Are you a fan of the Raiders?
When I was growing up, the Raiders weren't back in Oakland yet. I was always a fan of the Niners. That's who I grew up watching. I didn't even like the Raiders at all. The funny thing about it is that I really started hating the Raiders when Coach (Jon Gruden) was there because that's when everybody decided they wanted to be Raiders fans. I really hated them then.
What did you think of Gruden back then?
I thought he was a good coach. I was never really tripping over the coach or anything. It was just all those fans, man.
So, tell me about Raiders fans. They are a strange bunch, no?
To me, they just define Oakland: hard and rough. That's pretty much it. They just don't care. That's Oakland. Oakland is rough around the edges. That's what you see when you meet Raiders fans.
Why does it always look like Halloween in the stands?
I think it's a psychological thing to psych out the other team. You know about the Black Hole, right? In fact, my advice to any fan of another team is, if you go to a Raiders game, don't wear your team's jersey. They'll beat you up. Especially if you sit in the Black Hole. I had a friend in junior high, he went to a game when the Raiders lost to Baltimore in the AFC championship. He was in seventh grade, but they chased him all around the stadium because he had a Rod Woodson jersey on. They just don't care. He walked into the bathroom and saw a dude getting beat up, so he walked out and then they started chasing him. That's Raiders fans, man.
So, you get to come to Tampa where the weather is great and your cousin, Marshawn Lynch, ends up playing in Buffalo?
It's funny how that happened. I've been there. I got nothing good to say about it. We talked about it when I got drafted because he was jealous. I told him, "You got to stay home for college (at Cal-Berkeley). I had to go away (to San Diego)." Not that San Diego was a bad place, but it wasn't home. So, now he's finding out what it's like to be away from home. And, ha, it's cold! Last year, it wasn't that bad for him. But then, when I ended up in Tampa, he was like, "Oh, man. I can't believe this." He called me when it first snowed this year, and I was like, "Really? Down here it's like 80 degrees."
Weekly question here: What do you think you play most on your iPod?
I listen to some people you've probably never heard of. I listen to music from a lot of my friends from back home who rap.
So, you have a lot of rapper friends?
Well, actually, no. They just mess around in the (recording) booth. It's kind of like something to do, I guess. Although I do have one friend who is really good, Quentin Thomas. You might remember he played basketball for North Carolina. He's real good. We went to high school together. Actually, my high school (Oakland Tech) has been doing real good lately. Me and Marshawn went there, then you have Leon Powe in the NBA and Quentin. We've been doing real good in the sporting world.
Can Quentin make it as a rapper if the NBA doesn't work out?
I think so. He's still chasing the NBA, but he can rap.
Other weekly question is what Web site do you visit most?
It used to be ESPN and stuff like that, but I don't really look at that stuff anymore. My whole perception of sports has changed. It's probably this Jordan (sneakers) Web site, 23isback.com. I've had almost every version of Jordans over the years. I'm a real big shoe dude. I dress up when it's necessary, but most of the time you'll see me wearing something simple, T-shirts and jeans. But I'm going to have some nice shoes on.
So, what were your Christmas plans? Any family in town?
Nope, just me. It's the first Christmas I've been away from home. For me to bring my family out here is a lot of money. Those tickets are like $500 and up. And that was trying to buy it in advance. I'll be home soon anyway.
Did you put the presents in the mail?
Well, I'm debating that. I might end up just bringing them home with me. I'm last minute with everything. I'm trying to see what happens (with the playoffs). If it goes like it's supposed to, then I'll be mailing them.
Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Johnson hails from Oakland, but don't accuse him of liking the Raiders. And don't talk to his cousin, Bills running back Marshawn Lynch, about the weather. It's a sore subject.