Hamilton Tiger-Cat linebacker David Caldwell is determined to make the most of his opportunities – both on and off the field.
After an injury-plagued 2014 campaign, the former Indianapolis Colt is starting to get some playing time as a situational defender and special teams stalwart. Armed with a finance degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Caldwell is developing a number of initiatives, including a sportswear line and non-profit foundation aimed at supporting underprivileged and at-risk youth in his hometown of Montclair, N.J. In an interview with this Tictat beat reporter, Caldwell discusses his life in Hamilton, his trail-blazing uncle and being socially-conscious on social media.
DE: You live with teammates Adrian Tracy and Drake Nevis. What’s that like?
DC: Drake is the cook in the house – he cooks every day. He’s got some chicken breasts marinating with some Italian seasoning for tonight. We eat like kings. We live right next to the Chedoke golf course in a beautiful townhome and we get to sit in the backyard and watch people mess up and yell at themselves.
DE: You’re related to Larry Doby, the first black baseball player to play in the American League, and only the second to play in the majors, after Jackie Robinson.
DC: I actually saw him inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which was cool. I was so young, I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but he lived right across the street from one of my best friends growing up, so he was the go-to guy every time there was show-and-tell. The real baseball fans know all about him; but the second guy, he always gets lost in the sauce.
DE: You have a finance degree from William and Mary and you have a number of projects on the go.
DC: I always knew I wanted to open my own business, and I’ve got a couple up and running. I have a sportswear company called OHGI, which stands for Out Here Gettin’ It, which is all about hard work and never giving up. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life. We have a non-profit foundation where we help underprivileged kids and we just did a sports and life camp talking about how to interact with police, safe dating, violence prevention. They love the sports, but it was great to see them engaged in things that could really help their lives.
DE: Looking at your Instagram and Twitter, you’re socially conscious.
DC: As a football player we have a platform and I feel like a lot of players don’t want to speak out about what’s right and what’s true. I feel like we live in a system, especially in America, that programs us to live certain lives. I deal with a lot of black kids in my town who are influenced by rap music or entertainment, stuff I listen to, to behave a certain way. But I can differentiate, I know they aren’t doing that in real life, that’s not how they became successful. Why put a selfie on Instagram when you can put up something that could be helpful to someone else?
DE: I think what you’re talking about is the glorification of the so-called “gangster culture.”
DC: I hate it. I hate it. Not every minority has to sell drugs. You don’t have to ditch school. You do not have to get locked up. More importantly, you don’t have to mess up to get it right. One of the biggest advantage I’ve had is my father, who grew up in a tough neighbourhood around all kinds of bad influence to become an attorney – so I have no excuse. I grew up in a middle class with support from both parents and I think it would be unfair of me not to say something, to try and help as many young kids as I can. What I’m trying to promote is positivity and personal growth. I can get my happiness from helping others, whether that’s kids back home or my teammates on special teams. It’s the same thing, really.