Behind the Facemask: Robert McClain

Frank Kleha: What's the best holiday gift you ever received?

Robert McClain: When they first came out my dad got me Super Nintendo. Video games, back in the day, were not huge and they've come a long way. That's my all-time favorite gift.

FK: You've had some big picks during your Falcons career so far, but how huge was last week's at New Orleans to keep your playoff hopes alive?

RM: I just remember thinking "It's the two-minute drive and this is it. We either stop them on this drive or we go home." It felt like it happened in slow motion; breaking on the route, seeing the pass and catching it. And just the excitement on the sideline that shows you how much your teammates love you and how much they trust in you. Everyone believes in each other on this team from the coaches all the way down to the players.

FK: We talked last year about your burgeoning artist aspirations. But you've taken it to the next level this year haven't you? 

RM: Yes, I have a website, it's mcclainsart.org. I sell certain select prints. It's a site for people to look at my art. I have a majority of my pieces on there but I only have four prints, including the Falcons gloves I drew last year. But I'm going to update it soon as the New Year starts.

FK: I know it's hard during the season, but how often do you draw?

RM: I don't do a lot during the season. This year I started a piece about three weeks ago. I finished two big paintings on a 36 by 24 canvas and they weren't difficult and I'm about to finish one more this week.

FK: This talent truly runs in the family, doesn't it?

RM: Yes, my uncle went to art school and my mom and my brother used to draw.

FK: Did you get your inspiration from them?

RM: No, it actually came from nowhere. One summer in fourth grade I was doing something at my school and the kids were drawing Dragon Ball Z. I decided I wanted to try it. I picked it up so easily I just continued to stick with it and take art classes.

FK: What would you consider your best piece? 

RM: My best piece to date would be something I finished this summer which was a portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat. I didn't know how to draw portraits so I took a portrait class at Chastain Art Center and it's something I got lucky in. It took me about four weeks to draw after I started it in that class.

FK: Your Falcons piece with the gloves — was that your first team drawing?

RM: I did one white charcoal piece prior to that one on William Moore and Thomas DeCoud. I decided I wanted to do something for the fans. Everybody sees the gloves we wear and you put them together and it creates a Falcons symbol. So I found a picture online and starting drawing it and I added my own touch by getting everybody's signature from last year's team around it. That was a huge piece for me.

FK: Is drawing a way for you to relax away from the field?

RM: It's definitely a way to relax for me. It helps me get away and take my mind off things. I will just sit there for five or six hours and just draw something. Then, take a break, eat, and they go back to it. I will play some Pandora music and relax.

FK: If you could sit down with any four artists for dinner, who they would be?

RM: Basquiat, Da Vinci, Any Warhol and Rich Esson. Esson creates a lot of paintings for athletes in the NFL. It would be a strange dinner with those guys.

FK: Who is your favorite athlete in another sport?

RM: Carmelo Anthony. My dog's name is Melo; I just like him. I like everything about his game regardless of what anybody else says about him.

FK: What was your best sports memory growing up?

RM: My first year playing baseball in Philadelphia in about the third grade I was a left-handed batter and I hit the ball over the right field wall. It was my first homerun ever. That was big for me. I played baseball before football. It's an image that just sticks with me.

FK: What's the strangest thing we'd find in your suitcase on a road trip?

RM: I don't really have anything strange in there but I always bring about five DVDs. I'm a big movie collector of every genre. I bring five different movies with me.

FK: So you must have a good collection of DVDs to choose from each road trip?

RM: I have about 700 DVDs. I've been collecting them forever.

FK: Can you even come up with a list of your top movies?

RM: No, I can't. But any movie with Will Ferrell I enjoy. He's hilarious. I like comedic movies, but I have foreign films, too. I have all types of movies in my collection and even TV series.

FK: What's been your best experience since coming into the NFL?

RM: The coolest experience happened in 2012 when we went to the NFC Championship Game. There is nothing like that. There are four teams left in the NFL season and being just one game away from a Super Bowl there's nothing like that in the world. I've never felt that type of energy in a stadium in my life.

FK: I heard you were a good cook. What's some of the best things you can make?

RM: I can cook a variety of things depending on my tastes at the time. I made lasagna last week. I love lasagna and I can eat lasagna any time of the year. I cook some pretty good pan-seared scallops, too, with some asparagus.

FK: You are a big seafood guy also, especially growing up in the Baltimore, Maryland area. What's your favorite seafood place?

RM: Where I grew up, you didn't have to go to a restaurant. You just go to a seafood market and get some fresh seafood and they will cook it up right there for you.

FK: What is your guilty pleasure?

RM: I love strawberry lemonade. Everywhere I go the first thing I ask for is to see if they have strawberry lemonade. A lady over at Chili's (in Flowery Branch) knows to get me a strawberry lemonade right when I walk in. When I was younger my dad used to squeeze the lemonades into the Mason jars to create his own lemonade. I've been raised on it.

FK: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

RM: A lot of people don't know that I used to play the violin in middle school. I played from sixth grade to eighth grade. I should have stuck with it.

FK: What did you want to be growing up?

RM: A Marine. We are a military-affiliated family. My mom and dad are in the Federal government and my brother was in the arm along with my grandfather. I was in the ROTC for about six or seven years when I was younger. It was something I always aspired to be; watching the movies and how they train. They train them to be unbeatable pretty much and to not fear anything. I always respected the military. Right after college I was ready to go into officer candidate school.

FK: Do you have any pet peeves?

RM: Rudeness or just seeing someone being rude to someone else in public. There are just little things that people should be doing naturally for others like holding a door open for someone.

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

RM: I used to wear the long white T-shirts back in the day. Nobody really wears them anymore. Guys will tease me around here when I sometimes wear my baggy T-shirts.

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