What’s up, football fans? You know, I’ve only played three NFL games, but I’m working hard and just having fun out there. Believe it or not, playing professionally doesn’t seem as nerve-wracking as I imagined. Notre Dame helped me prepare and I’m just maturing as a man. Also, having played for so long—since the fifth grade—I feel pretty comfortable on the field.
I grew up hoping I could stay up for the second half of MNF on a school night. Now actually being part of it is fantastic. College fans are very passionate, but NFL fans may be a little crazier.
We’ve just had an excellent week, winning two at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, a Monday Night Football divisional game against Pittsburgh (20-10) and a real nail biter against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay (34-30) last weekend. Let’s talk about the games, my Fighting Irish and HBO’s Hard Knocks.
MNF is a very cool experience. I’d heard about the Steelers rivalry so it was great to get in the game and see how that intensity plays out. I had a nice catch and run for 61 yards in front of my visiting family, and the crowd was really into it. I grew up hoping I could stay up for the second half of MNF on a school night. Now actually being part of it is fantastic. College fans are very passionate, but NFL fans may be a little crazier. Our Bengals fans are just awesome.
As for the Packers game, there were a lot of momentum shifts. We came out hot on offense, marched right down the field, scored, got a quick turnover on the kickoff, and before you’ve had your first hot wing we’re up 14-0. Then the tide changed and we were down 14-30. But we always talk about sticking together, continuing to play hard and believing that good things will happen. And then we scored three consecutive TDs to win!
People always talk about momentum shifts, but I don’t know how much stock I put in them. You go out and do your job, even if things aren’t going your way. Momentum is just the flow of the game. You can’t get caught up with individual plays. You’ve got to move on to the next play, the next series, the next quarter. Keep plugging along, don’t lose faith and hope things fall your way.
It’s early, but it feels pretty good to be in first place in the AFC North. We’ve got to keep winning, and we’ve got a good chance this week against the Browns to stay ahead of the pack—those divisional matchups are like two games in one.
Even cooler than a 61-yard reception? Making it in front of the cheerleaders…
Analysts call a mix of wide receiver and tight end, a “joker” tight end. And players like our Jermaine Gresham and the Saints’ Jimmy Graham are impacting defensive players—safeties are getting bigger and taller, and linebackers are getting lighter and quicker. We run with a two tight end package a lot in different formations—sometimes lining up as a fullback or in our “West” formation (one behind the other) on the same side. The formations offer so many different possibilities, and plays running off them give the defense numerous looks and more things to react to. It’s definitely fun but also a challenge.
So far Jermaine and I are making solid contributions to our offense. We’re expected to make plays, block and help out in any way we can. As we move forward, hopefully we “jokers” can continue to put up good numbers in a winning cause.
My Irish are now 3-1 after edging unbeaten Michigan State (17-13) for our tenth straight home win. Taking care of business at home is pounded into our heads by the coaches. Next up is #14 Oklahoma at home, another big game. I watched the Michigan State game with my family and it wasn’t pretty, but any win you get at this level, you take. As a fan now, not a college player, I can see why fans get so worked up, ha ha. It’s tough to watch when there’s nothing you can do.
If you saw any of HBO’s excellent training camp doc, Hard Knocks, you got some insight into the work players put in and the price they pay—real blood, sweat and tears. But it’s hard to capture the actual personalities of some guys when the camera is in your face a lot of the time. It can be a little intimidating. That being said, most of what you see is the way things work in training camp. It’s pretty cutthroat as the coaches whittle the team down to that 53-man roster, I can’t lie.
Finally, here’s a big thanks to Shepherd’s GMC in Kendallville for hooking me up with a luxury Yukon Denali. After the season when I head home to Indiana, they’ll switch me out to a new model pickup, so I’m psyched. Please follow me on Twitter @EiferTy85. And as always, Who Dey!
—As told to Ashley Jude Collie