"I'm going to Disney World!" Those are the words every player in the Super Bowl wants to be yelling as the confetti floats down from the rafters. It means they were just named the Most Valuable Player.
In Super Bowl XLIII, that honor belonged to Santonio Holmes. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver had a great game, a brilliant final drive, and a heart-stopping touchdown catch to cap it off.
In the past, some have questioned his character and motivation. However, in the playoffs, he took his game to a new level and showed that he could be the spark the offense needed.
My interview with Holmes leading into the 2009 season would be filled with reflection on a great year and insight on the year to come.
Having played second fiddle to Hines Ward in the past, not many focused on Holmes and might not know as much about him as a person. Now, having hit the spotlight, it's time that everyone sees the man under the helmet.
The following questions are designed to gain a general understanding of life on and off the field. Who is Santonio Holmes the football player? Who is Santonio Holmes when he's not making one of the most spectacular plays in Super Bowl history?
First of all, congratulations on a fantastic season. In your oppinion, what sticks out as the main attribute that led Steelers to the championship last season?
This is just a general question to recap last year and set the table for questions about the team going into this season.
Follow up: How does it feel to be only the sixth wide receiver to win the Super Bowl MVP Award, joining the likes of Jerry Rice and Steelers great Lynn Swann?
Just asking some easy ice-breaker type questions to get him relaxed and settle into the conversation.
What was your offseason like this year as opposed to previous seasons?
This is designed mostly to let him talk about his life away from football.
Follow Up: Did you get to enjoy a trip to Disney World with your family?
Holmes is the father of three and this would be a nice chance to get him to talk about more about the family.
How long did you get to celebrate last season?
Again, this is a chance to let Holmes talk about how he spends his life off the field.
Follow Up: Have you had more requests for your time in the community with your increased popularity?
Every football player deserves a stage to let people know how they help out in the community. It's far more enjoyable to root for a person when you know about the different charities and community events they are involved in.
I hear more and more that the NFL's offseason gets shorter and shorter every year. Mentally, have you already started the 2009 season or is that something that will happen closer to training camp?
I want to start getting into the upcoming season and find out when he will switch gears himself and start putting last season behind him.
Follow Up: Do you find yourself eager to get back at it with the team, or is it a little disappointing that you don't get more time off for yourself and your family?
Not that I want him to pick between his team or his family, but more to find out his motivation level. He's never been viewed as a workaholic, but that could just be a perception.
Do you approach training camp any differently now that you're seen as one of the veterans and team leaders?
Again, this is just to gauge how he views himself and his role on the team. With Hines Ward signing an extension, will he see himself as a leader of the wide receivers?
Follow Up: What kind of relationship have you had with Hines Ward since he has been a mainstay on the wide receiver corps since you've been drafted? Do you find yourself in a mentor role with younger players like Limas Sweed and Mike Wallace?
A lot of focus will be on replacing Nate Washinton's production from the number three wide receiver position. Not only will this tell us if Holmes actively seeks out a mentor role on the team, but will tell us which younger players are seeking out the veteran advice.
People always talk about the Super Bowl Champions as having a bull's eye on their back. Is there anything different about the team's mentality knowing that every team is gunning for you?
Kind of a standard question, but it will be interesting to see how he looks at the upcoming pressure.
Follow Up: How about you personally? Do you think that teams will defend you differently after your performance in the Super Bowl and playoffs?
It will be interesting to see how he views himself as far as his standing within the league. Wide receivers are known for being ego-centric and will Holmes be focused on being an elite receiver or about the team's overall success?
What steps do you see the offense making this year? Are there any areas of focus?
With the coaching staff in tact from last season, what will be the area of focus for improvement? Will Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians look to expand the passing game or bring back some more of the run?
Follow Up: What are your personal goals for the upcoming season?
If he does spout off any numbers, it will be interesting to see what kind of yardage and touchdown numbers he's in search of. There's always the chance he would resort to the standard "as long as the team wins" answer.
With the Steelers finishing the season visiting the Miami Dolphins, will it be another home-coming of sorts for you? Do you still have ties to the Belle Glades area?
Holmes grew up in Belle Glades, Florida. An town in southern Florida that is a poor sugar cane farming community. The area has produced an incredible amount of NFL talent for its small size. This could lead to a number of tangents.
Follow Up: The high school you played for has an annual rivalry game against nearby Pahokee called the "Muck Bowl." Do you have any great "Muck Bowl" memories for us?
It will be fun to hear him speak about his past and some fond memories of growing up. The communities in this area are known for being violent and tough. Holmes even admitted to selling drugs as a kid, so it would be nice to give him the platform to speak about the area.
During Super Bowl week, you let it be known that while you were growing up, you sold drugs and lived in an area where that was the norm. How do you reflect on those times now and the decisions you've made in the past?
With the issues in his past, Holmes is an interesting person to see how he's made changes in his life.
Follow Up: What is your message today for kids who look up to you and how you've made your success?
Again, this is a platform for Holmes to talk about his role in the community. It will provide a good way to wrap up the interview on a positive note.
This will provide an all-around knowledge of Santonio Holmes: past, present, and future. While, there would most likely be several tangents resulting from his answers, this base would be a good jumping off point.
These questions could build a well-rounded feature article that could give readers a good understanding of him as a person and a football player.
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