Head Coach Mike McDaniel
Introductory Press Conference
February 10, 2022
(Opening Statement) – "Good morning. I hope everybody here is doing well and feeling good. For me, this is a very exciting day to introduce Mike McDaniel and his family and welcome them to the Miami Dolphins. We're excited that Mike is here and we look forward to him working with us and Chris (Grier) in creating a team that will win Super Bowls – first, we got to start winning our conference games and our division games, and hopefully get to the Super Bowl. That's what we've always said that what we want, which is a team that can win consistently.
"When we started our search, we were looking to identify someone with several qualities that will have a real impact on our team. We were looking for those qualities of leadership, intelligence, innovation, and that could really understand what it takes to win in the long run. Mike has all of those qualities. First of all, he's probably one of the brightest coaches that I've spoken to. He is really known for his innovation on the field and many people, talking to them, actually call him a genius. That's a big word and a lot of pressure on it, but certainly when you talk to people, the first thing they'll say about Mike is he's innovative and he's thinking outside of the box. At the same time, the respect that he's commanded through his over 18 years as a coach is really remarkable. It went so far as I had coaches in his former division calling me and telling me how great he was and I said, 'why are you calling?' And they said, 'really, to get him out of the division.' (laughter) it says an awful lot about the person and who he is. One thing that really you'll find out that stands out about him is his passion for football, his passion for how he approaches the game and how he works with people. That's what it's all about. It's really motivating, working with people with passion and intelligence on a consistent basis, that really will produce a winner. And I don't think you'll find anybody, and you'll learn to see, with anymore passion for this game in winning and winning the right way.
"I'd really like to say that as we work together – I've always preached, it's really about a team, a team in every aspect. It's the players there but it's really us as the owner, general manager, the CEO working together to produce a team and a team that is always doing the right thing. Just spending the time with him, I really feel that he's a person that has all of those attributes, but at the same time really has that football knowledge and the leadership for men that the Miami Dolphins – it will serve us really well in the long run. He will continue reporting to Chris Grier. Chris Grier reports to me and works together with Tom Garfinkel and me in really leading the Miami Dolphins. With that, I look forward to continuing this collaboration and hoping that we are winning our division and going on to much greater glory, let's put it that way. That's probably the best word.
"I would like to introduce Chris Grier and thank him for all of the work that he has done in this search."
(Opening Statement) – "First of all, Steve took basically all of my jokes and thunder on this to compliment Mike, so this may be shorter than expected.
"Really, we are tremendously excited to welcome Mike and his family here to South Florida as the leader of the Miami Dolphins. As Steve mentioned – Stephen Ross, Tom Garfinkel, Brandon Shore and myself – we talked to many, many very qualified candidates for this job, in both pro and college football, (and what) resonated with us was how excited everyone was for this job – where our roster was, the talent level. It was clear that there was excitement and even into the last two weeks, you guys would be surprised the people that were calling trying to get into this job. For us, as we worked through the process, we interviewed many people, did our research extensively, Steve was very calculated and made sure that we didn't rush this process. That's a credit to Steve because there were times when I was like 'let's go, let's push this forward,' and Steve was like 'Hey, let's make sure we do this as thoroughly and as correct as we can.' I thank Steve for his patience because I was ready to get going and get us going moving forward. It's been a good month in trying to find the right man to lead the Miami Dolphins.
"When we got through the process, it was Mike McDaniel. The one thing as we kept talking to everybody was, as Steve talked about, was the football intelligence, the innovativeness that he does. You wouldn't believe the calls and text, like Steve said, from players that he had connected with over the years, former players at his former team and agents calling us just about the relationships that he's built over the years and how respectful he was in terms of guiding those players that have dealt with adversity and things like that. It's always good to hear those stories because when you go through this process, everyone wants to tell you how great everyone is and never wants to tell you their warts because they are trying to sell people. But it was very genuine in everyone's love and affection for Mike and how he had impacted people's lives at his previous teams. So for us, when we got down to the decision, it was a clear choice. You guys have all heard everything that's been about Mike – his intelligence, his passion, his work ethic. The people that have met him in this building here over the last 48 hours have all talked about the energy level and how he is. He spent time – new coaches come in and it's not easy. They'll spend five minutes with people. But he's literally in there still talking like for an hour with people as I'm trying to get his attention on other things and that's who he is. He wants to genuinely know who people are, connect with them and get to the why's. That's what makes him a unique person in terms of getting the best out of people.
"We're tremendously excited to welcome you and your family here. Richmond (Flowers) did a great job of pushing me too, as we were talking about getting you through stuff and being patient because you guys had a great run in San Francisco. But again, we're tremendously excited and glad you're the man to lead us here over the next years."
(Opening Statement) – "It's an honor and a privilege to stand in front of you guys here as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Any man standing at a podium like this would be honored. It is a tremendous accomplishment and you'd feel great about that. But that's not why you get into coaching – standing at this podium. You get into coaching because you love to coach football, you love to teach and you love to make people better. That's exactly who I am, who I have been and who I will be as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. I'd like to thank those wonderful words from both Stephen Ross and Chris Grier. I really appreciate the opportunity and the responsibility, really. And it is a big one. I'd like to talk about me coming here to Miami about a week ago. I was coming here to interview for a dream position – a dream of mine. That's what I thought it was. As I walked though this building, this gorgeous building we stand in, saw the people, looked into their eyes and felt their passion, I quickly realized that this was my dream job and I had to go get it. One of the things that really struck me with the Miami Dolphins organization was their interest in general. It's a lot easier to go after a guy after five other teams have interviewed him and put him on a list. Traditionally, that's the way it works, where people want whoever other people are interviewing. This was not the case. They looked at me for me and that really galvanized my interest in this organization and really told me a lot about who was really targeting me. It told me a lot about what they were looking for and that's why I knew it would be a good fit. Interviewing with Stephen Ross, Chris Grier, Brandon Shore and Tom Garfinkel, it didn't take me long to realize this was the place that I was meant to be, so I better not screw this interview up. You take a look at the facility that's built here – which I feel like I'm at an SEC school, it's incredible – the stadium and everything going on around it, I think it kind of epitomizes Steve's vision. And that vision is broad, it's grand and it's trying to be great. That's what I'm here to get the football to and that's what we'll do. Really, that's why I feel honor and I feel privileged being up here in front of you guys today.
"I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the immense amount of people that had to do with me even having this opportunity. Starting with Kyle Shanahan, Jed York and his family, John Lynch and the 49ers organization. They're a first-class organization that really helped facilitate me coming into my own, I feel like. Without the players, who are the people that you really get into this business for, all their support, all their hard work and their commitment, none of this would have been possible and I thank all the 49er players as well.
"To get in a spot like this, it's almost overwhelming to think about how many people are along the ride with you that if one of them doesn't decide to invest in you, you may never get this opportunity. It's one of the great things about coaching and the coaching profession is it takes a village to get just one individual capable of doing a job like this. I can go down the list starting with Mike Shanahan, who gave me my first job. It was unpaid though, so he didn't pay very well. (laughter) Gary Kubiak, who gave me my first paid job with the Houston Texans. Kyle Shanahan, obviously. I'm not sure what I would be doing if it wasn't for him. You talk about guys like Sean McVay, Chris, Matt LaFleur, Bobby Turner, Dan Quinn, Raheem Morris, Mike LaFleur the list goes on and on. I don't want to drain your guys' eardrums with that but there's just so many people and I appreciate all of those men that helped me become the man I am today. Each individual that I mentioned and each coach I've been really privileged to work alongside; they made me a better man, a better coach, a better teacher and that's really what my focus is in life. They didn't make me a better father – I did that on my own. (laughter) I'd like to thank Richmond Flowers. It is surreal man. We came a long way and you know how much I appreciate you. Anne Noland, this is an emotional day for me and you've made it somewhat coherent, I hope. Obviously, my family. My wife, Katie McDaniel. We've come a long way. We've got a long way to go. Don't do that to me, I'm trying to do a press conference. (laughter) And my daughter Ayla June McDaniel. You are a miracle and I can't wait to see what you grow into.
"Now back to what we are all here for. So football and the Miami Dolphins and what you can expect from us. Schematically – offense, defense, special teams – you are going to see a unique design of everything that's tailored to our players. That's why it will be unique to us because we will tailor everything to our players and that's first and foremost. But really the picture I'd like to present and what I'm here to do with the assistance of all these wonderful people, is create a brand of football here that is known as Miami football. And what that is, Miami Dolphin football, is all about passion and energy. You should be able to turn on the TV and know who the team is, even if the color is distorted, by the energy that they play with, by how they bond together. Things that you only get with true work and bond together. It's a team sport and we're going to play as a team and I promise that we'll feel that. The whole thing that makes football so magical, the whole reason I have devoted my professional life to it, is you have all these people with different interests focused on one common goal. That one common goal of winning, winning often, winning playoff games and winning Super Bowls. That goal is what drives us but it's the bond and everything we go through in that process that makes it memorable and makes it worth doing what we do. It's the essence of sports, really, and it epitomizes what the Miami Dolphins will become.
"I feel unbelievably fortunate and it is so exciting to come into a team of energy, of youth, of talent, but more so of hunger that really matches the city of Miami, the fans and every person that is employed by the Miami Dolphins. I felt it immediately when I walked in the door. It gives me goosebumps right now to be a part of something like that, an organization – this is my seventh and I feel like when you're hired and fired that many times and bouncing around the NFL, you get a glimpse at a lot of things and you know when something has the ability to be great and that's all I feel walking in and out of these hallways. And I can't wait to serve each and every one of you.
"I think collectively, one of the most powerful things within these hallways, within this organization that I think should be focused on is the lack of ego and the drive with a common goal. When I was interviewing in this process, it's all about one thing and that is a rarity, something special and I am so fortunate to be a part of. But that collectivity and working together with a shared sacrifice is something that can't be replicated, and I am extremely fortunate to be a part of.
"Now, I think this is always odd because you're getting all hyped up for a media session and then we just go back and study film, put coaching staffs together and then get ready to practice. Hopefully, we teach the players what the plays are before we do that. (laughter) That whole process, although it is anticlimactic, it is part of it and I can't express the gratitude to everyone to allow me to be up here and to be a part of it. There is no better time to start this whole process than right now. Thank you, guys."
(Did any of the issues raised by your predecessor in his legal action raise any red flags in your mind about this organization? If not, why not? And if so, how did you resolve them in your own mind?) – "Red flags? I can honestly say there was absolutely no red flags, and the reason why was because I was stepping into an organization with a boss that – I don't think people give it its proper due. Stephen Ross – there's a lot of people in professional sports that are out to make money. And I mean, I can't lie, I feel like if I spent that much money, I'd want to make a lot of money. But like I said, when I walked in that door, you look at every single detail within this building, you look at the people that are hired, you look at just all the extents that there is nothing – there is no cost too high for winning for him. When you're in multiple organizations, you realize that's not always the case. The city of Miami really is lucky to have an owner that right, wrong or indifferent, all he cares about is winning. And as a coach, that's all you're literally looking for. That's all. So red flags? No, there's no red flags for me."
(Obviously when you start, the offense starts, everything is going to start with the quarterback. What's your belief in QB Tua Tagovailoa and him leading you guys into the next season?) – "My belief in Tua is that he's a football player on this team that's trying to get better and the biggest message I have for all players really is the message should be about the team. And what I mean by that is it's really about the team collectively getting better and there's a responsibility of the quarterback to do so. But I'm not necessarily – I'm not sitting here concerned with how good Tua can be. I'm concerned with as a collective unit, what we can grow together because that's what wins football games. I haven't seen a quarterback win a football game by himself ever, really. He has to have somebody to throw to. He better not be getting tackled before he throws, so somebody better block. And the defense had better not allow them to score. But the biggest thing for me with Tua is that I want him to come in and work every day and I'm very confident that he will. I want to provide teachers that can develop him. I'm very confident in the people we're discussing this week and the plan we have for that. And ultimately, all you want is a guy that's driven to be great, a guy that's driven to get better and it gives you a chance. And it's my job to make sure that he has the best chance to showcase his talents. And that's everyone's job really."
(You alluded to earlier the Dolphins were the one team to talk to you for interviews. How do you know you're ready for this job? What told you, "Okay, I'm ready to be a head coach in the NFL?") – "It's funny that every head coach – there's a lot of talk about being ready to be a new head coach and I think you guys have had new head coaches. The thing that kind of trips me up is every single head coach in the history of football has never been a head coach until they're a head coach. And for me, the comfort level within the hallways – really, it's every year of my experience. especially the last five years that Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers. He really relied on me and allowed me to be his right-hand man and opened my eyes to all the things that a head coach does. Not to mention all the other years where I've had great teachers. And the key for me is paying attention. It's right in front of me. So when I do get my opportunity, I've been fully aware of whenever that day comes, the responsibility it brings, the responsibility you have to every individual that is employed in the organization, their families, every player. So when they called, I was kind of nervous about an interview because I don't major in that. I major in connecting with players, teaching them and helping them grow. But after getting the job, no. I know there's going to be things that are new to me, but it's more about being prepared for the moment because everybody has to have their first time to do it and I know that I'm prepared for the moment. I know there's going to be things that are new and challenging, but that doesn't make me nervous because I've been preparing for this my entire career."
(You talked a lot in the last couple days – I've heard clips about coaching is teaching and it's something that you love to do and the individual players. But when it comes to managing 53 personalities, the emotion from week to week, the drama, the distractions, things that come with a team, how do you think you'll handle that and what is your plan when you've got to handle so many people as one head coach?) – "My plan is to handle it well. (laughter) And how you do that is you take – you know coaching a position group, there's a transition to coach a position group to being an offensive coordinator. That told me a lot about what I thought it was. And there will be a transition to coaching 53 men, which that's at the low end – there's also practice squad and training camp roster, so I'm prepared to coach more of those guys than just that. But yeah, there's challenges. But every step of the road, every position you hold in football, that's what your job is. Any time you ascend, you take on new responsibilities, but you're doing the same thing in terms of 'Oh, there's something unforeseen. How do I problem-solve this? What messaging do these guys need to hear? Who do I need to connect with? Who isn't really coming along the team's direction?' They're all just problems. There's more of them for sure, but that's why there's only one head coach. You work your entire career to do it and that's why you have so many resources within the building, why I felt so comfortable taking this job, is because I feel completely comfortable with my knowledge. I know I've been preparing for this. That would've been irresponsible for me to have all these great leaders in front of me and not bear witness. But I also have a lot of people to rely on within the building. And when everyone is working in the same direction, yeah, there's going to be problems that I don't foresee. Like I couldn't forecast today, but how boring would our jobs be if it was just monotony anyway? I embrace the challenge. I know there will be new things, but that's been the task at hand my entire 17- or 18-year career."
(Welcome to Miami.) – "That's my fifth 'welcome to Miami' and I'm feeling welcome. (laughter)"
(About to say, just trying to make you feel comfortable.) – "That's what I mean. I'm just waiting for you to bust out some 'Welcome to Miami' and then finish the verse. (laughter)"
(I'm not going to do that right now, but maybe later on.) – "Gotcha. (laughter)"
(Once you get your offensive staff kind of put together, what do you foresee that collaboration process being like? Do you plan on calling plays yourself? Is that something that you're going to kind of delegate to your offensive coordinator or do you have another unique system in mind?) – "I plan on calling plays myself, but one thing that I've noticed in my journey is that successful play-callers don't isolate themselves. They utilize the people around them. That's what a head coach should do. I'm not up here doing anything by myself or I won't be after this press conference ends. I'm not going to be going into a hole and hanging out by myself and thinking about stuff. You're working with people, so the higher your leadership with regard to a head coach, the more people you have to lead. As an offensive coordinator, you call plays, but if you're a head coach and calling plays, you better be reliant and feel very good about the people on your offensive staff. So it's been a meticulous process. I think not as meticulous as this head-coaching search apparently, but it's been very meticulous because that's what you're preparing for. I know exactly what the season is going to bring in terms of there are so many things that go on in the course of the season and there's stressors and you have to worry about kind of focusing the direction of the team; but that's why you spend this time in the offseason finding the people that you can rely on that you can trust and work with so they can help you game plan, help you solve problems. We can get the best plan together and then when the players own the plan, you're just calling plays, but they make them come to life."
(I wanted to ask you about your upbringing in the NFL. Gary Kubiak, Shanahan – both father and son, your background, West Coast offense, heavy run-based offense. Is that sort of a sample of what you believe is winning football in the NFL and what do you think it takes to win in the NFL from a play-call standpoint and scheme standpoint?) – "I understand what you're getting at with the question. I really like the question. But connecting it to winning, that's a team deal. But for offensively, with regard to scheme, I have an interesting story because I started with Mike Shanahan and immediately went to Gary Kubiak, and it's rare to work 15 years in the NFL across six teams and have the same system. So in that, what you end up doing in the same system, you're not constantly trying to re-learn how to do things. You're constantly evolving to the point where you're at your fourth or fifth year within the offense and then you go to your third team and now you're re-installing. So you've found – it's your third rep of first introducing the same scheme while also there's a completely different set of players. So within your scheme, you are tailoring it to whoever they are. What was it, my second year in Washington, collectively we drafted Robert Griffin III and ran a bunch of zone read. Do you know how much zone read experience our staff had? Zero. And we didn't go to any clinics. We really did it with the old-fashioned hard way grind. And what that afforded all of us, when you're talking about all the guys that were there in Washington, is in our formative years, our minds are open to adapting to whatever means necessary to whatever player's skillsets, all the way to the quarterback. So because of that, every single year, people call our scheme so creative but really we're just adapting. We're adapting to defenses. We're adapting to our players. We're constantly evolving. And I think that's important and I think that's a winning formula. I think it puts players in position to succeed and that's the key drive for the scheme. And that's why it's less trying to be creative for creative's sake. It's more solving problems in different ways and having different tools and abilities to do so."
(I found it interesting in Stephen Ross' comments, he said that you would report to Chris, who reports to obviously Steve and Tom. I'm curious with the aspect of player personnel, how much say do you anticipate having on that and how do you foresee working with Chris on that?) – "Thanks for the tee up. That's another attractive thing about the Miami Dolphins is Chris Grier himself. I think his reputation speaks for itself. I didn't know him that well and I worked with his dad previously. But in a short amount of time, if you're picturing that scenario where you're reporting to a GM and you want to work with him, I couldn't create an avatar for my working relationship than Chris Grier. Why? Because he's of the same vision in that he just wants to win football games. He understands that the players we acquire better suit the scheme. And it's been obvious in a week and talking to him on the phone, and really all of the due diligence that I did before I got here, that he's not interested in ego. He's not interested in agenda. He's interested in a bond with the head coach that excels and that beats other people's bonds as GM and head coach. He wants a tied together unit and he wants it to grow together. So how much say? As much as I want to talk, I guess. There has been no pushback and I don't ever foresee that ever happening. It's a very comfortable situation for a coach to go into and honestly, it just helps me worry about coaching football, evaluating players with him, having conversations and growing together so we can collectively do the best thing for the Miami Dolphins."
(What have you learned about the best ways to teach players?) – "That it's an evolving process. I got into the NFL in 2005. Twitter, Instagram and ADD addictions weren't really prevalent or existed. That's just an example of how things change over time. I think the one thing in terms of studying the learning process in general is that people can attach to ideas when they are in a linear story. If you can tell a story, you can go from point A to point B to point C. I've been fortunate within the scheme to coach every single position in this offense. Whether you're dealing with different players or different personalities, that is one true common denominator is you have to have a starting point of understanding that you can bridge to the next point. Beyond that? Tape, video, editing cut ups and organizing them so that you can battle that ADD issue that was aforementioned. Those things are powerful things that will be prominent with our coaches, that we really invest our time and understand how valuable the player's time is, how short-term attention spans are. You better bring some energy, you better entertain them while getting them to learn whatever it is. But you always have to listen. Ask questions, see if they get it and adjust."
(You've spoken so much about your mentors and colleagues and so many people who have had so much influence on you as a coach. What are some of the leadership qualities that those men and women have impacted and influenced you, and how do you hope to combine those qualities with your unique fun personality?) – "I didn't know it was fun. That's fun to hear. (laughter) Early on in coaching, it's one of the reasons I feel confident up here today, and what really has helped me go through the entire process of adjusting to different positions and growing as a coach, was something that was said to me early. You're a college kid coming out of Yale, and I know Yale has really sick athletes. (laughter) But when I was 23 and I was in charge of assisting Kyle (Shanahan) with receivers, I needed to coach Andre Johnson in his prime. I remember thinking I think he's going to listen to me, but we'll see. Then you find out it's the simplest formula ever known to man. It's something you guys can all relate to. It's something that is why all of this conversation about will people listen, will he lead and stuff – it's a very simple formula. You establish with them early that you can help them with their dream. If you can establish with them that you have value towards their goal – I mean they have unbelievable pressure on them with a career span that they know is finite. So if anybody can help them towards their ultimate goal of being on an NFL team, which is their identity, staying on an NFL team, making their career last longer, making money for their family, doing things that are bigger than themselves, they'll listen to anybody with a pulse if you can help them. That fundamental tool I've applied across the board with the other little mode of wisdom that I've received, which is that people respond to authenticity. I've been working out my personality my entire career, which is what you're seeing right now. That was established with me early, that people can smell when you're trying to be something that you're not. People respect when you are who you are. Because that was given to me early, a tool, I was blessed to have that instilled in me. It's really carried me through every position I've had, every team I've gone to, so I know for a fact that it stands the test of time."
(For the fans, this organization hasn't won a playoff game in 20 years. Why are you the person that will be able to do that?) – "Why not? It's not about me. It's about me, my relationship with players, but it's not an individual ordeal. This is a community of people, a whole group of men, and to me, I see it as an opportunity really. It's obvious to me how true of football fans the Miami Dolphins fan base is because they haven't won a playoff game in 20 years. But you can feel the passion, you can feel the interest. And that makes it all the more exciting because how great will that feel when collectively we can get it done? That obstacle is something that can really facilitate the end goal because it's a bigger prize. You just don't worry – what does the last 20 years have to do with this year? Unless we can take some of those points from those years and apply them to this year, it's irrelevant. It's a group of men trying to do a common goal, and I don't really look at the past history except that it's going to be that much more gratifying for everyone, and the players can feel that. I think the players and coaches alike, that will really galvanize them to go after that."
(I know you were in a different conference and you didn't play the Dolphins last year, but how much of their game tape did you watch or have watched since you were preparing for this job? Did you feel fortunate to inherit a winning team? Most first-year coaches aren't in that situation.) – "I'd hope I'd watch a lot of it, which I did. (laughter) I did play against the Dolphins in 2020 and we don't need to talk about that game at all. I'm the head coach the Dolphins now. We kicked the 49ers something. (laughter) It's part of the process. You need to know what you're getting in to. You need to gather information to understand what the team has gone through. All the game tape, all the situations. It's important to me to understand what to emphasize moving forward. And what I saw was a defense that I didn't want to go against. What I saw was a collective group of people that I could, from the tape, I knew they loved football and that is such a key component that people undervalue because there's so many dollars, there's a lot of fame out there for players, but the teams that win, the people love football and you can feel it and it's visceral. To win (seven) consecutive games, I think it was, (near the) end the season, you could see players playing hard. You could see a defense that again, I'm glad is our defense. You could see a ton of talent, guys that weren't listening to the noise, that were trying to win games and there's a lot of guys that want to get better. Offensively, there's tools and my job is to help facilitate, with all the other coaches and players, to put together a product that reflects really what the Miami Dolphins are about."
(Your ethnicity has been a topic of conversation since your hiring. I wanted to ask how has your experience growing up as how you identify, how has that experience been? And do you think getting a job like this sets an example for more people just like you who have the same life experiences?) – "Yeah, it's been very odd, to tell you the truth. This idea of identifying as something. I think people identify me as something but I identify as a human being. And my dad is Black. So whatever you want to call it. I know there's a lot of people with a shared experience. It's weird that it comes up because I've just tried to be a good person and I think my background opens my eyes a little bit. I don't have any real experience with racism. I think you identify me as something close to – I don't know. But I know my mom experienced it when she married my dad. I know my dad experienced it and that it's in my family. I guess that makes me a human being that can identify with other people's problems."
(I want to take you way back. We all read the stories about you riding your bicycle to Broncos practice. What was it that made you want to do that? What made you go from being a fan to possibly a student of the game to trying to learn from what you were seeing out there? What inspired you to get into this business?) – "I appreciate that question. Side note, the irony is that story, my address was on 27th Avenue in Greeley, Colorado. And here we find ourselves on 27th Avenue. It kind of brings it full circle. It's interesting being an only child anywhere really. But in Colorado, I grew up in a town of like 70,000 people and I didn't really have much to do. I guess there was a park with a lake with a lot of goose droppings that I could go play at, but other than that the Broncos were the big deal. That was, and again, when I was younger, it was cool to watch something where there were guys from different ethnicities working together. It was the first picture I had of that, which I noticed when I was at my grandma's house. That was kind of intriguing. Football in general – I liked football cards and I was just obsessed with the Denver Broncos at the time. All I wanted to do was get autographs and be around them. I was and continue to be pretty obsessive compulsive, so I would ride there about seven o'clock in the morning and get as many autographs as I could and stay there until seven and night and ride back home. But in doing so, I think it built-up the game of football in my eyes. I think I had an appreciation for the amount of work guys did because I'd get there at seven and I'd watch them walk from the cafeteria to – I can't remember the facility's name – but to the gym and get dressed for practice. I'd watch them go practice and I'd try to get autographs when they come back in behind the yellow rope and then I'd watch them go to the lunch room and then turn back around and go do the same thing again in two-a-days. I think it built sort of this idea that cool things you have to work for in that process. I wanted to be a pro football player. But I had a good awareness level at a young age. The story is true that I wrote inside my little league helmet that I will be in the NFL some day and I had every sticker of every single team. I didn't say I'd play in it. (laughter) As you get older, you figure out that if you want to be good at something, you better be passionate about it and my OCD made me passionate about one thing and I chose to go after it."