JCF: This may seem like the stupidest opening question of all time, but do you consider yourself a football fan? Do you watch other games and pay close attention to what’s going on league-wide?
BP: I’m definitely a fan. I have a fan’s perspective on the game. I was a fan for four and a half years before I finally made it into the league. So I followed the games like any fan would. I’ve continued that as a player as well. I read the daily transactions to see what’s going on with the other teams. I always look at the sports page, or on-line to see what’s going on around the league. I don’t think the fan in me will ever go away.
JCF: Has it been difficult reading the sports pages the last couple years with all the negativity surrounding the Texans?
BP: You pretty much take it with a grain of salt. You can’t let it get to you. They’re (the media) going to have their opinions on who you are and how you play. So don’t take it personal, laugh at it if you need to and move on.
JCF: Isn’t that easier said than done?
BP: When it (the criticism) is consistent, yeah. When it’s consistent negativity and you’re constantly being harped on, it becomes more of a challenge to deal with.
JCF: What about fantasy football? Do you play? And how do you deal with fans who are conflicted because they want the Texans to win, but they also want to see Steve Smith score two touchdowns this week because he’s on their fantasy team?
BP: No, I don’t play. That would be a bit of a conflict of interest with me being a player in the league. It wouldn’t look good. But I can understand why it’s so popular. All my good friends constantly want updates from me asking if they should start Andre Johnson or how he’s doing and stuff like that. So I can completely understand how they want their guys to do well. But from a Houston Texans’ standpoint, don’t have the guy if he’s playing against us. Trade him for someone who’s on our team or someone we’re not playing that week.
JCF: I’m sure fantasy football fiends everyone will be rushing to heed that advice. So give us your Super Bowl picks.
BP: I have to go with San Diego. I think they’re going to get their revenge from last year.
JCF: And who would you pick out of the NFC?
BP: I don’t think Chicago has what it takes to make it back.
JCF: How come?
BP: I don’t think their defense is as good as it was last year. And I don’t see any improvement in their offense. I don’t know. I think probably New Orleans if they can get it going and ever figure out how to cover people.
JCF: When exactly is that going to happen? All right, here’s an even tougher question: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and LaDainian Tomlinson are all standing in front of you. Who do you choose for your football team?
BP: I would have to go with Peyton just because I think he has the ability to control and change the outcome of the game more than those other two, in my opinion.
JCF: Who’s the best player you’ve ever played with?
BP: Andre Johnson. He’s just fast, consistent and one of those guys who can turn the game around. He’s a gamebreaker kind of guy who is always going full-speed. Just a great all-around player.
JCF: Alright, it’s time to switch gears and put you on the hot seat for a few minutes. Racial tension always seems to be bubbling just below the surface in our society. How does that manifest itself, if at all, within the Texans’ environment?
BP: There’s definitely no racism here, especially in our locker room. We do all get along. We obviously have different guys with different interests and guys hang out with each other based on those particular interests. Certain guys like hunting and four-wheelers and others like to hang out and go to the clubs. And some guys just like to sit at home with their families.
JCF: What about the presence of homophobia in the locker room? Is there any chance whatsoever that an openly gay player would be able to make it in the NFL?
BP: No chance. Football today is still not ready for someone to do that. Maybe baseball could handle it. Maybe they could break the ice or maybe even basketball. But football definitely would not tolerate a gay athlete in the locker room. It’s just not the time for it right now.
JCF: Just because of the macho image?
BP: Yeah, I think that’s the primary reason. You know, it’s a macho, tough man sport. We’re not supposed to have homosexuals in the locker room and that’s the way it is. So if you are that, you know you’ve got to keep it to yourself and whatever it is, you need to keep it in the closet.
JCF: Have you ever played with anyone who is gay?
BP: No. I mean, everyone has their suspicions on someone who might be a little sweet, but I’ve never played with anyone who’s openly come out during or after I played football with them.
JCF: Theoretically, how do you think you would handle it if one of your teammates told you he was gay?
BP: Theoretically, I would say “Thanks for confiding in me, but if you want my opinion, I’d probably keep it under wraps and not let other people know. Because if you do, you’re going to get ridiculed and guys aren’t going to want to hang out with you.” That would probably be my advice.
JCF: Do you see it ever changing?
BP: I guess it will change once that first guy comes out. I can’t see it happening in my career, but some day down the line, it’s bound to happen.
JCF: All right, I’ll let you off the hook and switch subjects to something a bit lighter. You say you like all different kinds of music. Are there any artists or bands you’re ashamed to admit you like?
BP: Yeah, Michael Bublé (laughs). My fiancée introduced me to him. But I don’t go around telling everyone that I’m putting him on my iPod.
JCF: Well, he’s on mine, too, so I guess I can’t exactly say anything. Speaking of your fiancée, did she make you watch the debacle that was Britney Spears on the VMAs?
BP: I probably watched two minutes of her performance and then had to turn away because she’s just repulsive to me. She looks like she gained thirty pounds. I don’t know, to me, she’s just washed up. She completely lost the image she had when she became popular.
JCF: Did you like her before?
BP: Oh yeah. I mean, I always believed that she can’t sing and I still believe that today. But at least before she was more genuine.
JCF: And hotter, right? It wasn’t just the personality that was working for you back in the day, right?
BP: (laughs) Yeah, she was better when she was a few pounds lighter, I have to admit.
JCF: Funny how that works. Okay, last question. Give us your prediction for Sunday’s game.
BP: Well, obviously I’m biased and think we’re going to win. I think we’re good for at least three field goals and maybe Andre Johnson and Ahman Green will find the endzone. So let’s say 24-17.
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