Got that covered

Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister doesn't backpedal in the face of questions from The Sun

Q&a

Nfl 2007

September 06, 2007

An Arizona newspaper once described cornerback Chris McAlister as "quiet and hardly outspoken" when McAlister played at the University of Arizona. Judging by his comments below, McAlister ranks with linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott as one of the most candid personalities in the Ravens' locker room. McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, sat down with The Sun's Edward Lee to discuss, among other topics, his status among NFL cornerbacks, the influence of his parents in his life and his dream date.

What was your welcome-to-the-NFL moment?

A double move. Tennessee Titans. Yancey Thigpen. My first NFL start. Touchdown. Welcome, son. (Laughs.)

What do you remember about the play?

I saw it all. Got a good break on the out, he turned it up, and I never recovered. I had my eyes in the backfield and from that moment forward, I've been a little slower breaking on those outs. (Laughs.) You put it behind you, but it's always the first thing I think about when I think about my welcoming.

Chicago Bears safety Danieal Manning has said that he replaced his first role model, Emmitt Smith, with you after seeing you play at Arizona. Manning even wore No. 11 at Abilene Christian, which was your number with the Wildcats. How does it make you feel to hear young players say they modeled themselves after you?

It makes me feel good knowing that I'm leaving an impression on the game and being a player out there on the field that people can look up to and want to emulate or even be better than. It makes me feel like I'm doing what I was out here to do, which is play good football, and people admire that. I've always loved Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson. I've never worn their numbers, but I've always loved their style of play. Two completely different styles at corner. One was the speed guy, while the other was fairly fast but more physical. I loved the way both of them play. So for someone to look at me the way I used to look at someone else makes me feel good.

What do you think when you hear people say you're one of the NFL's top cornerbacks

Finally. (Laughs.) They just now figured that out? I've been doing this since my first year in the league, son.

Is there a lot of pressure to live up to with that title?

There's no pressure in this. I don't feel pressure because this is what I do. We play football. If you don't strive to be at the top or to be the best, then really, what are you doing here? Passing time and picking up a paycheck?

You are only one of six players left from the 2001 Super Bowl-winning team. What do you remember about that experience?

I don't even remember it. It's over. It's a past memory. Yeah, I can remember coming out of the tunnel, getting my name called and the lights and everybody's taking pictures and the opening kickoff and the cameras going crazy and winning with the confetti coming down. It happened, but it's a distant memory. I don't dwell on it, I don't think about it. That's why I need another one. I believe everybody that's still here and everybody that's playing right now for this team wants one.

How influential was your father, James, one of the top running backs in UCLA history, in molding you for the NFL?

Actually, if it wasn't for him, my career could have been a lot different in a lot of different ways because I always wanted to play offense. I was a quarterback in high school, and when we started looking at the future ... I wanted to play running back or receiver. He was very adamant about me playing defense if I wanted a long-term career because the life expectancy of running backs and receivers from getting hit all the time is shortened. Since I get to pick and choose when I hit people, I can take less pounding on my body. So going into college, he said, `Take a look around you. How many guys your height can run as fast as you and are as big as you?' At the time, there weren't that many. There was Charles Woodson in college who was about the same size as me. Other than that, there were maybe two or three guys in the league over 6 feet tall. So that was an easy way to get me to switch over to defense and my career just kind of took off from there.

Did you initially resist the idea of switching from offense to defense?

I didn't care. I was young. I just wanted to keep playing. I'm like, "He must know what he's talking about. He's been there. He played running back." And I can see him limping around now. His ankles still hurt.

Who was the most influential person in your life?

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