At NFLGirlUK.com we like to get an insight to what a typical day looks like for an NFL player and last week, I had the opportunity to interview Mike Nugent, kicker for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “Looking at your career, you played at Ohio State where you received the Lou Groza award, was drafted by New York Jets in 2005, went on to play for Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. He’s been with Bengals now since 2010 but I’d really like to understand how it all started? Why did you want to become a professional football player? When did you know it was what you wanted to do?”
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “For me I was always thinking a little bit about the next level. I have a brother who is only a year and a half younger than me and we both played soccer growing up. We were those kids who were outside all day. We had a pretty good-sized yard and my Dad actually built us a full size soccer goal and then he extended it to have uprights above it so we’d grab a football and goof around to see if we were any good at it and both of us were actually pretty decent at it.
“I had a bunch of friends who were like “You should try one year to take a break from soccer and play football, and so I did and that was in sixth grade that I started kicking. I was the only kid that kicked in sixth grade and that then became “Maybe I can do this in high school” and in high school I kicked pretty well, maybe I can keep it going and do it in college and I got to a point where in college I had such a great time and a lot of fun on some really successful teams and I got to kick a lot of field goals so I was like “You know what? Maybe I can keep this going?” and play in the NFL.
“I’ve just been extremely lucky that I have 11 years of experience and going in to my twelfth season so I’m one of the lucky people that gets to do what he loves for such a long time.”
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “You’ve certainly had an exciting career and it’s really interesting to hear that soccer was how it all started. “
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “Yes. I feel like if you talk to any kicker or anyone that has been a kicker if he’s 15 years old or he’s 35 he started in soccer in some way. I think that co-ordination you gain in kicking a ball, obviously you need to have the hand eye co-ordination to play many sports but kicking a ball is such a different co-ordination and I have a humungous respect for anyone that plays soccer and especially watching professional games. These guys are very strong, they can run for days so I have a lot of respect for players like that especially for running that long.”
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “And what would you say is the biggest misconception that people have about what it’s like to be an NFL player?”
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “As an NFL player overall, I think … that is actually a great question. You know there’s always going to be what you see in movies and how you think it’s all crazy money and just parties all day and its really one of those things.
“If you came to practice for one week you would realise it’s just a group of guys, first it starts with the coaches, they are so smart and they work so hard and at the end of they day, they’re doing that because they want the players to succeed.
“The players are just guys who want to be successful and be remembered for the positive things they did in the NFL. That’s the biggest thing. What you see in the movies is all the limelight and the celebrity aspect but really its just guys who love to have the opportunity to play football for a living.”
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “Yes definitely. Talk me through a typical day of a player in the NFL, from the moment you wake up through to the moment you go to sleep. What generally happens in a typical day for you?”
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “Our biggest day during the season is a Wednesday. We usually practice Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday then the game Sunday. The day starts off with a lot of film. You’ll have meetings and watch a lot of film to study your opponents for a couple of hours. We’ll go out on to the field and have walk-through for an hour or 45 minutes just to slowly go through plays. You have a scout team that shows you what the other team does and that’s where the coaches studying really comes in to play because they set us up to succeed and we just have to execute it on the field. I can’t reiterate enough what the coaches do, it’s admirable how hard they work. Then basically you’ll come in, have some lunch, work out, have a little more meetings, go out to practice for a couple of hours and then depending what time you practice, we’ll go out on the field from 12:30pm until 3pm, or 1pm ‘til 3pm and come have meetings after practice and then you’re probably home by 5pm. So that’s a typical long day during the season.”
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “Yes, I can imagine. And sticking with the theme of what happens in a typical day, what kind of things do you eat? Do you stick to a strict diet and have “cheat days” or do you allow yourself to have what you want, when you want?”
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “For me, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t really watch it too closely, I just have certain things like I don’t drink soda, I don’t eat fast food and there’s certain things I’m not going to order like French fries at a restaurant I’ll try to get some kind of vegetables instead. I don’t keep it terrible strict. I think the guys that keep it really strict are the ones who want to gain weight or to lose weight.
“That’s another good thing, we have nutritionists here, and they feed us most meals here so I feel that’s another situation at the ownership side, they’re really setting players up, they’re investing in so many things, especially food to make sure the guys are eating correctly and taking care of your body.”
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “Sure. What do you like to get up to in your downtime, when you’re not playing or training? What are your favourite hobbies?”
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “I’m very lucky, I actually grew up a Cincinnati Bengals fan, I grew up about 45 minutes from here. I’m lucky I have a lot of family back in Dayton, Ohio, which is about 45 minutes north of here so I try to get to see family as much as possible. I have a lot of nieces and nephews and family back in town.
“Mostly in my down time if I can get out on to the golf course that’s my favourite thing to do. I try to get out and play golf as much as possible. I can’t do it as much during the season, especially when it gets cold but it gets your mind away from football and helps to relax you a bit but it also gives you that competitive aspect because I think it’s the most challenging sport in the world.”
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “So this year Bengals will be coming to London for the International Series. Have you been to the UK before and if so, what did you enjoy most?”
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “My wife and I just did a trip last year. We went to Switzerland, Rome and then we finished up with four nights in London. We get really in to the whole sightseeing thing so we try and see as much as possible. We did the London Eye and my wife does a great job at finding these little restaurants, we found a really cool wine bar, I forget exactly where it was but it was almost like eating cheese in a cave. It was beautiful. I need to find out the name of it, I want to tell everyone. I had a really good time and the people were just unbelievably nice. Very welcoming. I thought that was really cool.”
Liz Fox, NFLGirlUK.com: “Good, I’m glad to hear that. My final question, the great thing that I have noticed when it comes to American sports is that is largest based around the fans and their experience. How important to you are the fans and if you could give them any message, what would it be?”
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals: “I don’t think we’d have jobs without the fans. I think they demand a lot of you, but I’m the same – if I’m going to come out here and cheer for you, I’d want the same. One of those things that are great is having such amazing support and I can say that because winning at an away stadium is very difficult. The crowd can be so loud and I think that really speaks a lot.
“If you do win on the road it’s unbelievable. Like I said earlier, we wouldn’t have a game without the fans and wouldn’t be able to play this game every single day and hopefully I play for 20 seasons, I wouldn’t be able to do that without the fans so we’re extremely thankful for what they do for the game.
“I think the owners and especially TV have made this game incredible reaching out to a lot of people like fantasy football you’ll get a lot of people who aren’t really interested in football but they’ll become a little more interested in the game and want to see how their team does. It’s great to see more and more countries get involved every year.”
Thank you so much to Mike Nugent for giving us some insight to his day and what it is like to be an NFL player. I appreciate him taking the time out of his schedule tto take my call and answer my questions, and also a huge thanks to the press team at Cincinnati Bengals for helping to make it happen.