Outtakes: Jared Gaither

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*BR.com caught up with Ravens tackle Jared Gaither

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, who talked about his decision to play football in high school, how the offensive line is becoming a unit and being a home-team guy all his life.*

When did you first get into playing football?

"I didn't start playing until my senior year in high school [at Eleanor Roosevelt]. I was actually supposed to play a little earlier than that, but I was always in basketball summer camp. That's really why I didn't get a chance. That was always an event, and I was into that for a long time, so it took up most of my summer. After that, I was tired, so I'd shut it down for the rest of the summer."

So what made you decide to play football after all?

"I promised the coach, Rick Houchens, I would before I left. I'm a man of my
word, so I kept my promise. I came out, and it was way too exciting just to go out and be the best that I could. I wanted to play, but it was just that before that, I couldn't really play in Pee Wees. I was a little too big for my age, or however you want to say that. I just never had that chance to play."

What's your favorite basketball team?

"My favorite basketball team is the Phoenix Suns."

Who's your favorite player?

"Shaquille O'Neal."

If Shaq were on a different team, would your favorite basketball team be different?

"Yeah, that's my favorite player. But I also like Amar'e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, all those guys."

Do you think playing basketball helped your ability to play offensive tackle?

"I definitely believe that it helped me. It taught me a lot of things that correspond with football. Playing left tackle is just staying in front of the guy, staying square. You have to do most of those things on the football field, so it helped me a lot."

What about the offensive line this year are you most proud of?

"That we're growing together on and off the field. We're more of a unit. Not saying that we weren't a unit last year, but this year we've lost some people and gained some people. I think this year we're more of a unit together. We do a lot of things together, and it shows up on the field."

So the teamwork part is really important?

"Yes. Being on the O-line, all five of you have to mesh together, just like playing basketball where you have some scorers, some rebounders, and you have passers. You have a whole bunch of different aspects. As far as football, if one of the linemen messes up, the quarterback could be on his back and that'd be the end of the strength of our team. You just have to be there for one another, really. You just have to account for one another and really have love for the person next to you when you go to battle with them."

What's something that you guys do together?

"We go out to eat with Joe [Flacco] on Thursdays. We just hang out – talk a lot, communicate a lot."

What is your favorite part of game day?

"Right before we play, being on the field before the coin toss. Then, the game is going through my mind, and I'm seeing how the game is going to be played in my mind. And, after a victory, of course. Celebrating with the rest of my teammates, just going back over what we did well in the game and what was a mess. Overall, though, just celebrating with my teammates in the locker room and having a good time. Those two moments are my favorite."

You grew up in Maryland near Washington D.C. Were you a Redskins fan then?

"Growing up, yes, I was. I was a fan until about high school, then Darrell Green retired. Darrell Green was one of my favorite players. Him and Art Monk."

Which team took their place?

"It was mostly just basketball then. The Baltimore Ravens took their place, eventually. How about that?"

Are you glad that you're playing for a team near where you grew up?

"Definitely. Fans that have followed me through high school and college, it's closer for them to see or cheer for the team. I guess I've just been a home-team guy my whole life, so it's great for me. It's fun for me."

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