The combination of a rabid fan base, a likable rookie with a catchy nickname, and some positive results have turned Devlin Hodges into a thing.
Actually, it’s probably easier just to refer to him as Duck now, since that’s taken his city by storm.
The Steelers new starting quarterback is taking his sudden fame in stride, accepting the fact that being an Alabama state duck-calling champion is part of the fun.
“If you’d have asked me five or six years ago when I first got the name, I’d have thought this is wild, a quarterback named Duck, but now it’s cool,” Hodges said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Fans have gone all-in, wearing duck hats and costumes to games, embracing the moment. And Hodges felt the support when he attended a college basketball game this week, getting a big ovation when he was shown on the big screen. He’s even getting free branded hunting gear (though he took it off before doing interviews this week so as not to violate league rules about promoting anything but their product).
“It’s something that has caught on, something I’ve kind of embraced,” Hodges said. “It’s awesome to have the fans come up and say, ‘Hey, Duck, what’s up?’ When people call me Devlin, it catches me by surprise. ‘Do you know me that good?’ It’s cool. It’s unique and fits who I am. . . .
“It goes back to who I am, being the person I am. I’m a laid-back guy. I like to come in each and every day and be prepared and have fun. This is football. It’s my job, but at the same time there’s a good balance to have between having fun and getting prepared for the game.”
Of course, this is all adorable as long as he continues to win. The undrafted rookie from Samford won his first start in place of a concussed Mason Rudolph, but has now earned the job on even terms with a win against the Browns last week, and coach Mike Tomlin has named him the starter.