A former Ravens and Baltimore Stallions (CFL) linebacker, O.J. Brigance – a Houston native – is in his 5th year as the Ravens' director of player development. He has been honored by the NFL player development office nearly each year he has directed the Ravens' player development department. Brigance is currently battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).
Humidity is bad in both Houston and Baltimore. In your opinion, which is worse?
"Houston, no doubt. One-hundred degree weather plus 90-percent humidity. No question whatsoever. I'm surprised I didn't fall out during my days at Rice University playing the game."
Did you do anything to combat the heat?
"We actually used to take Popsicle breaks during practice because it was so hot. They were trying to cool us off a little bit."
What are some of your favorite memories from Rice University?
"Just coming out of the tunnel. Rice was in the Southwest Conference at the time, so we'd see Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Arkansas. We'd come out and the fans would be all excited. Just coming out of the tunnel and getting the chance to play against some of the best college players that were around. That was the best for me."
Is your favorite bird an owl or a raven?
"Oh, oh my gosh. You know what? I never thought about this question. Go ahead with the raven, it's got to be the raven. But, I'm going to be on the fence now, there's always school pride. There's a pride that comes with going to Rice games, or when I'd see if they won or lost on TV. So I'm kind of on the fence. Can I be both? A hybrid? I'll be a hybrid. But if I had to choose, I'd be a raven, because they're probably a little more fierce."
Were you an Oilers fan when you were growing up?
"I was a huge columbia-blue Oilers fan. I hated the Dallas Cowboys, and still do to this day. Earl Campbell was my favorite player – the Tyler Rose. I used to get so excited. I remember the first time I went to a game at the Astrodome. The lights seemed so bright, and the turf was so green. It was a great time."
Were you glad to see another NFL team back in Houston?
"I was. I really hate that they didn't leave the colors, but that's what it was. Houston is a great football city, and to have professional football back there – it had to happen. It's a great football town. There's nothing like it. I remember, whether it's playing college there or high school ball, Friday Night Lights, there's something special about football there."
Any special memories from your own Friday Night Lights days (Texas high school football)?
"I have a bunch of great memories. I remember being a freshman, and watching Thurman Thomas, a Pro Bowl running back. He was a senior, and he was such a great running back in high school. I really respected him and realized then that, 'This is a special place, where I am.'"
How many championship rings do you have?
"I have a Super Bowl ring, an NFC Championship ring from the Rams, a Grey Cup ring, another division championship for when we didn't win and I have the Man of the Year ring. I think that's it. So, I might be able to fill up a whole hand – look like a Liberace."
Where do you keep them?
"They are in the safe. I leave them in there. They're cool to get. They're stones of remembrance, but I feel funny wearing them around."
What do the rings mean to you?
"That's been the cool thing about playing and doing so many different things. I've had opportunities to stand up on the podium; I've been at the bottom of the pile. So it's cool to get a perspective of both sides. I've been lucky to stand on top, though. The best is being on top, but you learn more when you're on the bottom."