I had the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie. This is McKinnie’s first season with the Ravens after spending nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him seventh overall in 2002 out of the University of Miami.
After a tough 12-7 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football, McKinnie took some time to talk to BSO about the game and what the team needs to do to bounce back. He discussed his tennis lessons with tennis star Venus WIlliams during the off season, the Miami Hurricanes scandal, and moving on from his own past scandals. He also defended quarterback Joe Flacco and his former Vikings teammate Brett Favre.
On the loss against Jacksonville on Monday Night Football
In the game against Jacksonville the offense didn’t convert a first down in the first half and quarterback Joe Flacco was under relentless pressure for most of the game. The offense just seemed out of sync the entire game. Would you give more credit to Jacksonville’s defense or put the blame on you guys for not executing well?
I would say a combination of both. They’re a pretty good defense. They’re ranked in the top 10. We also shot ourselves in the foot by a lot of the penalties we had. A lot of holding calls and stuff like that, where we were just doing nothing but going backwards. So it was a combination of both. The execution could of been a bit better.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs kind of pointed the finger at running back Ray Rice not getting enough touches [as the cause for the offense’s struggles]. Do you think if Rice had gotten more touches that that would have got the offense going and set up some play-action passes down field?
It could have been. It probably would have given you maybe a better chance because you got some kind of running game going then that would set up the play action passes. Then your opponent think your running the ball but you’re really passing it. And then that also so set up passing plays later on down the field. So yeah some times you want to go in with the mind set of getting the running game going.
Critics and football fans in general questions Flacco a lot and believes that he is kind of holding the team back from going to the Super Bowl. What’s your response to that?
I don’t think so. I think its a team effort. If someone is having a bad day the rest of us got to pick it up and do the best we can do to come through with a W.
You all won three games straight before the Monday night loss. What do you think the team needs to focus on to to get back on the winning track?
Focus on the mistake that we made. Focus on executing the plays that are called and everybody just do their own jobs and try not to do more than what they’re suppose to do and I think we will be alright.
This is your first season with the Ravens. When people think of the Ravens, linebacker Ray Lewis usually comes to mind first. A lot of player, former and current, have their own personal story about playing with Lewis. What has that experience been like for you so far playing along side Lewis?
I would say that he is a great motivator. He give great speeches and stuff before games. He just knows how to be a great leader.
That was a fun experience. He’s very down to earth. Sometimes the media makes somebody out to be something that they’re not. Like they tried to make him seem like he was a pre-Madonna and that wasn’t the case. He was a good leader and someone that everybody respected.
You played at the University of Miami and the school was in the news this past summer about the Nevin Shapiro drama. According to reports, he was offering benefits to players between 2002-2010. You were drafted in 2002 and had nothing to do with that situation. What was your reaction when all of this came out?
It was crazy to me that you had somebody who was such a big fan of the University to try to do something like that and want to see it crumble. And had pictures on the sea and all type of stuff. The person had a motive from the beginning of whatever took place. The University just needs to stay away from people like that. They need to keep people like that away. They shouldn’t have access. I don’t care how much money they donate to the school.
You had a few incidents and got in trouble with the law during your time with Minnesota. It was said that safety Ed Reed vouched for you and helped you get on with the Ravens. Have those experiences matured you as a man and a player? And will you use this opportunity with the Ravens to some what clean up your image?
Definitely something I’m working on now. Those things took place in my younger years, probably like six years ago…..I grew up and moved on.
She is definitely more patient than her sister because she can actually go into the whole coaching thing or whatever. She actually took her time to show me different stuff like how to hit, how to hold the racket and things like that. The fundamentals basically. It was just cool to be able to get lessons from someone that’s a pro and on top of their game at their sport.
And what was the reason behind taking lessons from her? Were you always interested in playing tennis or was it something to help with your football skills?
It was something that started actually between a conflict between me and her. I didn’t think tennis was hard and she didn’t think football was hard. So I wanted to take up tennis to see how hard it was and it was actually kind of difficult. Then after awhile I realized its good foot work for me as far as football wise. I go Wednesdays and Thursdays after practice and it helps me get extra cardio in and help me keep my feet moving.