Behind the Facemask: Patrick DiMarco

It was a gorgeous fall day in Flowery Branch as the Falcons hit the practice fields to prepare for their game against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Frank Kleha: Your uncle is famous golfer Chris DiMarco. Did this make you want to pick up the game as a youth?

Patrick DiMarco: When I was younger he wasn't as big, but as I started getting into middle school and high school he got up to be four or five (ranked) in the world and was well-known. But growing up I didn't really get into golf that much and I wasn't pushed into playing it. I enjoy playing it now more than I did when I was younger.  

FK: Any special rounds when you first started playing?

PD: I got a hole-in-one once on a par-three course. It was a nine-hole, three-par course, about 110 yards away. It was a two-hopper and rolled right in. That's the only one I ever got and the only one I can claim.   

FK: So how is your game now?

PD: I hit the ball a long way but I don't know where it's going. I've gotten a lot better. I've gotten it down to about a seven or eight handicap. When it comes to a scramble or something I'm your man because I can hit the ball along way.

FK: What's your longest drive?

PD: I've probably hit a few out there close to 370 or 375. Consistently, I can probably hit my driver about 310 or 315.

FK: Best experience you've had since coming into the NFL?

PD: The Monday after the Masters, I played in the Hootie & the Blowfish Pro-AM this year. You are matched up with a pro golfer, a pro athlete and a sponsor group. (Pro) Billy Horschel and I got to play together and it was really cool. I've met Billy 10 or 12 times through Chris because they are former Gators. We hung out the whole day and I got to know him a lot better that weekend. We came in second (shooting 17-under) by one stroke to Jim Furyk and Hootie.

FK: I understand how you eventually got noticed by South Carolina to play football was interesting?

PD: When I was in high school I was really under the radar. I was a two-star prospect. It was kind of like a tweener. I played outside linebacker and defensive end in high school at 215 pounds. So I really wasn't getting a lot looks. The story is actually pretty funny. Coach (Steve) Spurrier was in town (in Florida) for the South Carolina-Florida game and it was the first round of the playoffs my senior year of high school. I returned punts in high school, too, and I took a punt back 75 or 80 yards for a touchdown. Spurrier was watching local TV and just happened to see me pop up on his screen. He knew my uncle because Chris played collegiately at Florida and they became friends. Coach Spurrier turned to an assistant after watching me on TV and said, "That's Chris' nephew isn't it? We need to give this kid a thorough look." It was quite the coincidence. Probably the few minutes he was paying attention to the TV he heard the name DiMarco and took notice. A month and half later they offered me (a scholarship).

FK: I saw your tweet where you met Garth Brooks when he was in town on tour, so are you a huge country music fan?

PD: Yes, I am. I like all country music and I'm a fan of Christian rock music. My favorite is Darius Rucker; he's quite the entertainer. But I also like Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Blake Shelton.

FK: What is the best concert you've been to?

PD: I went to Kenny Chesney my first year in college at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2007. It was an awesome concert. Me and a few guys from the team snuck down and got about to the seventh row from the stage. There were seven or eight of us just hanging there together. It was a blast.

FK: What was the last song you sang out loud?

PD: I'm actually a huge Sister Hazel fan. I just kind of picked up the music and really liked it. One of my favorite songs of all time is 'All for You,' and I find myself singing that a lot of times. And then I look around and people are looking at me all weird so I stop.

FK: Favorite sports memory growing up?

PD: I hit three home runs when it was my birthday when I was 9 or 10 years old. My dad was out of town and he called me the morning of my birthday and told me he wasn't going to make it home because his flight got delayed. I was down a little bit and I had a baseball game that night. My mom dropped me off at the field and 10 minutes later my dad showed up right before the game and I ended up hitting three home runs. So that was pretty cool.

FK: Are you a movie guy?

PD: Yes, my favorite is 'Man on Fire' with Denzel Washington. I just love his tenacity in the movie and what he had to do to save that little girl.

FK: How about top sports movie?

PD: 'Friday Night Lights' is the best. It came out when I was in high school during my junior year. My high school team took us all on a bus and we saw it together. It shows the brotherhood of being a high school football team and what you go through together. I think it impacted us as a team. I really like the TV series, also.

FK: Can you name one thing that most people are good at that you struggle with?

PD: Water sports. Any sport that is on wheels or where I'm not grounded I can't do.  I can't stand up on a skateboard; I can't roller skate or ice skate.

FK: That had to be especially tough being from Florida.

PD: I love being out on the lake but I can't wake board or knee board. I would just sit there with my friends and cheer them on. I tried it a few times and just wasn't able to do it.

FK: If you weren't playing football what would you be doing?

PD: Coaching in college. I'd like to get where I could impact young kids lives. When I was in college I saw a lot of guys come in with nothing and they developed them into men. I was blessed because all of my college coaches helped changed my life including a lot of other players' lives.

FK: Is there anything you wish would come back into fashion?

PD: Jean shorts. Everybody makes fun of Jorts. I actually have a pair of jean shorts, but I've worn them twice and my wife looked at me and said, "You are not leaving the house with those on." I love them but she won't let me wear them out of the house. They need to come back in (to fashion) so I can wear them.

FK: Fill in the blank… the last time I lost my phone was…?

PD: I actually lost my phone the day before my wedding (in July) for about two or three hours and I had no clue where it was.

FK: If you could have dinner with any four people who would it be?

PD: Abraham Lincoln, Tim Tebow, George Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

FK: What about an ultimate golf four-some?

PD: Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy - to see if I could keep up length-wise with him, and (Uncle) Chris.

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