Each week, we bring you a Q&A with a Ravens player to help you get to know him better. Today's guest is linebacker Jarret Johnson, 29, an eight-year veteran, who talks about his love for fishing and hunting and the effects of the Gulf Coast oil spill on his Florida home.
Question: What did you do with your time off during the bye week?
Answer: I was building a house down in Florida so I went to check it out. We turned it into a little mini vacation and had a good time.
Q: What do you think of the NFL's proposal to increase the schedule to 18 games?
A: I'm not totally against it. But I'm only for it if they alter the preseason and the offseason. If they leave it the same, there is no way we can have an 18-game season. If they do end up doing it, they need to drastically alter the offseason and preseason.
Q: Does it feel at all like a contradiction that the league says it's so concerned about head injuries and helmet-to-helmet hits, but at the same time, they want to add two more regular season games and increase the potential for more violent collisions?
A: I think so. But I think it's a contradiction to talk about head-to-head collisions on receivers and quarterbacks, and they don't really give a [damn] about the rest of us. It's kind of like when a fullback and linebacker are smashing head to head, everyone says "Yeah, they're good."
Q: So by the time this Q&A runs, we'll know the outcome of the mid-term elections. How much do NFL players talk about, or follow, politics?
A: We talk about it, but not that much. It's like talking about religion or anything else. It can start some pretty heated conversations. We have so many different personalities and cultures and people from different parts of the country. It's fun, but politics and religion are two things that can get pretty heated so we don't talk about it that much.
Q: If financial concerns didn't factor into your decision, what's one job other than playing in the NFL that you'd love to do?
A: Fishing guide. It's what I love to do. It's something I am passionate about. It would be really cool to do it every day. It's like getting to do [football] every day. To live out my two dreams [playing in the NFL and working as a fishing guide] would be the ultimate. Anything saltwater would be my preference.
Q: What's one false perception people have about NFL players that you'd like to correct?
A: There are a ton of them. That we're all millionaires. That we're all [jerks]. That practice is only two hours a day. That's a good one. I don't think people understand that we're up here all day, pretty much every day. They think it's like high school practice where you go in at 3 p.m. and you're done by 5 p.m. It's meetings, walk-throughs, film study, homework, tests you have to take before every game. There is so much that goes into it.
Q:You're from Florida originally, and you played football at the University of Alabama. The South has been the subject of a lot of books and movies over the years. What's an example, in your opinion, of a book or a movie that accurately depicted the region, and an example of one that absolutely whiffed?
A: There are a lot of them that are not very well done. But as far as good ones, My favorite book is " A Land Remembered" [by Patrick D. Smith]. It's about Florida during the pre- and post-Civil War period. It's about one particular family, and it's based loosely off of a real family. It's about these cattle farmers, or Florida crackers, and they work their way up and end up owning all of South Beach and about 80,000 acres in the state. It's a pretty good book. As far as bad ones? I'll go with the movie "American Outlaws," with Colin Farrell. It was just terrible.
Q: So you majored in public relations at the University of Alabama. How would you advise a player like Randy Moss, who said [before being waived by the Vikings] that he was done speaking to the media for the rest of the season, and that he would conduct his own interviews from now on?
A: Well, you've got to know who you are. And he's obviously a figure that's either portrayed really well, or really, really bad. So anytime he's going to give you even the slightest reason to be attacked, it's going to be full bore. But it's funny, a couple years ago when he first came to New England, he was like the golden child. Everyone loved him. It's obvious that he can still be that guy.
Q: From your perspective, what's one thing the media should do differently in the way it deals with NFL players?