Player Diary

'There's a lot more to life than playing football' <BR><BR>

Making my first NFL start was obviously a real big day in my life. It was exciting. It was great. I'll really look back on it with a lot of fond memories, even though the outcome wasn't what we would have liked it to be. I've been dreaming about that since I was seven years old. To be able to go out there and do that on national TV so everyone back in Canada could see was tremendous. I had my buddies from high school there. All the support was great. I just kind of soaked it all in.

Since it was a night game, I had to be careful not to overanalyze everything all day long. I picked my spots during the day to watch some tape. But other than that, I just watched some of the other games. My buddies from high school were there so we went and got lunch at the hotel. That was great, because it allowed me to take my mind off things a little bit. I was able to take a quick nap before the game, then I got to the stadium early.

Early in the week leading up to that game, I couldn't sleep for the life of me. And again, early this week, I haven't really been able to. It seems that early in the week is bad, but as I get a better feel for the team we're playing, I think I start to sleep easier.

I studied so hard that I think I had a good understanding of what they were going to do. I think that helped me calm down and relax once I got into the game. That helped my confidence. I wasn't confused at all by them. I knew what they were going to do. I knew where I wanted to go with the ball and what looks I was looking for. That really helped out my confidence so I really felt at ease going into the game.

Before the game, Dorsey Levens and Jim Finn were messing around with me; that helped settle me down some too. But my dad really put it into perspective for me. I called him right before the game. I kept telling him that I can't believe I'm doing this and that I have been waiting for this for 18 years. He told me that what's going to happen is absolutely great and unbelievable and that I had a lot of people behind me. But he told me that it would be just like my first start in high school and my first start in college. He told me just to go out and enjoy it and have fun because I know that I'm going to have more starts. It won't be the last game I start. I really believe that.

My first touchdown was obviously something I'll always remember. It was great. It was a little goal line play and (Visanthe) Shiancoe kind of snuck through and I just got it to him. I was excited. He spiked the ball. I ran over and kicked it in the excitement. But then I realized that I wanted the ball. So I had to run into the corner, find the ball and get it.

Some other plays that stand out are the double-reverse flea flicker and my big (26-yard) run. After the game, I got a bunch of messages and about half of them said that they had never seen me run that fast before. It's amazing how fast you can move when you're scared. There were a lot of good things from that game that I'll always be able to look back on. I was hit a bunch, but I was able to keep getting back up. I really, honestly enjoyed my time out there, being in the huddle with the guys.

Obviously the circumstances to get these starts were unfortunate because Kerry's a friend of mine and I don't want to see him get hurt. But I think what Coach Fassel told the whole team recently is totally true. Every time we're on the field we're being evaluated. You're evaluated not only by your coach and your peers, but the entire team, management and everybody else in the league. Every time you're out there you should remember that and put your best foot forward and play your hardest.

I'm anticipating that my second start will be easier than my first. Turk (QBs coach Schonert) told me that every time you're out there that the game will slow down. The game was a lot slower against New Orleans than it was the previous Sunday against Washington. I'm hoping it will slow down even a little more against Dallas.

This past offseason helped me grow up a lot. Being in Europe by myself and getting to meet and see a lot of people was really refreshing. It was an eye-opener and gave me a real appreciation of life. It opened my eyes and broadened my horizons on a lot of things. It also put a lot of things in perspective for me. Growing up my whole life, football has always kind of defined me. I play the game so passionately and love the game so much that it's always been a defining characteristic in my life. That's almost always been a good thing.

But I realize that there's a lot more to life and more important things in life than playing football. I've kind of learned how not to be defined by football. When I leave the stadium, I know I have to drop it. Before if I had a bad practice or a bad day it would totally ruin my afternoon and night. If I had a good game, it would kind of pick me up for the week. I would ride the highs and lows. Now I've become more stable; my spirit's lighter. If I don't do as well as I would have liked one day at the office, it doesn't affect who I am once I leave the stadium.

I spent a month overseas. I started in Paris and was there for a week. That was unbelievable. That was by far the most romantic and most beautiful city that I saw. After that I went to Geneva for two days and met up with my buddy from college, Rob Roberts; he played fullback. Then we both got on a train to Innsbruck, Austria where we snowboarded in the Alps for about four or five days. That was really unbelievable. I've gone skiing before but had never gone snowboarding.

Then we went to Vienna and tried to get on a train to Prague. He got on, but I got kicked off because being a Canadian citizen I needed a visa to get into the Czech Republic. I ended up staying in Vienna for the night. I checked into the hotel and walked around till about 3 in the morning. Another great city.

Then I got on a train to Budapest, where I stayed for five days and met back up with Rob. He ended up going back to Spain, and I got on a plane to Stockholm, where I was for the last five days of my trip. At that point, my body was about to shut down. So I got on a plane and came back to New York.

Finally, I have to mention the bad news we got this week. I'm very sad, as we all are. We all have deep and tremendous respect for Coach Fassel. Personally, if it weren't for him I wouldn't be here. I really have him to thank for drafting me and allowing me to be here the last three years. He's really made my dream come true. He's been great. It's been extremely refreshing to be coached by Coach Fassel. His players love him; we'd die for the guy. He's been more than fair with all of us. It's sad to see him go, because he is a great coach. But hopefully this unfortunate occurrence will help us play harder and help us get a win for him.


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