Being an offensive lineman may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but it's vital to an NFL team. University of Miami left tackle Bryant McKinnie is expected to be a top selection in the 2002 NFL Draft. Each week, he will stop by and offer thoughts on what life is like for this future NFL giant.
It's alright being a big guy. You get accustomed to people staring and wondering who you are. I've learned not to pay attention anymore, but friends who are with me always wonder if I notice people staring. I began to notice people looking at me in high school. Nowadays, I'm used to it -- I don't worry and just go about my business.
People can tell I'm an athlete when they see me. I'm sometimes asked if I'm a basketball player. I've been in airports a lot lately -- I was in Pittsburgh a while back to work out with my agents. The paper up there published that a bunch of us (including Nebraska QB Eric Crouch) were coming up. There were fans waiting for me as I got on my return flight. They were looking for autographs and pictures. People knew who I was then!
Flying is a different story altogether. I've flown first class a lot since the Rose Bowl, which is nice considering my size. I get spoken to often sitting up there with businessmen and other people you'd expect to see. I sat in coach prior to the Rose Bowl, but I was never uncomfortable. The flight attendants would find some extra room or move me to first class.
For clothes, I go to a place in Miami called Austin Burke. They have a lot of Sean John clothing that comes in big and tall sizes. When I head home to Philadelphia, I go to a place called Torre's, which also carries all big and tall sizes. I wish I could shop at other places (like Bloomingdale's, etc.), but I've gotten used to the bigger stores. I've been shopping at those kinds of places since I arrived at the University of Miami.
There's a place in Atlanta where my grandma orders my shoes. I remember once in high school, I wanted to write a letter to Shaquille O'Neal because I read an article that indicated he had to special-order shoes because his feet are so big. He had a hard time finding shoes, too.
Then there are children -- they're always fun. When kids meet me, they usually stare and then say something to their parents. Parents try to keep their kids polite by saying, "Stop staring at him!" But it's okay, I'm comfortable with it.
A lot of people recognize me in South Florida because I played for Miami. In other places, people just look and say "Who is that? That's got to be somebody!" And they always want to know who I am, so they approach me. When I walk through the airport, even security people say something or will ask me who I am.
Just because I'm a big man doesn't mean I can't do things. Don't ask me to limbo or anything, but I can go on roller coasters if I want, or anything like that. Being big hasn't kept me from doing things everyone else does.
I want to remind everyone to catch me on TV next week. I'll be on ESPN's Unscripted with Chris Connelly and FOX Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period. I'm looking forward to going on those shows.
(Each week, McKinnie will share which teams have contacted him.)
I did a radio interview for a station in San Diego. It went pretty well. If you've read any of my previous diaries, you know I've spoken of the Chargers often. I'm leaving to meet with Jacksonville later this week. Last week, I had a meeting with Carolina. It went pretty well -- I met everybody. It should be an interesting week leading up to the big day.
-- As told to Dave Richard