Military background shapes Bucannon

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Somewhere during Deone Bucannon's childhood, whether it was in Hawaii or in one of the at least seven cities he lived in around California, Bucannon told his parents he wanted to be an NFL player.

"If you want it, if you love the game that much, then you got to work hard to get to that point," he remembers them saying. "And when you get to that point, you're going to work even harder."

Bucannon's proof that listening to your parents can pay off. He recalled that story Thursday afternoon following a news conference introducing him as the Arizona Cardinals' first-round pick.

His parents' military careers took the Bucannons around the West Coast and Hawaii, eventually landing them in Fairfield, Calif., located about between San Francisco and Sacramento. Through at least eight moves, Duane, a Marine Corps veteran, and Sonji, who spent 23 years in the Navy, instilled structure and passion into a young Bucannon while stoking his dream to play professional football.

"That's how they raised me," Bucannon said. "Everything has structure. Everything is in a place. Everything has a reason for it. My dad told me, 'Don't play this game if you're just going through the motions.' That's not why I play this game. I play this game because I love it."

Playing a sport where machismo reigns, Bucannon hasn't shied away from displaying passion and emotion. He broke down in front of Washington State defensive coordinator Mike Breske during a heart-to-heart meeting his junior after being pulled out of a game. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim couldn't finish introducing himself to Bucannon on the phone Thursday before the tears started rolling.

Bucannon was quiet at Washington State, coach Mike Leach said, but he still demanded respect because of his play. Instead of naming a season-long captain, Leach had his team vote on them on a weekly basis. The Cougars voted Bucannon a captain every week for two years.

"I think it always meant a lot to him," Leach said. "And the harder he worked, the more successful he got so I think it elevated it further."

When Breske met Bucannon two years ago, he noticed the safety was a "yes sir, no sir" guy. But Bucannon didn't grow up in a house that mirrored a boot camp.

Structure didn't mean strict. Family was important. Passion was instilled. But there was still a right way of doing things and a wrong way, he learned at a young age.

"Being on time for things and things like that," Bucannon continued. "And time management was a big thing for my family. At the end of the day, it helped me be a better man."

After diving into Bucannon's background, it didn't take long for the Cardinals to figure out what kind of person they would be drafting. When Arizona's defensive backs coach Nick Rapone found out Bucannon was from a military family, he knew what to expect after 35 years of coaching.

"The young man is social because he's had to move, so he's used to making friends and he has to have some type of social skills," Rapone said. "The second thing is as long as it falls into the pattern, the kid's been raised with structure. The kid's been raised to get up in the morning at a certain time, to go to bed at a certain time.

"And he knows the difference between what's right and what is wrong."

Arizona's decision was solidified to Arians after he saw Bucannon at home in California during the first round instead of in New York City.

With a new chapter of his career beginning in Arizona, Bucannon can look back and see how his parents' background influenced him, and kept him on a path to the NFL.

"It put things into perspective," Bucannon said.

"My dad and mom are big on trust. They're big on trust and family and those are really the two big things. You hear military family and you think, 'Oh, it's just this guy and he has no say,' and things like that. But it's not like that.

"It's just that there is a right and a wrong thing to do, and there is a right and wrong way to do things. That's really what my mom and dad instilled in me."