Blake Costanzo came into the NFL in 2006 as an undrafted rookie with the New York Jets.
He spent 2007 on the practice squad in New York before moving to Buffalo and appearing in three games for the Bills.
He made 15 special teams tackles, while forcing two fumbles in 16 games in 2008 with Buffalo.
The following season, he signed with the Cleveland Browns where he made 14 special team tackles, forcing two fumbles and recovered three as well.
He appeared in 10 games the following season for the Browns making, before being placed on injured reserve due to a groin injury.
He spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers, where he made 12 special teams tackles. He forced a fumble and recovered one in the 49ers’ NFC Divisional 36-32 win over the New Orleans Saints.
The Chicago Bears inked him to a two-year deal worth $2 million this off-season. He will certainly be a key player for them on coach Dave Toub’s special teams unit.
I caught up with Blake prior to training camp and he told me about his road to the NFL, his advice to any kid who wants to be a professional athlete, what his ultimate goal out of the NFL is and much more.
Here’s the interview with Bears linebacker and special teams ace Blake Costanzo.
BB: Was it always your dream to play in the NFL?
BC: It was always my dream to play football. Whether it be college, pros, high school I just loved the game so as long as I could play it I wanted to.
BB: Describe the process of going undrafted in 2006 then getting your first playing time in 2007 with Buffalo? How tough was it?
BC: It was a tough road. Lots of my coaches and friends helped me through the process in college. I spent hours in the school library making a highlight tape. I had coaches write me letters and actually made sort of a resume for football that i sent out to teams. So when I got a chance I never wanted to look back or have any regrets. That’s how I play till this day.
BB: What does your pregame ritual consist of? What kind of songs go onto your warmup playlist?
BC: Well I don’t usually have a ritual. I keep it light. I usually play catch with some kids on the sideline and mess around have fun listen to Adele you know the usual.
BB: Do you have a nickname that teammates call you?
BC: When I was with the NY Jets, Bryan Cox who was a coach there called me “physco.”
BB: What kind of drills do you get put through during practices? Do you get any reps at linebacker?
BC: We all get reps at linebacker. You always have to be ready, so the usual linebacker drill I’d say.
BB: The Bears have had great special teams players under Coach Toub: Brendan Ayenbadejo, Tim Shaw and most recently Corey Graham. What is your goal coming in here and taking over that role?
BC: My goal is just to do anything I can to help the team win. Whether its making plays, giving up my body for Weems and Hester to run thru. I want to bring energy and love for the game of football. The only way to play this game is with passion.
BB: Did playing college football at Lafayette prepare you for the next level?
BC: Yes, I think the coaches I had at Lafayette were great . Along with my teammates football is football it’s all the same between the lines and I’ve been fortunate to always be around football guys. Lafayette wasn’t that far of back then.
BB: What do you expect from this team? Do you think this team has what it takes to make it to New Orleans this season?
BC: I expect this team to play football the way its supposed to be played, tough hard-nosed everybody for each other mentality. We just need to let it all out, if we can do that we have the talent to be very successful.
BB: Speaking of New Orleans, you forced a fumble and recovered another one against them in the NFC Divisional round last year. How great of a feeling was that for you?
BC: Anytime you can make a play to help your team win a game it feels unreal and to make plays for teammates and coaches that you care about makes it even better. It was certainly a great feeling to win a playoff game.
BB: Forcing fumbles is something that is stressed by all teams, but CB Charles Tillman has been one of the best if not the best for a long time. Has Peanut taught you anything about forcing fumbles since you arrived in Chicago?
BC: Peanut is just Peanut he just has a knack for that. He’s one of those guys who is just as rare as they com. He can literally get his pinky on a ball and its coming out. Its fun to watch.
BB: Who on the team have you got closest with thus far? Who on the team has opened up to you and taught you the team philosophy?
BC: Everybody has been great. All the linebackers have been awesome. It’s a great room. The guys are all close and to just be around two of the greats of the game I mean you really can’t ask for much more.
BB: What is your ultimate goal that you want to get from the NFL?
BC: My ultimate goal I want to get out of the NFL is just to live out my dream and to play the game of football the way its supposed to. I have so much respect for all those that played before me that I want people to look at me and say he played the game the right way. To also use it as a platform to be a role model and to give back to the communities and people less fortunate. I’ve been so blessed in my life that you have to share those blessings with others.
BB: Who is your role model? Who is the person who helped you get to this point?
BC: My parents have taught me everything i know. From being hard-working to being humble to being righteous and living right. They always taught me to treat people with respect and for not letting anybody define who I am.
BB: What is your favorite food? Where do you go to eat in Chicago?
BC: I will really eat anything, but i found this cool little wine bar in Vernon Hills that I eat at all the time called Nirvana. It has great food and even better people.
BB: What is your favorite part of football?
BC: My favorite part of football is my teammates. I mean you have guys from all over the world from different backgrounds to colors to religions yet we are all sacrificing for a common goal and to me that’s pretty unique.
BB: What do you have to say to all the kids who dream of being where you are today?
BC: I just say be yourself and always work hard. In all my days I’ve never seen a negative thing come out of pure hard work. You might not always get what you want but something good will always come of it. Don’t let anyone define who you want to be in this world. You are the ultimate judge of that.
BB: Are you a big social media guy? If so, what do you use more Facebook or Twitter?
BC: I’m not really into social media except to look at it when I’m bored. I’d rather sit underneath a tree and take a nap.
BB: What are you looking forward to most this upcoming season?
BC: I’m just looking forward to being in Soldier Field in the middle of December with snow flakes coming down and mud on our jerseys and just playing ball for all of Chicago.
BB: What is your favorite moment in football at any level thus far?
BC: My favorite moment would have to be winning a playoff game with those guys who were on my team last year we had something really special and to share it with them was just awesome.
BB: You faced Roscoe Parrish in Buffalo, Josh Cribbs in Cleveland and now you practice with and against Devin Hester and Eric Weems. Do you think facing those guys in practice made you a better player? Whose the fastest of the four listed?
BC: For sure. I’d much rather have them all on my team then play against them they each have their own thing that they do best which makes them great. But Hester come on the guy just has it all.