home in a fire. How did that come together?
Dumervil: Yeah. It was a Haitian family – I'm Haitian myself. The mother is deaf and the dad is blind, and they have a 13-year-old son. Their house burned down. They were out of a home. My brother Louis and I, we have a lot of properties in Miami and he called me and told me the story. It was good timing and I was able to come down during the bye week and get them into the house. I just wanted to let them know that things were going to get better for them and their family.
Robinson: Growing up in Miami and being a big part of that high school lore, were you recruited by the University of Miami?
Dumervil: My junior year I was, but then they won the national championship and they wanted to switch my position to linebacker, and I would have had to redshirt and all this stuff. I just wanted to go somewhere where I could play immediately and still be a defensive end.
Robinson: I hear people always talking about prototypical size for a defensive end and they are always knocking your size. When are you going to get some love for the fact that all you've done since high school is produce at defensive end?
Dumervil: (Laughing) Yeah, that's funny, right? I'm about production. I'm not much about what some guy can be with his potential. My thing is production over potential.
Robinson: You set the NCAA record for forced fumbles in a season with 11 as a senior at Louisville. You've got three this year, including a game-icing one against Kansas City Sunday. Is there an art to that? Some guys definitely have a knack for it.
Dumervil: Definitely. This year I haven't been going the way I have in the past, but I'm definitely emphasizing that more. In one-on-one pass rush, when you beat that guy, you've got to come with that arm and swing. Most people, they get to the quarterback, they're just happy to get the sack. They're just excited to be there. But when you're comfortable (sacking the quarterback), you get an awareness of what is around you and can come under control in that situation. You just swat for the ball. It was great awareness of Nate Webster to pick that fumble up (against the Chiefs) and score.
Robinson: You played on offense in high school. What's more gratifying: scoring a touchdown, or getting a sack and stripping the ball?
Dumervil: A sack and forced fumble is the best thing in football. There's no bigger thrill than that. There's no comparison. A sack is by far the greatest feeling, and to get that forced fumble, that's just icing on the cake.
Robinson: You're headed for a hell of a season. You should finish with double-digit sacks and a decent number of forced fumbles. You had a nice rookie season last year with 8½ sacks, too. Why aren't you getting any attention?
Dumervil: I guess I've got to come up with a dance or something. I mean, it's fine. We haven't been winning. When you don't win, things get overlooked. I just want to win. At the end of the year, if guys are like "wow, quietly, he had a good season," then that's fine with me.
Robinson: You know, if you ever come up with a sack dance, having a name like Elvis could really come in handy.
Dumervil: I know. Maybe I need to come out there with a little imitation of a guitar in my hand. Maybe I'll start doing that once I get to 10 sacks.