Bucs kicker Rian Lindell, playing in his 14th season and first for Tampa Bay, is, at 36, the oldest player on the roster by more than five years. He took time to reflect with Times writer Greg Auman on Tampa's warm winter weather, his seasonal movie watching and running downfield on kickoff coverage.
You don't see a lot of NFL players with biology degrees. How did that come about?
It was for the purpose of going to dental school and being a dentist. My mom is a professor of dental hygiene. I just liked the atmosphere. The money was good once you get established and all that. I thought it'd be a cool place to work, and I like the sciences like biology.
You grew up in Washington then spent a decade with the Bills in Buffalo. So how well are you taking to practicing in 80-degree weather in December?
I can't lie and say it feels like home. It feels like the opposite as the year goes on. That was weird getting a Christmas tree in shorts and a T-shirt. My wife was just playing Let It Snow on the radio. My buddy (Bills long snapper and Tampa Jesuit graduate Garrison Sanborn) was saying they have a boat parade with the (Christmas) lights and everything. There are things you can't do up north.
Will you guys stay in Tampa in the offseason or go back home to Washington?
We'll be here until June. Our lease is through June. We said while we're down in the sun, we might as well live it up even when the season is done, enjoy the scenery. The season hasn't really changed. It was really hot. Now it's just hot. That's odd, but it's kind of cool. There are things you don't have to worry about. I didn't mind shoveling the walk. You pay some guy. If there's over 3 inches, he comes in the morning. It's like a lawn-mowing service.
What is it like to have leaders in the locker room who are 10 years younger than you?
As a kicker, you're kind of on the side anyway. So you're used to not being the guy that's going to rally the team out of the tunnel. If a guy is good and goes about his business the right way, if guys follow him. …
Other kickers in the league, who do you admire the most?
Ask me in a half-hour, I'd give you 10 other guys. (Chicago's) Robbie Gould continually puts up numbers on the grass. I've always admired (Detroit's Jason) Hanson. We went to the same college, so he's kind of a legend. He always hit that same ball, same rotation. Every ball, bam, bam, like a machine. I was always jealous of that. I could name just about everybody.
Least favorite place to kick? Seattle and Buffalo weren't easy places to kick.
With the FieldTurf, that was always nice about Buffalo. You had the surface. The winds weren't always nice. The temperatures, whatever, but at least you had good footing. Before New England changed to FieldTurf, that place was terrible. I remember playing in the opening game of the year, and it was a sandbox already.
Favorite things to do in the offseason?
Just kind of relax. We usually end up taking a trip; do some scuba diving down in Cayman if we can find someone to watch the little one (daughter Abigail, 3). And movies, we try to watch every movie up for an Oscar, Golden Globes, which is quite the quest. In Buffalo, some of the (independent) films wouldn't come up there.
The best movie you've seen this year?
It's terrible. I have to wait until the end (of the football season) to really get out to see them. I don't even know the last movie we saw in a theater. Les Mis? I turned Les Mis off. That was hard. I thought Argo was great. What's funny is down in Cayman, they don't have copyright laws. So we go down there, and they're all already on DVD. You go to the liquor store or whatever, and the DVDs are right there. We get into that in that little pocket of time.
Word association, special teams style. Michael Koenen?
Your long snapper here, Andrew Economos?
I'll just say the Buffalo Bills.
I almost want to say home; a home away from home. Familiarity.
You're not handling kickoffs this year with Koenen doing those. Do you miss those?
It's nice not to do them. Don't get me wrong. The nicest part about (not) doing it is watching film the next day. I was always so mad at myself: "How could I hit a ball like that? Why did I spin that to the 4?" During a game, I didn't mind hitting them. It's nice to have more kicks, to be on the field more.
Do you miss running downfield in coverage?
I didn't mind really getting into the mix, but I felt like I was getting in everyone's way. Sometimes, you get in there and somebody would juke me out and my own guy's coming, so "Oh, sorry." I'm blocking my own guy.
Any memorable tackles, fumbles?
I tackled Michael Bates (1992 Olympic bronze medalist) once. I dove at his feet, and his foot got stuck in my armpit. I got a fumble once against Seattle. Popped up to me, and I thought about (running). Where am I going to go?