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Tuesdays With Wilde: Ryan Grant

Every Tuesday, we’ll sit down with one of the Packers players, coaches or administrators and spend some time getting a small glimpse into their lives away from football. This week, it’s running back Ryan Grant, who talks about growing up in New York, his Twitter following and what it was like to have Denzel Washington come to his birthday parties as a kid.


I’ve got over 9,000 songs on my iPod. Anything you could possibly think about. You name it, I got it. Right now, I’m listening mostly to Prince, Nine Inch Nails, Jay-Z – I’m from New York, so you know that’s going to happen.


Both my uncle and my father were film majors, so I grew up watching films a little differently. I like old-school movies. I actually go see a lot of movies. It’s hard for me to just watch films from a normal person’s perspective.


My father went to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, but he’s a counselor at a juvenile delinquent center. My uncle went to Fordham.


Funny story about that. My uncle was a musician. He was a percussionist for a band called Change with Luther Vandross. The funny thing is, his roommate in college was Denzel Washington. So Denzel used to be at my birthday parties when I was little, stuff like that. He was cool. I’ve got photos with him and stuff like that. I was young, so I don’t really remember. But I remember they both dropped out of Fordham the same year, and Denzel went to become an actor and my uncle pursued music. When he was doing Julius Caesar, our whole family went. When his son, John David, came into the league, I talked to him.


I have a few cars – I have a Suburban, a Range Rover and an Audi R8. Did you see Ironman? It’s the car in Ironman. I got it literally right after the movie came out. But the first time I saw it, it was one of the Super Bowl ads. And I was like, ‘I’m going to get that car at some point.’ Then I got my contract, and then I got my car. I waited a little while. That was probably my first toy, the first thing I probably splurged on for myself. I don’t spend money on anything else. That was it. That was the one thing I wanted, and that was it.


I don’t really watch much TV, but if I do, it’s Entourage or The Office. I would say I do have my own Entourage, but I don’t like to say it because it has kind of a negative connotation. They’re all my boys from college, that I played with in college at Notre Dame. My brother’s part of that group, so my agent calls him ‘Drama.’ I’ve got a Turtle, too. I’ve got everybody. But my brother’s ‘Drama’ from a sense of humor, but he’s done well for himself.


I’m not sure if I’d say I’m a die-hard Yankees fan, but I’m definitely a New York fan. I’m a Yankees fan over a Mets fan, but at the same time, I’d like to see the Mets do well. I definitely want the Yankees to beat up on the Phillies.


When it comes to Twitter, I’m no Nick Barnett. But sometimes, I get into it for a certain amount of time, and then I’ll fall back a little bit. I think that’s good. You have to change it up. You can’t always be on there just blah-blah-blah. Sometimes you have to disappear for awhile, then say something and everyone’s like, ‘Where you been?’ I’m @RyanGrant25. You should follow me. I’m either on my computer or on my BlackBerry.


My favorite moment as a Packer hasn’t happened yet. Winning a Super Bowl ring will be the finest moment. But it hasn’t happened yet. The playoff game against Seattle was pretty cool, signing the contract was a good feeling, but there’s a lot more to come. It’s still early in my career.


I don’t have any real pregame rituals. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been playing football since I was 9. I know that you can prepare for something and want them to be a certain way, but at the same time, the game of football is a reaction game. So I can think this is going to happen or that is going to happen, but then something completely different happens. So I try not to get caught up on certain things, like, ‘My socks feel funny today.’ Then if I have a great game, how do you re-create that? So I’ve got no superstitions.


As a kid, I was very focused. Very, very focused. I was that kid that was about as competitive as you could get, and my parents recognized at an early age that I needed sports to get focused in. Because I was the type of kid who, when I wasn’t in sports, my grades dropped. I was a very competitive kid, I worked hard, I wanted to win at everything. And I was going to outwork the person next to me because I wanted it so bad. So they put me in sports at an early age. I did everything – soccer, baseball, track, everything.


I thought I was going to play basketball in college. Football just worked out. I was an all-American in football, all-state in basketball. I was like, ‘Well, I’m only 6-1, I thought I was going to be 6-4, 6-5, it’s a little harder.’ I got some scholarship offers – mostly Division I-AA schools, smaller schools like that. Notre Dame used to come to my school, Don Bosco Prep, and the coach, Mike Brey, would always say, ‘We want you there.’ So when I went there for football, he was like, ‘What the hell?’ And I’m like, ‘Sorry.’


I used to run with the basketball team during the summer. I was real close with the point guard they had, Chris Thomas. So I used to run with them, and my class that I came in with, we had a lot of good basketball players. Justin Tuck was Mr. Alabama in basketball. We used to beat up on the basketball team in the summer, and coach Brey loved it because we were so physical that we toughened them up a little bit. They’d beat us eventually, just fundamentally, but we’d rough them up, first.


Standing up in Justin’s wedding (after the Packers-Giants NFC Championship Game in January 2008) was great. I went to college with both him and his wife, so I watched her develop into the woman she is and watched him develop into the man that he is. Being so close with Justin, watching him grow up and remembering all the laughs and jokes we had, it was great to see that. The union they have is so fun.


They’ve got a great relationship, and, they’re expecting right now. I’m excited as much as if I was the father. I’m hoping I’m a godfather. I don’t know. Everybody’s been asking me that, even Justin’s sister. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that. But either way, I’m fine. I’m excited for them. Uncle R.G.


Am I anywhere near that? Probably not. I’m dating someone, but not right now, no. One day.


My parents have taught me so much, and they’re still teaching me. My mother, the quote she always had for us kids – I actually have it tattooed on my biceps – is, ‘Focus your energy on things you want to create, not what you want to change.’ That was from the perspective of, don’t always focus on the negative. ‘I don’t like this, I don’t like that. I don’t want this, I don’t want that.’ Focus on what you do want to do, what you want to work on, where you want to go with your life. And my father really instilled my work ethic, the foundation I have sports-wise and everything I do on and off the field. That’s all from my father.


I think about the nightclub incident when I cut my arm every once in awhile. Not necessarily to the incident itself, but because of my hand. It’s fine, but all the feeling in my pinkie isn’t back. So that tingling sensation that people have when their hand falls asleep? I have that 24 hours a day. It means you have to focus more. I severed my nerve. Here’s the scar. They had to release the nerve here and here to find my tendon. Your tendons are like a rubber band, so when you sever it, it snaps back. Feeling-wise, it’ll never be back. So that’s a little reminder.


In hindsight, how severe it was, it was scary. My biggest thing initially was, am I going to be able to move my hand? OK, yeah? Am I going to be able to play football again? And when the doctor said yes, I basically said, ‘OK, let’s move on. I’m going to do everything I have to do to get myself right.’ That was a long year and a lot of work, but I think it worked out.


I laugh a lot. I’m stupid. I’m not as stupid in here as I am with my family. My family, we have a lot of characters. I’m very much into dry humor. I think of myself as a bright guy, so I can catch a lot of dry humor. I think a lot of people who don’t like it, it’s because they miss it. I know I’m a funny guy. I don’t know if guys in the locker room would say that, I’m kind of reserved here, but I’m a goofball. I’m definitely goofy around my friends. I think you need to be able to do that – smile and laugh about things.


I do love being home in New York. I enjoy vacations and traveling – I’m going to Europe in the offseason this year with my brother. I haven’t been there before, so I’m excited about that. But I do love New York. It’s a city where, when you live there, you get it. And I was born and raised there. Even if I live somewhere else, I’m always going to have a house or condo in New York. Just because I love the diversity it brings – the different cultures, the arts, so much going on. There’s a wide stream of ideas, and anything I want, I can get into. It just broadens your perspective on everything.


I’m not a lot different than I was as a rookie, but my first two years in New York were definitely a humbling experience. We all think we’re going to be great right away. That confidence, that’s part of the reason why we’re here. It’s no different than coming into college as a freshman and being told you’re going to redshirt, you need to develop. I knew it was going to be hard, but being on the practice squad my whole first year, it was hard. But I wanted to make them feel bad that they didn’t have me on the 53-man roster. So I wanted to kick every one of those guys’ butts on the defense. I wanted to have the defensive guys saying, ‘C’mon, he needs to be active.’ And that felt good to me when I had Tiki (Barber) and (Jeremy) Shockey and (Michael) Strahan saying, ‘Keep working. Good things are going to happen.’


When my career is over, I hope to have a Super Bowl ring. I’d like to be remembered as somebody who went to work everyday and played at a high level. I would like people to respect the way I played the game. Whether they liked me or not, I understand that’s a personal thing. But I’d like people to respect how I played the game.


My closest friend outside of the team is my brother, Netic. By far. My closest friend on the team was Vernand Morency, but he’s not here anymore. I’d probably say John Kuhn. I’m close with a lot of the DBs – Al Harris, Wood, guys on the other side of the ball. But John, that’s my guy.


A-Rod? I’m cool with Aaron, very cool, and our relationship is funny because we always rag on each other about different things and mess with each other a lot. But I wouldn’t say he’s one of my closest friends. Put that in there, because I know he reads this. Now, if he wants to be one of my closest friends, that’s not a problem. We can make that happen. I would love to include him. But he has to show me why he deserves to be one of my closest friends.