Family: Wife, Jennel; Son, Tony, 4
Occupation: Safety, Baltimore Ravens
Why football and when did you know this was the career for you?
I have always been a football guy. I started playing football at the age of 4, and I never skipped a year of football throughout my life. I was pretty average in school; school was what I needed to do to get where I wanted to go. I went to Oklahoma State for college, stayed there for three years, left early and had my stint with the Cardinals for four years in Arizona. I signed with the Ravens for four years, and I am in my third year of that contract. So, football has pretty much been my life.
Do you have a mentor or role model that you look up to?
I would say my father. He has always led me in the right direction. I believe he paved the way for me as far as learning how to become a man and teaching me things, mainly responsibility. I was also fortunate enough to be under the same roof as both of my parents, which is huge, and I think that often gets overlooked. Sometimes when parents aren’t in the same household, it affects the kids in the house. So, that was important.
What advice can you give working parents?
You always have to find time to spend with your kids, regardless of your situation. I am pretty much gone from 5 a.m. until about 7 p.m. during the season, so it’s tough because you feel like you are missing everything at home with the kids. The real challenge comes when you get home and you are dead tired, hurting and you are ready to go to sleep. But your child deserves your time. It’s just a part of life. You have to do your due diligence, you have to do the work.
What is the best advice another parent gave you?
I think the best advice I have heard is be your own parent. Just because you may have been raised a certain way, just because you have certain beliefs or your parents had certain beliefs growing up, [doesn’t mean you can’t] be who you are and love your child the way you love. You don’t have to do it by tradition. I don’t think it’s a generational thing. You don’t have to do what you have seen in the past in your own family. It’s your own family, so be your own parent.
How do you manage your career and your family life, particularly with so much travel?
It’s not anything that is hard to manage for me. I signed up for this. I know what it brings and I knew the predicament it would put me in with a family or without a family. The unfortunate — but fortunate at the same time — part about the NFL is that the NFL stands for “not for long.” What helps me through these situations mentally when I am traveling a lot is that I realize it’s mostly just a temporary time in my life, and we have a long life ahead of us. Although you might miss a little here and there, I believe once you retire and you have done right with your money, you will be able to catch up with life as much as you can.
People have a lot of preconceived notions about athletes, it seems. What would you like them to know about you as a football player and also as a dad?
Ever since I have been alive, I have always heard football players tagged “jock” or “cocky” or [that people] feel like athletes have a sense of entitlement. I mean some people are cocky and do have those traits, but they are no different than any other person in the world who could also have those traits. All that is naysay to me — I don’t pay attention to that. All I know is I am a regular human being just like everyone else, and everyone in the NFL is a human being. All we do differently is lift weights and we chase a brown ball.
How do you de-stress? What are your hobbies?
I love talking to my son and playing with him. I can always go to him and he’s going to have a right attitude and a good spirit, and that tends to be contagious. Last off-season, I got into golf, and we would go golfing together pretty much every day. That’s something we’re going to be continue tradition-wise, father-son time on the golf course.
What’s next for you?
There are a variety of things that I want to do, but I think I will always be involved with football. I will always have a love for it. I want to try and work into becoming a scout and, from there, see where it goes. And, at some point, I want to become a head coach at my old high school.