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Long Snaps with Bryan Pittman: God, Elephantitis and Those Damn Dirty Patriots

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, Bryan talks about religion in the locker room, wacky motivational tactics and his hatred of the New England Patriots.

JCF: First things first: You guys resembled a MASH unit after last Sunday’s game with the Colts. We already know you’ll be without your top two wideouts this week. Is the running back situation just as dire?

BP: Well, Ron Dayne took most of the snaps in practice today and I’m not sure about the status of Ahman Green. As far as I know, he’s playing. He’s just going to rest his knee for the next couple of days, but I expect to see him on the field on Sunday.

JCF: I know players are drilled to put injuries and other distractions out of their minds, but are you actually able to do that when so many guys are banged up?

BP: You try to, but when some of your go-to guys are going down left and right, you can’t help but think “Man, when does it end?” Fortunately, none of our guys have sustained real serious injuries that would keep them out for more than a couple of weeks. So that’s the bright side of it; knowing that we are going to get them back.

JCF: Obviously, the most serious injury occurred when Cedric Killings went down with a fractured vertebra. What goes through your mind when you see a teammate motionless on the ground like that?

BP: First of all, you just pray that it’s all precautionary and that it’s not a serious injury. It’s kind of like you’re just in shock and numb to the potential of the injury that could have occurred. So we just all stood there to support him and pray for him and we just hoped for the best. Unfortunately, his season is over, but, fortunately, it wasn’t a completely catastrophic injury.

JCF: Speaking of prayer, what’s your perspective on the sometimes touchy subject of religion in the locker room?

BP: Well, I’m a Christian, so I believe in having religion with you at all times, so I’m for having it in the locker room. And those that aren’t, those that have different beliefs, different religions… the way that I’ve seen it in my experience throughout my life is that they don’t participate. But it’s not a distraction to those who do. We say the Lord’s Prayer before and after every game, but no one is forced to pray. It’s just a matter of choice. There’s definitely no distraction in our locker room with that.

JCF: All right, back to the football stuff. You guys played Indy tight, battled back and lost a tight game, despite the injury issues. Do you take any solace in hanging tough with the Colts or is this team past the point of finding any sort of consolation in moral victories?

BP: Obviously, you want to win the ball game. I mean, that’s what we’re here to do is win games. Moral victories are pretty much worthless, but keeping it close does make them realize we’re not the same old Houston Texans. We’re a different team and we’re gonna battle to the end.

JCF: Hmmm, interesting that you would use the term “same old Texans.” That’s been a hot topic of conversation on our Web site all week. What do you say to those who claim this team is no better than the sorry squads we’ve seen the last five years?

BP: Well, if they’re going to base that off of just one game, then I don’t really have an argument. But I don’t think you can reach that conclusion based on one game when we were missing our two best backs and Andre Johnson. I’m definitely convinced this is a different team.

JCF: Switching gears for a moment, I hear special teams coach Joe Marciano is quite a character. Tell us your best “Joe” story.

BP: Man, there are so many of them. I’ll try to keep it rated PG. Well, sometimes after our meetings are done, he likes to wrap things up with a clip of some video that he’s edited to his liking. And sometimes he’ll show us some graphic photos of things I’d really rather not mention.

JCF: Can we draw our own conclusions as to what those graphic photos might be?

BP: Pretty much. I mean, if you’re familiar with elephantitis, just picture that with – how do I say this? – with an unfortunate man’s testicles. So we like to show that to all the rookies so that they know to let their nuts drop. But he doesn’t get real crazy, at least not as much as people might think. He does it to keep guys motivated and into the game plan. I mean, it can get monotonous when you’re sitting there with the same routine, same meeting style and all that. So he likes to jazz it up a little bit with his personality and his way of coaching. It gets guys to really adhere to it, so it’s a positive thing for all of us.

JCF: I can only imagine. Alright, now let’s play a game of “Would you rather?” Would you rather be a long-snapper on a perennial title contender or a superstar tight end (Bryan’s college position) for an also-ran?

BP: Ooh, that’s enticing. But I’m going to have to take the rings, because, to me, I play the game to win. I don’t play for the money, so I’d go ahead and keep my position and add some Super Bowl rings to the mantle.

JCF: Seems like you had to think about that one for a bit, though. Was that a tough decision to make?

BP: Not at all. To anyone who truly loves the game of football, there’s no comparison.

JCF: Well, I know you love football, but, I have to tell you, your Super Bowl selection segment is turning into a real curse. San Diego lost a real stomach-punch game, while Washington simply choked away a game they had signed, sealed and delivered. Are you starting to get worried at all, at least when it comes to the Chargers?

BP: A little bit, but I can’t change my pick because I know what everyone thinks I should change my pick to, but I’m not going to because I despise the New England Patriots. I can’t stand ‘em, so I’m not going to pick them to win. So I’m going to stand by my Chargers for now and maybe I’ll jump ship later in the season and go with the Colts, but I’m gonna stay out of our division for right now with the Super Bowl picks because we’re definitely not out of it. So I’m going to stay with the Chargers and I guess I’m going to stay with the Redskins for now, even though in the NFC there are so many teams that were horrible last year who are 3-0 this year.

JCF: Why do you hate the Patriots so much?

BP: They are – man, I don’t want to be saying anything wrong here – they play cheap at times. We’ve played them a few times and there’s always been a cheap shot or two thrown by ‘em. And they talk a lot of trash… and they were caught cheating. I don’t know, it’s just a team I’ve never enjoyed playing. They just always get under my skin. First time we play them in ’03 they were cocky and arrogant. But I guess they have the right to be, considering the Super Bowls that they’ve won.

JCF: Looking ahead to this week’s game, you’ve got the winless Atlanta Falcons. Are you guys going in there licking your chops, or are you a bit anxious because you know they have to break through at some point?

BP: I think we’re more worried that they’re a desperate team. We were in the same situation last year when we started off 0-3. Miami came into our place and we were hungry for that first win and we got it. So we can totally put ourselves in their shoes and how they’re feeling. They’re really looking for a win and we’re definitely not going to take them lightly even though they’re 0-3. They’ve had a lot of turnover issues and that’s contributed to their losses, but we’re just gonna go in there and treat them like we would any other team; whether it’s the 2-0 Indianapolis Colts or the 0-3 Atlanta Falcons.

JCF: So what’s your prediction?

BP: I don’t think it’s going to be a high scoring game. I’ll go 17-14, Texans over Falcons.

JCF: And give us an under-the-radar player you expect to have a big game.

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BP: Owen Daniels.

JCF: I guess somebody’s got to stay healthy and catch a few balls, huh?

BP: No kidding.

Got a question for Bryan Pittman? Place it in the comment form below and we’ll fire it his way ASAP.

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