What was your first football memory?
I guess my earliest memories would be watching my dad as a kid. I don’t think I really knew what was going on, but I knew we were going to watch daddy play. I would go to the facilities and be running around. Now, I see the little Mankins boys running around [the Patriots locker room] and it reminds me of when I was a kid. Yeah, he used to take me to the weight room, meet the guys, get taped up … it was fun for me.
Aside from your dad, who were some of your first football idols?
Isaac Bruce has always been a guy that I’ve had a tremendous amount of respect for. I think Isaac was a rookie my dad’s second-to-last year. Obviously, he was a great player in this league, but just the type of guy he was off the field, the way he handled himself. He was a man of faith, a man of character. Isaac was somebody I really looked up to. And some of my dad’s old teammates – Ron Brown, LeRoy Irvin, Eric Dickerson.
Do you remember the first time you put pads on for real?
I do. Freshman year of high school was my first time playing tackle football. I didn’t really know what was going on. I thought I had it figured out, but I obviously didn’t. That was a learning experience, learning how to handle contact, how to position your body, it was a big adjustment. It was fun, though.
If you could have any talent that you don’t have now – not necessarily athletic – what would you want to do?
Sing. I think it’s awesome when you can sing and entertain people. I used to be in the church choir, but I was lip-synching most of the time because I couldn’t sing (laughs).
OK, well, if you could insert yourself into a musical group, which one would it be?
Oh, tough one. You know what, I’d probably want to sing backup to Sade or Alicia Keys. Those are my two favorite artists. So, I’d sing backup for them, tour with them. I think I’d just like to tag along.
If you could play any character in a movie, which one would you choose?
Good question … a superhero of sorts, maybe Batman. Christian Bale does a good job with the new Batman. I like the get-up and the whole vibe, the double life.
If you weren’t playing football, what would you be doing for a living?
I think I’d be working in children’s ministries somewhere. That’s my passion, to be involved in fulltime ministry. That’s still what I want to do when I finish playing, is go back and work in my church and potentially go into the seminary one day. I hope I’d be pursuing that dream. If not, who knows what I’d be doing, but that’s what I’d like to do.
Let’s say a genie in a bottle granted you three wishes. What would you ask for?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I have to figure out how to answer this without upsetting some people (laughs). I guess wish number one would be for us to win the Super Bowl this year. Wish number two, probably have better weather in New England. No snow for one winter, that’d be a good one. Wish number three … maybe catch a touchdown pass from Tom. That’d be pretty cool.
Do you remember your first apartment?
I do, it was here, in Walpole [Mass.]. I’d always lived in the dorms through college. It was my first time getting out on my own with my own space. It was small, but it was my own. So, that was a good feeling to have that independence a little bit. It was a nice little one-bedroom.
What was your first car?
When I got here, I got an SUV truck – which I found out I needed around here with the snow. It was nice to be able to work for something and say, ‘Hey, this is my car.’ Other than that, I was driving my parents’ cars.
What is your ideal vacation spot?
Portugal, I heard, is really nice. I’d like to go to some countries in Africa. Maybe Hong Kong. We used to have a trainer who’s from Japan, so, I’d like to go there.
What are your favorite TV shows?
It used to be ‘Jon & Kate Plus Eight’ … I’m more of a movie guy. All the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ the ‘Batman’ series and all those old gangster films, like ‘Scarface.’