In his seventh season in Atlanta, Jason Snelling has proven to be an integral all-purpose back during his Falcons career and is the kind of team player every club needs to be successful. His role will increase even more this Sunday with Steven Jackson sidelined with an injury. Off the field, Jason continues to very active in the Epilepsy Foundation both locally and nationally. In 2013, he participated in a national epilepsy walk in Washington, DC and supports their biggest fundraiser of the year, Taste of Love, as well as participates in the Magnolia Run to benefit that worthy cause. "As a guy who has epilepsy himself," Snelling also takes the time to visit children at local hospitals talking to kids and parents about dealing with epilepsy. Behind The Facemask goes in-depth with Jason to find out more about this product from Chester, Va., who once finished a Falcons game despite a broken jaw and owns a yogurt shop in Colorado.
Frank Kleha: If you weren't playing football, what you be doing?
Jason Snelling: I would like to go to culinary school and become a chef. It's a passion of mine. I was the youngest of three boys in my family. My mom (Lillian) didn't have any girls, and I was the last one, so in order to get some food I was in the kitchen with my mom a lot. She was a big cook so I took to it and enjoyed it. I would like to entertain that going back to school and testing out my skills.
FK: What's the best thing you make?
JS: The favorite meal my kids love is barbeque chicken and mac & cheese. That's a staple they love so I enjoy cooking it for them. But I try to cook everything. I consider myself a chef, even though I'm not quite there yet.
FK: What's your favorite meal of the day?
JS: I'm absolutely a dinner guy. That's the meal I can be at home with my family and eat. It's a great opportunity to talk to my kids over the dinner table. We actually decide who is cooking that night and they set the menu and recipe they want to try. If I'm cooking that night, my wife will go out and get all ingredients and I'll cook it and vice versa. We do it like that in order to try new things and new recipes. It's family bonding time also.
FK: When you eat out, do you find yourself critiquing the chef?
JS: When I go out to eat I'm always curious, especially about the new dishes that I try. There have been sometimes when there have been dishes that I've really enjoyed when I have asked to speak to the chef. I like to know tips and how they made it. But sometimes they don't want to tell you, sometimes they do. To me, cooking is an art form and I enjoy learning all the minute details about it.
FK: Do I really need to ask what you like to watch on TV?
JS: (Smiling) Food Network is a big channel for me and my wife. I stay up late at night and watch it. I particularly like the chef challenges that they do. They give you the ingredients and you have to make it within 30 minutes.
FK: What are three things on your bucket list?
JS: To skydive, cliff jump. My brother did it in Jamaica, and I would like to snowboard in the Alps.
*FK: Sounds like you love the outdoors? *
JS: I love to snowboard. I was an avid snowboarder growing up as a kid. I lived in a remote area of Maryland for a short period of time when I started when I was about eight years-old. I was hooked then. I had a buddy of mine that I traveled with during (school) breaks to places like Colorado and Utah snowboarding. And I fell in love with it actually to the point where I reside part-time in Denver, Colorado in the offseason. I started skiing, but then got onto snowboarding and never went back.
FK: Do you like winter sports?
JS: I love the X-Games and the Olympics. I went to the X-Games this past year in Aspen. I actually own an extreme sports facility in Thornton, Colorado called Progresh. It's an interactive training facility where you can do things like indoor skiing and snowboarding. We have a skate park, BMX and all extreme sports inside. It's a 30,000 square foot warehouse. I've owned it for two years. My love for snowboarding took me in that direction and I will do a lot of that in the second part of my life. I also own a yogurt shop named Ziggy's in Denver.
FK: Did you meet any of the X-Games athletes like Shaun White this year?
JS: Yes, I have gotten the chance to meet Shaun through some friends. Watching guys like Shaun White and seeing it up close and what they do, you have to have some guts to be at that height and do those types of tricks. You have to be fearless. As a football player, people look at us as being fearless, but those snowboarders and extreme sports athletes are fearless. I admire the work they put in and the danger they put themselves in. It's fun to watch.
FK: What's the most unusual thing that's happened to you in your football career?
JS: In college at the Continental Tire Bowl (in Charlotte) game against West Virginia, I had a fan literally ask me to sign his baby's head. His dad was more excited for me to do it than the kid was. I just couldn't do it, though.
FK: If someone asked you for your best piece of advice, what would it be?
JS: Always be prepared like you are the next man up.
FK: That seems very appropriate for this weekend because of your current situation.
JS: It does fit for this week. I feel like in my career you have to make the most of your opportunities and you always have to be ready.
FK: Any pet peeves?
JS: My pet peeve is when someone asks me a question and before I can even answer it they ask me more questions. It absolutely drives me insane. It shuts me down.
FK: Which fictional character do you wish was real?
JS: Batman was my favorite character growing up. He's probably still my favorite action hero so that would be cool if he was real. I always felt like he was the only superhero who didn't have super powers but did super things.
FK: Favorite Batman actor?
JS: I'm an original Batman watcher, so I would have to say Val Kilmer. But I do like the newer Batman. I can watch Dark Knight (movie) over and over again.
FK: Speaking of movies, would you rather be the good guy in movies who gets all the girls or the bad guy who has all the good lines?
JS: As an actor, I would rather be the guy who has all the good lines because the good lines are going to take you to the next movie.
*FK: If you could design your own home what three rooms are a 'must have'? *
JS: My kitchen (obviously), my master bedroom and my man-cave. I gotta have my man-cave.
FK: So what would you put in your man cave?
JS: It's simple. In my man-cave all I need is at least a 70-inch TV, a mini-frig and a recliner. And a good lock to keep people out (laughing).