Darius Fleming played only a minor role in the New England Patriots' 27-20 divisional-round victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday, but the veteran linebacker was still the biggest hero on the field.
According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Fleming had 22 stitches in his right leg, which were a result of a cut he suffered while saving a woman by kicking in the window of her burning car. Volin provided a few more details:
Ben Volin @BenVolin
Fleming witnessed 3-car accident on Rt-1 near Gillette on Thurs night. Woman couldn’t get out of her car, Fleming saw smoke & kicker her out2016-1-20 16:49:02
"It was a little freaky, but anyone in that situation would've done the same thing," said Fleming, per Volin. "It's just, I was there. I'm glad I could help her."
Wednesday afternoon, the Walpole Police Department released a statement appearing to corroborate Fleming's account, which cited the driver saying a male "kicked in my window, I think he was a Patriot," according to ESPN's Michele Steele:
Michele Steele @ESPNMichele
Walpole PD w statement, a "Good Samaritan" mentioned https://t.co/TpDO8TSbAv2016-1-20 21:44:24
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network provided more comments from the woman involved in the accident:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
A follow-up from Walpole PD on the incident surround #Patriots LB Darius Fleming. The woman saved says thank you. https://t.co/HoOY3y3YzF2016-1-20 22:05:42
According to Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo, Fleming preferred to let the event remain out of the national spotlight:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
Apparently the Darius Fleming story stayed quiet because Fleming wanted it that way. Whether selfless or the Patriot Way, that's cool.2016-1-20 17:00:26
"I think it represents his character," said Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich, per Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. "He's a great person. Anyone in that situation, you have to act, not watch. He acted."
Coincidentally, Fleming's courageous act came almost a year to the day after former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork pulled a woman out of an overturned Jeep Wrangler. According to the Massachusetts State Police, a state trooper held the passenger door open for Wilfork, who lifted the driver out of the vehicle with one hand.
That left an impression on Fleming, per Phil Perry of CSNNE.com:
Phil Perry @PhilAPerry
Fleming said the first thing he thought of was Vince Wilfork stopping to help a crash victim following last year's AFC title game.2016-1-20 17:09:34
After saving somebody from a burning car, the prospect of facing off against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game on the road Sunday must seem like nothing for Fleming now.