Demar Dotson is a rich man. But he remembers the journey that got him here.
Dotson, a former basketball player at Southern Miss, did not play football in Pop Warner, or junior high, or high school. He played one year for South Miss, but that was on the defensive line. He was an undrafted free agent who caught on with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
“Everything I have in life, I work for it,” Dotson said. “I came in as a rookie and didn’t even have a pair of shoes and a pair of cleats to come out here. I had to work myself up, and I think that’s just what God made me. A guy that just [has to] always stay humble because maybe if I get things too easy, I’ll get unhumbled. So I think that just having things come hard, it keeps me humbled every day, it keeps me on my knees and it keeps me grateful.”
Dotson is the longest-tenured Bucs’ player. NFL.com said he received $6-million a year.
In 2012, Dotson started 15 games and was part of an offensive line that tied for the third-fewest sacks allowed in the NFL (26), while helping pave the way for rookie running back Doug Martin’s 1,454 rushing yards – the second-most in a single season in franchise history. From 2012-14, Dotson started 47 consecutive games, helping anchor the offensive line.
“Individually, (the goal for) me is to go out there and be the best right tackle I can be,” said Dotson, 30. “I believe that I can be the best right tackle in this game, and I think collectively as a unit we just (have) to buy into what (offensive line coach] George [Warhop] is teaching us and go out there and put it on the field. I think that, as a coach, in Warhop, we’ve got a guy with so much great experience and he’s a great teacher of this game.
“So I think that [if] we buy in and do what he tells us to do, I think as a collective unit we can be better. You see what those guys did last year, and those guys went out there and they fought. And I’m sitting on the sideline like, ‘Man, I wish I was out there with them.’”
Dotson missed most of 2015 with an injury, but head coach Dirk Koetter has called him the team’s best lineman.
“It is a little chip on my shoulder because I know that everything you get you’ve got to prove, and if you want it you’ve got to go out there and get it,” Dotson said. “I started to realize I know this thing didn’t come easy, so I’m determined. Even though I got it, it’s no backing off, it makes me want to go harder because I feel that if a team is willing to invest in you and show you some, I call it love, then it’s my job to go out there and give it back to them. So with them willing to invest in me like that, I know one thing, they’re going to get my best.”