While star cornerback Darrelle Revis has received most of the attention when it comes to the new-look Bucs secondary, Dashon Goldson — nicknamed the "Hawk" — has flown under the radar. The former 49er, a 2012 All-Pro, is considered one of the game's premier safeties. Times staff writer Joe Smith sat down with Goldson to talk about the sneaky start to his football career, his favorite dad activities and hidden talent.
So I hear you started your football career in an interesting way, using your own money as a fourth-grader to sign up for Pop Warner football without your mom's knowledge. Why'd you do that?
My parents were Jamaicans, so football was soccer to them. They wanted me to play soccer. My stepdad was a big basketball fan, wanted me to play basketball. But the Pop Warner team used to practice right across the street from my house all the time. So after school, I'd go play with them before they started. There was this game they played called "Throw it up, tackle;" just throw the ball up and whoever (catches) the ball gets tackled. I used to knock dudes out. And one of the coaches came over, "Man, you play? We should get you signed up." It was around September. My mom gave me $100 for my birthday, and it was $100 to sign up at the time. So I ran across the street, got my $100 out of my secret little spot and went and signed the papers. Next thing you know, I was playing football, hiding my pads in the garage.
How did your mom (Desrene Williams) find out?
She found out because I put my pads on my sister. And we were in there tackling, and I hit her so hard, she went and told my mom. That's how she found out. It was like Week 6. She was surprised I even wanted to play bad (enough to go) behind her back. She accepted it and after that went to a couple games, realized I was good, supported me all through then until this day. She's at the games all the time.
What's your mother like?
Strong woman. Takes care of six kids. Great lady. Very positive, very supportive. She's my best friend. I'm real close to her.
Harder for her to go to games now that you're on the other coast?
It won't stop her. She's already got her ticket (for today). She didn't wait on me. She booked it herself.
When you look at your influences in your life, how much did Pop Warner coach Bobby Hosea impact you?
Bobby, he was one of my biggest supporters in this game. He taught me a lot about football and tackling. He was the first guy to really teach me how to do it right, and until this day … I invite him to my football camps to teach the kids. All the success I've had with my tackling, my big hits, goes to him.
The nickname "Hawk" has followed you for a while. Where did it start?
When I was in San Francisco, I had a coach that played with (then-coach Mike Singletary). He was like, "Man, have you met Ronnie Lott? Your game, you remind me of him a little bit; your power, the way you hit. You're sideline to sideline. You're like a ball hawk out there." The name just stuck with me.
I've read where you've compared yourself to the "Hulk" in terms of being such a different person off the field than on.
In a way. I'm not as aggressive and intimidating off the field. I'm more laid-back. I like to hang out, just chill.
I know you're a family guy, too, with a young daughter, Charly (2 years old). What's she like?
She's a thoroughbred; plenty of energy. My mom said I wasn't like that. She's a lot of energy; good energy.
What's your favorite dad activity?
Watching cartoons with her, playing with her. She pulls me everywhere. We have this big playhouse in the back yard for her. She sits there, and we play restaurant, and she brings me food. It's crazy. Chicken (and) vegetables. She makes sure I get my vegetables.
What kind of cartoons do you guys watch?
She likes (Henry) Hugglemonster, and now she's into (Little) Einsteins. She loves Mickey Mouse Club. She's into The Lion King. I try to put on stuff I used to watch like The Flintstones.
You have a hidden talent?
I can cook. I come from a Jamaican background, so I can throw down a little bit. … Chicken is always my go-to; chicken and rice. I can make some nice fajitas.
Is your daughter a better cook than you?
(Laughing) She's going to be in a little bit.