Q & A with former Super Bowl champion

LIZZIE CATRAMBONE, Reporter

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Qadry Ismail, a former Super Bowl champion for the Baltimore Ravens, now works with different athletes and trains them using his knowledge from his football experiences.  He is a personal trainer for the Arena Club and the coach of Patterson Mill’s track team.  

Q: When did you start playing football?

A: I vividly remember I turned 7.  And I remember going out to the yard and playing an imaginary football game by myself.  And I remember we would play in our backyard, we would call it Sandlot like a way of saying playing streetball.  But I remember I was that little playing street ball with my friends and I just started playing since then.

 

Q: My dad went to Dallas High School

A: What!?  Your dad went to Dallas High School!?  Shut the front door!  That is funny… well I don’t even wanna do this interview now… Yeah, we didn’t like them (Dallas PA High School) because their team cheated.  We beat them by sophomore year and then we crushed them my junior year, so if your dad was on that ‘88 Dallas team, their coach, Ted Jackson, grew the grass incredibly high and had the fire department water down half the field.  So sportsmanship wise, that was very unsportsman-like.  And so a lot of people, I don’t know, 30 years later, still remember that like it was yesterday and I do too.  But clearly I’ve got no right because I’ve been  to play a heck of a lot more other games since then, but it’s funny when that story gets brought up, people remember it and we vividly go back and forth about why, what, how and all that.

 

Q: Did anyone ever tell you early on that you had something special?

A: Not really, I guess I just wanted to play, and I just liked playing…. I always wanted to play in the NFL, not really knowing what that meant or how that process took place,  I just wanted to play.  And it wasn’t until… maybe… my eighth grade year of middle school that I felt like I was a good player compared to the other kids, but that didn’t mean anything, like ‘oh you’re head and shoulders above everyone else!’  I just knew I was good and that was kinda it, and I didn’t think ‘Hey! I’m definitely gonna go to the NFL!’

 

Q: What college first showed interest in you, and what was it like being scouted?

A: I think it was some small schools that first kinda showed interest in me, and obviously my brother and I graduated high school at the same time.  So I would say it was like East Stroudsburg or Bloomsburg that kinda first showed interest.  But then we went to a Syracuse football camp and pretty much Syracuse was like “Oh we like him and we want him” and from that point on I always kinda just… Syracuse, Penn State, Maryland, Boston College, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, it didn’t matter, Tennessee, North Carolina State, there was a ton of teams on the East Coast that just started recruiting me.  But it started with just those two small schools and then it just quickly went into like the bigger schools.  

 

Q: Before moving onto college, did you play other sports in high school?

A: I ran track in high school, and actually, I was an All American and the number one ranked high school hurdler in the nation by track and field news my senior year.  And I actually am in the Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame for the state of Pennsylvania.  I took home I think 6 gold medals in two years, 2 silvers and overall I medaled 9 times because I took a third my sophomore year in track.

 

Q: DId you and your brother go to the same school or did you play against each other?

A: We went to the same school, Myers High School, which is better than Dallas High School.

 

Q: Did you play any other sports, other than football, in college?

A: Yes, I was a two sport All American in Syracuse for both track and field and football in college.  

 

Q: What was the first NFL team you played for and were you drafted?

A: Yes, I was the 52 pick in the NFL draft in 1993 in the second round, so I was a high draft pick, by the Minnesota Vikings, and I played for them for four seasons.  

 

Q: What was it like going to the draft and waiting to be picked?

A: Nerve wracking.  I loved the wait and the build-up to it, but I couldn’t wait till it was over, I was like ‘ok where am I gonna be drafted, who’s gonna pick me’, and all that so when I got picked by the Vikings I was very relieved.   

 

Q: After the Vikings, were you ever traded to a different team?

A: So free agency came about, and I signed with the Green Bay Packers, which was Minnesota’s heated rival.  After training camp was concluded, they traded me to the Miami Dolphins.  So then I went to the Miami Dolphins for a year.  Afterwards I went to the New Orleans Saints.  After the Saints, I came here to the Baltimore Ravens, Played here for three seasons, and then my final year, I played for the Indianapolis Colts.  So that was ten total seasons that I played.   

 

Q: How was the change from team to team?  Was it difficult adjusting?

A: Yes.  Every team has their own personality, every city has their own personality, so I felt the most comfortable in Minnesota, but I felt the best both in the locker room as well as in the city here in Baltimore.  

 

Q: Do you have kids?  How was the change from city to city on them?

A: Yes, I have three of them, a daughter and two boys.  Minnesota was my fourth year [and] Qalea was born, Qadry was born when I was in New Orleans, so they were so little that they didn’t really care… Qadir was [born] when I first got here to Baltimore, but I have a little picture of them when I was in training camp and Qalea was either three or four years old, and Qadir was still in his stroller and Qadry was kinda walking around, but they didn’t notice too much.

 

Q: You won the Super Bowl with the Ravens, did you score a touchdown?

A: I had the longest play from scrimmage.  It was a 44 yard completion from Trip Dilford to me and I was so mad because I had clear sailing, there was no one in front of me but the guy literally got me on the bottom of my shin to my ankle and tripped me up and I wasn’t able to keep my balance and I slid down and 44 yards later we kicked a field goal and went up ten nothing and the rest was history. We beat the Giants 34-7.

 

Q: What was it like to win the Super Bowl?

A: I mean… there is… in sports I guess it would be like winning Olympic gold or the Stanley Cup or the World Series or the NBA Championship.  Every championship that you can think of, I know what they are feeling, and it is one of the greatest feelings in the world to be able to be able to experience winning the Super Bowl.  You dream of it, when I was that little boy playing outside in the yard I was sitting there thinking I was cool and I’m winning the Super Bowl, and then I play in it and I win it.  That’s why I’m not mad cause your dad and them grew the grass really high at Dallas… No, I’m not over it.

 

Q: Can you expand on what you’re doing now?

A: I do media work with the Ravens, a radio show and a tv show, but I also have a passion for sports performance.  So obviously you’re in training here at the Sports Factory during the GRIND, but I also do some individual training with some athletes as well as doing the group training, which is what you see as well.  So just all my experiences of training and getting better as an athlete, now I am able to share my knowledge with athletes now, and in doing what they need to do.  

 

Q: What’s it like to be on the other side now, like watching your kids play sports?

A: At first when they were younger it was tough.  You want the best for them and there are things that I say that I want them to do.  But now, I just look at as no big deal. I enjoy watching them, I enjoy the challenges that they go through, I enjoy interacting with them, all three of them.  I really love sharing my experiences with them, but then seeing them figure things out themselves, their teammates, their wins, their losses, their hurts, their joys, their triumphs, I enjoy all of it.  

 

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Q & A with former Super Bowl champion