Eagles Pro Bowl DE, Jason Babin Interview
Jason Babin was a stud at Western Michigan and became a first round pick in 2004 by the Houston Texans. JB was a member of the Tennessee Titans in 2010, and earned his first Pro Bowl appearance after a 12.5 sack season. In the 2011 offseason, he signed a 5-year, $28 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. This season he had a career high 18 sacks and earned another Pro Bowl birth. This interview was conducted in the middle of the 2011 NFL season.
Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with http://prointerviews.org/, http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/ and http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Jason Babin. Babin played collegiately at Western Michigan from 2000 through 2003. While he was there, he completed his career with 38 sacks, 299 tackles, 8 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and blocked 3 punts. He entered the 2004 NFL Draft, and was drafted in the 1st round with the 27th overall pick. He has been a member of the Texans, Seahawks, Chiefs, Titans, and he is currently the Eagles starting defensive end. He made his first Pro Bowl appearance after a 12.5 sack season with the Titans last year. He attributes his most recent success at defensive end to DL Coach, Jim Washburn. Here is the interview with Eagles’ Pro Bowl DE, Jason Babin.
Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?
Babin : I think that I connect with them pretty well. I connect with them through social media like Twitter and Facebook. I feel that they have a direct line to me.
Strauss : How do you think your campaign went last year for Pro Bowl voting on social media?
Babin : It’s always tough to go to your first Pro Bowl especially because there are always the marquee Pro Bowlers, regardless of the stats, they make it because everyone knows who they are. Plus, my marketing staff helped out with the Social Media campaign. I tried to do what I could because I had the stats to go, and I needed the votes to go.
Strauss : How did you start playing football?
Babin : My hometown of Paw Paw had a pop-warner team. All of the kids played, and it was a pretty big deal. You have to play or they assume you were going to play, and either way, I was going to play.
Strauss : What was high school football like for you?
Babin : It was kind of tough just because we didn’t have a lot of guys on the team. A lot of us played a lot on offense and defense. My senior year was kind of a setback as I suffered a broken leg in the first game of the season. A lot of schools who offered me scholarships took back their offers when they heard about my leg. I still heard from some other schools, and I was offered a scholarship to play at Western Michigan.
Strauss : Did you play offense in high school football?
Babin : I played running back and tight end. And on defense, I played middle linebacker.
Strauss : So you didn’t play Defensive End until college?
Babin : Yeah. I got changed as soon as I got to Western Michigan during freshman camp.
Strauss : What was the transition like from Paw Paw [HS] to Western Michigan?
Babin : It was definitely difficult. Going from playing in front of a 1,000 people to playing at Wisconsin in front of about 80,000 people. I was out there as a freshman on the kick return team. I was on the wedge. Until the end of the whistle, I was thinking what did I get myself into. It was a little overwhelming a bit before the game. I got my first bit of contact in that game.
Strauss : You were the only freshman at Western Michigan to get a Varsity letter that year…
Babin : I didn’t even know that (laughs). It’s actually funny because one game I didn’t even think if I was going to play. It was so hot and it was like 100 degrees, and I was still studying how to play defensive end, but then, I was told to go in. They just threw me into the fire.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory from your collegiate career?
Babin : I would just say that all of the memories that I have today are from that stretch. All of the camaraderie with my friends that I met there. The traditions we had that took us from young men to actual men. We took that journey together, and at the end of it, it kind of forced a strong relationship with the team. I think that meant a lot to me in college.
Strauss : What was it like to be MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 and 2003?
Babin : It was great to be recognized especially after getting hurt when I think I had I chip on my shoulder during my high school senior season. I went to the school that I had my heart on. I felt that I had a lot to prove and that was my way to show all the schools that rescinded their offers and their scholarships. It felt rewarding.
Strauss : What was your senior season really like at Western Michigan?
Babin : Senior season was great. I knew what my abilities were. I knew what my potential was. I knew my draft potential. It was great. I like working hard. I like working out. I like competition. I knew I was not going to have many teams show up to scout me. I welcomed the challenge. Even with all of that working against me, I felt I had something to prove and put up better numbers than I did during my junior year.
Strauss : What was it like to attend the NFL Scouting Combine especially coming from a smaller D1 school?
Babin : Personally, I think the combine is a waste of time. I don’t think it has too much tractability as far as combine numbers versus football skills. I had to leave school and head to Indianapolis, and I wasn’t too pumped about it. I knew I could run fast, jump high, and all that stuff. I just have never had a lot of stock in it.
Strauss : What was your Draft Day experience like?
Babin : It was pretty fun. I went to a local bar in my hometown and decided to keep it local, and not go commercial like everybody else. It was where I grew up, and I wanted to share the experience with some of my friends, and people in the community that helped me along the way. It felt good. They had stories about me growing up and they were telling them. I was watching the big screen when they called. It was a fun process.
Strauss : How were your emotions on Draft Day? Did you expect the trade and everything that went down?
Babin : No, I didn’t take much from the speculation. Whatever happens happens. We’ll figure it out there. A lot of people at first thought I was drafted to Tennessee, but they traded, and I heard everybody yelling when they didn’t have the pick. People were like, ‘He’s going to Tennessee.’ I told everybody, ‘Nah, I’m going to Houston.’ Just a little bit of twist on Draft Day.
Strauss : People always say that you’re a journeyman defensive end, you’ve been to different teams, and had different experiences. Can you elaborate on your NFL career? Starting with the Texans, will you share a memory, and then move to every team and talk about what the transition was like also?
Babin : When I got drafted, it was bittersweet. I played defensive end in college, and I considered myself pretty darn good at it. I could rush the passer and I was more aggressive. I got to Houston and I had to play outside linebacker, and cover guys, work on different pass rush techniques. I was a fish out of water. I wasn’t happy there. Then, I sat down with Coach Kubiak and told him trade me or cut me because I’m not going to play in games anymore, I only wanted to play defensive end.
I got traded to Seattle and I got into it with Mike Humphrey when I first got there. He said, ‘I didn’t want you. I didn’t trade for you.’ It motivated me to practice extra hard on the scout team. I got told I was going too hard. It was one of those things, back and forth. I didn’t want to be there, because they didn’t want me there, and they weren’t going to play me, so I ended up leaving. They were like, ‘We didn’t release you.’ Because of that, they released me. I was frustrated with the whole thing.
Then, I went to Kansas City and played a couple of games for Herm Edwards, and sat down with him briefly because I have never been on a team that had just thrown the towel in. There was definitely some craziness in the couple of weeks. Then I got the opportunity to play with the Eagles and I don’t think they had any intention of having me on the team long-term, because I wasn’t really playing to now playing on a team that had many on the team. I still felt I wasn’t playing a position that I thought I could play. They had no real intention of keeping me, but they realized that I could play football. They had a set of guys that they wanted, and I wasn’t in that, but they tried figuring out different ways to keep me.
Ultimately, I ended up going down to Tennessee and playing for Coach Washburn. He told me, ‘I like how you play. I like what you do. I am going to give you an opportunity to be a starter here, but all you have to do is earn it.’ That was good enough for me. That’s all I ever wanted. After six years, it was the opportunity I could get. From there, I re-wrote my history.
Strauss : People always talk about how rough it can be for some players early in their career, and they talk about how you found a home back in Philly. What’s it like knowing that you have a home and signed a contract this past offseason and you know that you have a home with the Eagles the next five years?
Babin : It definitely feels good. Everybody talks about the money, but personally, it feels pretty darn good. The money is in the Upper Echelon. They signed me to a big contract and it speaks to my ability, especially when people first started out calling you a bust. Now, it’s nice to prove everybody wrong and to sign a big contract and especially to those who thought I wasn’t even going to get another job. I’ve had a chip on my shoulder.
Strauss : Will you go into what the Pro Bowl was like?
Babin : The Pro Bowl was a great time. You get to meet a lot of players that you may have never met. You get to meet the players and hang out in a nice setting, where you don’t have to work too hard. It’s a great time. I took my coach, my wife, my parents, and my kids. It was a great experience all around, plus you get paid for it.
Strauss : [DL Coach] Jim Washburn was your coach in Tennessee. What’s it like to have him continue to be your coach in Philadelphia?
Babin : Well, it was part of my decision when I was picking in free agency. I knew who got me back on track. I just wanted to make sure I was back with him. It is a huge advantage for me to realize what I’m doing. He’s the guy who understands my abilities, and he’s going to play them. He’s not going to make me do something that doesn’t fit my particular skill set. He’s a guy who won’t make you do things for no reason. He says what he means. He’ll get me to work on things that I need to work on. As far as being a great coach, husband, person, and father, he ranks pretty high on my value list. He is definitely in my top five.
Strauss : Who do you think has had the most impact on your career?
Babin : I think I just answered that one.
Strauss : You said top five…
Babin : He’s my only coach in my Top 5.
Strauss : Who are the others?
Babin : My dad, my cousin, my uncle, and my grandpa. They made me the man I am today.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Babin : Ice cream flavor… Well, I don’t eat ice cream. That’s kind of tough. I would say… My favorite flavor ice cream is definitely butter pecan. I really don’t know. That’s a good question. I’m on a diet. I eat whole foods. I’m on the Paleo diet.
Strauss : For someone who wants to play in the NFL, what is the best advice you can give them?
Babin : Well depending on their age, but really find someone that is better than them, that you want to be like, and be like them. Just do a little bit more than they do, and never give up. That definitely would increase your chances.
Strauss : Thank you so much for answering the questions Jason!
Babin : No problem. You got it.
Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Jason Babin. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out my website http://prointerviews.org/ for other interviews, “LIKE” the Facebook page at http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/, and follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. Please subscribe to me on YouTube at http://youtube.com/ProInterviews/ Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me.
->Here are the personal questions that Jason Babin answered.<-
Strauss : If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?
Babin : I’d probably say Sylvester Stallone. Growing up, I was a huge Rocky fan, huge First Blood fan, I was at that young impressionable age and now that I’m here in Philadelphia, it’s actually pretty cool.
Strauss : Have you gone up the Rocky steps?
Babin : I have not done that yet. I’m waiting until the offseason until I have a little more energy.
Strauss : Who was your childhood star?
Babin : Well as far as football goes, growing up in Michigan, you were either a Bears fan or a Lions fan. When I was growing up, I was a huge Barry Sanders fan. Everyone loved to watch that guy. He was always going to break a big run or make that guy miss, it seems like everybody in our family and everybody in general was just enamored with him.
Strauss : What is your favorite TV show?
Babin : I’m not too picky with TV. We actually don’t watch too much TV in the Babin house. If I had to watch something, it’d probably be Modern Family. My wife and I love that show.
Strauss : What is your favorite movie of all time?
Babin : That’s a tough one. It’s got to be either, ‘Caddy Shack’ or ‘Dumb and Dumber’.
Strauss : What is your favorite type of pie?
Babin : My pies change depending on the season. It’s a seasonal favorite. Around Christmas time, pumpkin pie is my favorite. During the summer time, I’m all about apple pie. It all depends, but right now it’s Pumpkin.
Strauss : If you could choose your last meal on Earth, what would it be?
Babin : That’s easy. Just give me a whole lot of steak, T-Bone and Ribeye.
Strauss : Do you have a special pre-game ritual?
Babin : No, not really. I’m not too big into the rituals. I never take the 1st bus to the stadium and to the hotel. Whether we’re home or away, I never take the 1st bus. It’s one thing I always do for sure.
Strauss : How did that start?
Babin : I don’t like to get to the stadium too early. It started my rookie year, and I continue doing it now.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite song you listen to before games?
Babin : Nah, I’m not too much into music. I just go on Pandora or random songs. I really don’t have a ‘must-listen-to’ song.
Strauss : Thank you for answering these questions too!