Do you and Ray Rice have the same relationship that Ray and Vonta Leach have where they needle each other and correct each other if the need arises?
- Ravens Q&A with columnist Mike Preston
- Lardarius Webb says he plans on playing Sunday
- Suggs wins AFC defensive honor for the third time
- Ravens 18, Detroit Lions 16 [Pictures]
- Mike Preston grades the Ravens' 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions
- 2013 Ravens cheerleaders [Pictures]
See more photos »
1 Winning Dr, Owings Mills, MD 21117, USA
When you look back at your NFL career, how have those experiences shaped you?
I don’t think people change. I think they definitely mature. But I think the essence of what I am today is the same as when I was five years old. It’s just maturity. I’ve become a healthier, fuller expression of that essence. And so I look at my career and there have been ups and downs, a lot of peaks and valleys. But my idea of success started to change, and before, I thought success meant numbers and yards. Now I really think of success as being maturity. Sometimes success will get in the way of maturity — at least temporarily. So I guess I look back and I see that I’ve been able to survive success and keep gaining maturity.
If you could step into a time machine, what would you say to the younger version of you and what do you think the younger version of you say to the current version?
Well, I think the younger me would have appreciated someone who understood him and could guide him in a way that felt natural, that felt genuine. And then what I would say to the younger me is try to explain the importance of success as far as feeling good about yourself. There's more to life than success, and if you can try to be more well-rounded, you'll be able to enjoy your success more. It won't own you or control you.
When you joined the Ravens, did you have any trepidation about how the players in the locker room would receive you?
Not really. The first person I ran into was Ray Lewis, and he seemed so happy to see me. So all the trepidation was gone right away. But it's different, though, when you've been on one team for a long time and then you go into a different locker. Not only do you have to learn the playbook, but you have to learn the unwritten rules of the locker room and everybody's attitudes of how things are done. It was an adjustment, but it was a pleasant surprise. For the first couple of weeks, everything that I learned made me feel good about being here — everything from the way we lift weights to the practice schedule to Coach [John] Harbaugh's receptivity to the players and what's going on with us. It was just a welcome change.
Did you have a mentor during the early stages of your NFL career?
I really didn’t have one. I was kind of on my own. That’s why I made a lot of mistakes, but at the same time, I was able to learn from those mistakes. I think I recognized at an early age that in order to find out the way things worked, I was most comfortable with doing it and finding out myself.
Do you wish you had a mentor?
I do, but I think it’s very rare to find a competent mentor. There are different degrees of competency, but for me, it would have had to have been very specific to me. I mean, right on. But I think the best way to help people is if you’ve been where they’ve been, and I think we all have slightly different roads, and I think my road has been so unique that it would have been very difficult to find someone who thought the way I did and kind of came up the way I did.
You’ve been described as quiet or shy in various media outlets. Are you comfortable with those adjectives?
I don’t like them. I think if I were a college professor, no one would say I was uncomfortable about being shy because that might be expected. But I think because of people’s stereotypes, they think of a football player as someone who is very outgoing and I’m not. I’m comfortable if someone says I’m reserved or introverted. I think those are OK. But I don’t think shy is accurate.
When you look back at your NFL career, do you have a high point? And conversely, was there a low point?
Yeah, the high point was 2002 when I led the NFL in rushing. And the low point would be my rookie season. Just because I had battled so many injuries and we were 3-13 and [then-head coach Mike] Ditka got fired afterwards. It was a rough start.
Have you talked to Mike Ditka since then?
We’ve talked a little bit. Usually at high points, low points, we’ve talked. One of the greatest compliments he ever paid me was my rookie year in the last game of the season. We were playing Carolina and they were whupping us. We ran a little play-action pass, and the fullback didn’t block his guy. I saw that and kind of reacted and picked up the guy and the quarterback got the ball off. Ditka grabbed me and said, “If you keep playing football like that, you’ll play for a long time.”
Throughout your playing days, is there one coach who has influenced you the most?