Q&A with Kim Herring

January 25, 2001|By DAN RODRICKS

While in Tampa for The Sun, columnist Dan Rodricks will be conducting some snappy, two-minute drills with Ravens players. Today, Dan talks about African art and tattoos with safety Kim Herring.

DR: Let me guess: It's been your lifelong dream to play in the Super Bowl.

KH: No, I didn't play football till freshman year of high school. I played soccer from the third grade on.

DR: You're the son of a soccer mom?

KH: Yup. I played on a travel team in Detroit, and we played on an international level.

DR: So, let me guess: It's been your lifelong dream to play in the World Cup, but you'll settle for the Super Bowl.

KH: See, my family moved to Cleveland when I was a freshman -- I went to Solon High -- and I switched to football as a way of being accepted socially and making friends there.

DR: Cleveland, huh? Let me guess: You're a lifelong Browns fan but here you are a Baltimore Raven, and there, ladies and gentlemen, is yet another Super Irony of Super Bowl XXXV.

KH: I wasn't a Browns fan. I really didn't have a favorite team, but I kind of liked the Raiders.

DR: You've been hurt lately, missed a couple of playoff games. Maybe you should have stuck with soccer.

KH: Soccer's rough.

DR: It ain't football.

KH: You ain't never played soccer then.

DR: I don't do contact sports anymore. I go fly-fishing, hiking and canoeing. What do you do for hobbies?

KH: I collect African art. I got interested in it in college. My middle name is Masai, and I have some pieces from the Kenyan Masai tribes. I have masks, and I have this really beautiful hollowed-out ostrich egg with Africa painted on it, the entire continent.

DR: What's up with that tattoo [on his left arm]?

KH: The black tiger? You see what that says there?

DR: Mueusi jike.

KH: Black tiger, in Swahili. I saw the emblem while taking a black arts class in college [Penn State], and I got really interested in it, and got the tattoo then.

DR: Go back 10 years or so, when you were a teen-ager, what person did you admire most?

KH: My dad, John Herring. Dad's, let me see, 57 now. He taught me, more than anything, to persevere. He was from Jackson, Miss., and as you [can] imagine he did not have a lot of opportunities. He didn't get to go to college; he went into the service. He's the general manager of a food company now. So I follow his example. He taught me how to be a man. He could have let others do it; he could have let me learn from the people I was hanging with. But he actually stopped me and told me things -- how to treat people, how to handle myself. I just respected him so much.

DR: Will he and the soccer mom be here Sunday?

KH: Oh yeah, my parents come to every game.

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