Fair or not, Fairley addresses ‘dirty player’ label

INDIANAPOLIS — Some people believe Auburn DT Nick Fairley could be the No. 1 overall draft pick because of his physicality. Others say he’s just a dirty player.

Auburn DT Nick Fairley tries to power through the Oregon offensive line during the BCS national championship game last month. (Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire)

Fairley knows there is a fine line between being physical and being dirty. And he was twice asked about that line during his Sunday afternoon news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“I haven’t really met with a team yet, but I have talked to the media, and how I’ve addressed it is everybody’s entitled to their opinion,” Fairley said at Lucas Oil Stadium. “A lot of folks out there say I play the game the way it should be played. I hit a light switch when I hit the field and don’t turn it off ’til I leave.

“I don’t think I took plays off,” Fairley added. “I think I play the game as it should be played. I play with a high motor. I’ve been playing football since I was 8 years old, and every time I hit the field, my motor was always running.”

That motor helped Fairley lead Auburn to the BCS national championship last season. And with the added emphasis on defensive linemen in the NFL because of the success of last year’s No. 2 pick (Ndamukong Suh), Fairley hopes to show what he can bring that motor to a team.

“Suh is a great player, winning the defensive rookie of the year,” Fairley said. “Him coming out last year with the impact that he had on the college game and now that coaches are getting to see that D-tackles are making some noise helped us out a lot.

“I really need to come out tomorrow at the combine and just show them in the drills that I’m a great athlete and, with the interviews that we have, that I’m a great person off-the-field too,” he continued. “I have to show them that one-hit wonder is not in me. I think I can play anywhere, 3-4 or 4-3. It doesn’t matter to me. I could play end, the shade, three-technique, whatever.”

— Matt Florjancic, Special to NFL.com

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