HAPPY MARCH! We sat down with Cleveland Browns offensive lineman and former Wilson standout Joel Bitonio at On The Rocks to talk about his career so far and what it takes to be one of the best players in the world at his position (15:14-49:41). Since March is the greatest month in history, we ranked the months in order from best to worst (3:44-8:10). In 'Iron Sharpens Iron' we talked about Long Beach State basketball and its 1,000th win in program history and broke down our chances to get to the Big Dance (8:11-12:08). We talk about what's been really making us angry in 'Grind My Gears' (52:36-57:25). As always we ended the show with the 908 Athlete of the Week. This week is Long Beach State point guard Deishuan Booker (57:27-59:23).
Joel Bitonio Q&A
Q: Do you have a nickname with the Browns?
A: No, mostly just BItonio. You know, last name football guys, some people call me Joel. I was J-man in college a little bit.
Q: Can you name every single quarterback you’ve protected in your NFL career?
A: I think so. Hoyer, Manziel, Shaw, McCown, Austin Davis, RG III, Cody Kessler, Deshone and Kevin Hogan.
Q: Talk to us about what your week looks like on a daily basis?
A: You come in Monday, postgame and we will usually do a pool workout, maybe a light lift, trying to get the blood flowing. We watch film and then we are out, Monday is kind of quick. Tuesday is a day off but guys come in and get a lift in or rehab if you got something banged up. Wednesday is a tough day, you’re probably like seven to seven, you get all the film to install for the week and we wear pads on Wednesday so it’s a heavy hitting practice. Thursday is half pads, still a long day, maybe you will get out a couple hours earlier. Friday is a half day we like Fridays because in Cleveland we get a caterer. Each position group gets to cater their own food per week so we get excited for that.
Q: What goes on during Saturday is it a walk through day?
A: If we are traveling we travel that day but it is a walk through. Actually we do Friday walk through now. I forget our coach changed it but we do a Friday walk through and Saturday is a little more up tempo trying to get the blood flowing, it’s not hard physically, but you try to run around a little bit and sweat. It is a quick practice though, you’re out there for an hour. Pretty much the game plan is in, if you have any little questions you might take a test or something like that.
Q: During the season are you stressing during the week and are you guys going pretty hard during practice?
A: So Wednesdays are tough. For me Sunday night I feel pretty good, Monday I feel terrible, Tuesday I feel terrible and then we bang again on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday aren’t too bad because you don’t even put shoulder pads on.
Q: Who would win in a game between the 2008 Lions and the 2017 Browns?
A: ’17 Browns.
Q: What were you telling yourself during the year last year?
A: Personally its hard. I played every snap on offense and that was huge for me because I was hurt the previous two years. I had a serious injury my third yea I had Lis franc surgery which was a nine-month recovery. It’s tough because you don’t do much and it’s like 12 weeks in a boot. You lose a little strength in your leg.
Q: Do you want to talk about the influence your father made on your career and continues to make today?
A: He was huge, you know, anytime you have that influence growing up I think as a kid, he never forced me into any sports but once I joined a sport he was a million percent behind me. Anything that I could possibly do he was there to support it. He was a screamer, he enjoyed yelling a little bit but it was always positive stuff.
Q: What kind of advice would you give to a young kid?
A: I would say try not to look too far into the future. Treat every day like a moment because it goes by quick. I think back and it’s been eight years now probably nine since I graduated high school and those were great times.
Q: What is your favorite part about Cleveland as a city?
A: I like the food. I’m a big guy, an O-lineman they do a good job. It is really up and coming, you hear some bad things about Cleveland but the last ten years the downtown area has really improved.
Q: What would the score be if you played LeBron one on one?
A: Depends on how serious he’s going. Probably 11 to 2.
Q: When you were in high school at Wilson did you think you were a better player at football or basketball?
A: I just always fit in, in football more being a 6’4 stalky white kid. Honestly I probably enjoyed basketball a little more because you always had the ball in your hands. In football as an O-lineman you’re there but it is just a little different.
Q: Has Hugh Jackson ever yelled in his life?
A: Yea. He gets fired up but he is pretty mellow most of the time. There is times he gets fired up but the NFL is a different breed and players have a lot more leverage than in college.
Q: What is the dirtiest play you have seen in the NFL?
A: Probably something with Vontaze Burfict included.
Q: Has Ndamukong Suh ever done anything to you?
A: No, luckily when we play them he usually lines up on the other guard. I think he just plays hard and he will try and finish some guys.
Q: What do you do for the rookie hazing?
A: We are pretty cool. We like food so we will make them buy some snacks and keep the room stocked. Chick Fil A every once in a while, some breakfast stuff. We don’t try and uh, we are a financially smart o-line but we don’t want to take them out and make them spend ten grand on a dinner we won’t remember two years from now.
Q: What is your go to karaoke?
A: I’ve never done karaoke. I’m really terrible at remembering lyrics but probably a country song that I can keep up with.
Q: How close are you with the dawg pound?
A: You’re close. They are great fans but they are pretty savvy too. A lot of them will recognize you out at the grocery store or shopping, driving around or at a restaurant a lot of people will recognize you there. They are great fans and it’s been tough. We are going to have a sellout week one even though we went 0-16 last year.
Q: Did Colin Kaepernick kneel a lot in college?
A: No I never saw him take a knee in college.
Q: Are you mad you are not playing in London this year?
A: I think one time every few years in good enough for me. We went last year it was a cool experience, I had some family over there that came to the game and that was awesome.
Q: What is your favorite sports movie?
A: Remember the Titans and Miracle.
Q: What is your favorite vacation spot?
A: Hawaii for beach vacations. Hawaii to me is the best of all worlds.
Q: Go to spot in Long Beach when you come home?
A: Nicks on 2nd.
Q: Best high school sports memory?
A: Basketball was my junior year in the playoffs. Football my sophomore year we actually made the playoffs which was big for our school.
Q: What is your favorite NFL stadium besides First Energy?
A: Probably Pittsburgh.
Q: Who wins in a one on one matchup between you and your brother?
A: We haven’t played one on one in a while but I’m going to say me because I am too competitive.
Q: How much do you hate Mater Dei?
A: A lot. I just hate the whole process of private school poaching public school kids.
Q: What is your best coach Hollister story?
A: I remember in high school if you have ever seen coach Hollister coach he plays defense as we are playing defense and one time he dove on the ground to get a loose ball even though it was on the sideline and his pants just ripped right down the seam and he coached the rest of the game with ripped pants.
Q: Who is your least favorite NFL team?
A: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Baltimore.
Q: Who is the toughest player to block in the NFL?
A: Aaron Donald.
Q: Would you consider playing for the Rams?
A: Of course. I’m kind of tied up in Cleveland for a while.