The complete Antonio interview
Q: Have you always been so competitive? Bryant: I've always been like that. When other things happen in your career or playing this game that really don't have anything to do with what type of player you are, that kind of overshadows the good things that you do, the good things about your character that you possess. I've always been competitive. I've always gone out there and competed hard. It's just a drive. I've had it since I was younger. People ask me, `What do I feel?' I tell them, `I don't feel nothing.' I tell them my greatest fear is failure. The fear of failure is my greatest motivator. I hate to lose at anything. I hate to fail. Q: Have you sort of noticed that coach Mike Nolan is staying away from talking to you on the field to not break your concentration? Bryant: I get in my own world. Sometimes I even have to control myself. It's kind of that serious for me. That stuff will throw me off - talking and getting upset with me. Then I want to snap on you and go crazy. You know how you're concentrating and doing something and you're like, you've almost got it, and then somebody just comes in and bothers you? Or let's say you're on your phone sending a text back and then somebody calls. You'd be, like, `What, what, what? I'm doing something.' That's how I kind of feel on the field. It's like I'm almost there. I'm about to figure this out. And then it's, `Oh, C'mon, Coach. I almost had it.' You can tell when a guy goes in a zone. We can talk about this when he's relaxing, sipping on a soda or something. Q: Was this kind of thing the source of your well-publicized jersey throwing incident with coach Bill Parcells in Dallas? Bryant: That was just a man not understanding another man. He's an older man. I respect him for that. But there was lack of respect for me in that I'm a man, even if not by age, just by circumstance. Everybody comes up different. Everybody is exposed to different things. Some people are graduated due to their environment. Some people are graduated due to their situation. I've got five siblings. I'm the oldest of all of them. I'm looked up to. Everything I do is to set an example. I was raised that, if you know that something's wrong, if you can't be a man to stand up for what you believe in, what are you living for? What's your purpose? Nobody can ever come to you and tell you that Antonio Bryant is a disrespectful person or he's a rude person or he's an idiot. I don't come at people in the wrong manner. I treat everybody with respect. I feel that if you become a player, that doesn't make you any less of a person. I'm a man before I'm a football player. So just respect me in regards to me being a man, first. That's how I look at life. Q: Do you feel then that Nolan has been a little better at reading you as a person? Bryant: It has a lot to do with myself. I've got to get better at a lot of things, just knowing that, hey, this is a team sport. I know there are certain things I could do that could affect my attitude and can affect other guys. A guy like Bryan (Gilmore), he's another guy that's been around veterans and knows the ups and downs of the game, he comes to me at times and tells me, `Hang in there, man, don't get frustrated.' And I need that. We have that understanding. You look at a younger guy, Vernon (Davis), he may not understand what's going on at that time. He may take my attitude the wrong way and that can affect his game. Q: So you're more in tune now with what's going on with the players around you? Bryant: That's what it's about, it's just taking it a step above. Building that type of relationship, that takes us a long way on the field. When we're going down, critical third downs, making plays, that makes you want to play for another person. If I'm out there working hard and he sees me working hard, he'll play harder just because of me. If I see him out there, he makes a great catch for us in a critical moment, that makes me bear down and go harder and go out there and want to make a critical play for the team as well. That's kind of how you build right there. It gets contagious. Other guys see that. People know that if this man is hurting and he can go out there and make a play that don't give me no excuse, I've got to go make a play. Q: How are you shaping your personal goals as opposed to team goals now that you're with the 49ers? Bryant: That is personal for me. I don't want to be a part of no losing organization. I don't want to be a part of nothing that's losing, because it gets contagious, too. Everything is an excuse. I've been a part of winning. It's so much more fun, even the questions you're asking me, all that stuff changes. That's what it's all about. So that is personal for me. As long as I'm winning, whatever is in store for Antonio Bryant as an individual, it will come along those lines as long as we're winning. We're a team. If there's something out there for me – a Pro Bowl or a 1,000 yards (receiving) – that will come as long as we're winning because it falls along those lines. I picked that up along the way. It's better to have a house full of happy people than one person in the house being happy. As long as everybody's winning, everything is cool. I'd rather for it to be like that, where everybody is getting a little something. Q: How do you feel about running decoy routes and clearing out space underneath coverage for other receivers? Bryant: That's why it's called team. That's how the game is played. And then, you never know, especially in this offense, you never know when that ball will come my way. You may think it might be a decoy route at that particular time but then I get the ball. And that's kind of how it goes. You kind of always want to be ready in this offense, because depending upon the coverage, you pop open. Q: How productive do you feel this offense can be? Bryant: I said it before: I have a lot of confidence in coach (Jerry) Sullivan and coach (Norv) Turner. Even if I get frustrated out there I still feel good about it. It's weird but it feels good. It's the type of confidence, like, if you're a kid and you go in a toy store and your parent tells you, `Well, you can't have that toy right now.' That's not what you want to hear. But just hearing them say you can't have it right now doesn't mean you're not going to get it. And you still feel good about it, like, `I ain't going to worry about it, I'll get it.' That's kind of how I feel. From time to time, I just feel like, `It's cool. It'll work itself out.' Q: What's it like working with Sullivan, a taskmaster who's considered one of the NFL's best receiver coaches? Bryant: He pulled out a film (recently) and I'm like, `I've got $5 on that the first guy we're going to look at is Tony Martin.' But it's good. That is work that he has to be done, and he can show you on film that, `Look, I've done this, I've coached guys to do it this way, and I've learned from these guys as well.' Every guy adds a little something different to his portfolio and he puts it on film and he shows it: `I'm telling you to run this route like this because of this.' Me, I like to see. I'm a visual learner. Looking at that stuff and watching those guys run those routes, I just see myself running those plays on the field. It's kind of like, when I was little in Little League, you didn't fully understand those plays but you emulated everything you'd see. And that's what you do on the field. You go back, you think about the routes that you saw, you think about what he's telling you, and you just put it all together. You're really emulating until you develop it and make it a part of your game and then you put your own little steps to it – I do it better when I do it like this – and that's how you win out there on the field. Q: What have you been able to learn from him? Bryant: Just a lot of patience in the routes. Being a receiver, you think you're always running, running, running. Some things are being a good actor. You've got to know how to portray a certain route and give them something different. And this offense is a more vertical offense than I've been in. Offenses I've been in have been more for tight ends, guys like that. I was in Cleveland with (Kellen) Winslow so they had a lot of plays that were there for the tight end. In Dallas, we had (Jason) Witten. It's just being a vertical offense for us and reading the defense on the go. That's been kind of hard at first, but now with the certain stems that he has us running, it's awkward for me, but it helps you while you're running, reading the coverages and adjusting and running the right routes. For particular coverages, certain routes have to be run a certain way just to get open. Q: Can you talk about the great long pass earlier in training camp where you beat cornerback Shawntae Spencer for a 65-yard reception when you separated from him at the end to make a spectacular diving catch? Bryant: That's my thing. That's called the `Lullabye.' That's night-night right there. Everybody does something different. I could go out there and run probably five, six go-routes and really not be that winded. You've got a guy like Shawntae, I know what he's thinking: `Man, he just ran a go route. He just ran two go routes. He's not running another one.' I come off that ball at a good, decent speed, and then, I won't look back for the ball, I just have to think that it's coming and keep my distance from the sideline and just run. I look up, I act like it ain't coming, and I run to it. Most of the times, when I'm running those decoy routes, you give up routes for other guys, I'll run fake go routes, and I'll have the ball coming and everything, it kind of gets the guy in-between. He never really knows, from the time when I'm running a fake go-route to the time when I'm running an actual go-route. Q: So have you ever considered a career in acting? Bryant: I like to watch, man. I'm too lazy for that. Q: Have you ever done the ‘Lullabye' in a game? Bryant: Yeah. It's like, if your eyes get big and I know my eyes are kind of small, anyway. So if your eyes get big, most DBs will put their hand up, they'll know the ball is probably coming. So I kind of try to keep my eyes lazy and be real lazy with it and just, oh, see that ball at the last minute. Q: Can you pretend to see the ball coming then break off a route? Bryant: You can do that, too. You have a guy thinking the ball is coming one way and then you speed up and run a little deeper. You can do anything. But it's all about being confident and knowing what you're doing. That's the only way you can play fast. If you know what you're doing, know what you've got, you can play fast. Q: How does the quarterback now what you're doing? Bryant: Most go-routes, they're going to throw it at about 40 yards, 40-45 yards. That's how far that ball is going to come. Rookies make mistakes. They come in the league, they're so used to winning off the line in college, they're just looking up. In this league if you do that, the DB is going to come kiss you in the mouth just that fast. So when you come off the ball, you don't just look back, you come off the ball, then you look, you know when that ball is probably going to be out. And if it's coming out, it'll already be up in the air. In high school, my coaches taught me how to attack the ball. Wait on it, wait for the last minute to attack it. When you go to college, you don't want to run routes and you'd be running out there like this for the ball because one, it's going to slow you down, and two they know it's coming. So they kind of teach us to catch the ball at the last second, just snatch it. A lot of the veteran guys, a lot of guys that aren't in the league anymore, that's what they were good at. They had good timing on balls, just run their routes and catch the ball at the last second. So the DBs, you're running out there and the DB knows it's coming, just open your hands up at the last second and get the ball. Q: Who made up the ‘Lullabye?' Bryant: That's what I said it is. They say I run the route like I'm lazy, like I'm sleeping, I'd be rocking them to sleep. That's what they would say to a DB: He rocks you to sleep whereas he's running this route deep and he's not getting the ball. So eventually, he's like, ‘They're not throwing him the ball, I'm doing my job,' and the next thing you know, they'll go over your head. Q: Do you have any other fancy names we should know about? Bryant: No, man, I just play hard. That's it.
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