“Superback” Jason Cabinda, the versatile fullback for the Detroit Lions, is a captivating presence on and off the field. Cabinda recently shared some of his personal story on “Off the Record with Dannie Rogers.”
“I know for a fact that it’s a true possibility I could not be here right now. I could be in Cameroon with zero opportunity,” he reflected on-air with Dannie. Then, through a budding a smile, he affirmed, “So, every time I have an opportunity to grow myself in any kind of way, I take advantage.”
Football, introduced to him at the age of 10, became the pivot that changed his life’s trajectory.
Early Life and Personal Growth
While football is a definitive part of Jason Cabinda’s life, his personal evolution extends beyond the gridiron. His character – a blend of grit, gratitude, and resolve – has been carved by a family heritage rich in tradition and a childhood faced with challenges.
Born to Cameroonian parents, Cabinda grew up with a deep-seated reverence for his African heritage. His childhood home was a tapestry of Cameroonian values and practices, a bedrock for his character development.
Moving to the United States was a cultural adventure for the Cabinda family, initially settling near the crime-pervaded Crenshaw neighborhoods of California. With an unfamiliar landscape of gang violence and crime perplexing his parents, they found solace and familiarity within the Cameroonian and Nigerian communities. “Coming from Cameroon where like, our saying was ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ like we’re so much about family, about respect, about eachother. Those are so much the value we grew up on.” Cabinda recalls.
Fate Had a Saving Throw: Football
Cabinda garnered invaluable life lessons from both of his parents. His mother, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, was a figure of compassion and service, teaching him the power of leadership and the joy of helping others. His father, an MD focusing on drug safety (primarily cancer-related medications), helped patients better understand the significance of safety and knowledge.
A pivotal moment in Cabinda’s life arrived when his parents divorced. Around the time he was in the third grade, Jason grappled with anger issues, teetering down a slippery slope. But fate had a saving throw. His mother introduced him to football when he was 10, a move that not only changed his trajectory but also ignited an unending love for the game.
From Penn State to the NFL
As Cabinda prepares for his sixth year in the NFL, he can’t help but draw parallels between his current NFL journey and his days as a linebacker at Penn State. His college years were a filled with adversity, particularly dealing with the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sanctions, which saw the team’s scholarships cut nearly in half.
But just like his personal life, Cabinda found a way to turn adversity into focus and fuel. As a junior, he played a key role in leading Penn State to a Big Ten Championship victory. He equates this growth and transformation with his current journey with the Lions, saying:
Despite numerous changes within the Lions’ organization, Cabinda remains undaunted and optimistic. He draws strength from his past experiences, believing that like his time at Penn State, the Lions too can overcome the challenges they face.
Expectations, Rookies and the Lions’ Journey
The Detroit Lions and Jason Cabinda are no strangers to external expectations anymore. In an atmosphere where every win and loss is scrutinized, Cabinda shows a keen understanding of the external pressures while firmly believing in the strength of his team.
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Addressing the looming outside expectations, Cabinda acknowledges the journey has been a long road. Like him, many of his teammates grew up winning before reaching the NFL. Learning how to deal with and respond to losing took time for many of them to learn. He believes that the Lions now stand at a crossroads, one where the next step is crucial, and he firmly believes they’re ready to take it:
We’re at this crossroads where it’s like ‘okay we’re gonna take the next step.’ And I truly feel like we are, man.
Cabinda stands strong, reiterating that he and his teammates are driven by a shared passion. “I actually just think we want it that bad,” he affirms, quickly dispelling notions of the Lions being overhyped.
When asked about his own positional preference, he humorously admitted that he misses defense and “likes hitting people.” Yet, his overall focus is more team-oriented, with his sights set firmly on the grand prize: a Super Bowl victory.
The strength of the Lions, according to Cabinda, also lies in their coaching staff.
The merit of the coaching staff’s guidance is amplified by their personal experiences in the NFL. Having traveled down the same path that the current roster walks, the coaches’ words carry a unique credibility that resonates deeply within the locker room.
Cabinda enthusiastically shares:
We have coaches who not only played, but really, truly had success in the league. Have played 5, 10 years in the league. I think the level of respect that you have for guys like that when they’re teaching you things is just different, it just is… when you have a guy who’s really played, who’s been in your shoes, who’s done what you’ve done, there’s just another level of respect, another level of paying attention to detail because the merit that are behind those words is there ‘cause they’ve done it.
The Lions special blend of experienced coaches and an eager roster is what makes their story unique, Cabinda believes. “I think what we have going on here is very special,” he stamped.
Cabinda as a Mentor and Teammate
Disregarding any personal achievements, Cabinda always remains team-focused. “I’m just so excited to win,” he says emphatically, adding:
I want a Super Bowl. That’s really all I care about. I don’t care about stats, I don’t care about catches, I don’t care about yards. Obviously, if that’s what I’m asked to do, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability without a doubt. But my biggest, absolute biggest thing is just winning.
As the team handyman, Cabinda is a fixture in both the running back and tight end rooms, serving as a mentor and guide to a few of the rookies.
When asked about rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, Cabinda’s face lit up with excitement. “Catches the ball super naturally. His catch-to-tuck and get his eyes up field, getting ready to be a runner, are impressive for a rookie,” he shared. LaPorta’s evident talent and work ethic have not gone unnoticed by Cabinda, who added, “He’s gonna help us a lot in the passing game.”
Cabinda is also locker-mates with rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, a player he describes as having “natural hands” and “home-run speed.” His admiration for Gibbs is apparent:
He’s good…he’s good. Saw him out there at practice today. Also natural hands, also the type of guy that looks like he’s gonna be a threat in the receiving game. He’s got speed. He’s got speed. He’s got home-run speed, man, i’m excited about him.
Beyond the Field: Investment, Entrepreneurship, and Winning
While the on-field performance of Jason Cabinda continues to draw attention, his off-field interests reveal a more multifaceted picture of the player. Jason has a perspective blended between his academic background as an economics major and his dreams of becoming a sports media personality when his playing days are done.
Having an unexpected conversation with Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson during a flight to the NFL Draft proved to be enlightening for Cabinda. The two discussed investing, with Johnson’s words affirming Cabinda’s belief in the importance of financial intelligence. Their shared fondness for the city further solidified the bond between the two Lions.
Cabinda’s economic curiosity has translated into sound financial advice that he readily shares with rookies and anyone willing to listen. “It comes down to saving your money, that’s number one, no question about that,” he believes, before adding the crucial element of passive income. For Cabinda, the concept of passive income materialized in the form of an Airbnb business.
Airbnb Mogul in the Making
Originally renting in multiple cities early in his career, he soon recognized the financial drain this represented. This realization prompted him to buy his first Airbnb property in Florida, his off-season home. Leveraging the property’s earning potential when he was away in Michigan, Cabinda found a sustainable income source. The success led him to invest in a second property. To assist with managing his ventures, he recruited his trusted friend Malik. Whenever he’s back in Florida, Cabinda stays at the property that is performing the worst, reflecting his pragmatic approach to his investments.
Away from football and finance, Cabinda’s light-hearted side emerges when talking about food. The dilemma of choosing between pizza, burgers, and seafood revealed his fondness for barbecue bacon cheeseburgers. However, his love for pizza and an obsession with salmon swayed his decision towards giving up burgers.
Looking Towards a Future in Broadcasting
The Lions fullback already has his mind set on a career in sports media following his playing days. Charismatic and deeply knowledgeable about the game, Jason Cabinda shows qualities that make him a natural fit for sports broadcasting. His genuine personality and innate ability to engage audiences are not confined to the football field but extend far beyond it.
— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) October 13, 2022
His dedication and foresight drive his proactive approach to a future transition into broadcasting. Making the most of his off-seasons, he has been honing his broadcasting skills through training programs and bootcamps. His goal is not just to be prepared, but to excel when the time comes to exchange his cleats for a microphone.
The prospect of Cabinda’s future in broadcasting is undoubtedly bright.
The Multifaceted Jason Cabinda
In less than 30 minutes with Detroit Lions Team Reporter Dannie Rogers, it became clear that he’s not just a football player, but a man with many talents. From a young age, he faced challenges but pushed through en route to becoming a key player a Detroit Lions team expecting to compete for an NFC crown. His love for football and his determination shine through in his play.
Football star, mentor, businessman, and budding broadcaster. Whether he’s on or off the field, Cabinda is a force to be admired, ready for success in whatever he chooses to do.
For the full interview, check out Jason Cabinda on episode 21 of “Off the Record with Dannie Rogers.” Link below!
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OriginalPhoto Credit: © Detroit Free Press