Destiny can sack your QB
There are few places as placid as a fishing boat on the Pacific Ocean. There are few places as violent and hectic as the trenches of an NFL football game. One man equally at home in both is Eagles defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao.
Vaeao’s stunning performance in training camp in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of Washington State helped convince the Eagles to not pursue defensive tackle Bennie Logan after the 2016 season. Now, he’s part of a defensive-line rotation that is No. 1 in the NFL against the run.
He comes from a family of fishermen based in Pago Pago, the capital city of American Samoa, which has become a pipeline to college and professional football — 34 players born in American Samoa have played in the NFL. Vaeao is one of three currently playing, along with the Broncos’ Domata Peko and the Cardinals’ Mike Iupati.
Dozens more not born in Samoa but of Somoan descent have played in the league, and hundreds have played in college. Most are large men, many soft-spoken. None of the others has a name that might suit a Disney princess.
Why were you named “Destiny?”
My mom named me Destiny because I’m the youngest of five — three brothers, one sister — and I guess she knew I was destined for greatness. I’m the only one to leave Samoa. I did it with aggression. It’s a blessing.
You were a tight end in high school and projected to be one in college, but you switched to defense at Washington State. Why?
I always just wanted to play defense growing up. To have that little swag, a little juice, being on defense. On offense, you can have that mentality, but you have to remember all those plays. On defense, you can be a dog. Just do whatever you want to do. And have fun.