An NFL Veteran’s Perspective: Q&A With Super Bowl XXXV Champion Clarence Love

Love was selected in the 4th round of the 1998 NFL draft (NFL.com)

You are more likely to contract Diabetes than play in a Super Bowl, let alone an NFL snap.  Former Eagle, Raven and Raider cornerback Clarence Love participated in two Super Bowls, winning with Baltimore (2001) and losing with Oakland (2003).  The veteran excelled in dime packages and special teams units.  Love was kind enough to share his experiences and opinions:

Thomas: How are you spending your time in NFL retirement?

Love: I’m helping out the youth right now, volunteering with local high schools.  Right now I’m working with 8th graders, but the camps I do are various ages.  I’m versatile with the kids I coach.

Thomas: When did you become a fan of football?

Love: 10th grade was my first year actually playing football.  As far as being a fan, I love to be out there, I love the camaraderie, I love my teammates, and I just like to play the game.  But growing up I never had a particular team that was my team.

Thomas: What is the biggest life lesson you learned going to Toledo?

Love: To stand up and believe in yourself, have the right attitude to attract the things you want in life.

Thomas: Can you describe the day you were drafted?

Love: On my draft day I was grateful.  Me being a competitor, I thought I was going a lot sooner.  Even knowing that, the people that came in a lot sooner, they left (the NFL) a lot earlier than I did (laughing).  But it was all a blessing.

Thomas: What was your typical diet on a game week?

Love: Eating whatever I wanted to eat (laughing).

Thomas: Did that include junk food?

Love: Well I did.  Everybody has a different thing they may need to work on.  It wasn’t like I had to be a certain weight or anything.  I pretty much ate what I needed.  I had a fast metabolism.

Thomas: What was your best attribute you brought to football?

Love: Physically I brought speed.  As far as me being a person, being able to relate to my teammates, encouraging and getting to know my teammates.  I think that plays an important part in building a successful team.  So I always wanted to be around a person.  And defending passes (laughing).

Love dislodges the ball from Ed McCaffrey (Dave Kennedy/Associated Press)

Thomas: Through your career, did you play more man-to-man or zone coverages?

Love: I was a man-to-man type of guy.  I played a lot of man.

Thomas: A problem with cornerbacks today is that they shy away from contact.  Did you like to tackle?

Love: Well I had to learn some valuable experience with that.  I had to learn how to play my position.  Of course football is a physical game, you’re going to have some contact at one time or another.  I liked contact, but I was shown by some veterans who were Pro Bowlers, Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, you can’t go ahead as a 180 pounder and expect to blow up a 230 pound running back coming at you full speed.  That’s just not logical.  You leave that to people like your linebackers.

Thomas: Excluding Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, Chris McAlister, Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson, who was your favorite teammate?

Love: I really can’t put that on one guy because I had different experiences everywhere I went.  I keep in contact with Lional Dalton, Ike Reese and Allen Rossum.  It was important for me to establish relationships each place I went.

Thomas: Excluding Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, who was the most intimidating receiver you ever had to line up against?

Love: None of them.  I’m just kidding.  I never played a face or a name.  I always played my position and made sure that I could be the best that I could be.  It wasn’t about me going out there to play Randy Moss or Chad Johnson or Michael Irvin.  It was me going out there to do my assignment and do it the best that I could do.

Thomas: Did you feel nervous playing in either Super Bowl?

Love: You always feel nervous because it’s a part of the game.  You got to learn how to use that nervousness and turn it into something positive.  That nervousness has to turn into some type of fuel to enhance your game.

Thomas: So you felt nervous during the regular season too?

Love: You always feel nervous.  If you’re playing in high school, you should feel a certain degree of nervousness and excitement.  If you’re playing in college or the pro, it just goes hand-in-hand.  It’s a part of the game.

Thomas: What did you do the day after each Super Bowl?

Love: I just took it all in, because it was a hell of an experience.  There’s nothing like a Super Bowl experience where you see confetti and all types of stuff going off in front of you.  It was just a hell of a feeling to go out there.  I won one and I lost one.  I can’t they were the same, but they were both great experiences.

Thomas: What’s the best advice you can give to up-and-coming cornerbacks?

Love: First of all, go ahead and believe in yourself, don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not fit, or you can’t do something.  Second, listen.  Do more listening and observing than trying to be one.  After that, protect yourself at all times, because it’s a rough sport.  You just got to be careful out there.

Thomas: Last question.  What did you do with your Super Bowl rings?

Love: I threw them away, because (laughing).  I put them up, and from time-to-time when I  want to feel special, I put them on.  It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get those things.  Plus they’re too big to wear around sometimes.

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