In this fifth edition for the 2012 season we sat down with Paul Griffin and discussed his decision to attend Florida State University, overcoming a knee injury, seafood and the impact his grandfather had on his life.
Editor: You were a standout at Florida State and chose to attend school there after passing over other Division I universities such as USC and Auburn. What ultimately led you to Tallahassee?
Paul Griffin: First and foremost it was the great tradition the school had with Coach Bobby Bowden. Being from Florida I always heard so much about the University of Florida and the University of Miami and how great their programs were, but I wanted to be different and go to Florida State. It’s funny too. There was one moment that solidified my decision, and that was my senior year in high school in 2003 when Florida State played Miami in the pouring rain at Doak Campbell. Roscoe Parrish was coming across the middle and got laid out by Stanford Samuels. From then on, I said, alright, this is where I’m going to be.
Editor: How difficult was it to overcome a knee injury that forced you to red-shirt your first year at Florida State?
PG: It was real tough. I was leaving junior college and was an All-American who was all ready to come out for the NFL Draft that year. But in the second game of the 2006 season against Troy State I tore my ACL that kind of slowed me up a bit. I rehabbed from it and did a lot of stuff to get that knee right, but it set me back for about a year. The hardest part was the mental aspect of it, just knowing that you were ready to make it big and then to have an injury that delays that process.
Editor: You were a three-sport star in high school, which included weight lifting. How much did that help you prepare for your professional football career?
PG: It definitely helped a lot. Tremendously, really! A lot of guys in high school would play basketball in the offseason when football was over, but starting in ninth grade, I chose weight lifting instead because I knew it could only make me stronger and become a better football player. I think I benefited because of it.
Editor: After spending time with the Orlando Predators, how was making the transition to play for the Storm, who are ‘War on I-4’ rivals with your former team?
PG: I think it’s gone pretty well so far. It was a little weird at first just because the two teams have a history and a mutual dislike for each other. But once I got here I realized that we had a great bunch of guys here who compete hard and I think we’ve formed a lot of chemistry so far. I feel right at home right now.
Editor: You’ve said before that if you were to give up every single possession you owned, you would never let go of your Cadillac CTS. What makes that car so special to you?
PG: (Laughs) I love that car. I used to have two older cars, so this was a huge upgrade for me, and let me tell you, it is smooth. There’s nothing like having a fresh, clean car.
Editor: Speaking of cars, is that one of your interests away from the football field?
PG: Yeah, definitely. I love working on cars. But other than that, I really enjoy personal training and working out. It makes you feel good. I’d like to eventually open up a personal training facility and work with kids and adults on how to get in shape. That’s one of the things I really enjoy, educating kids about youth sports and fitness and giving back to the community.
Editor: You’ve often said your grandfather was your biggest inspiration growing up. What made him such a special figure in your life?
PG: You know, as far as I can remember, he was always there for me and taught me a lot. I respected him for who he was. He was a strong-willed man who was a good Christian. He raised me through the thick and thin, all the way though junior college, Division I, the pro level, everything. He passed away two years ago and it was hard at first but now it’s been a little easier knowing he is watching over me.
Editor: Switching gears a bit, what would you say is your favorite movie?
PG: It’s the strangest thing. My favorite movie is actually The Leprechaun. I think that’s a funny movie. They call it a horror movie and people get scared and kids who go see it cry, but I’ll tell you what, that is a funny movie. I’ve liked it ever since I was a kid.
Editor: What is your idea of the perfect date?
PG: My perfect date would be going out with a nice, beautiful female and having dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Then, afterwards, we would top the night off at the beach and just relax by the water.
Editor: Being a native of Pensacola, the Florida panhandle is well known for its seafood and Cajun culture. Are you a big seafood fan?
PG: Oh man, I love seafood. I can eat calamari, shrimp and grouper every day. I used to eat that a lot growing up. My granddad and I would go not too far from where we lived and go catch red snapper, then bring it back home and fry it up. I miss it a lot. Crawfish was another big thing up there that I really enjoy.
Editor: Now that we know you like seafood, what are some of your favorite recipes?
PG: You know, I’m big on cooking. Like I said when I was younger I would love to fry calamari and grouper together. Not too much has changed. I usually like to still make that and load it up with some Cajun seasoning. I definitely enjoy having fish frys with some French fries, hushpuppies and fried okra on the side.