Why I Love the Game

General Published on : 1/1/2005

Football has been a huge part of my life. It's kind of directed it since I've been eight years old. It was my favorite sport right from the beginning, and remained so right up through the high school level and college level. I never thought it would be this part of my life, obviously. Looking back, I realize now it's always been a part of my life.

I've been a big fan of the NFL from the time I started watching TV - since I was six or seven years old. I always enjoyed the pro game. I played organized football on Saturdays, and Sunday was the day to sit down and watch the NFL with my dad, who was such a big fan. So I always had the fever, the love of the game. I never really thought I'd be one of those guys someday.

Even when I went on to play in high school, I guess I never really thought that far ahead to think that I'd be playing in the NFL. I just played for the moment. Football is something I just really, really enjoyed. I grew up in a neighborhood with so many kids around that we'd play football in the snow, out on the baseball fields -- tackle, touch, whatever.

Not until after my junior year in high school did I realize that I had a chance to get a scholarship and continue playing football in college. Then I went to Penn State and playing in the pros was still not something I considered. Especially after the first meeting with Joe Paterno, where he tells you that "very few of you guys, if any, will play pro ball after these four years."After a couple of years in the program, when I saw the players who were being drafted, that was probably the first time I realized I had a chance to play in the NFL if I continued to get better.

The fact that I never looked too far ahead helped me. I had goals, but they were more short term. Even when I got to college, it was, "Let's enjoy what I'm doing, get as good as I can get and come out with an education." That's how I looked at it, but as I did well at different levels, it seemed like that opened doors for the next level.

Even after I retired seven years ago, I'm still in love with football. I've been in the same organization basically for 20 years, which is like coming out of college and working for the same company for 20 years. It's hard to believe it's been that long between playing and coaching. Football, as I look back on it now, has been a huge part of my life.

Pro football has been something I've loved watching since I was a small kid. I'm a fan. Even when we're out of the playoffs, I enjoy watching football. I just enjoy it. That's what's kept me attracted as long as it has.

My love for the game was nurtured by my dad. Football was the sport he enjoyed watching the most. I remember my dad buying me my first football uniform. It was a Packers uniform because that was his favorite team. And when I started watching football, I also started playing it. Growing up in Scranton, Pa., a lot of kids in the neighborhood had similar interests. So I was playing out back with my friends since I was six or seven.

Football was such a big deal, and you didn't need to play 11-on-11 either. You can play three-on-three, four-on-four, and we'd pretend to be different NFL players - a great quarterback or great running back. Not many guys brag about being offensive linemen. So it was something that I never saw myself playing, but it was where the initial interest came from. And when you have success at something it keeps you going.

The way it's turned out, going into the Hall of Fame, has been unbelievable. It'll always be part of my life and it's allowed me and my family to do a lot of things. I've had the opportunity to make a good living, to meet a lot of great people. It just opened a lot of doors. My two girls, they weren't quite old enough to remember all of my career. But now they're really involved in football because of my coaching and it's really kind of neat.

It's been great for a lot of us, not just me but for a lot of people that have been along for the ride with me. It's been a fun experience.