- - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Will Blackmon expected to be with the Seattle Seahawks this season, but when he was released at the end of training camp, Seattle ended up being just another stop in his well-traveled career. A week later, the cornerback signed with the Redskins, and because of injuries has stepped in as a starter for portions of the season.

Q: How would you describe your journey to Washington over your career?
A: “First and foremost, it’s not how I imagined it would go. I imagined one, that I would make it to the NFL, and two, I would play for a long time. I had a lot of goals. The biggest thing for me is every time something happened where I was injured or released, I truly believed that my career should not end that way. I was here for a reason.

“Especially being where I am from: Providence, Rhode Island. Just making it to the NFL alone is a victory. I can’t just settle to be mediocre. I am not just here to just be a NFL player. I actually want to succeed. I want to win all the awards, I want to win another Super Bowl. I want to make a lot of money to be financially secure for the rest of my life. My journey has been crazy. I’m just thankful throughout all that storm and all that crazy stuff, that I’m healthy with no issues and able to have a substantial role on a defense. I feel good where I can play another seven years.”

Q: What did Providence mean to you?
A: “It was always the odds against you. Being from Providence, I didn’t know where I was going to college. I didn’t know how to get a scholarship. I didn’t know how the whole process worked. I actually went around to a lot of camps and a lot of combines to try and get recognition. That worked out for me. I was able to win a lot of awards and accolades, and I was able to go on to college. It’s just a grind. It’s grace. It’s being persistent. Once again, I’m just grateful.”

Q: Being drafted in the fourth round, how hard was it to stay focused?
A: “For me, not to sound arrogant, I knew I was going to get drafted. I didn’t know where. I thought I was going to get drafted sooner because I saw a lot of people who I battled against and who I felt like I was better than. Just to get drafted alone, was a huge victory for me and my family alone. It took me a while. I had to learn how to be a pro. That’s the biggest thing when you come to the NFL is the maturation process. You have to grow up quick. You take a 21-year old, a young adult, who doesn’t know how to manage money, you have to buy a house, a car, all of these huge decisions in your life and at the end of the day, you still need to prepare for football and play well. The biggest thing for me was like, ‘OK, you got drafted, but guess what? You’ve got to be an adult.’

“It was important for me to have a huge support system around. The veterans on the team, my family, my agent and people like that to truly help me in that process.”

Q: Is the NFL system set up for rookies and young guys to fail?
A: “I think there’s no way you can prepare for it. You just have to truly have the right people. I wouldn’t say the system sets you up to fail. The system is there where you can either succeed and do really well or you can do terrible. You have to have the right people on your side. People, religion, whatever it is that keeps you grounded and keeps you humble. That’s what’s going to help you succeed.”

Q: Describe what it was like to win a Super Bowl. Was that a childhood dream?
A: I always dreamt about winning a Super Bowl. One of my favorite Super Bowls was ‘96, when Green Bay beat New England. I really watched that and I imagined that I was Desmond Howard, who was a draft pick here. I imagined that I was him and returning a kick and playing in the Super Bowl. It’s super hard to get there. We were close my second year in Green Bay when we lost to New York in the NFC Championship game. It’s just really hard. It’s feasible but it seemed so far-fetched, when I finally did one with the Giants, it truly was like a movie. I’m just crazy, whereas I want another one. I don’t want to end on just that. I want to continue getting that feeling again.

Q: You’ve been in a lot of cities in the NFL. How would you describe Washington compared to others?
A: “The cool thing is the culture. There’s a lot of history here, a lot of tradition, so I compare [the Redskins] almost to like Green Bay in terms of like the history and the tradition, if you really understand what it stands for. The important people who helped build this and the people who are still here from the beginning, the Allen family, so I compare it to like that.

Q: How does having a family help you get through the grind and the uncertainty?
A: “For me, at the end of the day, football is not going to always be here. Football is football. I think as men, we have to do a great job when we get home, to truly leave football out the window and be present with your family and not think about football.

“When your kids great you at the door, love your kids. When your wife is there, see your wife and be present. Eliminate all distractions. Nothing else matters. Especially in this industry, you are going to be in different cities and different places. The one constant is going to be family. It’s really important to keep them in the forefront. Make that your purpose, make that your why and why you do things. They’re why I was able to overcome anything I ever dealt with. At the end of the day, my wife, Shawna, is always going to love me. My kids are going to love me, regardless of whether I’m playing football or not.

“When you get home, I put my playbook away, I put my phone down. There’s no one I need to talk to. If it’s that important, they can always reach my wife.

“For example, 2012, I missed the entire year of football. I didn’t get signed by one team. As miserable at times as I was, that I wasn’t getting signed, I was able to get a positive. I was able to spend enormous amounts of time with my family. For the first time, we had Thanksgiving and Christmas in our own house. I got to watch my son grow up and catch all his milestones. I was able to go on numerous amounts of date nights with my wife, because we finally had help with her Mom in California.

“I can’t take it for granted. At times, I have taken it for granted. I’ve come home and I say, ‘OK, they’re going to be there,’ and I go and study. As men, we need to do a better job of leading in our house and understanding that’s the most important thing.”

Q: What does your future look like post playing career?
A: “I don’t know. I feel like I kind of dabbled in a bunch of things. For me, plan A is still active, so I’m not really focused on plan B. I worked over at Fox Sports. I did ‘Fox Sports Live’ one time. I would love to stay in media. I would love to stay in television. I considered going back and getting my law degree. When it gets there, I’ll have a plan for sure.”

Q: You chased down Mark Ingram on a direct diagonal and saved a touchdown against New Orleans. Take us through that.
A: “I was hoping we got three points out of it. It’s funny. It was actually a man coverage and I was staying on my guy. When he started getting loose, I was like, ‘Let me hustle,’ and I just turned it on. The closer I got, I was like, ‘I’m getting closer and closer.’ When I caught him, I was like ‘Oh shoot!’ It’s funny, my wife is on me like, ‘You need to be stretching every single night.’ They were out of town for a bit and I had not been stretching. When she came back, she’s a certified Yoga instructor. She’s been making sure I have been stretching every night and yanking on my hamstrings to get me right. I know that definitely helped because I got more flexible.

“I lost some weight. I used to play at 210, 212, now I am like 205. It’s funny the night before at our hotel, we get Netflix — I was watching ‘The Flash’ before I went to bed, so maybe I had a little ‘Flash’ in me. I feel good. People are like, ‘You’re 31,’ and I’m like, ‘I feel good.’

I had two foot and three full knee surgeries. I did all the things that I had to do to get right. That’s why I’m still playing at a high level.”


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