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Getting to Know: Tommy Kelly

Posted Feb 19, 2014

Get to know Patriots DE Tommy Kelly in this week's exclusive Patriots Football Weekly feature.

Tommy Kelly entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2004 when he signed with Oakland. In his first season with New England, he started all five games he appeared in and compiled 23 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and one fumble recovery. Kelly was injured during the Week 5 game at Cincinnati (10/6) and finished the season on injured reserve.

Q: What's your earliest football memory?

TK: Watching the 1989 playoffs, my Rams getting destroyed by the 49ers 35-0 in the NFC Championship Game.

Q: Did you grow up in the area?

TK: No, I was just a Rams fan. First, I'd watched the game where they beat the Giants, when Flipper Anderson caught the touchdown and kept running into the locker room. That was actually my first game, and I said, “Oh, I like the team in yellow and blue.” So I kept watching them, and the next week they got destroyed.

Q: So, you were how old?

TK: Eight. Back then, pops wouldn't let me play football until I got to eighth or ninth grade. I just played baseball and basketball.

Q: Were you a big kid for your age?

TK: No, I was normal. I was tall and skinny from eighth grade on. I was 6-2, 6-3. Didn't put on weight until college.

Q: What was your first car?

TK: Oh, I bought my first car when I was in 12th grade. A Chevy Caprice, white, with blue leather. It got stolen. It was a classic, baby. The bubble kind! I had it about a good month and a half and it got stolen. That's how it is. I recovered the body, but there were no seats, no radio, no engine. It was stripped.

Q: Who was your first crush?

TK: Man, there were a lot of them. A girl in second grade, her name was Octavia Fortenberry. She was a pretty little girl. I ain't never said nothin' to her. We ended up going to middle school and high school together, but I never told her I had a crush on her. We got into middle school and she started dating one of my friends. So, you know ...

Q: Do you still keep in touch with her?

TK: Hell no! [laughs] No, if I see her back in Jackson [Mississippi], I say 'hey'. We're cool, but I'm not going to tell her [laughs]. She's married with kids now; I'm married with kids now.

Q: A lot of players are afraid to fly. Would you put yourself in that category?

TK: Yeah, but I can deal with it. I just put my head down, when we take off, I put my head in my hands. At least if something happens, I'm praying. I travel, trust me. I fly, but I don't want to if I don't have to. If something is close, like five hours drive, I'll drive.

Q: If you could have any skill or talent you don't have, what would you want?

TK: Read people's minds. I want to know what [people] are thinking of me. Either read your mind or be invisible. Both is too much power. I'd be doing too much trouble.

Q: If we made your life story into a movie, who would play you?

TK: Who's gonna play Tommy? [smiles] It's got to be somebody funny. And tall. He doesn't look like me, but I would want Bernie Mac to play me. He cracks a lot of jokes. And that's me! I'm not mean or anything with it. I can joke on you, but trust me, I can take it.

Q: If you could play a character in a movie, who would it be?

TK: I wouldn't mind ... no, I can't say that. It's too feminine.

Q: No, come on, say it.

TK: I'd like to play “The Bodyguard.”

Q: Oh, Kevin Costner's role?

TK: Yeah, I'd play Kevin Costner. Strong. Hero. And he gets the woman. I wouldn't want Whitney Houston, but...

Q: Like who?

TK: Other than my wife? [laughs] I'd have to go with Nicki Minaj or Beyoncé.

Q: If you weren't playing football...?

TK: Coaching, that's what I'm going to do – either high school or pro. I don't want to deal with college; recruiting, too much travel.

Q: If you could meet anyone at any point in history... ?

TK: Probably Martin Luther King. I just want to know how he did it – kept his cool. I understand you're a good person, but how did you keep your cool ALL the time? He's a remarkable person to do that, in the times he lived, it was very difficult. I want to know how he stayed non-violent, kept his message 100-percent positive.

Q: Do you have any nicknames?

TK: T-K. Big Guy. George.

Q: Wait, George?

TK: I used to get in a lot of fights when I was young. So, they called me George Foreman. Then George for short.

Q: I like that one... not that you had to get in fights to earn it, but...

TK: Yeah, I was a bad little kid [smiles].

Q: Are you a pet person?

TK: Nah, hate 'em. My kids love 'em, but I said, 'No dogs. No pets at all.' It's another person you have to feed and clean up behind. Plus, they can't talk. That's a problem. My kids say, 'Please, dad!' I say, 'No ... if you want a dog, take it down to your grandma's house. She's got a lot of land. Dog can run around all day. He's not coming in here.'

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