When Kiko Alonso was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the NFL draft, there was very little fanfare. In fact, his selection provoked a fairly negative response from the Bills’ fans who were present at the time. Now, at Week 9 in the NFL season, Alonso has quickly become one of the most beloved players on the team, and is proving he is one of the most disruptive, ferocious and prolific defensive players in the league.
Currently, he is second in the league with 81 tackles, with 43 solo, and also has 4 interceptions (tying him for the league lead), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a sack. In a single game against the Cincinnati, he had 22 tackles. He even has his own grassroots social-media campaign set up by fans: #thelegendofKikoAlonso. Yet, unsurprisingly, the introverted Alonso has said very little about his accomplishments.
It has been a long and convoluted road for Alonso. He was a human torpedo at Los Gatos High School in California, and then was signed by Oregon. His rookie season he was one of the main backup players, and all seemed to be going well, but then he injured his knee and did not play during that sophomore season. Then there was the notorious moment, when he broke into a woman’s home, in a severely inebriated state. Arrested and then suspended from the team, the future seemed bleak for the linebacker.
From that point on, Alonso would only get better, as a person and as a player. He worked his way back into the good graces of Chip Kelly and the Oregon coaching staff with humility and hard work. He began to play like the linebacker he had been in high school, a battering ram knocking opposing players off their feet, culminating with him being awarded defensive MVP honors for his performance in the 2011 Rose Bowl. Then came the draft, and the Bills made him the 46th-overall pick, and those boos and angry mutters came from the audience at the draft.
In his first game against New England, a close 23-21 loss, he had 9 tackles, plus forced a fumble and recovered it as well. In his subsequent games, he had 10, 8, 5, 12, 22, 4, and 11 tackles and also had two interceptions against Baltimore. With only a couple of average statistical games, Alonso has shown that he is much more than an every-down linebacker, but one who has a chance to develop into one of the most relentless, fearless and devastating players in the NFL.
He is the leading candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and, unless he suddenly stops making tackles, it is highly likely that he will win the honor. And if he does, then #thelegendofKikoAlonso will only grow.
From Los Gatos to Eugene to Buffalo, and from a troubled player to a dominating one, Alonso has experienced the highs and lows only a few have recovered from, to find success. He has legions of fans, game plans are designed around his presence and is compared in toughness to Chuck Norris.
So – how do those Bills’ fans at the Draft Ceremony feel now?