Each week during the season, we'll chat with a different Detroit Lions player or coach for a look at their lives on and off the field in a feature called "Ten(ish) Questions With ..."
Previous Ten(ish) Questions With...: DE Devin Taylor; TE Joseph Fauria; LB Tahir Whitehead; CB Darius Slay; QB Shaun Hill; WR Kevin Ogletree; C Dominic Raiola; WR Kris Durham; DT Justin Bannan; TE Brandon Pettigrew.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Last month, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz said the team was looking for more ways to incorporate rookie running back Theo Riddick into the offense.
And while that hasn't happened much -- he usually only sees a handful of plays -- he has become a reliable special teams player in his first season along with being the No. 3 running back behind Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Riddick has four special teams tackles this season and 25 combined rushing and receiving yards. He has seen offensive snaps in each of the last three games.
We caught up with Riddick this week and chatted about Notre Dame-USC and where he gets his toughness from -- it's not somewhere you might expect.
To start off, what’s your favorite football memory?
Theo Riddick: I guess beating USC. Just everything and it was the final game for us to get in the championship and Notre Dame hasn’t been there since ’88.
You beat them more than once.
Riddick: Yeah, but that last year, with all the seniors, et cetera, that was big.
What do you like to do away from football? You’re a New Jersey guy here in Michigan.
Riddick: I’m a really simple dude, man. I don’t do much, to be honest with ya.
OK, so if you have a week off, what are you doing?
Riddick: I will play basketball. That’s what I love. I have some talent in that. Other than that, I just chill with my family. I’m a very family-oriented guy. So I love chilling with family.
Has it been hard to be away from them?
Riddick: Yes, yes. Tremendously. I’ve got a twin sister, got an older sister, two younger brothers and we’re very tight as a unit and we’re not very far off. I’ve got a twin sister, 22, got a younger brother, 21, and a younger brother, 18. My older sister, she’s 33, but she’s like a second mother so everything ties in together.
So you were the oldest kid but not the oldest kid.
Riddick: Yeah, I was right there on the cusp.
Was that weird? Did you ever have the middle child syndrome?
Riddick: Not really. I am [older] by two minutes, but the whole thing was it kind of sucked having two mothers, you know what I’m saying? They always asked me what I was doing and I was, a little kid, you want to be discrete in what you want to do, et cetera, but obviously where I live, everyone is my family. I’ve got a gigantic family, bro. I’ve got a big family, man. Gigantic.
And a lot of female influence there. What was that like growing up?
Riddick: They were tough on me. You would think growing up, I didn’t have a father in my life at the time, didn’t have a father figure, you would think I would be somewhat more effeminate in some type of ways. But, for example, my first time playing football, my mom took me out in the backyard and tackled me because she said I was too soft.
Were you like, wait, what are you doing?
Riddick: She kept tackling me until I cried. Straight up. I tell everybody the story but nobody believes me. For real.
How old were you? Did you actually cry?
Riddick: I was eight years old and hell yeah, I cried. I was eight years old. Yeah, for sure.
When she’s doing that, are you like ‘Oh my God, why am I playing football?’
Riddick: Yeah. I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit after that. The only reason I kept on playing after that was friends and obviously all of my friends played in the summer so I really didn’t have any guys to hang out with, so that’s when I forced myself to go out and that’s probably the best decision I ever made.
How many times did she hit you before you cried?
Riddick: I can’t remember vividly but I definitely remember her just spearing me and spearing me, telling me I have to get tougher. I remember the first time, I got a sweep, I got a toss to the right and I ran back like 25, 30 yards. I ran backwards. Yeah. To avoid getting hit by the opponent.
So she did that after that?
Riddick: Yeah, she did that after that. She said I was too soft.
Was she yelling at you to be tougher, too?
Riddick: Yeah, like, ‘You’re a man.’ At eight. Like you’ve got to be a man.
That seems to stick in your head still.
Riddick: Yeah. For sure. That’s what brought out my toughness.
Is your mom’s voice in your head in games now?
Riddick: Nah. But before every game, you’ve got to go out there and represent your family. That was so long ago now, it’s kind of out of my brain now. It’s just second nature to be tough.