Veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck terrorized quarterbacks for a decade with the Tennessee Titans before spending last season with the New York Giants. The free agent took a break from his NFL Network visit Friday to discuss the retirement of Kerry Collins, Eli Manning‘s absence from the “Top 100,” and his take on Internet Gangsters.
Kerry Collins hung it up yesterday. You knew him pretty well with the Titans. What kind of player was he in your mind?
KB: Kerry? I used to call him “the old gunslinger.” He was one of the veterans on the team that showed the young guys the way by how he handled his business. He might not have been the most vocal person, but he definitely led by his actions. I think a lot of young guys learned what it was like and what it took to be a professional through Kerry. And when his number was called to go out there and perform, he did a great job for us.
Now the Titans have Jake Locker sitting there minus a veteran mentor. Can a rookie — specifically, Locker — step in and lead Tennessee?
KB: He’s gonna have to. I don’t know Jake Locker personally, I never really watched much tape on Jake Locker, but he’s going to have to go in with the attitude and assume his position as the No. 1 quarterback, if that’s what his role is going to be. … There are some guys on that team that, when I was there, they were developing into young leaders, so I think he will have a lot of support within his locker room … but it’s kind of hard to ask a rookie who hasn’t even sat down with his position coach for more than three hours to go in there and lead a team to anything.
Do you think Twitter’s a good thing for NFL players?
KB: It’s a double-edged sword. You can use it as a good source to get information out about what you’re doing, but sometimes it can be used as a vehicle just for a lot of nonsense. But to each his own. … I think sometimes people take Twitter too serious, and things may get blown out of proportion.
How about what Eagles running back LeSean McCoy had to say about the Giants’ Osi Umenyiora? Are McCoy’s teammates tweaked to see him generate this bulletin-board material? Does it matter?
KB: I don’t think that anyone on their team is irritated. I think it’s something that he chose to do on his own. Twitter’s an open format and you can get out there and say what you want. I bet (McCoy) wouldn’t really have those same words for Osi if Osi was standing in front of him. I know he wouldn’t have those same words.
Internet courage then?
KB: Internet gangster.
NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison enters the room and asks Bulluck just how cold it was during the Titans’ January 2003 road AFC Divisional Playoff Game in New England (a game the Titans lost 17-14).
KB: You know how cold it was? Jeff Fisher had icicles on his beard. It was so cold that the Gatorade froze.
You went to Syracuse. You’ve got no problem with the cold. Right?
KB: Well, every time we’d get back second semester, there were mounds of snow feet high. Our paths were just shoveled out, snow mounds everywhere.
Let’s move on. “The Top 100 Players of 2011″ just wrapped. Your quarterback from last year, Eli Manning, didn’t make the list. Surprising?
KB: That definitely surprises me. I mean, I think Eli takes a lot of flak for whatever reason. For someone who won a Super Bowl so early in his career, he takes a lot of hits. For him not to be on that list, that’s crazy.
Will (former Titans coach) Jeff Fisher be back?
KB: I think Coach Fisher will definitely come back. I think right now, he’s just enjoying life a bit. You know, he’s been a head coach for 17 years. When you’re a head coach, you’re in charge of everything … so I think he’s gonna just enjoy his time, hanging out with his family and enjoying everything he was able to put together for himself off the field. But he’ll be back.
We just passed the anniversary of Steve McNair’s death. What kind of impression did he leave on you?
KB: You know, as a man, he gave me a blueprint on how to be a professional. How to carry myself on and off the field. He told me to always be myself. Taught me how things work in the front office. Taught me how coaches think. He just taught me the game inside of the game of football, from an MVP perspective. He was just a very humble guy. I remember being a rookie and Steve McNair inviting me to his birthday party … so he was a very humble guy, very giving and he definitely cared about his teammates.
Today, you’re a free agent in search of a team. What do you want to say to coaches and teams looking for a linebacker?
KB: From the heart, I would say, if any coach or team was a fan of my style of football before I got hurt in ’09, I’m back to that form and I’m ready to play football. My swagger’s back on 1,000, so, I’m definitely that player. I’ve put a lot of time in this offseason and last offseason rehabbing and training to get back to that player I’ve been over the past 10 years. I’m anxious to get into camp — and I can show you better than I can tell you.
For more on what Bulluck has been up to this offseason, watch him on “NFL Total Access” Friday night at 7 p.m. ET and visit his official Twitter page.