Receiver Darnell Mooney has been one of the season's biggest surprises, going from an unheralded fifth-round pick to a viable second option in a matter of weeks. Here are five things you may not know about him:
(1) His hometown has a robust NFL tradition.
Mooney grew up in Gadsden, Alabama, a small town of about 35,000 in the northern part of the state where his father worked at General Motors and his mother worked for Goodyear. Gadsden has seen its population shrink in every census since 1960, but has still produced its fair share of standout athletes.
Gadsden natives include former NFL rookie of the year running back Cadillac Williams and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
"I would say it's just a little bit smaller," said Mooney. "You had rough parts, but it's the city I was raised in. Just gotta take what it is and live with it."
(2) The receiver lost his father when he was 16.
Larry Darnell Mooney passed away from leukemia during his son's junior year of high school. Before the Bears played the Falcons in Week 3 of the season, Mooney mentioned that the last time he had been in Atlanta had been with his father.
"I've been through the era of when he passed," said Mooney, "It wasn't as sad, but it was an emotional rollercoaster. I played pretty decent with it. It's just another push, an edge of what has brought me to the person I am today."
(3) He majored in Applied Computing.
Mooney chose to attend Tulane University largely due to the New Orleans-based school's academic reputation.
"I was looking at it like you've got a 50/50 success rate," said Mooney. "Go to the NFL, [a] 50 percent [chance], or go to a powerhouse for jobs."
If Mooney was not in the NFL, he believes he'd be working in the Information Technology sector.
(4) His favorite part of New Orleans was the food.
Tulane is not know as a "party school" per se, but it is located in one of America's top party cities. Like all Tulane students, Mooney got a week off of classes during Mardi Gras and came to appreciate the city's many offerings.
New Orleans' lasting influence on Mooney?
"I would say the food," said Mooney. "Every bit and part of it."
Mooney singles out Bayou Hot Wings, a restaurant located near the Tulane campus, as his favorite spot in the city.
(5) His first purchase with his NFL money was a JUGS machine.
Mooney decided the best use of his first professional paycheck was to reinvest in his career. He bought a JUGS machine so he could keep working on his craft at home.
Other than that, Mooney has avoided flashy purchases.
"I haven't had a big purchase yet," said Mooney. "I've just been buying stuff for my house, furnishings and whatnot."