Hey football fans, I’m blogging near the beach in Tampa, where I’m getting some R&R to kick off the Bengals bye week. I’ve invited a couple of “buds” with me, and we’re just chilling as the team leads the AFC North after our big win (41-20) over division rivals Cleveland.

The noise did wake my mom up… and she came out yelling. So here I am, I’m 23 and in the NFL, and there’s my mom telling me to get to bed, like now.

Thanksgiving is next week, and I have a lot to give thanks for. My life has completely changed in just a year, but my transition has been smooth and I’m really enjoying my new life in the NFL. I’ve had the help of my family and a lot of other people.

A big shout-out to Bengals fans and football fans everywhere—without you, there ain’t no show! Also thanks to my tight end room, with Alex Smith and Jermaine Gresham, for making the experience educational and fun. We get along great.

Our coaches told us try to rest and relax. For us rookies, we’ve been going since the end of the college football season. I played in January in the BCS National Championship, and then I headed to the IMG Bradenton Academy to prepare for the NFL Combine. I was kind of torn about whether to stay up north because the deer are rutting right now and there could be a lot of action. But I just needed to get away.

OK, let’s talk some football. At 7-4, we’re happy, although we lost two straight in OT—those were tough. When you narrow it down, there’s so much parity in the NFL, and pretty much any team can win or lose on any Sunday. It usually comes down to a couple of plays here and there.

This was a first for me: Against the Browns our offense, defense and special teams all scored touchdowns in the second quarter. Wow! We were really clicking, but you’ve also got to get a little lucky to have them all score. Special teams really is a third of any team’s game, and we take it very seriously. Overall, our offense still can play better. But defensively we’ve been playing great.

Cincy didn’t stumble vs. Cleveland. And hey if you’re gonna fall, fall forward!

Now, after Florida, I’m heading up to South Bend when my alma mater Notre Dame plays BYU. Both teams are 7-3.  My Irish will get a bowl game but probably not a BCS game. I don’t know what happened. Couldn’t quite pull out those big games against Michigan and then Oklahoma…and then we had a disappointing loss to Pittsburgh. The team just never got into a groove this year. I’ll probably go down to the sidelines before the game, as I know a lot of the staff and players, and then take a seat as a regular fan. Go Irish!

Alright, I got a quick story from the last time I visited my family in Indiana. And it shows who’s the boss back home…

I still have my old room. My little brother Grady and our cousin Drake are high school seniors, and Drake was staying in my room. I’m trying to sleep and he’s got his cell on, and it’s lighting up the room. So I jump over on him to grab his phone, just messing with him, but then my little brother gets involved and we’re wrassling. It was a free-for-all at 1 a.m., and next thing we running around upstairs with the phone. Then they trash-talked that they were bringing out the BB guns, trying to intimidate me, and it was game on!

I pretended to go crazy and went kamikaze, a big guy running straight at them. And they were a little scared and tried to make as much noise as possible to wake my mom up. The noise did wake her up… and she came out yelling at me to go to bed. So here I am, I’m 23 and in the NFL, and there’s my mom telling me to get to bed, like now. But you know how it is—when Mom speaks, you listen up, no matter who you are!

Please hit me up on Twitter @EiferTy85. Go Irish, and Who Dey!

—As told to Ashley Jude Collie