Q&A: Linebacker Barry Robertson
Linebacker Barry Robertson was signed by the Giants as a street free agent in February 2007. He was invited to the Giants’ rookie mini-camp after the 2006 NFL Draft, but he was not offered a contract at that time. As a senior at Louisiana Tech in 2005, Robertson was voted team captain and finished the season with 103 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 interception, and 6 pass defenses. In six of his 11 starts, he finished the game with double-digit tackle totals. The Giants have allocated Barry to NFL Europa, where he plays for the Hamburg Sea Devils.
Eric from BBI: Where do the Sea Devils have you playing at linebacker?
Barry: They have me playing the mike position.
Eric from BBI: Have the Giants told you where you will be practicing at camp in July and August?
Barry: No, I have not been given specifics as to where they are expecting me to fall in, but I am versatile and I’m sure I would be a good fit wherever they believe my skills are needed after reviewing my film and my performance during camp.
Eric from BBI: I didn’t see the entire Sea Devils-Centurions game in week one of the NFL Europe season, but the parts of the game I saw, you were on the field it seemed on every defensive snap. According to the official notes from the game, you did not start, but finished the game second on the team with seven tackles. Did you move into the starting lineup during the game? How do you feel you have played for the Sea Devils?
Barry: I was put in by the coach after the 1st quarter and ended up playing the rest of the game. I’ve done well so far. I’ve also made some simple mistakes though so I’m concentrating on the areas I need improvement…ultimately, I just get out there and play my hardest and pray that everyone else does too, and that we come out on top.
Eric from BBI: What can you tell us about your game? Are you better against the run or dropping into coverage? Do you prefer man-to-man coverage or zone? How strong a blitzer are you?
Barry: I’m equally comfortable with running and dropping into coverage. I would have to say I am just as good at one as the other in my own opinion. I’m sure there are others who would disagree. I would prefer to play man-to-man coverage because most of the time the mike backer is covering the running backs. It is much easier to stop the run or running back screens if you are focused in on the running back.
Eric from BBI: Probably the easiest way for you to make the Giants is to excel on special teams. Have the Giants talked to you about that? Are you playing on specials for the Sea Devils?
Barry: Special teams are very important and vital to the win. I’m on the kickoff, punt, and kickoff return teams for the Sea Devils.
Eric from BBI: The Giants invited you to their rookie mini-camp after the 2006 NFL Draft but did not sign you. That must have been a tough time emotionally for you ñ the excitement of being invited to a pro camp, but then not getting signed. Can you talk about that? Did the Giants tell you anything at that time that indicated that they still had an interest in you?
Barry: Honestly, I was upset at first, but not because they didn’t sign me – I was more upset because I broke my hand during that mini-camp. When I went home I was told that there was a good chance that I would have the opportunity to be brought back in…once I got home, that seemed much less likely because it took a while to heal, and eventually I was told that the worse case scenario would be that I may get a call next year. Before I left from mini-camp last year, I believe it was Coach Coughlin who told me to just continue to work out and run, so I did. I knew that after all the work I had put in, that wasn’t going to be the end of the road for me, so I just went back to school and graduated while I was home. I kept my faith but at the same time I prepared myself for the chance that I may not get another opportunity. Regardless of whether or not it was through football or another means, I still have to take care of my family so I didn’t have the option to be down on myself about it. God had a plan, and it will come to pass.
Eric from BBI: When did you hear from the Giants again? Was it in January when they signed you, or earlier?
Barry: My wife stayed in periodic contact with some of the staff members at the Giants, and so did my agent. After about the first of September, we didn’t have much, if any, contact with them. It’s actually a pretty funny (and stressful) story of how I heard from them but I will save that story for another day. I spoke with them about the last week of January and signed the contract on February 6. It was exactly 3 days after I accepted the fact that football might not be part of the plan for my life…on that third day, I found out through a former teammate that a pro liaison for the Giants had tried to contact me two weeks earlier at LA Tech. We just kinda went from there. It’s ironic how some things just come together.
Eric from BBI: How did it happen that you were sent to NFL Europe? We you offered the opportunity to go and volunteered to do so? Or did the Giants basically make up your mind for you by telling you to go? How did that process work?
Barry: No, I was actually speaking with a representative from the Giants who told me they wanted to sign me, and he asked if I would be interested in playing in NFL Europe over the summer since it had been over a year since I last played. I thought about it and decided it would be a good opportunity to show them that I hadn’t lost a step… I felt like the only way I could do that was to come here and play a season with full contact. After all, there is only so much you can see in a workout or mini-camp. The spirit of the game is just so much different than any practice.
Eric from BBI: NFL Europe ends in mid- to late-June; training camp with the Giants in Albany begins in late July. How are you going to spend that time in order to re-energize your body and prepare for the two-a-days?
Barry: Right now I am working out hard in the weight room to build more muscle in order to protect my body from getting beat up during the games…when I get home I will continue to train and rest before camp. Being in good physical shape is the best I can do. And trust me – playing football for almost the entire year is a dream come true to me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I can spend more time with my family, I would hate it when each season ends.
Eric from BBI: You practiced against fellow Giant TE Charles Davis, who is with the Berlin Thunder, in NFL Europe training camp. What do you think about him as a player?
Barry: To be honest, when we played them they ran the ball a lot so I really didn’t see him.
Eric from BBI: You have your own website, Robertson34.com. Can you tell us about that? Does your wife operate the site?
Barry: Yes my wife created and operates it for me. She has put a lot of time and thought into it…she’s a wonderful woman who has always been completely supportive of my football career even since high school and I really love and thank her for that. I think the site is great…it’s cool to look at because almost everything you could think of is on there. She’s real thorough like that. It’s funny because she always has been the only one who really had my back, and because of everything we’ve been through since the ’06 draft, we have gotten real tight with my agent so he tries to let her be as involved as he can because I think he understands where she’s coming from most of the time, but he picks on her a lot saying, “That is what we get paid for!”
SwirlingEddie: How well do you think American football is being accepted or embraced in Europe?
Barry: I think they are starting to adjust to it and understand it. From what I was told after the first game, there were more fans there than at last year’s first game, so it is developing a fanbase here slowly, but surely. We have a great crowd and they seem very supportive of the team. I can only speak for Hamburg, but it seems that Europe is at least beginning to embrace American Football.
Randy in CT: All things being equal, it is a long shot for you to be a starter this year given the incumbents at the position as well as the draft. What approach/expectations will you bring to the Giants? Along with trying to start, will you hone your specials’ skills?
Barry: My plan is to try to start on special teams and learn everything I need to know about the defense so that when the time comes I am prepared and ready to go. I think it is always better to just listen and learn. The coaching staff knows more about that kind of thing than I do. I just love the game, so when I’m told to get in the game, I give it my all whether I’m on first string or 3rd. No matter how good you think you are, you can always improve. My mentality is that if you aren’t coachable, you’re worthless no matter how much talent you have.
G-Men43: Being a native of Hattiesburg and knowing the winning tradition of Southern Miss., plus the knowledge of Southerns success in sending players to the NFL, what drew him “way up north” (ha ha) to play for LA Tech????
Barry: Trying to get away from Hattiesburg! Me and my wife thought about all the options and we decided that Ruston was the best town for our family. At the time, I had offers. Having kids, there is more to it than just what is best for me. Plus, Hattiesburg is my hometown and everyone knew my name. I didn’t want that spotlight at the time. I just wanted to go to a place that no one knew my name and make a name for myself there. I think I accomplished that at Tech.
Beast27: We here at BBI in some point in our lives have played organized football. Many here have played at the college level some played through high school. We know that the game in the NFL is faster. What is the mentality that you have knowing this and being a rookie in training camp and trying to solidify a spot on the team?
Barry: I think football is football. Even after talking with alot of players that have played in the NFL, I still believe that it’s just football. Generally, in life you always have to adjust to things. I just have to adjust, adapt, and go. It’s all about growth. When you master one level, you move on to the next. When you stop growing and developing, there’s nothing left for you. I know I’ve got a lot left in me and the NFL is the next level.
Beast27: Would you be ok with being a special teams player and working your way through the ranks? Or do you feel that you can challenge for a starting roster spot at linebacker?
Barry: I will leave that up to the coaches and what they observe from practice. I will always give my best. If it turns out being good enough for a starting position, that’s great. If not, I’m a patient man. It has taken nothing but blood, sweat, and tears to get me to this point and I’m not planning on slacking off any time soon. Not for any reason. All I can tell you is that I will be ready. Period. The bottom line is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.