Shortly after signing with the Jaguars on March 6, wide receiver Kassim Osgood wasted no time making Jacksonville his home. After a short retreat back to San Diego, Osgood has spent the past two months getting to know his new city, sampling the variety of restaurants the First Coast has to offer and getting acclimated to the temperature and humidity that awaits him at training camp.
Osgood arrives in Jacksonville with the reputation as one of the NFL's top special teams players but will also play a role in the Jaguars offense in 2010. He left San Diego after seven seasons with no ill will, just a player wanting to reach new heights as a receiver.
Calling Osgood only a football player wouldn't do justice to him as a person. The former San Diego State standout returned to school and completed requirements for his sociology degree in 2009. If not on Twitter (@Kassimosgood), you might find him hanging out at Jacksonville Beach or at the local theatre. He has served as an extra in several movies including the hit "We Were Soldiers" with Mel Gibson.
Osgood sat down with jaguars.com this week to discuss his first couple of months in Jacksonville, his career in San Diego and where we might see him 10 years from now, among other topics.
What are your initial impressions of the city of Jacksonville?
It's very nice, kind of like San Diego with the atmosphere and a lot of good people. There are a lot of helpful people. I have been asking on Twitter a lot about where to eat and have been getting a lot of good referrals, a lot of great restaurants.
You have lived in San Diego and now Jacksonville. Do you have something against cold weather?
Yes. I don't like it. I would much rather be in a hundred degree heat than minus-10 degrees and snowing.
You played your first seven years with the Chargers after a career at San Diego State. Do you consider this a fresh start for you as you begin a life away from the West Coast?
Definitely. I'm getting out and going to somewhere totally new, meeting totally different people and just re-establishing myself.
People in the NFL recognize you as arguably the best special teams player in the league. Now you come to Jacksonville and you are trying to make a name for yourself at wide receiver. Why?
I want to add more to my namesake, just to be able to go out and do more than just special teams and be a receiver.
In San Diego, was it just about not getting the opportunity?
Yes. They weren't giving me opportunities at all. They told me that when my contract was up. They said, 'We want to resign you here but you're not going to play receiver, just special teams. Me, not wanting to be put in the corner, as (late) Patrick Swayze said in Dirty Dancing, "Nobody puts baby in the corner."
Have you always had the urge to play receiver, especially after having a standout college career at the position?
I have been wanting to play receiver since they stopped putting me in the starting rotation after my second year. I'm not a complainer. We were out there winning, doing our job and I was going to play my contract out. I definitely wanted to get more active in the offense and it wasn't happening. I wanted to take my talent elsewhere.
I have read a lot of comments from former teammates about you and the kind of teammate you were. It had to be tough for you to leave San Diego.
Yes. There are a bunch of great guys out there, some really good people. I've built a lot of good friendships. We all know that it only lasts so long. When your career is over you have to go back to being yourself so you keep your friendships established. From a professional standpoint, you want to maximize your potential in the small window we have.
A veteran player told me last week one of the things that impressed him about you was your willingness to be here in the offseason and get acquainted with your new teammates. Was that a goal for you after signing in March?
I haven't been going home at all. I'm trying to get my mindset right and my body acclimated to being here, being a part of the team and a part of the community. I am enjoying all my time with the guys on the team. The personalities on this team are so much fun. It's fun because they see me as the old veteran. You lead by example. All the guys that are here love working and being a part of the team; I like that.
Are you looking forward to the week two game at San Diego?
More important to me is week one. Just being able to be in a different jersey with a new team, new coach, new atmosphere and new fans. I'm excited to establish myself as a Jaguar in that first game coming out and contributing to the outcome of the game.
You had your introduction to the Jaguars offense at the club's mini-camp. How would you grade your performance?
It's a different mindset going in knowing you're going to be involved with the offense as opposed to the mindset of knowing I'm not going to be playing. Now you have to concentrate, really focus and learn a new playbook and timing with the quarterback. Plus, you are going out there in different conditions with the humidity and the heat. You add all of that together and then you have to go out there and do it on a consistent basis going against defenses I have never gone against. You have to re-learn the different body styles of the corners and their different techniques. Add that all together at the first mini-camp, I think it was fun. It was a lot of extra work and studying with the coaches. I thought I caught up well.
How do you see your role?
The coaches haven't put a role on anybody yet. I have seen different guys do all the routes so they are teaching us to learn everything because you never know. Dirk (Koetter) and (Todd) Monken have a great understanding of the different defenses we're going to go against and they have a lot of game plans that switch it up and keep us all fresh. It keeps us from getting pigeonholed.
But you still want to play special teams, right?
Oh yeah, that's an important part of the game. A good drive starts out with a good return. You get a good kickoff return out to the 40-yard line and that's a short field.
It's pretty unique to have arguably the two best special teams players in the AFC on one team with yourself and Montell Owens.
It's great. People don't understand. You can't double us both or put three people on both of us and expect not to have any of these other guys come in and make a play.
Switching gears, you went back last year and earned your college degree.
It was great because it keeps my mom off my back. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college so it was important for me.
As fans get to know you I think they will see how well-rounded you are. I know you take your job seriously, but there seems to be a lot more to you than just football.
A lot of people allow their job to define who they are personally. You can't let the job define who you are, it's just something you do. One of my buddies who is an actor always says, 'Acting is what I do, it's not who I am.' A lot of people will approach and ask him about a certain role in a movie and say, 'Say a funny joke or something.' He says, 'I'm funny because I'm an actor but it's not like on-command all the time that I'm out there making jokes. There is a different side to who I am.' That is the hard thing about it because people don't separate themselves from their job.
People might not know about your acting skills. You have screen credits for roles in the movie "We Were Soldiers," the CBS show "Jericho," MTV shows "Road Rules: Viewers Revenge" and "Short Circutz," along with several roles in television commercials. How did this all start?
My brothers and I have been doing that since we were little. We would get grounded all the time because we were always in the house and we had to find something to entertain ourselves. We had a little video camera and we would always re-enact scenes from movies. It just caught on from there. I took some acting classes in college and was an extra in a couple of movies.
How did your friendship with actor Michael Clarke Duncan come about?
He's a UFC fan and I used to see him at the fights all the time. I have a ton of friends that are UFC fighters so I would go to different fights and hang out ringside. Jay Glazer introduced me to Michael Clarke Duncan and he was always on our sidelines at San Diego for pregame. He would come and watch the games.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I might still be playing football if I can stay in shape and I'm playing with good teams, then I'll play as long as my legs will work.
If I'm producing a movie about you, who play's Kassim Osgood?
Probably Idris Elba. He was in The Losers and the movie with Beyonce, Obsessed.
What's your favorite movie?
The Matrix trilogy