Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK — Get your hash tags ready because Mike Pettine is more than happy adding another chapter to the growing trend on Twitter known as “The Legend of Kiko Alonso.”
The Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator revealed this week how he’s begun calling his rookie middle linebacker “Roy Hobbs.”
Who? Why the fictional slugger in the movie “The Natural,” of course.
“There are some guys who have a natural feel for the game,” Pettine said. “And that’s why I nicknamed him Roy Hobbs a long time ago because he’s just a natural.”
It’s a fitting tag for several reasons. Pettine was previously unaware that the 1984 movie, starring Robert Redford as Hobbs, was filmed in Buffalo and included scenes from the Bills former home, War Memorial Stadium.
“I did not know that,” he said. “And I don’t know if (Alonso) even knows who Roy Hobbs is. But he is. It comes very natural to him.”
Alonso, a second-round pick out of Oregon, has taken both the NFL and Twitterverse by storm as the Bills (4-7) enter their bye.
On the field, Alonso’s 112 tackles ranked second heading into Week 12. His four interceptions are tied for third. Add to that, Alonso has forced a fumble, recovered one and has two sacks to rate prominent mention as an NFL defensive rookie of the year candidate.
“I can’t imagine a rookie having a better year,” Pettine said.
On Twitter, Bills fans have elevated Alonso to legendary status by coming up with amusing yet unfathomable tales, including: “When Kiko Alonso goes to Spain, he chases the bulls.”
The soft-spoken Alonso has been taken aback by the attention, and dismissed questions regarding how easy he’s made seem the transition from college.
“That’s just people from the outside looking in because it hasn’t been easy at all,” Alonso said. “I prepare in practice just so I can perform well. Whatever comes along with it, rewards or whatever, is great. That’s what I prepare for, to perform really well.”