The center-quarterback relationship is an intimate one – on the field. It has to be. We have to understand each other 100 percent and be able to anticipate what each other is going to do. From a lineman’s standpoint, I have to be in tune with his checks, so I can anticipate what to call when the check is made, and he has to be in tune with me to understand that I’m going to make the proper adjustment so he’s going to know who we’re blocking. So we have to have that trust and understanding of the game plan.
You know, his hand isn’t really on my backside. It’s really the top of his hand. If it were the palm, I would worry. I might change professions. Because that would be kind of weird. But the top of the hand, it’s really just his fingertips. I don’t want him to really have to reach up there – that’s a little too personal.
I drive a Ford F250 – a big diesel truck, six-inch lift, 37-inch mud tires, train horn … It’s big. My kids love it, actually. My 7-year-old son (Jackson) loves it, my daughter (Lola) thinks it’s cool. The baby (Kingston) has no opinion right now. My wife (Julie) hates it, because of how it bounces, how it sits. It bounces all over the road, so she doesn’t like that. When she was pregnant with Kingston, we tried it towards the end to try to get her to go into labor. She didn’t mind it then. But she doesn’t like riding in it.
What do I watch on TV? Pretty much whatever my kids have on. I don’t get to watch a lot of TV. We watch a lot of iCarly, that’s one of my daughter’s favorite shows. My son, he loves SpongeBob. So we watch those. The Fresh Beat Band, it’s kind of like singing and dancing and stuff. Yo Gabba Gabba. SpongeBob would probably be the one I hate the least. iCarly is OK, but my daughter is 4, and that’s kind of, she’s a teenager in that show and that’s a little too sassy for us. She picks up a little too much of that.
Music, I like mainly country. I have some rock in there, but mainly country. I was born in Texas, all my family is from Texas, so country music has always been big in our family. I was born there but I only lived there for six years. That’s why I had a heavy country music influence growing up. My parents were big Willie Nelson fans, the Oak Ridge Boys … all the old-school country. I like Zac Brown Band; George Strait’s probably my favorite, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton. So a mix of the old and the new country. And then Tennessee, obviously Nashville’s the country music capital of the world, so that just fit and continued it when I moved there when I was 16.
Kids are picky eaters. At least, mine are. My kids love Moe’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. But my wife and I, our favorite spots are Angelina’s and Nakashima. Those are our two spots. I think the kids like Moe’s because they get to eat what they want, they like the chips and cheese and quesadillas. They like Nakashima for the (hibachi) show, they just don’t eat much of the food.
My daughter, I think, has my personality from when I was a kid. Jackson has calmed down a lot. Lola, she’s 4, and she’s the wild child. She speaks her mind, doesn’t really care who hears it, so I think she gets that from me.
With three kids now, my wife and I have to play zone defense. We used to be in man-to-man, now we’re in zone. We try to employ my son to help us out a little bit, which is the curse of being the oldest. The baby’s starting to recognize when one of us are coming to get him to stop him from doing something, and he immediately grabs whatever it is and runs. It’s funny.
The best part about being a dad is, when I come home from work, regardless of how my day went, my kids are excited to see me. To them, it doesn’t really matter what’s going on outside. When I’m home, I’m ‘Dad,’ and they just want to spend time with me. That’s it. All the worries of the outside world are gone. That’s the best part. Coming home, having kids that love you and look up to you regardless of what you’ve done outside the house. I love that. All three of ‘em. The baby, Kingston, he’s a year old, and it’s exciting to see that again, because our other two are 7 and 4, so it’d been awhile since we had a little one. So seeing the baby react to the two older ones and watching my 7-year-old look out for the baby and my daughter thinking she’s the mom, all that stuff’s exciting.
Christmas is fun as a parent, but it’s hard. The hardest part is not to spoil them. We’d like to get them everything they want, but they don’t need to get everything they want. We’re trying to incorporate them into some of the charity work we do to help them understand that everybody’s not like this. We do the adopt-a-family, and last year I did the bell-ringing for the Salvation Army and I had Jackson go with me to do that. We were at the mall, and it was fun. He had a good time, running around asking people to put money in the kettle. He probably got more donations than I did. He has a good heart, for sure, and we’re just trying to get that through to them that not everybody gets toys for Christmas and that’s not what Christmas is all about.
My son comes to every game; my daughter comes to all of them except the night games. If it’s a Sunday or Monday night game, she doesn’t come, because she has preschool still. My son, we’ll allow him to sleep in the next day so he can come to the games. My daughter I think understands more than we think she does though. If we’re at home and I’m watching a football game, she sits down beside me and she wants to know who’s playing and where I’m at – she thinks I’m on the TV anytime someone’s playing. So it’s interesting. She’s a girly-girl, but she likes that.
Tennessee, I try to follow them as closely I can. I talk to (former) coach (Philip) Fulmer once or twice a year. I’ve got some other friends who work in the athletic department and I talk to them.
Going to Tennessee was a lot of fun. My wife, we started dating in high school, went to college together, so that was a blast to be able to share a lot of those moments together with her and continue to develop that relationship.
She’s been through the highs and lows with me. We’ve been through a lot of life experiences together. We’ll be married 10 years this offseason, so we’ve been through a lot of highs and lows. It’s important, I think, to go through the peaks and valleys in life with someone that’s strong and supportive and there for you and really keeps you grounded. You’re never too high and never too low.
I do not sing ‘Rocky Top.’ I know the words, I just don’t sing it.
Losing my starting job last year (in training camp to Jason Spitz) changed me. I was furious. There was no question about that. I didn’t talk to the media, I didn’t talk to anybody. The only person I talked to was my wife. I didn’t even want to talk to my extended family. I think anger’s a great motivator if you know how to channel it. It can also be a distraction. Any emotion can be. This is an emotional business, and when you’re talking about the livelihood and financial future of your family, it’s very emotional. I think anger was the proper emotional response for what I was going through, but at the same time being able to channel it and keep it in perspective helped me use it to take advantage of the opportunity when I had the chance.
On a professional level, as far as work goes, that was the biggest challenge I’ve faced. Coming off an injury, trying to fight what felt like an uphill battle through training camp and coming up short in the end for whatever reason – which I may or may not have agreed with … but the end result worked out. You don’t get very many opportunities in this business, so you have to make the most of each one, and I think I was able to do that. You just have to stay the course and keep working. That’s what I did. I showed up, kept working, improved. And through injury, I was able to get it back and keep it.
My first start in 2004 is probably my favorite moment as a Packer. Coming off the practice squad, being cut and then starting and actually playing well and winning the game was a huge high for me. And then being awarded an extension in my third season – just because coming in as a seventh-round pick and then being on the practice squad and getting an extension was a big deal.
All my roommates from training camp have been released except Mason Crosby. He was my roommate this year. My first year, I was cut and B.J. Sander was my roommate. My second year, I was with Sean McHugh, a tight end – gone. Third year, B.J. again – gone. Fourth year was Tyson Walter, an offensive lineman – gone. Fifth year, Junius Coston – gone. Sixth year was Tony Moll – traded. This year, it was Mason. This year, I told him, ‘I don’t know, it might be my year again, because it’s cycled through.’ But we both made it. Maybe the curse is broken. Unluck of the draw, I guess.
My closest friend on the team is probably Chad Clifton. We probably hang out the most because we’re from the same area, went to the same school, live in the same area in the offseason, our wives get along, our kids play together. I’d say he’s the one I have the most in common with.
I always said if I didn’t play football, I’d either be coaching or I’d go to law school. I’ve got history and sociology degrees, so I’m set up to either teach or do post-graduate work. Since I was a kid, I wanted to play in the NFL, and I always had the naysayers my whole life telling me how, ‘Well, only 2 percent of college athletes make it.’ They knew the stats. And I’d say, ‘Well, somebody’s got to fall into that 2 percent.’ I kind of picked my major based on my interest instead of what I wanted to do after. I got my history degree and I had another two semesters of school so I took what I needed to get a sociology degree. The two set me up if I wanted to go to law school someday. I’ve thought about doing it after I retire, but everyone I’ve talked to that’s an attorney has told me not to. Now, I plan on doing some high-school coaching. I think that’s where my heart is at. I’d love to work at my high school and do some coaching there.
I don’t have any pregame rituals. I’ve done everything – listened to music, told jokes, everything. I’m anti-superstitious. I try not to get into a pattern.
My best quality is also probably my worst – that I put a lot of heart into what I do. Sometimes I have a hard time letting something go because I care too much about it. At the same time, having that deep care for it pushes me to strive for perfection. I’m always trying to be perfect, which is good and bad.
My legacy, you want to be remembered for being a hard worker and doing things the right way. On and off the field. Dependable and reliable, that’s how I wanted to be remembered.
Every Thursday night, we have dinner as an offensive line. We all take turns. We start with the oldest and work to the youngest as far as paying the tab. Whoever’s paying picks the restaurant; if we win, we go back to the same restaurant. That’s kind of what we do. During our winning streak, we went to Chives. We ate at Chives every week; then we had Thanksgiving and we all ate at Chad’s house – and we lost. So we went back to Chives.