The Epitome of Professional: Q&A With Cowboys NT Jay Ratliff
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In our article on Clemson (and now Philadelphia Eagle) defensive end Ricky Sapp, we talked about how being “boring” can be a good thing for a football player. Demarcus Ware, Jason Witten, and Terence Newman are all “boring” players. Of course, we aren’t talking about ‘boring’ as in uninteresting, but as determined, methodical, and professional.
If we use the latter descriptions as our definition of ‘boring,’ then we can surely add Cowboys’ stud nose tackle Jay Ratliff to the list. Since being selected in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft, no one has outworked Jay. He has used his low draft stock as motivation to succeed, becoming perhaps the league’s most devastating nose tackle in the process.
As the self-described “shyest player on the team,” Jay is anything but timid on the football field. His aggressiveness is the result of his professionalism–the hard work and dedication he exhibits during the week allow his athleticism to take over on Sundays. On game day, “Rat” is a beast.
Off the field, however, the personality of the league’s most athletic defensive tackle might surprise you. We often hear news of players’ wrongdoings, but it is men like Jay–caring, intelligent, and professional–who make the NFL (and the Dallas Cowboys) what it is today.
Jay likes to spend time with his daughters–they enjoy dancing and having tea time, of course. Having trouble imagining a man who is so aggressive on the football field sitting down for tea time? You aren’t the only one, but there is more to Jay Ratliff than meets the eye.
In a day and age where knowing the intimate details of a player’s life is the norm, Jay is the exception. We spoke with Mr. Ratliff to try to uncover a little more about the most mysterious man on the Dallas Cowboys.
Q: How is your offseason going? What sorts of things are you doing in terms of working out?
A: Well I had surgery this offseason on both of my elbows but I’m fine. I’ll be doing a lot of rehab work to strengthen them. I had to get the surgery because they caused me so much pain. It was something I really should have done about three years ago.
Q: Did you gain any motivation from being selected in the last round of the draft?
A: Yes I did. As a matter of fact, it still fuels me today.
Q: What was the first thing you purchased after signing your five-year contract extension in 2007?
A: The first thing I bought was a house. I had rented up until then because I wanted to be sure that I would be here.
Q: As a 3-4 nose tackle, you are considered “undersized” at 303 pounds. Do you feel your low playing weight allows you to maintain your quickness?
A: Yes it does, but I feel like technique is far more important than speed and strength.
Q: What aspects of playing defensive tackle do you enjoy? What are some perks to moving outside to end?
A: I enjoy being in the middle of everything at nose. The game is much faster and more violent. At defensive end it is the complete opposite. One perk (at defensive end) is it is less wear and tear on the body.
Q: Do you feel the addition of another capable defensive tackle might allow you to move to defensive end in certain situations? Is this something you would be eager to do?
A: I feel that Junior Savaii is more than capable of playing the position. He is a great friend and athlete. As far as me moving, I would if I had to but I wouldn’t say I’m “eager.”
Q: The season obviously did not end as you would have hoped. What do you believe is the most important aspect of your own game that you must work on to improve upon last year’s results, and the most important thing the team must do as a whole?
A: Good question. Great question. There are plenty of things I can get better at. I think of myself as a “pup.” I’m constantly learning and trying to get better. I think the main thing is that I’ll be healthy next year. As a team, well we have to do just that–be a team. We also have to be focused and not get caught up in all the hype that surrounds the Super Bowl being played in Dallas.
Q: Do you feel Twitter provides an avenue through which you can connect directly with fans?
A: Yes I do. I’m also on Facebook as well.
Q: Who is the funniest player on the team? Smartest? Shyest?
A: Funniest: Tashard Choice. Smartest: Stephen McGee. Shyest: Barber or myself.
Q: Could you beat Tony Romo in a race?
A: Of course I can! (laughs)
Q: What are your goals for the 2010 season? Do you set an individual goal, such as a sack number, in addition to your team goals?
A: I do set goals but I keep them quiet until I accomplish them. I will make sure to get back to you once that happens.
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals?
A: Yes, I like to listen to reggae or classical music. Before kickoff I pace back and forth and talk to myself and pray.
Q: Other than football, what else do you enjoy doing?
A: I enjoy spending time with my daughters. We go to amusement and water parks. Their favorite thing is having tea time and dancing.
With an unmatched dedication and drive, it is impossible for Jay Ratliff to do anything but succeed. He is a warrior. He is a champion. Most importantly, he is a professional.