Each Wednesday we'll bring you a Q&A with a Ravens player to help you learn a little more about the team. Today's guest is running back Willis McGahee, who averaged 77 rushing and receiving yards in the first three games and rushed for five touchdowns but has since touched the ball less often. McGahee discussed his role in the offense, the hits that running backs take and his affinity for cars.
Question: The Ravens are 3-1 when you get at least seven touches in a game but 1-2 when you get six or fewer. Coincidence?
Answer: I said that to myself, but you know, things just aren't going our way right now, regardless of if I'm on the field. But I feel like when I'm on the field, I can help the team a whole lot more than not being out there.
Q: Are you comfortable with the coaches' explanation that there is only one football to share, but that you are still a critical cog in this offense?
A: At this stage in my life right now, I've learned that you can't cry over spilled milk because if I cry, I'm not going to win that battle. It's just going to make it seem like, "Oh, McGahee's pouting because he's not touching the ball." I just take it in stride, man. I take whatever they give me. I try to make the best of my opportunities, but when you don't get as many opportunities as you did in the beginning of the season, there's really nothing I can do about it.
Q: Since 2007, when you gained 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns on 294 carries, you've rushed 217 times for 872 yards and 12 touchdowns. Is this the role you envisioned when the Ravens traded for you before the 2007 season?
A: Not really, but you've got to look at it like this: Ray [Rice] is the future of the Baltimore Ravens. They brought Ray in, this coaching staff, and you can't do anything but expect Ray to play. It's not like they're going to let him sit on the sidelines. He was a second-round draft pick. So he can't sit on the sidelines. They're getting him ready. I don't know if I'm going to be here next year or the year after, but I'm content with whatever it [his role] is.
Q: Who is the toughest opposing tackler you've faced?
A: I would say that in the seven years I've played, I would probably have to give it to [ Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy] Polamalu. He's everywhere. When you're running a stretch play and you get to the outside edge, he's right there. And he's not going to hit you high. He's going to take your legs out, so that right there is probably the toughest thing for me.
Q: Considering the punishment running backs absorb, what kind of mentality does it take to be a running back in the NFL?
A: You have to be cocky. I'm not going to lie, but you have to be cocky. It's like being a DB [defensive back]. You don't want somebody who's out there and just going like, "Uh, OK, I think I'll go out here and play." No, you've got to go out there and have swagger. You've got to be ready to do whatever, and you've got to back it up. I've learned that over the years. I used to be a talker, but most people didn't like it when you talked. They would say, "Shut up. Just play the game." So now, I've learned to not just talk. I just stand back there and keep it to myself.
Q: What was your welcome-to-the-NFL moment?
A: [Laughs.] When we played the Tennessee Titans in the preseason, my very first carry and Keith Bulluck was like, "McGahee ... you're not going to run here." I was sitting there and thinking, "I don't even know this guy, and he doesn't even know me." From then on, I was like, "OK, you can't be nice. You've got to talk [smack]."
Q: Is there an athlete, entertainer or actor you would pay money out of your pocket to see?
A: I would pay money to see Beyonce. Who wouldn't pay money to see Beyonce? And I want to see Beyonce. I want to talk to her and give her a hug and try to talk to her. Just about how things are going and if things don't work out, you know. [Laughs.] Can't do nothing but try.
Q: I read that back in 2006, every car you owned was painted black. Is that still true today?
A: I've got an Infiniti truck, which is gray. I switched it up. Just something different.
Q: Who is the bigger car aficionado: you or former Ravens linebacker Gary Stills?
A: I would give it to Gary, but I go for the more exotic cars. I'm different. I like the Porsche trucks, the [ Mercedes-Benz] CL600. I try to get things that I know nobody is really going to go out and try to buy. I had a Bentley, but I didn't like it. Eastern Motors gave me a Bentley to drive around, and it was cool at that time, but it wasn't me.
Q: What is your go-to meal? Is there one food you will not touch?
A: I will not touch liver. [Laughs.] It smells good when you're cooking it, but when you bite into it … [Shivers.] Liver and cauliflower. My go-to meal is fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and yams.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun