ey guys, Golden here.
Before I get started answering your questions, I wanted to send some positive thoughts to my good friend Delanie Walker.
He was originally going to do the mailbag this week, but unfortunately he suffered an ankle injury last Sunday against the Dolphins. It was really unfortunate to see him go down because I know how hard he had been training to do big things this season. He’s a tremendous leader and a great person, and not having him on the field is a loss for the Titans — and for the NFL.
Unfortunately that’s the nature of this game. You can’t take any play for granted because what happened to Delanie could happen to any of us. And honestly, with the new helmet-to-helmet contact rules, I wouldn’t be surprised if you started seeing more serious leg injuries as defenders go lower in order to avoid being fined or flagged. It puts skill players in a tough spot, but at the same time, this is what we signed up for. We know it’s part of the game. All you can really do is pray that God will protect you every time you step out on the field.
Sending my best wishes to my guy Delanie on a speedy recovery.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job that most people don’t know about?
—Mark from Houston, Texas
This is somewhat related to what I said above, but the most difficult thing about my job is getting my body healthy enough to endure the beating it goes through every Sunday. The analogy people always use is that playing in the NFL is like being in a car wreck every Sunday, and then trying to recover enough just to do it all over again the next week. This goes on from the time you show up to camp until late February, when (if you’re lucky) you go to the Super Bowl.
The games are played really fast — things happen in a split second — but the physical preparation necessary to play in them is very slow and methodical. Even right now, as I speak, I have, hmm … let me see how many there are. Four. I have four needles with wires on them in my body right now. And that’s just one step in a long process. The maintenance required to get your body right really never stops, even when you have no particular injuries to address. So I’d say that that part of the job is the toughest because it takes up a lot of time and effort. It’s a constant grind.
Who’s a player from a different generation that you think would still excel in the league today?
—Marissa from Tacoma, Washington
You know, I would love to see “Prime Time” come back and play in today’s game, especially with all the celebrations. Now that the league is very lenient with the rules, I’d love to see what he would dial up. If he’d been around in the age of the Internet, his celebrations would have gone viral every week. I honestly believe all of the greats would be able to compete at a high level if they played in today’s game, but Deion in the modern NFL? That’d be real fun.
Peter Read Miller via AP
Who did you shape your play after while you were growing up?
Honestly, as a kid whenever I started watching football on TV it was hard for me to pay attention for too long. All I’d want to do was go outside and start throwing a ball around. So for that reason there wasn’t any particular player I could point to as a kid that really influenced me. But as I started getting older and getting more serious about the game, I kept hearing stuff like, “You play a lot like Hines Ward mixed with some Steve Smith.” So those became the guys who I tried to emulate. I wanted to play tough and hard-nosed, be someone who could score anytime he touched the ball, but also didn’t mind doing the dirty work.
Thoughts on being named one of Xavier Rhodes’s 7 Best Players in the NFC North?
Oh, for real? Nice.
I have a lot of respect for Xavier and the Vikings secondary as whole. Harrison Smith is a good buddy of mine. He and I played together at Notre Dame, and he’s also from Tennessee, so we used to play against each other in high school. Harrison is obviously a very talented guy who loves causing mayhem. Whatever plan you have going into a game, he’ll do everything he can to disrupt it. He’s just a game-wrecker.
And as far as Xavier, since he’s come to the league he’s just grown each and every year, and has been more valuable to his team each year. Physical player. He’s a bigger guy, but runs he’s also just as fast as these smaller guys, which gives a lot of people a tough time. A to top it off he’s very knowledgeable about the game. He knows what you’re trying to do to him and defends it. There’s a reason he got the nickname “Rhodes Closed.”
How is your Fortnite game?
—Thomas from Ann Arbor, Michigan
As much time as I put into it, it’s actually not that good.
It’s the guys who are really good at building that really get me every time. But I’ll keep at it. Funny thing is, Ninja came to our game on Monday because he’s a Lions fan, so I had a chance to say hi to him and shake his hand. The crazy thing was that all the kids at the stadium definitely knew who he was from the moment he walked in. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signed more autographs than any of the players — or even if a few of the players asked him for an autograph.
What’s your favorite football moment?
I have to go back to high school for that one. I’ll give you the short version.
I played at Pope John Paul II high school, and we had a game against Goodpasture Christian School. We were losing most of the game and were 14 points down with less than a minute left. Most of our fans had shuffled out, disappointed. But we scored a touchdown to bring us to within seven with less than a minute left. Then we went for an onside kick. You can roll the clip here:
After I recovered, we had time for one play. I caught the ball at like the two-yard line and dragged a few guys into the end zone to tie it up. We ended up winning the game in overtime. I’ve been fortunate to play in a lot of amazing games on big stages, but that one will always stick out to me.
Who is the best defensive back you’ve ever played against?
Man, it’s hard to give that type of respect to a defensive back just because I think I can beat anybody. But for the purposes of the mailbag I’ll give you a couple of names of guys that I like. Richard Sherman is one, and Patrick Peterson is the other. They’re both good friends and have very different styles of play, but those dudes are the real deal. They force you to bring it every single play.
What’s your favorite play ever?
—Bill from Gig Harbor, Washington
In Seattle, we ran this reverse pass where they tossed the ball to me and I would act like I was running a reverse before throwing downfield. I played baseball in college so I like to think I have a pretty good arm. I loved running it in practice. I remember when they actually called it it during a game — I was hyped. We were playing against the Jets and it was raining that day.
And it worked.
As soon as I ducked down to fake the reverse, the secondary bit and I was able to hit Sidney Rice in the end zone. That’s one I’ll always remember.
Could any NBA players play in the NFL? If so, who do you think could do it?
Hmm … honestly I don’t know. I think LeBron would maybe could be a pretty solid tight end, but it’s hard for me to imagine other players really thriving. This league doesn’t really cater to super tall and lean guys. You have to have a little meat on your bones to play our game.
What is the single funniest locker room prank you’ve ever witnessed?
—Anand from Indianapolis, Indiana
It happened back in Seattle. Pete Carroll thought it would be a good idea to have us try this new Gatorade. He was really talking it up, saying how it had this special formula to increase endurance, recovery and whatever else he needed to say to get us to try it. I was convinced — hey, he’s the coach — so I grabbed a bottle of it. When I opened it up a fake snake jumped out and scared me. Should have seen it coming. Had to hand it to him for that one. He got me.
Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports
Appreciate the questions and hope you guys liked my answers. While I have you I want to mention one last thing.
In 2014 my wife, Elise, and I decided to start a foundation dedicated to serving veterans and the community at large. We named it the Golden Future Foundation. Part of what inspired us was the fact that both of us have grandparents who served, but we also both share a general belief that our military veterans are real-life superheroes. These are men and women who are being separated from their families and flown into foreign countries to fight for our way of life. For their sacrifice, they deserve all the assistance and recognition they can get back home.
We try to support them in all sorts of small ways — stuff as simple as giving up a seat in first class on a flight for anyone in uniform. But we also try wide-reaching initiatives, such as setting up coat drives for underprivileged children, or for organizations that support homeless veterans.
On September 24 we’re hosting Stars and Strikes, our biggest fundraiser of the year, at Lucky Strike lanes, in Novi, Michigan. We’d love everyone from the area come out. Proceeds from the event will support Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) as well as Pets for Vets.
We’ll be selling tickets to the public to come watch. We’re also offering the opportunity for companies and individuals to bid on lanes where they can bowl with some of my Lions teammates. Last year we had close to 40 players show up, and we’re expecting another great turnout this year. It’s a really cool event that means a lot to my family and supports some great causes. To learn more about the event, you can visit GoldenTate.com/Foundation.