We sat down with New York Jets guard Willie Colon, who has been in the news because of his role in last week's melee in New England. Colon was fined $34,125 for making contact with an official and punching an opponent. Some of our conversation:
Q: You arrived at the fight scene quickly, rushing to support a couple of teammates. Is that the kind of player you are?
Colon: I've always been that guy. The way I was taught and raised into the game, as an offensive line, we're one. We're five moving parts. If one of my guys is in a fox hole and I'm not with him, there's a problem with me. I've always been raised like that. If one of my family members is in trouble and I'm not there to help him out or come to the rescue, there's something wrong with me. That's how I approach this game. That's why I reacted the way I reacted.
Q: How much of that mentality was formed during your childhood in the Bronx? You grew up in a tough area, the Melrose projects on 156th street.
Colon: I grew up in an area, pre-Giuliani (Rudy, the former mayor), where the city was kind of rough. My neighborhood was infested with drugs. There are a lot of drug dealers. There were a lot of bad things going on. It was definitely a fight or flight thing in my neighborhood. You had to fight for respect or guys would walk all over you. It made my personality. I always stood my ground, always fought for me or my brother, had a no-nonsense approach. Every New York kid has a fearless mentality. Every corner is a new adventure, so you have to be edgy. It's the way I was raised.
Q: What was it like on the streets?
Colon: You had a dope dealer on one corner, a neighborhood bully on the other. It just so happened that me and my brother were the only kids that went to Catholic school. The way the projects were set up, we had to walk a long path to get to the school (Cardinal Hayes). We ran into drug dealers, we ran into winos. It was a big drug zone and there were a lot of things going on, but we had each other's back. We had to walk it every day and we couldn't leave each other. That's why me and my brother (Antonio) are so close.
Colon: It was an amazing experience. I went to Hofstra because my mother suffered from Lupus. She was up and down with her sickness and I didn't want to be too far away. I could've went to UMass or somewhere else. Hofstra was in the Atlantic 10 at the time; it was solid and well-respected, and it was in my backyard. If something would've happened to my mother and I couldn't get there, it would've killed me.