Q&A With Center Jason Starkey
When did you first start playing ball?
I didnít get to start until 9th grade because that was the first time I was allowed. My parents were afraid I would get hurt. I fought them on it and I think they would have let me in middle school, but I couldnít make the grades. If I hadnít had some pretty outstanding teachers in 8th grade, I donít think I ever would have been a good student or made the required grades to play ball. But, I did a lot of growing up in middle school and after that I always made good grades.
So you were a bad kid for a while?
I think I was a little rebellious. My parents were going through a divorce and I was just not very attentive.
Have you always loved playing football once you got started?
I always loved it actually. I would play sandlot football with my older brothers growing up and I was a water boy for a long time, always hanging out on the sidelines. They had to kick me out of there sometimes, but I finally grew up and got to play.
How would you best describe yourself to someone?
Hard worker, very disciplined, dedicated, emotional, honest
What is it like for you having your brother over in Kuwait?
Heís somewhere in Kuwait with the first marine division that was stationed out of Pendleton in San Diego. I really donít know any words to describe it. I watch CNN all the time and try to follow what is going on. The first time he went in í91 I had to write letters and it took a long time to get to him, but now I can email him so it is pretty cool because it is easier to stay in touch and follow what heís going through. It is pretty scary. Heís a meteorologist so I keep telling myself that heís back at base somewhere over there reading the weather and not advancing, but I know a lot of men out of his division are advancing throughout Iraq. It is scary for my mom, my dad and his wife and I just try to help keep their spirits up. He wonít be back for a while and the selfish, terrible part of it all for me is, heís going to miss my wedding and that really stinks. I really wanted him to stand up for me.
How do you feel about all of the people that protested the war?
It is personal with me. I feel that we are there and we need to make the best of it. I donít like the disapproval, but I respect it because I believe in the freedom of speech and our countryís morals and that is one of the biggest ones. I think they need to respect the men who have chosen to go there and that feel Sadaam is a tyrant and is a threat. That has been proven by the way he put our soldiers on television. The way they treated our POWís just shows the type of regime that was in power there.
You seem to be very close to your brothersÖ?
My brothers are huge role models for me. They were both inspirations to me as a kid. When Jimmy moved out to California 10 years ago I didnít get to see him that often, but it was heaven sent when I came out here because I have taken a lot of trips to see him since. Jeff was the middle child and definitely the rebel and he was really a father figure to me after my parents got divorced. He was always whipping my butt and disciplining me when I needed it and really taught me how to be tough and taught me street wisdom.
Talk about singing Ė why do you love it so much? Did you ever sing in a choir or band?
That comes from my mom. She was a big singer in the choir and influenced me to play the piano at a young age. I took lessons for about 3 years but I hated them and I used to hide in the trees when my teacher would come so I wouldnít have to have my lessons. My mom always said Iíd regret it and I really do now. She has a lot of diversity in her music. The rest of my family is all country but mom listens to a lot of different stuff. Last year, Mike Gruttadauria and I bought a guitar. I can play about 6 songs, but I mostly am just self-taught and play by ear. But, when I was little I did sing in the choir. I think I was about 8 years old and I did this duet at church. I love to karaoke now and my favorite is Low Places by Garth Brooks.
Can you relate to that song or something?
Oh, I donít know. I guess I have all kinds of friends. I am very down to earth, open-minded, high class is really not for me and that has been consistent my whole life.
If you werenít playing ball, what would you be doing?
I used to want to be a child psychologist but my ambitions have changed since coming into the league. Iíd like to teach high school and be a football coach. I think I am good at communicating ideas to others and kids are awesome. If there is a party and a group of adults and a group of kids, I am much more comfortable with the group of kids.
How do you think you have matured as a player and a person since you came into the NFL?
Iíve learned a lot about our Players Association and more of the business aspect of football. I was very emotionally driven in college and I still am, but there are more guidelines in the pros, both on and off the field and how you act socially. I have matured a lot and have a lot bigger goals now.
What are your goals as a football player
Become a full time starter for the Cardinals and help win games to make the play-offs and from there, just keep on winning until we are Super Bowl Champs
What are the things you feel very passionate about in life?
Family, spiritual life, keeping up with prayer, doing the right thing Ė I am very passionate about people, helping others, and football.
Did you feel sort of thrown into the fire last year?
If I had to come in as a rookie, I probably would have felt baptized in the fire, but I prepped really well last year. Coach Warhop held me to the same standards as he did the starters and had high expectations of me. I prepared every week to play so I felt prepared mentally. When you get in the game, it is a whole different thing. You have to get used to the speed. The contact is so much more physical and when fatigue sets in during a game, you have to have mental control and that is hard when you are tired. You are out there giving 110% and after about 50 plays go by, that fatigue can control the way you react in a game mentally and you have to get accustomed to playing with that fatigue and making the right decisions. You canít let one play effect the next five plays. Coach Devlin always tells me that.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
I went to Panama City for a spring break trip during college. I was hanging out with a bunch of my girl friends and I put on one of their bathing suites and walked out on balcony and posed for them and was just messing around. This one salty girl took pictures of me and posted them everywhere in my townóall over the football facility, taverns, pizzeria, people even took them into my dad at his work and he was like, ĎSon, I canít believe you wore that bathing suit.í I am still mad at her but I could never retaliate because she says she didnít even post the worst ones. That is why you should always stick with the guys.
Talk about getting married Ė when is the wedding and have you been involved in the planning a lot?
Iím definitely involved in the planning. We are getting married in Sedona in late June. It is scary, not as far as the commitment but planning the wedding. I am sort of like a girl, I always wanted a big wedding and there are so many worries about doing everything the right way. You think those invites are just a stupid invite but it turns into the biggest battle. I said I didnít care, but then I decided I didnít like the first thing she picked. Then she said she didnít care, but she didnít like what I picked. Then once you get that stupid little piece of paper picked out, you have to decide what to put on it. But, Larkey is the best thing of all out of me coming to Arizona and I know sheíll be the one consistent. Sheís the first person I donít mind being with every day and she is my best friend.
You are a pretty emotional type of person Ė how do you deal with losing?
Winning is the ultimate high, nothing else I have ever done in life is the same feeling as that. There is so much effort and time spent every day of the season and the off-season and judgment day is Sunday. Losing a game is like losing your girlfriend. It really upsets me for the whole night and there are only a couple of people I like to be around. I had to really learn how to deal with that because we didnít lose much at Marshall. I think winning and losing are both highly contagious. You start losing, you get into a lull and you can get too accustomed to that and you expect to lose. Same thing with winning, you start winning and you expect to win and expectations really control actions. That is what we need to change here.
What else have you been up to this off-season?
I get up with Larkey and cook her breakfast and start my day. I am pretty much a housewife, and right now dealing with a lot of wedding details and making sure I have something to eat for dinner when she gets home keeps me busy. I have started my workout routine, so that takes up a few hours, but I play a lot of video games to be honest. If I didnít say that I know Larkey would read this and ask ĎWhy didnít you tell them how much you play video games?í
So do you feel pretty at home here in Arizona now?
Yeah, I like it. People always hear me talk and think I am from Texas. Leonard (Davis) is the only one who really understands me sometimes, but heís definitely a Texan. You canít mess with West Virginia either. The guys make fun of my accent, but I can mimic them too. Iíll talk jive with the best of them or copy Pete Kendallís Boston accent. Itís always a good time.
So are you looking forward to training camp starting up again?
Most definitely. The off-season has passed much faster than I expected, but training camp is a good time for us. We spend 3 weeks living together in a college dorm, sharing meals, practicing together Ė it builds camaraderie!