EI Interview: Ricky Brown Part II

In part two of his interview, Ricky Brown talks about his time at Boston College and how he tries to keep in touch with the program and his former teammates. He also shares some memories of his time playing at The heights.

"Being from Cincinnati, I am in Cincinnati right now, just going to see my family is awesome. My mom, dad, my brother, my grandma and grandpa, and everyone there. When I have some downtime whether I am in California or somewhere else, I just like being by the water. I live right on the water in Northern California. Whether it is a lake, a river, or the ocean, I just like being by the water. And I never really knew about it until I went to BC and then to Oakland, so I have always been around water. I'm a big seafood fan, might as well have it fresh if you're gonna have it."

As Ricky's professional career in the NFL has had its highs and lows, he has never forgotten where he came from. He has spent a lot of time back at BC since he has entered the pro ranks.

"My rookie year I went back on my bye week, because since I hadn't red-shirted, a bunch of my buddies that I graduated with and spent my four years with were fifth year seniors. Guys like Josh Beekman, Jim Marten. Seeing those guys was great. During my bye week I went back and saw those guys. During that winter, the 2007 off-season, I spent about two weeks in Massachusetts, just hanging out and relaxing after the season. I got to see all those guys again and some other people I had gone to school with."

"Then in the 2008 off-season I rented a condo in Coolidge Corner for three months. By that time all my classmates were finished with their fifth year, some of them were in the NFL. Actually Josh Beekman and I both lived in Boston that same off-season and I just remember Beeks coming over and us watching every single possible movie on demand on Comcast. That same off-season I worked out at BC in the bubble ten to fifteen times, in February and March, just getting back into shape for the upcoming season.

"I haven't been back to Boston since renting that condo through March of 2008. Been to New York to see a couple BC friends, had some BC friends come out here, went to New Jersey a couple times. My guess is I'll be back to Boston next off-season. I actually had off-season groin surgery, so I didn't have much of an off-season."

Additionally, even though Ricky didn't red-shirt and finished up at BC in four years he still attained the valuable Boston College degree.

"I graduated with a degree in finance. Was a Carroll School of Management guy, think my final GPA was a 3.1, and I was really happy with that. I was named to the ACC and Big East All-Academic teams, which was nice for mom because she really liked that."

When Ricky isn't getting some shut eye in preparation for his game the following day, he watches the BC games on television. However, being on the west coast in the middle of PAC-10 country, BC games often get bumped off locally.

"The season is so hectic. BC plays a lot of nationally televised games. I have a pretty big routine of just laying around my apartment on the Saturday before home games. So I'll watch it and pass out, wake up three or four times throughout the game. A lot of times some PAC-10 game pushes us off the air which always sucks. I try to watch them as much as I can. The two games I saw this past season were the Notre Dame game and the game where (Brian) Toal hurt his leg."

The aforementioned Jim Marten is now a teammate of Ricky's with the Raiders. Marten had been released by the Dallas Cowboys one day before their season opener last season. Two days later he had been claimed by the Oakland Raiders and had a new team.

"It's awesome. It was the second week of the season when I saw Jim had been released by the Cowboys and I knew he would fit in great with the Raiders blocking scheme. They asked me about him and I told them I thought he would be a great fit and he came in and all the terminology was new to him. So this will be a big camp for him coming up, so he can establish himself."

Jim Marten is one of many former teammates he remains close with.

"One of my best friends at BC was Josh Beekman and I was just at his wedding two weeks ago. The week before I was at Will Blackmon's wedding down in Orange County. So Will and Josh, Al Washington…those three guys are awesome. Al is from Columbus and I am from Cincinnati and the first couple months of school, both Al and I were pretty homesick, so we would be up there in learning resource doing study hall talking about how homesick we both were."

Staying on the topic of his former teammates, who did he find the funniest?

"The guys that I found funny were Al Washington, Tim Bulman was pretty funny, Jeremy Trueblood was funny, and there is one guy who when you ask everyone who they thought was funny and nobody is gonna name this guy. TJ Stancil was funny on the low. He and I were good friends and he would crack me up."

How about on the other side of the spectrum, who was the most intense?

"If I had to name the most intense guy I would name either Al Washington or Chris Snee. Chris Snee is a great guy and one of my friends off the field, but when he is on the field he is all business."

Strangest pregame ritual?

"Brian Toal used to wear the same t-shirt from high school under his pads. This thing just didn't fit him, it was an army fatigue thing, it was all chewed up. And then he used to cut wrist bands all the time. I have nothing against wrist bands or anything but he would cut them really thin and it never looked that good. If it was working for him, more power to him."

Ricky Brown was part of a unique time in BC football history. His first three years he was a football player in the Big East Conference. However for his senior season he was playing in the ACC. What are his thoughts on the move?

"The one thing I liked, the biggest thing that stood out for me was people think of the Big East and they think Allen Iverson playing basketball, you got Patrick Ewing, Craig Smith. The Big East basketball conference and the fans for Big East basketball are unreal.

"But for football I'm not sure the fans were as crazy about it. When you go down to the ACC you're talking about going to Clemson, Florida State, still have Virginia Tech. Never been to NC State but I'm sure they get pretty fired up. We played at Wake Forest in 2004 when we were still in the Big East, and played them out of conference, and we had a great time down there. We lost but it was a fun environment. I like going to those hostile environments and having a blast with people who appreciate watching good football."

Ricky was part of the Ohio pipeline to BC. No part of that Ohio pipeline to BC played a bigger role than Ricky's hometown of Cincinnati. That is where former Head Coach Tom O'Brien and former offensive line coach Don Horton were born and grew up. So the Ohio roots, specifically Cincinnati, were extremely strong with Tom O'Brien and his staff while they were at BC. Was seeing Coach Tom O'Brien and his staff leave BC tough for Ricky?

"The first thing is, I was actually shocked that Coach O'Brien left to go to a spot that is not by the water. I know he is a big Navy guy and likes being by the water. Location wise I was stumped. I know Coach O'Brien really enjoyed his time in Boston, I think he lived in Back Bay right on the water.

"I liked having him as a coach because you always knew what you were going to get with him. Going through the coaches that I've had, whether you're a tough coach or a player's coach, as long as you're consistent and the players know where you stand and they know what to expect from you, I think they'll follow you. And I really respect Coach O'Brien for being consistent. Going to a rival, I think that is just the nature of the business.

"NC State had a coaching vacancy and they really liked Tom O'Brien. Always hearing that their team's lacked discipline, coming from a guy who played four years under Coach O'Brien, I could tell you he doesn't take any crap from anyone. Maybe that is what NC State needed."

"As for Coach Jags I only spoke with him once when one of my friends was being recruited by BC, so I tagged along on the recruiting trip when I was living in my condo in Boston. Jags seemed like a really confident guy, he had a good reason to be confident as he had been a NFL coach and he had done well when he was at BC. I thought he was a nice guy. But I didn't really get to get a good feel for him because it was only a five to ten minute conversation."

Earlier this year Ricky saw his former defensive coordinator get tabbed as the new head football coach at Boston College. His reaction seems to be a common theme with all the guys that played under Frank Spaziani, Ricky is stoked.

"Going back to how I was saying that coaches have to be consistent, just like Coach O'Brien was, I think Coach Spaziani will be. You know what you are going to get with Coach Spaz. You're gonna get a defense that is top twenty, top fifteen, top ten in total defense. He is going to make offenses go the long, hard way. And he is going to play sound football, and I think he is going to be able to apply that to the whole team.

"The offense is going to have a great offensive coordinator just like any team, but I know that when I was at BC that players really respected Coach Spaz. It is almost like the offensive guys when I was there wished they were defensive players because they thought Coach Spaz was cooler than the offensive guys."

While playing under Coach Spaziani, Ricky was part of many wins. 35 to be exact. When asked what was the most special one, he doesn't narrow it down to one and discusses three different games.

"I'm gonna give you three of them actually. Two of them are from the 2004 season with Paul Peterson as the quarterback. This was supposed to be the game that decided who won the Big East, but neither of us did. We went down to West Virginia and beat the brakes off of them and it was a nationally televised game. We had two punt returns for touchdowns, Paul was balling out. I think the opening kickoff Peter Shean tackled Pacman Jones way far down there. From that opening kickoff we just knew that we were going to win the game. From that season as well, when we beat Notre Dame in South Bend. We were down by a lot of points at halftime and Paul threw that pass to Tony Gonzalez."

"Finally the last one would be my senior year in 2005 when we went down to Clemson, just because the fans at Clemson were unbelievable. You're on the field when they touch that rock and your whole body is shaking. That game was a defensive struggle and Brian Toal punched it in overtime. You hear the fans and it was so loud, and everything was going crazy, and then Toal crossed to goal line and you could hear a pin drop."

The West Virginia game that Ricky talks about so glowingly also helped set up what he describes as his toughest loss while at BC. With BC playing for the Big East championship and an invitation to the BCS Fiesta Bowl, they somehow ran into a hungrier team in Syracuse who had lost to lowly Temple the prior week.

"Had to be Syracuse in 2004, it's a home game, it's senior day. Everyone is in the stands wearing the sombreros and throwing around the bags of Tostitos. Individually it was probably one of the best games of my career, but everything didn't go our way. I think it was the third play of the game, Damien Rhodes went around 75 yards for a touchdown. And then Rhodes got hurt and Diamond Ferri was Big East player of the week on offense and defense. That guy just played his butt off. He was a "Mass" guy that BC didn't offer a scholarship to and he was out for blood."

Overall, his time at BC was exceptional. One moment stands out as perhaps the funniest of his time at The Heights.

"This was my sophomore year, so 2003 football season. This was Chris Snee and Augie Hoffman's last year and this was the first year that BC started having sushi in the dining hall. All these big football players are going and having sushi all the time. So they got the wasabi there and I am getting to the locker room early to go watch film. We're playing Penn State that week, that is the game that Kiwi had his breakout game.

"So I see Chris Snee and Augie Hoffman because I wore number 55 and Ty Hall wore number 54 his freshman year because Augie wore number 78. Everyone always gave Ty Hall a hard time his freshman year, and probably throughout his entire five years at BC! Snee and Augie rubbed wasabi all in his mouthpiece. And I'm thinking man, that is really going to burn.

"So we're out there for a walk through before practice and Ty Hall puts his mouthpiece in and he is like, "Oh gosh! What the hell is in my mouthpiece!" He's sitting there gagging and spitting up everything while we're laughing. Tom O'Brien and Coach Spaz are like, "We're playing Penn State on national TV in five days" and we're like, c'mon we're just hanging loose.

Sometimes "hanging loose" is just what a team needs, as BC marched into Happy Valley that Saturday and put a whoopping on Penn State going up 21-0 in the first quarter before a final victory of 27-14. Prankster culprits offensive guards Chris Snee and Augie Hoffman helped pave the way for 238 rushing yards (led by Derrick Knight's 156 and ex-Nittany Lion Horace Dodd's 62), while only yielding one sack.

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