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We knew Marty Booker was good. We knew he was real good. You should have heard us around the office last week: Marty Booker this, Marty Booker that. We go way back with Marty, all the way to last week, when Eric Neel tossed 10 Burning Questions his way and the Chicago Bears' wideout didn't drop one.
1. Now that the regular season has begun, tell us what you will miss most about training camp and preseason?
Marty Booker: Going into the preseason games and only having to play about a quarter, then getting to relax, just chill out and watch the rest. The vets just hang out, laugh, joke around and eat sunflower seeds. What I won't miss is staying in the dorm rooms at the training camp facility. It's like being back in college; that's what I wanted to get away from. It's all closed up, small ...
Food on plastic trays ...
2. If you could boil it down to one word, what stood between you guys and the Super Bowl last year?
Booker: There is not a wide receiver in the game that I know who isn't selfish. All wide receivers want the ball, every play. Every time a pass play is called, they want the ball -- that's a receiver's mentality. But we know we can't get the ball every play, you know -- we're all big boys, and we feed off each other's success, so it shouldn't be a problem.
4. If you could play with any quarterback in NFL history, who would it be?
Booker: Whoooo, that's a good one. Mmmmmmmm. Any time? Any time ... I know I'm gonna sound silly but, you know what, I'd take Jim Miller any day. In my rookie year, Jim Miller, you know, he was throwing me the ball like I was a vet. He was feeding me, giving me confidence. He got me started. You can't replace that.
What is your favorite play in the book this year?
Among all the defensive backs you'll face this year, who talks the best trash?
Booker: The whole defensive back squad at Philadelphia. They were really running their mouths during the playoffs last year, and they got the best of us, so I know they're going to be talking again when we play them this year. And so, we gonna bring our A-game, and our best trash-talking, too.
Booker: Super Blue Stuff. You know, the stuff from the infomercial? The pain and joint reliever stuff. You can order it off TV? You go through a lot, day in and day out, and you come in sore so you need that stuff. I keep it with me as much as possible.
Do you have to buy your own or does the team provide it?
Booker: Nah, we have to buy our own.
6. If you weren't a football player tomorrow, what would you be doing?
Booker: The nice thing is, I have been blessed with a pretty good contract the past couple of months, so I think I would sit around, watch TV all day and get fat.
What one game on the schedule this year are you most looking forward to?
Booker: It's not one, it's two. New England and St. Louis. Both of them were in the Super Bowl and won. There is going to be a lot national exposure with those two teams and if I could go out and explode in those games, eh, people might start knowing who I am.
7. Chicago is a big sports talk radio town. What is the strangest or most frustrating thing you've heard said about you on the air?
Booker: A couple of years ago, when we were going through rough times, and losing a lot, I was dropping a lot of balls. It was just a rough year and, man, whatever you can imagine, someone said it on the radio, on TV, in the papers, everything you can imagine was said, from "stone hands" to "butterfingers" ... everything.
Is it hard to block that stuff out?
8. How do you get ready to play? Any rituals or superstitions?
Booker: I get a little mesh bag when I first get in the locker room and dump all my clothes out on the floor and spread 'em out and pick 'em out one by one. Oh, and I have to have a rubber band on my left wrist. If I don't have a rubber band on my left wrist, I would not play. I would take the fine. I would feel incomplete.
What if one breaks during the game?
Booker: Oh, I always have backups. I remember last year, I packed my rubber bands in my bags and, you know the locker room guys usually do a good job, but this one time I came to the game, got to my locker and it wasn't there. I was panicked. I was cursing out the locker room guys. They were looking, trying to find me some other rubber bands. It so happens, they had to bump everybody down one locker, so it was in the locker on the side of me, so I was finally able to relax. But until we found it, I was so upset, man, I was ready to fight everybody up in there.
I don't want to upset you, especially because I plan to sit at your house and get fat with you, but you know, it's just a rubber band ... how did it come to mean so much?
Booker: It's all about superstition. I started it in college and had a good game and it just stuck and I've done it ever since.
9. If you could invite any three people from throughout history to dinner tonight, who would you ask?
10. If you could have the strength of 100 men, the ability to fly, or the ability to be invisible, which would you choose?
Booker: I'd pick invisible. I'd go around just doing silly things, whispering in people's ears, just to mess with 'em for the mess of it.
You wouldn't take their rubber bands, would you? Because that would be messed up, man ...
Booker: (laughs) Naaaaaahhhhh, I wouldn't do that.