MATT: Thank you for agreeing to do this, Gary! We’re excited to have you on this week’s segment of professional athletes being interviewed. As always, these questions are submitted from our website’s forums. Let’s get right into the first question. “What’s your favorite memory regarding your football career so far?”
GARY: I would say my favorite memory would have been from high school when my high school made it to the 2nd round of playoffs for the first in school history just because no one gave us a chance
MATT: It’s always a great feeling being an underdog and proving everyone wrong! I’ve told people before that the fans from the site’s forums are really great, and that I knew they would think of good questions. This is a great one here: “During your time in the NFL, the Tight End position has grown to increasing prominence. From your perspective, what changes in demands, approaches, and attitudes specific to the TE position have you noticed in that time?”
GARY: I think the Tight End game has transitioned a lot to being good at one thing, whether it is catching or blocking. I think that’s one thing that that we should be getting away from as far as guys getting put into certain stereotypes. But, I think every guy is trying to be considered good at both. After all, that’s what they are striving to be versus being known as one or the other. Only a few guys are considered great at both of them.
MATT: That was a fantastic answer. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Now, I know that you’ll understand this next question. Since I am neither a Browns’ fan nor from Cleveland, this one goes completely over my head! One of our Browns’ fans had this to ask: “What is scarier, the rides at Cedar Point, or James Harrison lurking across the middle?”
GARY: Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question, because if you have never been to Cedar Point, the rides have turns that come out of no where and get you! With James, you hope you see him coming and try to look for him coming at you, so that you can brace for it. So, the answer would be that they both can be equally scary, depending on the person that has to deal with each one!
MATT: That’s awesome! The Browns fan I mentioned is going to get a kick out of that, for sure! I’m terrified of roller coaster type stuff, and I’d never mess with James Harrison. Now, I’m actually going to ask my own question. Either growing up or when you first entered the league, who was the one Tight End that you really looked up to?
GARY: I really enjoyed watching Jason Witten from the Dallas Cowboys. As far as when I was growing up, it would have been Todd Heap from the Baltimore Ravens. I really enjoyed watching both of those guys because they both were known for both blocking and catching passes.
MATT: Oh man! I completely forgot about Todd Heap. He was very fun to watch! Witten certainly looks like he will make the HOF. Here’s another question for you from our fans: “What do you think you more so bring to the table, Catching a pass or blocking? Or, is it fair to say that you believe that you do both equally well?”
GARY: I would like to think that I can both catch and block equally, but I am always trying to improve each one every year.
MATT: Valid response! I think you’ve definitely shown that you are talented at both. If I had to compare, it would be Heath Miller. (Which many would call a big compliment, so I hope you take it as such!)
“If there was a different position in the NFL you could play, what would it be?”
GARY: If I was going to play another position, I would say Defensive End. Because, that’s what I played when I was in high school, and I miss those days!
MATT: It would be interesting to see you play DE in the league. You’ve got the athleticism for it! Should we have your agent start calling teams about trading for you to be their new starting Defensive End in a 4-3 scheme? Ha! Here’s another question from a Browns’ fan on the forums: “Who talks more smack, the players blocking your routes, or the guy trying to beat your edge when you block?”
GARY: I would say that it’s a mix of it all really. It’s different guys from different positions. A lot of it depends on how the game is going and how much someone is talking.
MATT: Such as a big rivalry game, I suppose? Now, let’s change it up a bit as we are getting closer to the end of this interview. “What was your favorite moment of your Pro Bowl experience?”
GARY: Just having the honor to be voted in by my peers. It was a true honor and just being able to do it after getting my first opportunity to show what I can do.
MATT: That’s a very honorable answer. A few years ago you and your friends, Breno Giamcomini and Ahmed Awadallah, started a nonprofit organization called American Football without Barriers. How did this come about?
GARY: Ahmed wanted to do a football camp in his home country of Egypt, so we started working on everything. But then, the revolution broke out, so we canceled it. At that point, I said, “How about we not make this a one time thing, but instead make it a once a year thing. Then, we could go to different countries every year, and put on a free football camp for kids! All the while also giving back by visiting hospitals, schools, and orphanages to give back to the kids there as well. We have been to China, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, and Finland so far.
MATT: That is beyond awesome. It’s so great to see the influence you guys are obviously making with kids. That’s something special I’m sure you will always cherish. Alas, we’ve come to the final question! I think it’s a good one: “What’s something about the game of football that you enjoy most that we, as the fans, don’t get to see as often? For example, what ‘behind the scenes’ type stuff do you relish?”
GARY: That’s an easy one. The friendships and bonds that are formed with the guys you play with. Because, everyone is battling for each other. It’s tough to get those types of bonds formed outside of the locker room. It’s what most players will miss the most when they retire.
MATT: It’s certainly not something you can experience unless you’ve been through it yourself, I’m sure. Well, we certainly appreciate you ‘sitting’ down with us! You’ve been fantastic, and we couldn’t have asked for more detailed responses like yours! If there’s nothing you’d like to add, then I suppose this concludes the interview. We wish you nothing but the best for the rest of your offseason and upcoming season! Thank you for your time!
GARY: Thank you!
To learn more about ‘American Football Without Barriers’, please follow this link – CLICK HERE
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