Serby's Sunday Q & A with Jim Leonhard

Last Updated: 9:21 PM, January 24, 2010
Posted: 2:13 AM, January 24, 2010

The Post’s Steve Serby chatted with the Jets’ hard-nosed, 27-year-old strong safety in the lead-up to today’s AFC Championship game in Indianapolis.

Q: If you win today, do you expect Rex Ryan to cry like a baby?

A: Yes! Rex doesn’t hide from the fact that he will judge himself, and judge his teams, on Super Bowls. Maybe he won’t. This isn’t the challenge. The challenge isn’t the AFC Championship game for him, it’s the Super Bowl, so maybe he won’t cry. But I can only imagine, as emotional a guy as he is, that there’ll probably be a tear or two.

Q: Why guys will run through a brick wall for Rex?

A: Everyone’s been lied to, everyone’s been told something that really isn’t true. Your parents tell you you’re great your whole life, and sometimes it’s not true. I watch “American Idol” every once in a while, you see all the people that go on the show and they think they’re the best singers in the world because no one ever told them that they’re not. Rex is gonna tell you the truth.



Q: Why do you like returning punts so much?

A: I get a huge rush returning punts. Once I got to college (Wisconsin) and didn’t have the ball in my hands all the time, [it was an] opportunity to make a play, and live out those dreams of an offensive player again. You gotta be a little crazy to want to do it, but I enjoy it.

Q: So you’re a little crazy?

A: Absolutely. Obviously, I dive after balls with no helmet on and stuff like that, that’s not really normal (smiles).

Q: On the Malcom Floyd non-fumble.

A: It’s not something in the moment that you really think about. I made the hit, saw the ball come out, and dove at it. Unfortunately [I] got hit by a little friendly fire, Bart Scott gave me a big knot on the back of my head. It’s not something I would recommend, especially you’re a little seventh-grader or something playing in a game that you might think is a Super Bowl — it’s not. You might want to keep your head out of there, and leave that for the professionals playing in the playoffs.

Q: Bart got you with his helmet?

A: He said he was sorry right away, but it doesn’t really help.

Q: You have a knot?

A: I do. . . . It’s not too bad. No blood or anything so . . . I can handle it (smiles).

Q: Funniest thing you’ve heard trash-talk-wise from Bart?

A: Man . . . that’s too long a list . . . I’ll just say, and I can’t necessarily say a lot of it, but it is hilarious if it’s a player that he knows or has played with, and has stories about, because there’s a lot of things that get rehashed with those players that they would either love to forget or maybe haven’t thought about in a while.
Q: Any examples?

A: I actually can’t tell you one that would be printable.

Q: Do you trash-talk?

A: Generally the only time I’ll talk is if they start talkin’ to me. There’s some fake tough guys in this league that they’ll hit you or they’ll block you or something, the chest starts to swell up, they think they really accomplished something and start talkin’. Generally, then that makes them a little bit of a target — I’ll be comin’ for ’em the rest of the game.

Q: Your interception of Philip Rivers?

A: It feels great to make a huge impact play in a game of that magnitude. That’s what you play for.
Q: Scouting report on Jim Leonhard?

A: Intelligent player . . . I’m not gonna make too many mistakes. . . . I’m gonna give it everything I have. I might not be the flashiest player, but if it comes down to heart, I’m probably gonna get the job done for you.

Q: Do you see yourself as an inspiration to smaller guys?

A: If you’re a role model for any kid, for whatever reason, I think that’s a good thing. A lot of people don’t want to be role models but . . . it’s what we are. We are fortunate enough to do a job that any kid who ever puts the pads on would like to do. So, I think you’re automatically a role model, and I like that.

Q: White Lightning?

A: Someone gave me that (nickname) in Baltimore last year, one of the guys on the team. I really haven’t heard it too much here, but some people are trying to get it worked back up.

Q: Boyhood idol?

A: Barry Sanders. Undersized guy that was the best, you know? There was nobody like him playing football, and he did some things that nobody else could do, and it just gave me a lot of hope as an undersized kid growing up that I could do that one day.

Q: You were a left-handed pitcher and infielder.

A: I was a big Pedro (Martinez) fan as a kid. I just loved watching him pitch, and that was when he was in his prime and just really going after guys.

Q: You had one game in high school — 500 total yards.

A: They were talkin’ too much going into the game. They were talking about how they were gonna beat us and we weren’t nearly as good as we thought we were, so we had to put it on ‘em a little bit.

Q: You played quarterback?

A: We ran the wishbone, so we ran the ball a lot . . . and we got on them boys a little bit.

Q: Do you remember the score?

A: There was a lot to a little.

Q: Tony, Wisconsin? A: It’s your stereotypical small town, what you think of . . . no street lights . . . close, tight-knit community where everybody knows everything, and everyone cares about you, and everyone definitely has their opinions and their advice on what you should be doing.

Q: Biggest influence growing up?

A: I had a huge advantage just because I had an brother (Brian) who was a couple of years older than me. I wanted to do everything that he did, so essentially whenever he started doing anything, that’s when I started.

Q: Describe (your wife) Katie Childs.

A: Patient. She needs to be. She’s unbelievable. I put her through a lot sometimes, and she never backs away.

Q: Team Rubicon?

A: Two friends of mine (Jake Wood and Jeff Lang), guys that I played with back in Wisconsin — one’s a Marine, one’s an EMT — they put together a group of guys to go down to Haiti and help in the relief, and not only just provide goods, but provide themselves.

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: Jackie Robinson; Michael Jordan; Jesus.

Q: Your golf handicap?

A: Ten, 12. The winters kill me, man, those Wisconsin winters.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: “Wedding Crashers.”

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Vince Vaughn.

Q: Favorite actress?

A: Angelina Jolie.

Q: Favorite entertainer?

A: Jamie Foxx.

Q: Favorite meal?

A: Steak.

1 comment:

schmepski71 said...

I do believe Tony has a street light, right next to Mickey's