Welcome to the 3 Minute Tryst, a 3-minute conversation series exploring sports, music, business and culture in a fun, playful and light atmosphere. Check out the last episode of 3MT with former NFL star Prince Amukamara.
This week I sat down with Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, a 2nd round draft pick out of Wake Forest who is currently the #1 rated safety in the NFL according to PFF through the first 5 weeks of this season. A Fort Wayne native (home to Bernard Pollard and Rod Woodson, among many other football stars), it was a fun interview with a guy on the verge of breaking out in the NFL.
We talked Joey Burrow and his viral photo, how he doesn’t watch film he “digests the game,” what his thoughts are on Skyline Chili (shout out Pardon My Take), why beating Indiana on a Pick 6 was a great feeling, and the toughest receivers to cover in the NFL.
A lot of the interview ended up on the cutting room floor, so here’s a transcript of some of things that didn’t make the video, including a detailed look at how trash talk inspires him on the field and why he flipped at the last moment from playing in the MAC for Toledo, taking a scholarship from Wake Forest in the ACC, and why his mother is such an important figure in his life.
TK: You enjoy people trash talking you?
JB: I think I play better when people talk down to me, and talk crazy to me during the game.
TK: Do you say anything back or do you let them run their mouth?
JB: Yeah, I usually don't say anything until I make a play, honestly. You can't talk much until you make a play. Maybe in years to come when I'm a vet in the league and have been to some Pro Bowls I can talk before I make plays, but I think I like to make my game and my past do my talking for me now.
TK: What's the wildest thing anyone has said to you?
JB: People talk about [me] being soft. The common thing? You're not that big, you don't look like a safety should be. But a lot of people are noticing it doesn't matter how big I look, I still hit hard and talk my talk.
TK: They think you're a pretty boy?
JB: Exactly. That's exactly what it is.
TK: They see the chain, they see the big smile, and they're like, he's not about these hard hits.
JB: I usually got a little clean cut [going]. I'm growing a beard out trying to make it seem like it is.
TK: Trying to seem a little more rough and tumble?
JB: Yeah, I mean I'm still young. I'm still 23 years old, born in 1997, a lot of rookies are still older than me coming into it, so I'm trying to make myself look like an old man a little bit. I don't act tough, I'm super laid back, I don't really say much, honestly.
TK: Mom really wanted you to go Toledo?
JB: Yes, she just felt comfortable with me being close to home, but I think that's where I made my most growth as a person was being away from home. I FaceTimed with my mom, she's always been there doing everything for me. Me being able to go eight hours away? She would still drive every weekend and see me play. She would come to my games one night and drive right back. It was a great experience for me to get away from home.
TK: What was the best road trip moment driving 650 miles to visit Wake?
JB: It was weird. I had two offers a week before signing day, from Ball State and Toledo. I was going to Toledo to play in the MAC, and a week before signing day, I got two offers: Wake Forest and Iowa. I tried to push signing day back a week so I could visit both of them, but they were looking for someone to sign right away. I decided to go someone warm and different, it was the first thing I thought of. Wake Forest was a private school with not too many kids. And I went to visit and loved it.
TK: Besides the snow blizzard (on the trip) what stuck out? Any drag out laughing moments?
JB: Me and my mom are kind of the same person. We listen to old school music when we're driving. It was a unique moment for my mom to even go, she worked her butt off to provide for me and my siblings, to go on vacation and go with her son to a private school with a full ride scholarship? Pretty amazing. It's one of those moments I'll always remember, for someone who sacrificed so much for me.
The funny part of this interview to me was showing Jessie the photo of Joey Burrow. It was the first time he’d seen it (which I was shocked by) since he’s not active on social media. That photo broke the internet for a few days and yet, he was completely unaware of it. The photo, btw I said was a little more lighting and cool factor than flat out sex like so many of my colleagues, male and female would like to believe. To know that Joey Burrow is just walking around in JUST his shoulder pads for no reason is laugh out loud comedy to picture.