Each week, we bring you a Q&A with a Ravens player, coach or team executive to help you learn a little more about the team. Today's guest is left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
Did you have any apprehension about your first regular-season start with the Ravens after spending the first nine seasons of your career with the Minnesota Vikings?
No. When Ray [Lewis] hit me up, I checked out the team to see where I would fit in. I kind of looked at it from that standpoint to see if it would be a good fit for me, and I thought it would be.
What about this offensive makeup convinced you to sign with the Ravens?
One thing was that [center] Matt Birk was already here. So there was somebody that I was already familiar with. He calls out the defense, and his communication levels are pretty good.
On your first play as a Raven, you had a key block on Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel and then inside linebacker James Farrior that sprung running back Ray Rice for a 36-yard gain. How good did that feel?
It felt pretty good because you have to set the tempo. I think a lot of that came from the anxiousness and nerves from just not playing for a while. But it felt good and it allowed us as an offense to set the tempo.
Were you nervous about your debut as a Raven?
I'm not going to lie, but just a little because there was a lot going into the game. Ever since I first got here, there was all this talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and how it's a big rivalry and how basically you just don't like them around here. I saw that on my Twitter account when I first signed and just being out and about — like when I'm picking up my stuff from the dry cleaners or when I turn on the radio. Everywhere I turned, there was something about Pittsburgh.
What would you compare the Ravens-Steelers rivalry to?
Kind of like the Vikings-Packers. Or if you want, go back to the U [University of Miami] and Florida State. Just two teams that don't like each other. Two good teams that have to beat each other to be the best.
Who is the toughest pass rusher you've faced in your career?
I can name you three. Dwight Freeney's good, Julius Peppers is good and James Harrison is actually pretty good. Those are three pretty good pass rushers.
Are they similar in the way they play?
They are different. Dwight and James are a little more similar because they''e both shorter and they use the dip move to try to dip under taller blockers and things like that. James likes to dip in real quick and then come back outside to get the edge on you, whereas Dwight will run up to you and do the spin move inside. Julius is about strength and his arms are about as long as mine. I rarely go against somebody whose arms can touch me when I'm locking mine out. It was definitely a weird feeling.
More important to you: a Super Bowl ring or a Hall of Fame bust?
I'd rather have a ring. I got one in college, and I feel like the ring can possibly set you up to get into the Hall of Fame. But just to get a ring, I know what it felt like to be a national champion in college. So I'd like to get that feeling back.
Did you ever have a nickname? If so, what's the history behind it?
Big Mac. It's funny. [Former Miami teammate and current Washington Redskins wide receiver] Santana Moss gave me that during his junior year when I got to Miami. He said, "I'm going to call you Big Mac." And it stuck. Everybody just started calling me Big Mac, and it carried over to the league. Some people have abbreviated it and called me B-Mac, but Big Mac has stuck with me from college to here. But a lot of people probably don't realize that Santana Moss gave me that nickname.
I read somewhere that you started a music label called "Swagga Entertainment."
It's called B Major Music Group now. The old name was Swagga Entertainment, but I felt like swagga was kind of trendy, and I wanted something that was easier to brand. So I felt like B Major Music Group was better and a little more global. Swagga sounds a little more urban.
What does music mean to you?
A lot. I think music is a form of therapy. When you're going through stuff and someone has a song that you can relate to, you use that. When you're getting ready for games, you're playing music and you get yourself hyped. When you're cleaning your house, you're playing music to get yourself going. So it serves as motivation.
If you could listen to a musician live — past or present — who would you listen to?
I would say Biggie Smalls. I didn't get a chance to see him in concert, and I don't feel like he got a chance to reach his full potential as an artist.
What's your worst habit?
The worst habit I have is probably procrastination. I tend to wait until the last minute to do things, but for some reason, I feel like I perform better when I've got the pressure on me.
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?
It would be someone like [entrepreneur] Russell Simmons. From a business standpoint, I would just ask him about different strategies that he took in music.