Barry Gardner** is entering his eighth season in the NFL and his first with the Patriots. The Philadelphia Eagles originally drafted the 6-foot-1-inch, 245-pound linebacker in the second round (35th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft. The Illinois native posted a career-high 95 tackles while starting 13 games for the Eagles in 2000. After two more campaigns in Philadelphia, Gardner spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, before joining the N.Y. Jets last season. The former Northwestern product has registered 266 tackles (122 solo), two sacks, seven passes defensed, an interception and 127 special teams tackles during his seven-year career.
Gardner sat down with New England Patriots Gameday to answer some questions about his life both on and off the football field.
What is your favorite board game? I like to play checkers.
What is your favorite Web site? I would say www.kffl.com. They do a good job will all the sports in general.
What is your favorite pizza topping? Mushrooms. I'm from Chicago, so I think we definitely have the best pizza back home.
What is your favorite movie? I like all the Friday movies with Ice Cube.
Who is your favorite comedian? Cedric the Entertainer.
What is your favorite reality TV show? I'm a reality TV guy. That's a tough one because I watch so many of those crazy shows. I would probably say Survivor. I could mentally handle that game, but I don't know about starving myself for that long.
OFF THE FIELD
When you were growing up, who was the player you pretended to be while playing in backyard football games? The guy I really idolized growing up was Mike Singletary. He was a hometown guy and he was the epitome of linebackers.
What is the toughest thing about you that your mother had to put up with when you were younger? I'm a compulsive neat freak. It would always take me longer to do something that she asked me to do. It's better than being messy.
You are a partner in a video surveillance company. How did you get involved in that? My best friend from college and his dad, as well as some of his colleagues in Seattle, started up a company and kind of brought me in. I learned about the ins and outs of the company and investing.
Where is the best place to enjoy the outdoors? I live in Arizona, so I do a lot of hiking around the mountains in the area. The weather is always nice, so I get out and do a lot of outdoor stuff there.
Which person on this team best resembles your personality? I have spent most of my time with the linebackers and we have bonded. I have known Rosevelt Colvin since college. I'm very familiar with him as a person.
What is one thing that you have always wanted to do? I want to go to Europe. I haven't been overseas. I just got my passport this summer, so hopefully I can do that this offseason.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love to work out. That usually starts my day. I'm really into cars. I have a custom 1989 Mustang and two custom four-wheelers. I hang around the muscle car garage in Arizona.
What is your most embarrassing moment in sports? When I was playing in Philadelphia, I picked up a fumble and was headed in for a touchdown and I just tripped and fell on the turf. It was at old Veterans Stadium.
What is something that annoys you? When people chew out loud.
What is the best entertainment event you have ever attended? A Prince concert. I never thought I would like it as much as I did. He puts on a show and the crowd was standing the entire time. The Grand Prix of Montreal was amazing too.
ON THE FIELD
Which player or coach have you learned the most from in your career? Every year you learn something different. Speaking from my opportunity here, Coach Belichick has worked a lot with me personally. That has helped my transition here a lot. He has taught me a lot.
You were originally a walk-on at Northwestern, but closed out your career ranked second on the school's all-time tackles list. That has to be satisfying. It definitely is satisfying coming from where I came from. The opportunity was a great one and I pretty much learned to play linebacker in college. I went to Northwestern at a great time.
Describe the feeling when you are running down the field on the opening kickoff of a big game? That is the tempo-setter. It is exciting and you always want the first hit. I want to excite the crowd and excite my teammates.
THIS OR THAT
Hamburger or hot dog? Hamburger.
Which reality show would you rather be on: American Idol or Dancing with the Stars? Dancing with the Stars. I can move.
Wrigley Field or Fenway Park? Wrigley Field. I haven't been to Fenway, but I have to go with my hometown team.
Cook a meal or call for delivery? Call for delivery.
Funnier movie: Old School or Wedding Crashers? Wedding Crashers, without a doubt.
JUST FOR FUN
If you had a free roundtrip plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go? That's a hard question. I'm not real good with airplanes, so I wouldn't want to go too far. I would want to go to South America.
If you could set up one of your teammates on the MTV show Punk'd, who would you pick? I would have to set up Tom Brady because he is always so laid back. I would have to get him. He would be the funniest.
If you could play beside any football player in the history of the game, who would it be? I would have to play with Mike Singletary.