'It made me stronger'

Q&a Samari Rolle

December 10, 2008|By EDWARD LEE

You've battled epilepsy, endured the passing of your father, Harry, and undergone neck surgery during the past year. How do you persevere?

Strength, I guess. Having epilepsy hurt me, but it made me stronger. I didn't know what was wrong with me, and everything just snowballed. But it made me stronger. With my dad dying and us being able to spend those last days together, I truly believe that in everything, there is a plan.

With all the rough times you've overcome, is there a point at which you begin to contemplate retirement?

When it first happens, you do think of that. But then I think about how I love being around [defensive coordinator] Rex [Ryan], how Coach [John] Harbaugh has refreshed me, and being around my teammates. I know my father passed for a reason. He told me to just get my mind right and focus. Before every game, I think of him, and I just feel stronger.

With the holidays approaching, do you find yourself thinking about your father often?

The hard part is when I talk to my mom [Grace] and she says something about him. My mom and I talk about every other day, and I've tried to move on, but that was her husband for 33 years. So I understand. It just puts everything into perspective.

Are you surprised that you are tied for second on the team with three interceptions?

[Laughs.] No. See, the thing is, in '06 when I was sick, I didn't know it. I was always like, 'Man, I don't feel right.' And everything just snowballed. Once the team got my medication right and everything, I started feeling like myself. Rex is probably one of the biggest reasons [for his performance this season]. When all of that stuff happened, he always stood behind me. Always, no matter what. When you're playing for a D-coordinator like that, you have no choice but to lay it all on the line.

As you get older, do intellect and savvy overtake speed and strength as your primary tools as a cornerback?

Yes, daily. When I was younger, you could just get by on your ability. But at cornerback, it doesn't work that way. The body isn't the same. I always watch film, but I pay more attention to detail now. I listen to the D-line coaches when they talk, I watch our offense, and once a week, Coach Harbaugh and I - I don't know how this happens - will end up talking about what we see. Being that he played DB [at Miami of Ohio], that helps out a lot.

Who is the toughest wide receiver you've covered?

Jimmy Smith, hands down. He's like a better Andre Johnson. You could ask any cornerback in our generation who has played against him, and I think that's the answer you'll get. He had no weaknesses. None.

How much do you think about the Super Bowl after the 1999 season, in which the St. Louis Rams stopped your Tennessee Titans 1 yard short of sending the game into overtime?

Honestly, losing to Baltimore the next season hurt our locker room more than when we lost the Super Bowl. The year we made it to the Super Bowl, we were just kind of surprising ourselves. We were just playing week to week. The year that Baltimore won it, you couldn't tell us that we didn't have the best team in the NFL. When the defense left the field, the score was 10-10, and the next time we came on the field, it was 24-10. That's when we knew who won that game and who would win the Super Bowl. That loss still stings.

You're stuck on an island with one CD, one DVD and one book. What are they?

The book is The Shack [by William P. Young]. My DVD would be The Godfather Part II. I like Part II better. Part II at the end when they show him [Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino] sitting at the table and everybody else goes to greet his father, that kind of lets you know that he was different than anybody else. CD? I'd probably say Brian McKnight's first album.

If your football career were to end today, what would you want to do?

I am [general manager] Ozzie Newsome's understudy. That's what I really want to do. I look up to Ozzie a lot for being an African-American and building a team that is so well respected. And I love the game. I follow it, I follow other positions. That's what I definitely would like to do. I want no part of coaching.

Why's that?

You have to deal with so many personalities, and you have to have an even temperament. I don't have one when it comes to coaching guys and you're not getting what you want out of them. It's hard. I tell [secondary] Coach [Chuck] Pagano, "I don't know how you do this." I want no part of coaching. But general manager and that type of thing, definitely.

about this series

Each Wednesday, we'll bring you a Q&A with a Ravens player to help you learn a little more about the team. Today's guest is cornerback Samari Rolle, who contributed to a pass defense that limited the Washington Redskins to 192 passing yards in the Ravens' 24-10 win Sunday night. Rolle discusses overcoming the hurdles in his life, remembering his late father and contemplating his post-football career.

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