Jets vs. Patriots; Interview with Dustin Keller

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Steve Serby of the New York Post sat down with New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller for the following interview:


Q: When did you start calling your mother before every game?

A: Definitely since I’ve had a cell phone … senior year of high school?  Every single game I’ve ever played in — whether it be football, basketball,  running track, anything — I always call my mom and pray with her for every  single game.

Q: Describe what that conversation will be like.

A: It’s generally pretty short, ’cause when she goes through her prayers,  they can be pretty lengthy. Whether it be in my hotel room, whether it be on the  bus, whether it be in the locker room, she goes through the prayer and she kinda  puts her own little spiel together on the prayer, and then the Prayer of Jabez  also. She freestyles everything off the top of her head but the Prayer of Jabez  she memorizes.

Q: You also pray for your teammates, family and friends at before  the game, at halftime and at the end of the game.

A: And I even pray for my dog Achilles. … He’s not even my dog, he’s my  son (smile).

Q: Describe your mother.

A: The sweetest woman in the world. … You couldn’t pay her to say  something negative about somebody. She will do anything for her [five] sons,  anything in the world. I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about her —  obviously they wouldn’t because there’s five brothers and they might get whupped  if they did that. She’s the Keller version of Mother Teresa; she’s just the  sweetest woman ever.

Q: When you found out your father had died of a drug overdose, what  was your reaction?

A: Anger. … I was really mad, I was really upset. It was around seventh  grade, and he had never seen me in any real competitive sport, whether that be  middle school basketball or football or anything. And just to think that …  he’s never going to see me play in person, obviously. … He’s watching me from  above, but just for him not to actually be there, that hurt for a long, long  time. And still bothers me from time to time just to know that I’ve made it this  far, and he hasn’t gotten the chance to be there in person to watch any of this,  and that really does kill me, but also I use it as motivation. I know he’s  looking down on me. That’s part of the prayer too, just for him to stick with  me, and be there, and help me push through anything that comes my way.

Q: Were you aware that he had a drug problem?

A: I was not. … We’d only see him maybe once a month, two months, three  months … very rarely we really even saw him, but anytime we did, still we  welcomed with open arms, that’s still your dad, and you love him, you’re so  grateful to spend that time with him, but hadn’t seen him for quite some time  and then we got this information so … It’s a hard thing to deal with,  especially when you’re a middle school kid. I know I was getting picked up in  the car, and all my family’s in the car. … I was wondering why everybody was  in the car at the same time. And I’m sitting there making jokes getting in the  car, and then they informed me. … It was like, I went from an ultimate high,  just leaving basketball practice and stuff, to an ultimate low. … It was the  hardest thing in the world to deal with … just didn’t know how to go on but  … then you just think about he’s the one that really got me started in sports,  so what would he want me to do? Just give every single thing I got. Everything I do, I do for my family, and him included. That’s why I’m just so fortunate and  so blessed, to be in a position I am, that I can take care of my family if I  have to.

Q: Who was it that told you?

A: My mother told me.

Q: Do you remember her exact words?

A: I get in the car, and then I’m making a joke, and nobody laughs and so  … “Why is everybody being so quiet, what’s wrong?” Then she’s like, “Dustin  … your father, he passed away.” And it’s just like: “What? What do you mean,  what are you talking about?” “He’s gone.” Everybody’s in tears and … he’s not  gonna be at Thanksgiving anymore, not gonna be at Christmas, you’re not gonna  see him again, not in this life, you’re not gonna see him again. Obviously one  day we’ll be together again but … it’s a really tough thing,

Q: Your parents split up when you were young.

A: Everybody loved him, still people always talk about him. I think a lot of  my brothers and I get our mannerisms and sense of humor from him.

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