I know that you're a single father and you really fought for custody of your oldest son. How rewarding has the experience been?
He definitely keeps me on point. I have two boys, and Ali is the one that lives with me. Eli is turning 4 and lives in Oklahoma with his mom. They really keep me young. And it's the balance it gives me. They are the center of everything. Sometimes when you have temptations or things of that nature, I base my decisions on whether it's in the best interest of them. That definitely helps me stay centered. It's definitely taken me from being a young player in the NFL to being an adult. I went from living for myself to being home every day. That was a change. Now I have to be reliable and stick to my promises. But it's been a wonderful experience.
You have help from your mom, right?
Yes, she's staying with me during the season. She's now officially retired. I'd been telling her for a long time to do that. She told me, "If you get a new contract." Which I did, so now she's been able to be here more often. My parents are stubborn. My dad won't take anything. I finally just went ahead and bought him a truck. I had it dropped off so he had to take it, a Chevy Tahoe.
What's the most important lesson you want to teach your kids?
I think a lot of times, with the way this generation is, they take a lot of things for granted. Kids don't know what it's like to be on the other side. I really can't wait for them to get to the age where they can volunteer. I'm into giving back. (Joseph was named the Bucs' Man of the Year on Thursday.) A lot of kids grow up just knowing there's going to be a meal on the table. They don't think about how it gets there — through hard work. When I look back at my childhood, the one thing I remember about my parents was them going to work every day. I mean every day. My dad worked all night. It was a pride thing. That's just what I bring to football. That means practicing every day, being on time. That's what I want to teach them. The other thing is just having an appreciation. With the way music is and the way things are portrayed today, it's all about having stuff, materialistic things. Sometimes, you have to have an appreciation for how it gets there and for those who have less. When my boys get to the age where they can volunteer, they're going to volunteer a lot.
What's the most difficult part of being a single parent?
It was an adjustment, but after a while, I found a joy in it. When he was younger, it was harder. But now that he's older (he's 8), he bathes himself and brushes his teeth and cleans his own room. But when he was young, I had to do everything for him or with him. Now it's a little smoother sailing.
Now for my weekly questions: What's playing the most on your iPod right now?
Right now, the main thing I've been listening to is reggae. You have to have some "me" time during this part of the season. For me, it usually comes after my son goes to bed, around 8:30, 9 o'clock. I can listen to music or do what I want. The reggae puts me in a good mood.
What website do you visit the most?
Probably Yahoo.com. If I'm not on iTunes, I'm on Yahoo reading the news and whatnot. I like to see the headlines and stay up to date.
What reality show do you watch without fail?
I used to love that show Bad Girls Club. That was just nonstop entertainment. I got really into that. But when it comes to just regular TV series, I'm into Dexter and Homeland. Homeland is my new favorite show, man. I love that show. I have to give that character Carrie credit. She can act her butt off. I don't know what Season 2 is going to have in store.
Since you made the Pro Bowl again, is the rest of the offensive line going this time, too?
Yes, the difference is that last time, I had to pay for everything. We had an agreement that the first guy to go to the Pro Bowl would buy everybody's flights. So I had to buy first-class tickets for (Arron) Sears, (Donald) Penn and (Jeremy) Trueblood. And I had to pay for the hotel. Now they have plenty of money, and they have wives and all that. That's over, man.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.