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Ravens DT Ngata takes humble route to greatness
Question of the Day
It’s not selfish, but rather a necessity.
“I kind of figured out that linemen were getting off me faster to get to Ray,” Ngata said. “I figured if they got off me faster, then I’ve got to make the play. If I can hold up those guys for Ray, that’s great because he’ll make a play every time. But if he’s got a body on him, it’s tough.”
Before excelling in football at Oregon, Ngata led his high school rugby team in Utah to rugby national championship in three of his four years. He says some of the skills that he used then _ conditioning, open-field tackling and the ability to find an open hole _ are still useful today.
Left unsaid is how opponents dealt with trying to tackle a behemoth in a sport without pads.
“If I was a rugby player and I saw him coming at me, I wouldn’t want any part of that,” Mattison said.
“Obviously he’s big and strong, but a lot of guys are big and strong. He’s explosive,” center Matt Birk said. “I think he understands the defense, understands his role, understands where he’s supposed to be. This is my second year with him. I knew he was good coming in, but he gets more and more impressive every time I see him.”
“Haloti Ngata is playing as well as any defensive player in the league right now,” Harbaugh said. “I’m proud of him. It’s not just that; he’s a great guy. Nobody works harder, he’s a good family man, he’s just the kind of guy you root for, he’s dominant.”
Ngata will make millions of dollars before he retires, so there’s really no reason for him to complete the 12 credits he needs to earn his degree from Oregon. But he intends to do the work this offseason.
“I definitely want to do it because it was important for my (late) mom. I want to do it for her,” he said. “And my kids, I don’t want them to look at me and say, ‘Dad didn’t get his degree. Why do I have to?’ I’d rather them say, ‘He’s a professional athlete and he also got his degree from college.’”
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