May 082009
Q&A: Linebacker Carl Banks

Question from Britt in VA: What’s your take on the Giants WR situation? Are we good or do you feel they need to make a move for Braylon Edwards?

Carl Banks: I don’t think one WR is going to make the difference Plaxico Burress made. I think the offense as a collective group of receivers will have to pick up the slack. From there, I would say they have enough talent, especially with the guys they drafted to have a lot of production at the WR position.

Question from Jay in Saratoga: At what point did you know Super Bowl XXI was over? And how did it feel to know you guys did it? Did the magnitude of the accomplishment hit you right away, or did it not really sink in until after the game?

Carl Banks: I would say probably midway through the 3rd quarter we really got the feeling that we were in control of the game and it hit you right away.

Question from chris r & jarrodbunch (combined): How difficult will it be for Sintim to make the transition from SSLB in the 3-4 to SSLB in the 4-3? General thoughts on Sintim? And how much do you expect him to contribute this year?

Carl Banks: It’s a lot easier to go from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The transition should be good because to play a 4-3 doesn’t necessarily require to be on the line of scrimmage every down. The 3-4 you’re on the line with a guy in your face all the time. I don’t give too much in terms of expectations in terms of a rookie coming in. The #1 expectations of any rookie, especially a linebacker is to become a hell of a special teams player out the box. Until I see pads on, it’s hard to really tell. That would be the only thing in terms of expectations I have for now until training camp. Keep in mind, the Giants drafted 2 linebackers last year that should be developing as well.

Question from bxgiants: Eli or Phil Simms in their prime? Why?

Carl Banks: Wow – different time, different era. Love Phil Simms, he’s my guy. That’s who I won with. Love ‘em both, love Eli but Phil Simms is my guy.

Question from Stu: Of these three, who don’t you think makes the final roster this year – Wilkinson, DeOssie, and Blackburn? What’s your take on how Goff is going to do?

Carl Banks: If I had to answer that question today I’d say Wilkinson because he’s yet to fulfill any of his abilities. He’s the most athletic linebacker they have and he fits in their system but he hasn’t showed up in 3 years. Once you have a guy on the roster for 3 years and he hasn’t made an impact, 2 out of the 3 years he had openings and couldn’t make anything of it. Plus he’s hurt all the time so he doesn’t even contribute on special teams. He’ll need training camp to prove otherwise. He’s more athletic and versatile then other 2 but he needs to be on the field to prove it. Goff is a guy who should show more progress in year 2.

Question from Brandon Walsh: What is the biggest hurdle for rookie wide receivers transitioning into the NFL? With the Giants current cast of wide receivers, what do you envision each of their roles being?

Carl Banks: The biggest challenge for a rookie is how to beat press coverage. That’s lesson #1. They’ll see more of that then they did in college. Lesson #2 – they’ll need to learn to run better routes because the timing of the NFL is something most guys haven’t experienced in college on a week in week out basis. What I like about the Giants in the way they develop players is they seem to get better year to year and I see Domenik Hixon becoming an even bigger threat in the offense because he has the ability to get behind defenders. If you look at the Eagles playoff game, he was beating them every time they just couldn’t get him the ball. The other guy who happens to be a personal favorite is Sinorice Moss because he has such deadly speed. He made some great plays in preseason and he gives them another dimension with speed. Steve Smith should take the role of vintage Amani Toomer, great possession receiver and two rookies who knows what their roles will be. Manningham, from all indications, is a guy that’s gonna contribute prominently at WR. They’ll be loaded at WR, maybe overloaded, depending on what a guy like Manningham does.

Question from j_rud: Thanks a lot for taking few minutes to do this. As a rookie linebacker what is the most important thing for Sintim to learn? What could ease or complicate his transition?

Carl Banks: The #1 thing Sintim has to learn as a rookie is he has to be a major contributor on special teams. From there he has to learn to use his hands, the speed of the NFL is so fast. Injury will be the thing that complicates his progression. He’s got to stay healthy.

Question from Dave in Hoboken: You’ve had many great performances in your career. Which game would you say was your favorite when your own personal performance wise?

Carl Banks: Super Bowl XXI

Question from jcn56: Do you think that if Parcells hadn’t bolted after 90 that the Giant roster had another Super Bowl left in it?

Carl Banks: It’s hard to say but I know for a fact we would have an excellent chance to be in the running. I think Ray Handley was a total disaster. He totally disrupted the chemistry and flow of what our team was. We had a defensive coordinator who just thought what we did was OK and wanted to change everything we were doing.

Question from BoldRuler: With Spags leaving and with his departure, he’s taking with him his fiery, excited attitude that the players really loved and responded to. How do you feel the defense will react to Sheridan, who while familiar to them, is a lot more quiet and not nearly as demonstrative?

Carl Banks: Most of the players I speak to on defense really respect Bill Sheridan because he’s a really bright coach. Personally I don’t think they’re gonna lose any creativity on blitz packages and stuff that the fans have gotten used to. Not only was he a big contributor to that under Spags he was a big guy learning under Nick Saban, who dreams blitzes in his sleep. They won’t lack creativity when it comes to bringing pressure.

Question from SwirlingEddie: How is the role of the linebacker different in today’s NFL, if at all, from when you were playing?

Carl Banks: Not much – it depends on the defensive system and what the demands are. When you look at a 3-4 team like the Steelers or pats, it’s almost identical to the type of defense we played.

Question from Danny Kanell: Who is your favorite teammate you ever played with?

Carl Banks: We were a very close knit defense, a close knit team. It’s pretty hard to pick favorites. Pepper Johnson was probably my closest friend, obviously I loved playing with LT who wouldn’t? Jim Burt was probably my partner in crime. If you had a fight you’d want Jim Burt standing by your side.

Question from D Student17: Who is one player on this defense that would have fit right in with the ’86 D?

Carl Banks: Justin Tuck would fit in the 86 defense. Corey Webster. Barry Cofield. Osi. Antonio Pierce.

Question from micky: Who was the toughest, or one you had rough time against, opposing player you faced in your career?

Carl Banks: Barry Sanders.

Question from LT56: What are your thoughts on Eli Manning and his ability to complete passes in the winds at Giants Stadium ?

Carl Banks: All of that was a bit overrated. I think Eli has a strong arm and he’ll function well at Giants Stadium. The conditions in the playoffs were a little unique but I don’t think he’ll have that big of a problem. Learning experience.

Question from Phil in LA: Ever get tired of hearing Joe Theisman whine about what you guys did to him? He blames you for a whole separate injury than the Monday night misfortune.

Carl Banks: I think it’s a compliment to our defense. That means we were doing our job!

Question from AFNavy: Regarding your career, do you have one regret that if you could, you would go back and change and why?

Carl Banks: No regrets because it wasn’t my choice to leave the Giants.

Question from Randy in CT: Love hearing you on Sirius (kiss-ass). Is there any benefit to having your Defensive Coordinator on the sideline versus up in the booth. Some here are worried that Sheridan will be up in the booth. My take is do whatever works best for you.

Carl Banks: I think it’s a benefit to have your coordinator on the sideline because he gets to hear directly from the players and vice versa and he can draw up the adjustments. I’ve never been a big fan of defensive coordinators being up in the press box.

Question from Justin in PA: Who’s was the toughest player you ever played against? Who was your favorite quarterback to sack?

Carl Banks: Probably Ron Jaworski or Troy Aikman were my favorite QB’s to sack.

Question from Big Blue ’56: What was the reaction on the sideline to Burt’s less than classy hit on Hostetler during the ’91 NFC Championship game? As a fan, I was incensed.

Carl Banks: It was clean. We weren’t overly angry, we knew Jim Burt was a tough guy he was going to be a fighter for whatever team he was on.

Question from Vin_R: Do you think Pierce gets the recognition he deserves and is there a LB on this team you see taking his place when he’s gone?

Carl Banks: I think Antonio gets the recognition he deserves amongst his peers. I don’t think the fans have a great enough appreciation for his football IQ.

Question from cobaltdap: How do you feel about the league not giving the Giants the last regular season home game for Giants Stadium?

Carl Banks: Really never thought about it, I guess that’s just how the schedule played out.

Question from KP: What team was the toughest to compete against during your era? I know you faced a lot of great offensive teams during your career but just curious on who was the most challenging in terms of scheme and talent?

Carl Banks: The Eagles were our toughest opponent but the Redskins were probably the bigger challenge.

Question from G_V_P 4 MVP: Have you ever witnessed an O-line that stayed and played together for so many seasons like the one Coughlin has now? And what are the secrets for them being intact together for so long? And how unusual is it to have two Pro Powl DE’s together at the same time as Osi and Tuck. I can remember going nearly a decade just trying to get someone on the other side of Strahan.

Carl Banks: The Redskins o-line and Giants o-line when I played were together. The secrets are they’re staying healthy and the contracts were in place. It took a while to build that offensive line.  As far as two pro bowl DE’s, it’s unusual for a team to have that much talent at the DE position. It’s a tribute to both the players and the coaches.

Question from johnn48: Do you think the Giants defense is better with Kiwi at DE or OLB?

Carl Banks: I think he’s a better fit at DE, that’s where he’s a natural fit.

Question from trainmaster: You had the most dominant game I can recall as a strongside linebacker versus the 49ers in the playoffs during the 1986 season. Can a strongside linebacker in a 4-3 be as dominant, especially against the run as in a 3-4? Thoughts on Clint Sintim?

Carl Banks: Linebackers can be very dominant out of a 4-3 because often times they’re not blocked, so I think it’s up to the individual to how dominant they are in any defensive scheme.

Question from lono81: You’ve been through a Bill Parcells camp and watched a Coughlin camp. Which one is/was harder?

Carl Banks: Not much difference. I think more than the physical aspect, what’s tough is the mental aspects of the training camps. They’re very demanding of your mental alertness.

Question from BBI4Life: With all the talk about steroids in baseball, to your knowledge was it a big problem in football when you played? Is it still a big problem today?

Carl Banks: Steroids were very present when I played. I knew most of the players used steroids. They were very prevalent in the era I played but I don’t think it’s as much a problem now because of the testing methods in place. For those who want to know if I ever took steroids, the answer is no. I played at 245 lbs and the most I ever benched was 365, which was very light. They had defensive backs that lifted more than I did.

Question from bigbluefan92: When you watch the old games from the 80′s, the game seemed a lot more physical than it does today as far as what you could get away with. How do you think the physicality of today’s game compares to the physicality in your era?

Carl Banks: I think it’s all relative the physicality of the game. The biggest change is how they protect the QB. Other than that, players adjust to the rule changes. I played up to 1996, so most of the rules in place today pretty much started back then. You can still play a physical game you just have to know how to work the rules.

Question from chris r: How different (and more difficult) are the coverage responsibilities going to be for Sintim switching to a 4-3?

Carl Banks: I would say first of all, lower your expectations. Let’s not put him in the starting lineup day 1. He’s coming into a defense totally different then what he played at in college. If he comes in with an open mind he’ll learn it, if he doesn’t he’ll have a problem. NFL coverages are always different then what you play in college anyway.

Question from mort chrisenson: You made the team of the decade for the 1980′s and you were the best 3/4 strongside LB that most people ever saw yet you have never received any consideration for the Hall of Fame. Do you think you ever will get any consideration and do you feel you belong?

Carl Banks: I really don’t think about the Hall of Fame that much. I know I had a career, I won a lot of football games and I know I was the best that I did. I played alongside the greatest player to ever play linebacker and lived up to his standards, my career has been fulfilled.

Question from Wonderphil11: In your opinion what played the biggest factor in the playoff loss to Philly? Was it the lack of Plaxico or the defense being a bit banged up and not having the same rotation up front as in the ’07 Super Bowl run?

Carl Banks: The biggest problem was lack of execution. The Giants had many opportunities to take control of the game and they really didn’t execute.

Question from adam XLII: Who is the present day Carl Banks? In other words, what current NFL player do you think compares the most to you in style and attitude?

Carl Banks: I’m not sure – I have a lot of linebackers I love to watch play. Patrick Willis, all of the Ravens linebackers, Mike Vrabel had a similar style to me. Love the Chargers linebackers but I don’t know if there’s a linebacker, not a knock on the guys today, but a guy who can line up over a TE who a coach can say don’t let him gain a yard. You have to have a certain mentality to be a run stopper and play the pass. What I did, I think I was the best ever outside of Jack Ham and Jack Ham taught me.

Question from Motley Blue: Did you get a chance to speak with Bill Belichick after Super Bowl 42? Did he give you any insight or reaction about the game that he normally wouldn’t share through the media channels? Also, did you or any of your former teammates have any mixed emotions about Super Bowl 42?

Carl Banks: I got a chance to speak to him the night before the game and he was very concerned about all the things the Giants can do defensively. He said if the Pats play the way they did last game of the regular season, he didn’t think that would be good enough to beat the Giants in the Super Bowl.

Question from Paulie Walnuts: When you got drafted, I was excited because here was a guy my same age getting drafted by the Giants. You were a one man gang over there in the 86 playoffs. My question is, you were incredible against the run, but what set you apart was your ability to take on and take away the tight end?  Can you describe how you did this and what techniques that you used that set you apart?

Carl Banks: I think being able to take a TE out of the passing game it really comes down to studying what they do best and knowing what moves they like so you can counter those. I studied hard I was a student of the game which is why I was able to have success against the run and the pass.

Question from PetesHereNow: A three-part question if you could: What’s the hardest you’ve ever been hit in the NFL? Who was the recipient of the hardest hit you’ve ever delivered? If you could strap it on one more time, what team would you like to face and what player would you like to face the most?

Carl Banks: Hardest hit and hardest I been hit was one player, Hershel Walker. He was like a building to run into.  If I could play one more time, probably Dallas.

Question from Anakim: Carl, how often do you keep in touch with the other 1986 and 1990 Giants players, especially the Linebackers like Harry Carson, Gary Reasons, and Pepper Johnson?

Carl Banks: I talk to Harry probably every other week, I talk to Pepper every other day and I seldom speak to Gary Reasons.

Question from Umenyiora72: XXV wide right – did you think he would make it? 47-yarder on grass to win a Super Bowl is no chippie. Was that feeling different than XXI where you had it wrapped up in the 3rd quarter?

Carl Banks: Definitely a different feeling. I was too exhausted to know whether I thought he could make it, I just hoped that he didn’t.

Carl Banks: I have to run. Thanks it’s been a lot of fun. I’ll try to do another one in a month or two. Thanks!

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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