Former Northwestern standout Johnathan Joseph, who plays for the NFLs Houston Texans, recently sat down with Barry Byers, The Heralds assistant sports editor, for a question and answer session.
Joseph, a 28-year-old, 5-foot-11, 191-pound cornerback, signed out of high school with Coffeeville (Kan.) Community College and transferred to South Carolina after one season. Following his junior season with the Gamecocks, Joseph was taken in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, picked 24th overall.
He signed a free-agent contract with the Texans last season, a 5-year deal worth $48.75 million, with $23.5 million guaranteed.
Q: When you became a free agent, who were the other teams you looked at and why did you chose Houston?
I got calls from the Oakland Raiders, the Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay and Houston. It came down to either staying in Cincy or going to Houston. I talked to Houstons star receiver, Andre Johnson at a wedding. He told me how much he wanted me to come there and that the team needed cornerbacks. It was a move in the right direction. It was a perfect fit and the money was right. The contract gave me a chance to cash in and play for a better team. But it was a better situation for me to move forward and a good situation for my family. I couldnt be happier.
Q: Houston has a solid team and appears on its way to becoming one of the NFLs best after going 10-6, winning the AFC South and making the second round of the playoffs last season. What are your thoughts and how have your teammates responded to the rise?
Everyone was excited; making the playoffs and going to the second round was our reward for lots of hard work. But we didnt settle for that. Our ultimate goal was to go to Super Bowl and win it; still is. Weve had strong participation in summer workouts. It was like a college atmosphere. Every player worked hard and wants to be the best at his position, collectively as a team, and we pushed each other during drills. Its great to see how well the guys get along off and on the field.
Q: The Texans lost to the Panthers in the regular season last year and Houston opens the 2012 exhibition season on Aug. 18 at Carolina. Are you looking forward to that game and is there a revenge factor?
Its a preseason game; means a lot, but really not much. After exhibition games you wipe the slate and continue getting read for the regular season. The (Panthers) game gives me a chance to hone my skills and play close to home. My family has only seen me once since Ive been a pro, so this is an opportunity for them to come see me play. The ultimate opportunity for me and my family. People already asking for tickets. Last time 95 ticket requests in 2009. Expect the same, but no problem, it gives them an opportunity to see me play.
Q: You got married and live in Houston. Tell us about your family.
Im married to Delana Joseph, who is from Nashville. We met through a mutual friend and began dating. Before I signed with Houston last season, we got married. We have two sons, Javion from a previous relationship I had, who is 9 and spends time with us. We have a son together, Johnathan Junior, who is 4. They are going to be football players. I took my 9-year-old to get his physical on Wednesday so he can play this year. Both are good athletes.
Q: What kind of organization is Houston?
The first thing about Houston is its an organization run from a different perspective. In Cincy, the team lives off money it earns from football. Houstons owner has other business interests and he controls the money. Numerous things that go on such as the way Houston interacts with my family; were treated in a first-class way. They helped us when my wife lost our baby daughter in a miscarriage. But they help with anything you ask of them because they are a very caring organization with positive attitudes about its players. In Cincy, were told how much Gatorade we could take home. In Houston we get what we request. You get soap and deodorant at your request. You dont have a roommate on road trips.
Q: Who is the toughest receiver that you have covered in the NFL?
Thats easy. Andre Johnson at practice. Hes 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, quick and as explosive as someone who is 185 pounds. Next is the Panthers Steve Smith, totally opposite at 5-foot-9, 200. He is surprisingly explosive and can jump with the tallest defenders. Steve had 80 yards against me last year, the most Ive gave up to one receiver. Detroits Calvin Johnson is a freak of nature. Hes 6-foot-5 and has all the skills.
Q: Where do you spend most of the offseason?
We have a home in Houston and we are looking for some land in south Charlotte. I want to stay connected to this area. I dont forget where I came from. I donate cleats from my player deals. I have some other projects in mind, but want to get everything lined up and have the right people on my team to see that what we do in the community really helps. I dont do things for recognition. I turn down a lot of interviews. I like to stay quiet, care for my family and play football. What I want to do is help in this community and eventually come back home and coach football.
firstname.lastname@example.org Barry Byers 327-4099