Calvin Pryor talks a big game, and he's standing Pat
Weeks before stepping onto the field for his first live action in the NFL, Jets first-round safety Calvin Pryor has already said he hates the Patriots, hates the Giants, and doesn't particularly like future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Which sort of blows up the idea that NFL rookies should be seen and not heard.
But Pryor can't help himself, nor does he want to help himself. This is who he is, and this is the kind of stuff he's not afraid to say -- be it in the media or across from a receiver with whom he's engaging in some trash talk. Two weeks after a television interview in which he channeled his inner Rex Ryan and called out the Patriots and Brady, Pryor is unfazed by the heaping dose of criticism he got from outside the walls of the team's training complex.
"I heard of a lot on social media, but I really don't care too much about social media," Pryor said.
He makes no apologies.
"I said what I said, I put it out there, and I don't take none of it back," he said Thursday. "The Patriots are our rivalry. We're trying to fight for the same thing -- the AFC East title and also a Super Bowl. That's the only thing on my mind. I'm not worried about anything else."
Pryor may one day learn to take a more diplomatic route, especially after he actually faces players like Brady and other star quarterbacks around the league. But that day may not come for a while . . . if ever. The kid likes to talk, and he doesn't expect that approach will change much over the years. Especially when it comes to facing the perennial AFC East champion Patriots.
"I believe in myself," he said. "You have to believe in yourself before anybody else does. That's my main thing. I have a high confidence level within me, and I don't back down from anybody. I accept the challenge. Whenever the time comes when we have to play 'em, I'll show up."
It has been a seamless transition so far for the former Louisville star, although there is much ground to cover, especially when the games start. But he hopes to take a page from the Jets' 2013 first-round pick, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who seemed comfortable from the first day and enjoyed a terrific season en route to winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
"He told me the things that made it easy," Pryor said. "You have to make sure to learn your playbook. You have to be on top of what you're doing. You have to learn not only your position, but the defense as a whole, and things will be much easier because you know what everybody else is doing. Just stay focused and do what's asked of you by your teammates, and everything else will go smooth."
And the trash talk? Well, Richardson hasn't shied away from doing plenty of that in his own right -- both on the field and in the newspapers. The Jets didn't seem to mind when Richardson talked big, and the same holds true now with Pryor, who said he didn't get a single warning from anyone inside the organization to cool it with the smack talk.
"Those guys backed me," he said. "We're here, we're a family. We know what our goal is. We know what's at stake and we're all on the same page about it, so when you have a family member, they're going to be behind you, right or wrong. I use [trash talk] for motivation, just to put a chip on my shoulder. I love proving people wrong."
He'll soon get the chance.