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As game against Arians approaches, Humphries opens up about nickname

Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries #74 of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons at State Farm Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Falcons 34-33. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Maybe, with the Arizona Cardinals playing against Bruce Arians’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the “Knee Deep” nickname can be put behind left tackle D.J. Humphries.

As the Cardinals coach in 2015, Arians gave then-rookie Humphries the nickname because, as Arians put it, “A knee in his (expletive) every day … A foot wasn’t going to do it.”

Arians briefly retired from coaching following the 2017 Cardinals season. After sitting out a year, he returned as the Buccaneers coach.

His legacy at the Cardinals remains — much of it extremely good — but the nickname and how it was handled publicly left resentment in Humphries.

“I don’t give that that much weight to say like it changed my career, it really didn’t actually, it just made me mad,” Humphries said. “That’s why I feel the way that I feel about it. It wasn’t like it was a nudge in the right direction, it just made me want to punch you in the face now versus taking coaching from you.”

Perhaps more than the nickname itself, though, Humphries hates how it became public. He said Arians mishandled the situation by telling the media about it prior to a game that Humphries wasn’t even going to play in.

“It more took me by surprise, something funny to pull out in the media when you preparing for a game, someone that’s not going to play,” Humphries said. “That’s why it always kind of stuck with me, you kind of went out of your way to do that and it was unnecessary.”

As a rookie, Humphries acknowledges, he wasn’t very good. He deserved criticism and negative feedback from coaches.

But as this reunion game rolls around and Cardinals players who were around for the Arians tenure lavish praise onto the coach that helped bring about arguably the most successful run in team history, there’s at least one player whose memories aren’t all sunshine.

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