Surprise! This series now includes a podcast element above so you can actually hear these convos along with some context. Get to know some of your favorite players in a whole new way. Today, come on in to the weight room at AdventHealth Training Center with me, where I caught up with Bucs outside linebacker, Carl Nassib.
We’re doing this interview in the gym because you’re in the gym constantly.
That’s because I have no life. I have no life, so I get bored and go work out, yeah.
[Despite coming from a football family, Carl never had his path carved out for him when it actually came to football. He was SO undersized coming out of high school in Malvern, Pennsylvania that he was barely recruited and instead found himself walking on at Penn State -- weighing just 218 pounds at 6-foot-6. Not exactly the model build for a guy hoping to play defensive end at a Power 5 school. Let’s just say, Carl ended up taking the hard road to the NFL.]
I don’t know if you could say I took the hard road – I think it was given to me [laughs]. I would have rather chosen the easy way.
Well, yeah. You had to take the hard route.
No, I love being a walk-on. I represent Walk-On U. At least, I try to.
[Oh yeah. Walk-On U. He hashtags it on Instagram. Seriously. Which he just got again, by the way. You should follow him @CarlNassib.
Anyway, with the body type he had, basketball, which Carl also played in high school by the way, almost seemed more of a natural fit. In retrospect, football was the right direction, sure, but back then, why stick to the pigskin if it’s SUCH an uphill climb?]
Football is my favorite sport of all time.
Why is that? I know your dad played and obviously your older brother.
It’s just the best team sport that there is. Throughout the years, I’ve had a lot of teammates and my favorite thing is I could butt heads with a teammate every single day but as soon as you get on the football field, you’re like brothers out there. I just have a few people in my mind that we did not get along at all, like we were just adversaries in every sort of the way, but when we got on the field, we were out there fighting for the same cause on the same team. That’s one of my favorite things about football.
[Carl’s entrance into the league was a little bit less of an uphill climb. After a season that saw him win the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and set a school record for single-season sacks, Carl was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He spent two seasons in Cleveland before being released right before the regular season in 2018 when he was then picked up by the Bucs.]
Was that a surprise for you to get cut?
Uh, no, it wasn’t. Everybody is on the chopping block every single camp – especially when you have a new general manager, a lot of changing parts. It’s just, with the NFL, you have to roll with the punches and every opportunity you get, you have to make the best of it. And everything happens for a reason.
And then you did. I mean last year, I feel like a lot of people felt like you came out of nowhere.
Well, I had a lot of help. I had so much help. Coach Buck [Brentson Buckner] really improved my game a lot. Gerald [McCoy] was such a great influence. JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] was such a great influence. I’m just so thankful for those guys. Vinny Curry was a great influence. Just had a lot of vets and I just want to keep getting better. I gotta chalk all that up to them.
That’s very nice of you to say but you’re not giving yourself any credit, though.
I don’t deserve much of it.
[This was immediately following a rise to HardKnocks infamy when he was with the Cleveland Browns because while most players approached a white board to draw out x’s and o’s in meeting rooms, cameras showed Carl instead illustrating compound interest for his teammates. It’s kind of his thing.]
I think there are a lot of guys in the NFL, most of them that are being really smart with their money, and then there are just a few guys who are making a couple boneheaded decisions here and there. And that’s just the overall impression. When I did those interviews, I just kind of wanted to try and squash that impression and show people that we’re not dumb jocks and that we’re smart with our money and being responsible.
[Carl has appeared on CNBC, just recently in fact, and has carried his financial advice into the Bucs locker room, too.]
Something I’ve noticed too since you’ve gotten here is I feel like any time there’s a kids event, that you’re always there. Whether it’s a school visit; whether it’s Special Olympics. You’re always participating.
Yeah, we have a lot of guys – Will Gholston is the best. I want to give him a shout out. He is the best person I’ve been around. I’m sure there are other great guys, too, but he does such a fantastic job giving back in the Tampa community and the surrounding counties. I’m just trying to follow him and do as much as I can. I don’t think people volunteer enough. I just think it’s such a rewarding experience to volunteer and be a service other people.
Well, I don’t think this is necessarily new for you. I stumbled across an article from Penn State, it was more about you putting on weight and how you were constantly in the gym and eating Chipotle BUT apparently, somebody sent a note to your coach [at Penn State] that you were really nice to a little girl in a Chipotle one time.
You can ask any of my friends, I really love interacting with complete strangers. I feel like that’s one of the dead things in society right now. People are afraid to go talk to random people. I mean [laughs] I’m not promoting kids to go talk to strangers, I’m just saying I like to meet new people and when I was in college, I was at Chipotle and I had a sling because I banged up my shoulder. The little girl, her name is Abby. She’s fantastic. She’s my biggest fan.
So you still keep in touch with her?
Our moms keep in touch, yeah. She came to a couple games. She’s a very special person. I just made conversation with her and apparently it touched her mom and she reached out. Then we gave her a tour of the facility and it was fantastic. That was just one of the great ways football makes people’s lives a lot happier and that’s why I love it.
[There you have it, folks. Carl Nassib. You’ll see him on the field in a little bit of a different role this year as an outside linebacker in Todd Bowles’ aggressive system. It’s a role he’s already having fun with just judging from offseason practices. Yes, even though he’s not even allowed to hit people. One thing I noticed was that while Carl was always one to celebrate his teammates making a big play, he was even more vocal in antagonizing the offense prior to the play happening. Chirping, if you will. A chirp that probably stems from the chip that comes with being from Walk-On U.
Thanks for reading (and maybe listening to this first edition of the Behind the Buccaneers podcast). Make sure you’re following Carl on Instagram like I said before. I told him I’d plug his Instagram so I’m doing it twice – @CarlNassib. If you feel like you want to keep up with what I’m doing or have some thoughts or feedback for me, I have ALL the social media: @CarmieV on both Twitter and Instagram. And I also have a new Facebook page where you can get in on the conversation with me. Look out for more of these features coming over the new few weeks as we anxiously await Training Camp and the 2019 season. Talk to y’all soon!]