Former tight end having lots of fun in New Orleans
By Joe Scalzo
Writing a Super Bowl story about a left tackle is a little like writing a three-part series on zoning board issues in Paraguay or voting referendums in Dubai.
But this one is worth it. Promise.
As Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis tsk-tsked Sports Illustrated this week for accurately reporting on a shady company that supplied him with performance-enhancing drugs (and has the taped phone conversations to prove it) and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was trying to nail down “Least Interesting Interview” honors at this year’s Super Bowl, relatively obscure former Central Michigan tight end Joe Staley was reminding everyone that it’s possible to have fun when discussing millionaires who run into each other for a living.
Like when he was asked about Kaepernick’s media attention:
“If he is The Beatles, I am just a garage band,” Staley said. “A bunch of 12-year-olds living the dream in the garage. Trying to make things happen. I am out here busting my butt trying to give a good interview and he is just like, ‘Hey, what is up? I am Colin Kaepernick. Everybody listen to what I have got to say.’”
Or when he was asked about his first impression of head coach Jim Harbaugh:
“The first time I met him was when I went to the press conference when he was introduced in San Francisco,” Staley said. “I was the only player that went and I walk into the room and introduce myself. He comes down and just starts punching my gut. Starts telling my about I need to do more sit ups or something like that.”
Or when he was asked if he ever thought about playing in the Super Bowl when he was in college:
“No, I was just worried about going to the cafeteria and not getting sick from all of that cafeteria food,” he said.
Staley was a 200-pound receiver coming out of high school, moved to tight end and fumbled three times his freshman year. He also dropped a pass that got intercepted.
Oh, and one more thing happened.
“I got fat,” he said.
When future Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly arrived his sophomore year, Kelly told him, “We don’t use tight ends in my offense. How about playing some tackle?”
“I cried my eyes out,” Staley said. “I am not afraid to admit it.”
Nobody in the NFL says things like this. Or like this, when asked about his first year at tackle: “My first year [stunk]. I was probably the most miserable offensive tackle in the history of football.”
He stuck with it, packed on 70 pounds and became a first-round draft pick. He’s started every game the past two seasons and was voted to the Pro Bowl both years.
He also became a member of the all-interview hall of fame, getting a perch on the riser at Media Day, then lording it over his teammate, guard Alex Boone.
“Alex, he wishes he was on this riser,” Staley said. “He loves the spotlight and I do as well.”
With thousands of reporters asking dozens of the same questions over and over, it’s easy for players to fall back on the same cliches.
But playing football is fun. Talking to reporters can be, too.
Just ask Staley.
“The way we play football is the way we are in our life,” he said. “I’m wild and I love having a good time.
“I play football the same way.”