Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle, a former Tennessee Titan, shares some off-the-field thoughts with BR.com as he prepares to play his former team this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
BR.com: You took part in the 2008 National Walk for Epilepsy. Are you looking to raise awareness about your condition? "
I take a lot of pride in that, actually, because last year was difficult. I had been sick the past two years and didn't know it. A lot of people reached out to me, and I feel so much better now. It's just an opportunity to show people that you can still strive. I keep this shirt in my locker every day. It says, 'Don't discriminate against people with epilepsy. Choose tolerance over ignorance.'"
So you have learned to deal with it pretty well?
"Yes, I have, a whole lot more, as opposed to last year."
You're quite a high school football guru. How many games do you get a chance to watch?
"Nowadays, I can watch about three to four from Thursday on. I like to watch it a lot. My schools back home in Miami aren't doing as well as in the past, but I've always liked watching them. I guess from when I was coming out, you try to find out who's really good and who's not. Then you look back, and you're like, 'Wow, what happened to this person?'"
Who do you focus on when you watch?
"I like DBs. I like mostly skill-position players. I tell Ozzie [Newsome] all the time one day, hopefully, I can work under him or just have him show me the ropes on the talent thing and everything that goes into that. I'd like to do that one day."
Any young players in high school or college we should keep our eyes on?
"Right now, I'd say [running back] Joe McKnight at USC. He's the one right now."
In your South African safari a couple years back, you really got more than you bargained for, didn't you?
"It was good until the door opened on the plane in mid-flight. You can't even describe it. If you look on the YouTube video, you see me turn around, and I just put my head down. Good thing no one was standing up or by the door."
Aside from the airplane experience, what did you see?
"The best part was probably when we did the night safari. We pulled up in the truck and saw three lionesses. Then, the guides pulled the other flashlight out, and we counted 21 more. There were 21 more, and we couldn't even see them before. We were not that far away from them, maybe 30 or 40 yards. You go out there with binoculars, and you can't stand up when you're riding with the truck. One guide has a rifle and the other guy just has his handgun and the flashlight. I had a taser with me acting like that was
really going to do something [laughing]."
You went on that trip with some fellow NFL players, right?
"We go on trips every year – me, Fred Taylor and Lito Sheppard – with our wives. We always go on a trip out of the country. Fred and I have been friends since high school. We went to our visit to Florida State together, and we played on some all-star teams. He's my kids' godfather. Lito and I have been friends since he was at Florida when I was [playing with the Titans] in Tennessee."
Do you have connections like that with a lot of players?
"Duane Starks and Chad Johnson went to my high school. Chad and I went to elementary school together. I still keep in touch with everybody. Duane came to my father's funeral and everything. That's why I chose No. 22 [here in Baltimore], because when he was here, that's what he wore. So, I figured I'd pick that."
So you know Chad Johnson well beyond what the public gets to see of him?
"We don't talk noise to each other or anything like that. I'm thankful to see him doing well because he went the long route, and everything paid off for him."
In your expert opinion, who is the best Florida State defender of all time?
"Deion [Sanders]. Deion and Marvin [Jones]. I think you'd get the same thing out of pretty much anybody."
Are you going to talk much trash with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed before the Florida State-Miami game this weekend?
"Well, that's a yearly thing. The only problem is we're not as good as we've been, so I think my talking will really just be about heart. It's all just heart talk, not really reality."