Houston Texans’ long-snapper Bryan Pittman returns for more thoughts on life both on and off the gridiron. This week, while going one-on-one with Ballz columnist Jason Friedman, Pittman dishes on his celebrity crush, trash-talking Jags and his fascination with aging NFL running backs.
JCF: So there’s finally some good news to report on the injury front, with Ahman Green returning to the lineup this Sunday. Having said that, the Texans’ struggling running game has some fans clamoring for an appearance from Darius Walker. What are your thoughts on the subject and do you get to spend any time watching Walker in practice?
BP: Yeah I do, but mostly I just see him with the scout team. He doesn’t get a whole lot of opportunities to get reps with our offensive side of the ball, so he’s still a work in progress. I don’t think he’s quite ready, but he’s definitely got the talent and ability to one day get called up to the active roster.
JCF: So you think he has a future in the NFL?
BP: Yeah, he definitely has the potential to be a running back in the NFL. It’s just a matter of learning the system, learning the offense and being able to adapt to the pro style, rather than the college. You know, he came out a year early and he still needs to develop a little more physically.
JCF: The other big news involving the Texans this week is the hoopla surrounding Travis Johnson and his unfortunate run-in with Trent Green. What’s the general vibe in the locker room regarding that play?
BP: The general feeling was that – even though it was a legal block – it was somewhat cheap. It was an unnecessary block by [Green]. But then the consensus was also that Travis’s response to that wasn’t acceptable. You know, standing over the guy -- even for a brief second-- I mean, he shouldn’t have done that. And he realizes that. But we’ve all moved on.
JCF: Here’s a random question for you: If you could be any other player in the NFL, who would you be and why?
BP: I’d probably want to be a running back. You know, a Shaun Alexander or Jamal Lewis type power back. I just find it fascinating how running backs – especially the longer term running backs who play awhile, you know, 10-12 years, in the league – how their bodies can just withstand the toll with the constant pounding week in and week out.
JCF: Do you think it’s the most physically demanding position in the NFL?
BP: Yeah, I think on a regular basis the toll they put their body through; you know, they carry the ball 20-25 times a game and they’re getting tackled probably 90 percent of the time. So they’re definitely taking most of the hits, other than the offensive and defensive linemen who are hitting every play, obviously.
JCF: Alright, so I don’t want to start any trouble here, but a few weeks ago we talked about Britney, then last week we discussed Posh, so I kinda feel like I have to ask this: Do you have a celebrity crush?
BP: Oh yeah.
BP: Kathy Ireland.
JCF: Kathy Ireland? Wow, that’s old school.
BP: Yeah, you know, I mean I’m not as enamored with her as I was in my teens, but yeah, I’d still like to meet her today.
JCF: I guess this crush came from her appearances on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue?
BP: Exactly. I had those plastered all over my walls when I was a kid growing up. She was my numero uno.
JCF: Does your fiancée know about this?
JCF: So do you guys have one of those agreements like they had on Friends? You know, where you each get to make a short list of celebrities who are fair game, no matter what?
BP: No. Other than have coffee and a quick chat, that’s it.
JCF: Hmm, bummer. Well does your fiancée have a crush of her own?
BP: I can’t remember, just a second. [Bryan puts the phone down and asks his fiancée] Who’s your celebrity crush? Is it that guy from Sugar Ray? No? Oh, Jack Johnson, that’s who it is.
JCF: Oh man. Jack Johnson. I think she’ll have some competition for him.
BP: Yeah, I told her to get in line. And I want her in the back of the line, so that’s not gonna happen.
JCF: Good call. You can’t trust anyone who used to be a professional surfer and has the ability to play guitar and sing. That’s a lethal combination. Okay, back to football. You guys have another big game coming up.
BP: Yeah, when we prepare for Jacksonville, we know that they’re a physical, smash-mouth, talking-out-of-their-mouth kind of team. So we understand what they’re bringing to the game on Sunday.
JCF: So how come you guys own the Jags? Do you have any sort of explanation for it?
BP: I don’t know. We just have a never-die attitude whenever we play them. We were able to beat ‘em pretty good a couple times. I don’t know if it’s the way our teams go up against one another, or our personnel, or what it is. But we always seem to hang in there with them and most of the time, come away with a victory.
JCF: You mentioned they like to talk trash. Is this one of the teams you don’t like?
BP: Yeah, I think they’re a little too talkative for their own good.
JCF: Who talks the most trash out there?
BP: Probably [John] Henderson, [Mike] Peterson, and Reggie Williams likes to open his mouth a time or two on the offensive side of the ball for them.
JCF: Interesting, since he doesn’t exactly back it up with much production.
BP: No, but he’s an old U. Washington guy, so I can’t bag on him too much.
JCF: Oh, that’s right. I forgot about the college connection. Is there anyone who scares you on the Jags?
BP: No, I mean my first couple times playing them – I won’t say I was scared – but I was wary of going up against John Henderson and Marcus Stroud just because they’re in there on the field goals lined up across from me. So that put a few shakes in my bottom a time or two. But it’s my fifth year now, so it’s not something I worry about as much anymore.
JCF: All right, prediction time. What’s gonna happen on Sunday?
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BP: Well, they like to run the ball and take a lot of time off the clock, so I think it’s going to be a low-scoring game and I’ll say Texans 13 – Jaguars 10.
JCF: And since it’s such a huge game, go ahead and break out the crystal ball for the Pats-Cowboys tilt as well.
BP: I think New England’s gonna pull through that one on the road, so I’ll say New England 27 – Dallas 20.
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