Eight weeks ago, the Vikings were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in DVOA. Now they're 6-6 and probably done. What went wrong?
28 Nov 2010
interviewed by Ben Muth
As many of you know, Football Outsiders has a team in the Procter & Gamble Blogger Fantasy League. Each team is sponsored by a P&G product, and we're sponsored by Prilosec OTC. Prilosec makes a good sponsor for us because their overall NFL sponsorship is all about bringing attention to offensive lines every week on NFL.com and giving away the John Madden MVP (Most Valuable Protectors) award at the end of the season.
When we got a chance to interview Prilosec's NFL spokesmen, Anthony Herrera and David Diehl, it only made sense to hook them up with our own resident lineman, Ben Muth. We interviewed Herrera a couple weeks ago, and now it is Diehl's turn.
(Note: Sponsored post, in case it wasn't already obvious.)
Ben Muth: Coach Tom Coughlin and offensive line coach Ray Flaherty have been with New York almost your entire career. How has that stability helped you develop as a player?
David Diehl: It's been huge. Coach Coughlin came in my second year and with Coach Flaherty already here, it's been really nice. Not only for me as a player, but the guys they bring in around you. They bring in their kind of guys -- hard working, tough minded, love to play -- so you're surrounded by guys like myself. And in the NFL being just a nice guy doesn't get you all the way obviously, it's a performance based business. But I know that I've worked hard and have really earned everything the Giants organization has given to me, and there are a lot of guys on this team that are in the same situation.
FO: Well, going with that theme of being surrounded by like-minded guys, you've been playing with the same o-line for a while. What kind of difference does that make?
Diehl: It means a lot. Coach Flaherty has a really good veteran groups of guys, like (Chris) Snee, like (Shaun) O'Hara, (Kareem) Mckenzie, (Rich) Seubert, myself. And we're really a blue collar group. We just go out there and handle our business. When the game's on the line and things get tough, we want to be on the front line carrying the load for this team, and I think that's what people have seen the past couple of years. And when things are tough, you need to know what the guy next to you is doing. Not just the techniques or assignment, but that guys are prepared for that. That's one thing Coach Flaherty has done a great job of. Everyone is always prepared, whether it's (Shawn) Andrews, (Kevin) Boothe, (Mitch) Petrus, guys are always prepared. And prepared to go into multiple positions. That's one thing Coach Flaherty stresses, you have to be ready to go in anywhere to help the team.
FO: You were one of those guys that played all around early in your career. You played both sides, as well as guard and tackle. In 2007, you got moved to left tackle permanently. Did you view that as a promotion?
Diehl: Not a promotion necessarily. Just a different assignment. Obviously, left tackle is one of the hardest positions on the offensive line. And I knew that being put in that position meant the Giants had a lot of faith in me and my ability. Going up against some of the best pass rushers in this league week in and week out, it's a challenge. But I love that kind of thing, knowing you're going against another team's best rusher and taking the responsibility of shutting him down. I knew I was the kind of guy that liked new challenges, and with my work ethic, if you tell me that I can't do something, that's just going to motivate me to prove you wrong.
FO: Well, playing in the NFC East you see a lot of those pass rushers. Guys like DeMarcus Ware, Brian Orakpo, and Trent Cole are all known as big time pass rushers. Is there anyone you've played against in the past couple of years that may not get a lot of national media attention, but is someone you think probably deserves more recognition?
Diehl: Well, there's a lot of great players in this league. They're in the NFL for a reason after all. But one guy that sticks out is Tamba Hali in Kansas City. This year he's starting to get a little more recognition because the Chiefs are playing better, but he's been putting up sacks on people for a while now. He's one guy that to me is really underrated.
FO: When you watch a guy on film, what are you looking for exactly? What are some focus points of yours?
Diehl: I'm looking at his alignment. Is he wide or tight? Is he squared up or slanted, and what does that mean for the defense? What foot is back? Which hand is down? You look at all those things to get a sense how his movement is going to change based on how he's aligned. Then I look at pass rush moves: What is he trying to do? What moves does he have? Does he set moves up with certain things? You look for all that stuff. People think of football as a physical game, and it is, but so much of it is mental too. It really is more of a mental game.
FO: We've talked about Coach Flaherty a little bit already, but with him being with you guys so long, does he have any sayings or coaching points that you've started to tune out? Does he say something for thousandth time, and you guys just look at each other?
Diehl: Absolutely not. I mean, we're together in that room so much, that there are times when we poke fun at each other. You know, joke around a bit at each other's expense, and Coach Flaherty is great about that. He knows when it's time to be light and loosen up a little bit; but when it's time to work, he knows how to handle that too. We may joke around a bit, but there times when you have to be serious, and that's one thing we do well. And I think respect is the upmost reason for that. Coach Flaherty fought colon cancer and won, I think it was in '05. When he was battling, we would always ask him how he was doing, and he'd say he's more worried about us (laughing). But that's just the kind of guy he is.
FO: What about your thoughts on the CBA and that process? Have you heard anything from your player rep?
Diehl: Well you just hope something gets done. It'd be a real shame if there's a lockout and there's no football next year. It would really hurt everybody -- us, the owners, and most importantly the economy. Can you imagine about all the lost jobs in the stadiums? Not only that, but the restaurants and hotels and travel around the stadium. It's not just going to be us and our families that are affected, it's going to hurt everybody.
FO: Finally, I just wanted to ask you about Prilosec OTC. How did you get involved with them and why?
Diehl: Well, I guess it started in college. I remember it Friday night before a game, and I woke up in the middle of the night with really bad heartburn. And I remember thinking that, if this happened during a game, I wouldn't be able to play. Luckily it cleared up before the game, but it was still in the back of my mind. So, my Grandma tried an old Croatian remedy, and it worked OK for a while, but wasn't really enough. So I tried a bunch of other things, and even got checked to see if I had an ulcer. Eventually, I tried Prilosec and it worked great. I just took it in the morning and was great all day. And that's the thing as a professional football player we work so hard to be at our best at our jobs. The weightlifting, the running, the film study, we do all of it to play our best on Sundays, and I don't want heartburn slowing me down. And Prilosec takes care of that part great.
12 comments, Last at 30 Nov 2010, 8:04pm by bubqr