Falcons Vice President of Football Communications Reggie Roberts spotlights a player each week in a series of on-the-spot, off-beat questions in a new weekly segment featured on AtlantaFalcons.com called "Behind the Facemask." This week's featured player is Falcons LB Mike Peterson, who has 32 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble for the Falcons, whose 4-2 record ties for the best in the National Football Conference. We caught up with Mike Pete after Thursday's practice to discuss his 12-year career, mentoring rookies, the recent announcement of his being inducted into the University of Florida Sports Hall of Fame, being an All-American Dad and his quest for that elusive Super Bowl ring.
Reggie Roberts: Last week was not a good week for the team after losing in Philadelphia. As a 12-year veteran, how do get the younger players to refocus their attention on the Bengals game and to put the Eagles game behind them?
Mike Peterson: "I try to do it by my actions. By nature, I am a big talker, but after a tough game, I try to get to the complex with that back-to-work mentality. I think guys feed off of that. The main thing I try to emphasize is that it's one game and that game is over. We've got to learn from the mistakes and quickly move on to the next game."
RR: Are there ever any takeaways from losing in this league?
MP: "I think the takeaway is that there is a thin line between winning and losing in the NFL. Losing games like we lost in Philly reminds guys that we all have to prepare each and every week like we are going to be facing the best team in the league. Preparation is the key."
RR: Let's switch gears and talk about Mike Pete. Across the league, you are known as one of the smartest players in the game, but you are also considered the best dressed player on the team. Are you the best dressed player on the Falcons roster?
MP: Of course. I may be the best dressed cat in the league, man. On the team? I'm insulted. I consider myself the best-dressed player in the entire National Football League."
RR: Your entire ensemble — the suit, the shoes, the hat — you always seem to make it all work. How do you do that?
MP: "The number one thing is the shoes. I'm a big shoe guy. When it comes to getting all the way clean, I think you have to go from the very top to the very bottom. You've got to have a cool hat, the right sunglasses, the right tie, the right vest, the right shirt and the right belt. It's all got to flow, it's all got to match — you've got to coordinate or you'll look like a clown. The entire outfit is topped off with a clean pair of shoes. If you don't have on the right shoes, the entire outfit is ruined. I have a motto: I try to make looking good look easy."
RR: You seemingly wear a different hat every road trip. How many hats do you have?
MP: "My wife is upset with me right now because I'm taking up all of the closet space with all of my hats and shoes. I think I've got 20 hats and about 40 pairs of dress shoes."
RR: How about suits. How many do you have?
MP: "Let's do it by year. I think I bought three my rookie year in 1999. I've upgraded every year I've been in the league with about five or six suits, so I think I have about 70 suits — all custom made."
RR: I understand congratulations are in order since you were recently informed that you will be inducted into your alma mater's (University of Florida) Sports Hall of Fame in April of 2011.
MP: "I'm humbled. There have been some tremendous athletes to pass through the University of Florida and to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys is a tremendous honor. I still can't believe that it's happening. To have my name mentioned with some of the greats who have played there is great. I'm humbled, but I am also very excited."
RR: Are you a movie guy?
MP: "Absolutely. I love movies."
RR: What's your favorite movie of all time?
MP: "I've got three — 'Life,' 'Menace to Society' and 'Friday.' "
RR: When Mike Pete's not playing football, what's he doing?
MP: "I've got two little boys now and I spend as much time with them as possible. My oldest son is named after me — Porter Michael Peterson II, but I call him Mike, Jr. My youngest son's name is Gavin. Being a dad is serious business, and I want to be a great dad."
RR: Some of the guys in the locker room the other day were discussing the prettiest actress in Hollywood these days. Who is at the top of your list?
MP: "That's easy man — Halle Berry. On the music side, I like Alicia Keys."
RR: You are also the team's official DJ with your iPod music box. Tell us how you select the music for the day.
MP: "I've got so much music. I can't fit it all on my iPod, so I have to put it all on my laptop. All told, I think I have more than 30,000 songs. I am a music man. I love music. I've got it all — gospel and all kinds of soundtracks from movies. I'm married, so you know I've got that love-making music. I'm also kind of an old soul and I grew up around a lot of older people, so I've got some of the classics — Barry White, folks like that. I also have the club music — the hardcore rap or the knucklehead music, as I like to call it."
RR: You are a 12-year veteran. As a rookie trying to break in and find your way, which veteran player took you under his wing and helped you?
MP: "Cornelius Bennett (Bennett played for the Falcons from 1996-98). When I first came up, Bennett was this extremely laid-back veteran player who took me under his wing and showed me how to conduct myself. He didn't force me to do anything, but he told me that he would help me if I listened to him. That's the same way I approach young players and rookies. I don't yell and scream. That's just the way I was brought up. I paid respect to the veteran players, and hopefully, my approach is rubbing off on the younger guys on our team right now."
RR: Have you done everything in this game that you've wanted to do?
MP: "Everything but that Super Bowl ring, man. I'm still chasing that ring."
RR: What's Mike Pete going to do when he's done playing pro football?
MP: "Raise my boys. That's my top priority. I am going to be an All-American dad. I am considering the coaching or the personnel side of this business because I think I want to stay around the game in some capacity. But I'm looking at it from all angles. The dad thing for me is serious. I want to be a dad, not play like I'm one. That's the only thing that scares me a little bit about coaching. My Dad (Porter Peterson) was there for me, so that's the only way I know how to do it for my kids."