"One of the greatest parts about football is that you play it outside. You get to go outside and fly around with your friends."
They say there's only room in life for one passion. And while Dolphins center Ted Karras is obsessed with the grind of playing professional football, his intrigue spans beyond the gridiron.
Just one class away from completing his second master's degree, Karras remains in pursuit of higher education.
"I have one more class to go," Karras explained. "They would've let us walk but we couldn't because of COVID. I did it along with the left guard of the Patriots, Joe Thuney, and I'll get my sheepskin in March."
The 27-year-old center has taken full advantage of the NFL's tuition reimbursement program.
"It's a great program through the NFL and NFLPA," Karras said. "I'm going to continue to go until someone doesn't pay for my school any more. It's a great program and I encourage a lot of younger guys to get going on it now."
What better way to put the accumulation of knowledge to the test than a healthy Jeopardy competition? For Ted Karras, that nightly routine began with former teammate – and classmate – Joe Thuney. The 2016 draft picks lived together during their first two years with the Patriots.
"We'd watch Jeopardy every night," Karras said. "But we were competing all day as it was, so we eventually joined forces and played together. I think our personal record was – we were three or four off from getting every question right. He probably carried us that day, though."
Humility is immediately apparent upon meeting the 314-pound man whose job it is to move other massive human beings against their will. Though he may drop nuggets of knowledge regarding anything from the origins of the term salary to his thirst for quiz show supremacy, Karras maintains a humble approach.
"I wouldn't say I know everything about everything," he said. "Maybe just a nugget or two about a lot of things. I like to have some unique conversations."
His humility doesn't keep him out of the spotlight, either. His love for another NBC program put him in a musical production of the syndicated network hit, The Office.
"I had a walk-on role in a production of The Office, a musical," Karras explained. "It was a song. I joined in the song a little bit but my role was to pin something up on a piece of paper. It was the opening scene to the musical. They incorporated every milestone in the show and they sung it all."
Though his role was not recurring, Karras said his preference leaned towards the two megastars plastered across the proverbial marquee.
"I think Dwight's hilarious," Karras said through a laugh and a smile. "Obviously Steve Carell carries the show, but some of Dwight's antics over the years are just so hilarious."
Carell and Rainn Wilson's characters took on a subservient role, like one you might see between dog and dog owner. Football players and pet dogs go together like apple pie and Chevrolet, but nothing about Karras is status quo. He does have an affinity for man's best friend, but when Karras settles in for some decompressing at the end of the day, he is accompanied by his wife and two felines.
"One of the main reasons I got cats was because we wanted some pets, but with my schedule I don't think I can give a dog the quality of live as they deserve right now," Karras said. "Long down the road when I retire, hopefully I'll get a dog; but until then I'm a cat guy and I'm proud of it."
Part of that lifestyle includes staying in peak physical condition year-round. Karras signed with the Dolphins in the early stages of a global pandemic, but that didn't prevent him from working to maintain his physical condition.
Karras renovated his garage to accommodate a home gym during quarantine. Politely respecting his new neighbors, the Indianapolis native thought better of blaring White Snake from the garage speakers.
"I had a couple of neighbors so I had to turn down the music a few times because I didn't want to come in blazing," Karras said.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Karras quickly learned his creativity and penchant for adaptation would spawn a new lifting regimen.
"I can get pretty swole with some band workouts," Karras said. "I was pretty skeptical my whole life about that but if you get the rep count right, you can get some gains with the athletic bands."
A tireless work ethic, positive attitude and helping hand are a few hallmarks of leadership. Joining the Dolphins only six months ago, Karras has made an impression strong enough that his peers voted him to be one of the recognized leaders who will don the coveted captain's patch on gameday.
"It's a distinct honor that my peers and teammates think of me like that," Karras said. "I take that very seriously. A leadership role doesn't have to be elected. We have some great captains and the fact that they thought that of me is very special. I want to deliver by doing the best I can to help us win as many ball games as we can, but also help in the lives in our teammates. One of the most special parts of football is the relationships you build and I care very deeply about these guys and our team and I want to do whatever I can to help us be successful."
Karras' personality and approachability have endeared him to not just the people inside the Dolphins organization, but the South Florida community. That admiration is reciprocated by the man in the middle on the Miami offensive line.
"Everyone down here has welcomed my wife and I with open arms and it's been such a pleasure," Karras said. "I just want to do my best for this community and the Dolphins organization."