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Kickin' back | Byron Leftwich

Kickin' back with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Byron Leftwich

CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

What keeps you smiling so much? It seems like there's never a time you don't.

That's because I frowned enough growing up. You had to. You had to be tough to grow up where I did in (Washington) D.C. Right now, I realize that I'm blessed. I get to live a dream of playing in this league, and I've been on the bottom, too. I've struggled. I know what that's like. There's no need for me to do anything but smile because I'm fortunate enough to have the job that I have and I'm fortunate enough to be at this level. There's nothing for me to be mad about coming from where I'm from.

You did see a whole lot growing up. Don't you have a lot of friends who didn't make it?

I've seen (killing), like right there as close as you and me sitting here. … I know everybody has their tough-guy story. I'm not trying to say I'm different. But let me tell you: I was in it deep. I grew up in D.C. I didn't grow up in Maryland or Virginia. I was in the middle of all that chaos. To make it to this point, to be 29 years old, to be able to do the things that I do, I know I'm blessed.

This is our weekly question: What's playing the most on your iPod right now?

Lil Wayne, man. No Ceiling every day. That and (Jay-Z's) The Blueprint 3. That's what I'm rocking every day.

What would surprise me to find if I started thumbing through your iPod?

I have all that old 70s soul music. But I have some Coldplay. That's pretty good.

The other standard question is what Web site do you visit most?

Probably an airline Web site of some kind. That's during the offseason. I like to get around. But I don't really get on the Internet that much. I might get on NFL.com. I jump on there when I hear something happens.

Sounds like you travel a lot. Where are some of your favorite places to go?

My favorite place I've ever been — I don't like to tell my secret spots — but my favorite is probably Crete, in the Greek islands. That's beautiful.

How often do you usually travel?

I try to go somewhere once a month in the offseason. Keep it interesting.

What would you be doing if you weren't playing football?

Probably coaching. I just have a love for football. Besides my family, I don't have a love for anything else the way I love the game. I love my family to death. I love my friends to death. And then there's football. I'm pretty simple. I like things, but they say if you really love something, you have to do what you love. So, I would be involved in football in some form or fashion, even if I was refereeing. I would hold the chains on the sidelines, man.

Coaching would allow you to impact people. Is that important to you at all?

Well, I would just be myself. But I am finding out this year that I get joy out of being like a coach. Nobody was happier for Josh Freeman (last) Sunday than me. Nobody was happier for Josh Johnson when he was playing than me. To see the work people put in and to see them have success, I can truly see how you can coach and get the same enjoyment out of it. It's a different enjoyment, but you get a lot out of seeing a teammate do well.

How often do you hear about that 2002 game when you broke your leg and were carried down the field?

I hear about that all the time. And that was about eight or nine years ago. It was a situation where people who don't follow football or don't watch football, they say, "You're the guy who broke his leg and kept playing!" That's something I think is going to follow me my whole career.

What was the extent of that injury and how did you manage to play through it?

I broke my tibula and I knew it was broke, but none of my teammates knew at the time. I remember the group was so close, the class that came in in '98 together. All year, we'd been saying we were going to go out with a bang. There was like 17 of us in one class, and all of us were starters. I remember telling myself, "This is going to be my last game. This is going to be the last time I'm going to put this jersey on. So, I'm going to go back out there with my crew, and we're going to play this game." I knew my leg was broken, but I just didn't want to tell them that. I got in the huddle, and they cussed me out. "Where the hell you been?" I remember saying in my mind, "They just don't know." My whole thinking was just, "Hey, let me go out here and be with the fellows one last time."

What do you tease Raheem Morris about?

I can't tell you that!

But you are willing to do that, right?

Oh, yeah. But I can't do it in front of everybody. But when it's me and him, I mess with him a little bit. He gets me back, but everybody's fair game. It's not disrespectful, but believe me, everybody's fair game when it comes time to messing around.

Byron Leftwich

Position: Quarterback

Age: 29

Height, weight: 6-5, 250 pounds

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

College: Marshall; set MAC records for passing yards (11,903) and total offense (12,090); three-year starter finished sixth in voting for 2002 Heisman Trophy.

Pro: Drafted seventh overall by Jacksonville in 2003; ranks second in Jaguars history with 51 touchdown passes; spent time with Falcons and Steelers in 2007 and 2008; joined Bucs in April and started three games in 2009.

Kickin' back with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Byron Leftwich 11/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:22pm]

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