MMQB – When [Browns TE] Barnidge runs, his body lumbers. His burly frame accentuates his thick neck, which has such a limited range of motion that Thomas refers to him as the “anti-Owl.”
“I like to come behind him and scare him,” [Joe] Thomas says, “Because he literally can’t turn his head. He has to turn his whole body…Gary is actually a really good athlete. He just doesn’t look like it.”
Though he was hardly a household name until recently, Barnidge has been one of the NFL’s most multifaceted characters.
He drives a large green pick-up truck with BIG GARY vanity plates. He’s the first in his family to graduate college and aspires to become a professional movie critic (he already runs his own movie review website). He drinks Coca-Cola almost exclusively, has been on two reality show-engineered dates with WWE Divas (Rosa Mendes and Summer Rae, if you’re curious), and he writes music but doesn’t want to sing it.
He also organizes football camps in China, Turkey and Brazil for nearly 2,500 kids. After practices and on most off-days this season, Barnidge has been working on American Football Without Barriers (AFWB), which last month earned 501(c)3 non-profit status.
The first year, they hosted a camp in China for 400 kids. Barnidge was so impressed by one defensive lineman, he brought him over to a camp in the States, where he got an offer from a Division III program on the spot. (The player chose to go to Stanford for academics.)
“We’d love, one day, to have hundreds of students like that,” Barnidge says. They had 800 campers in Brazil in 2014 and 1,200 in Turkey last year. Each trip occurs just after the Super Bowl, and Barnidge and Giacomini include NFL teammates and acquaintances (including Marshawn Lynch, who last year made a post-Super Bowl trip to Istanbul).
So I mentioned before I’ve been dabbling hard in the daily fantasy sports stuff and, if you’ve played any this year, you probably know Gary Barnidge because dude’s been lighting it up all year. But I figured he was just some big generic tight end existing only to make Josh McCown look more like a professional QB instead of some Coke-swigging late bloomer trying to finger bang WWE Divas in between bringing giant Chinese kids to future NFL glory like this MMQB profile paints him as. Then you go on his Twitter and it’s an interesting combo of charity work, movie stuff, and wrestling. Dude is REALLY into wrestling:
Oh and of course his movie review website is straight killing it:
Big time exclusive getting that Avengers trailer by Big Gary, might as well retire from football now and fill the hole in our hearts Roger Ebert left. But I have to say, I kinda love it all. It’s nice to see just some normal good-hearted dude who does stuff like hanging out with fans for movie trivia night become a big time stud at football. He’s not a freak Gronk athlete who’s been a stud all his life, just a big dude catching TDs with his legs then rolling into the end zone and after the game trying to use his moderate fame to hook up with chicks. Forget LeBron and his bullshit, there’s no more perfect of a Cleveland athlete than some 30-year-old journeyman meathead tight end who loves WWE, has BIG GARY vanity plates, and seems like a genuinely nice Midwestern dude. I’m 100% in on the Barnidge experience on behalf of them all.
PS the difference between kids meeting Gary Barnidge before he was “good” and after is pretty hilarious. Post-fame Barnidge:
Kid’s all amped up, flexing with the goods from his new favorite player. Pre-fame Barnidge:
“Fuck you think I want your dirty ass shoes for man, you even on the team bro?” – That kid