Center Jeff Faine was the anchor of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line last season that was one of the most improved in the NFL. While former quarterback Jeff Garcia didn't compile big numbers, it wasn't that he didn't have time.
The matured and Faine, a free agent pick-up from New Orleans, was the key. Faine was a Pro Bowl alternate and is back with an offensive line that is intact from last season.
Faine is also one of the most valuable Bucs off the field, spending plenty of time with local charities both in Tampa and Orlando where he played high school ball. Faine also struck it rich in the oil business during the off-season.
Here are 25 questions for Jeff Faine:
1. Jeff, I remember you at Sanford Seminole High during the late 90s playing for Coach Worthington and a team that would almost rather punt than throw. How did you adjust to pass blocking in college and the NFL?
2. At Seminole you lost every game the first season you started. That was followed by two straight playoff appearances and you were an all-state center and a leader on the field. What was it about you as a leader that caused the turnaround?
3. OK, let's move on to college. You hurt a lot of Florida and Florida State fans who figured you were a lock to stay home. What intrigued you about the Golden Dome and did you catch a lot of flack from the folks back home?
4. When you look at the Notre Dame program today what are your thoughts?
5. At least you got to stay in the midwest with Cleveland when they took you with the first pick in the draft. What were your thoughts on going to a franchise that was struggling at the time?
6. While you were freezing up in Ohio did you ever think you'd come home to Central Florida?
7. What made you leave Cleveland in 2006 for New Orleans? You started every game for the Browns and it seemed like a good fit.
8. After seeing the effects of Hurricane Katrina just a year after the disaster, did it change your perspective?
9. Now let's talk about the Bucs. What brought you to Tampa last year? Was the hometown allure just too much?
10. When you came to Tampa last year, the offensive line was considered the team's Achille's heel. Last year it was the most improved unit on the offense. As far as you can tell, not having been in Tampa in 2007, what changed?
11. The Bucs have always lived and died with the defense. There's a pretty big turnover now and there may be pressure to put more points on the board this year. Where will they come from?
12. Talk about last season. Great start, potential homefield advantage, then the collapse. That happened?
13. Did the team take the playoffs for granted going into the last three weeks? Was the intensity not there?
14. The loss on the last weekend to Oakland. What was the team's attitude heading into that game?
15. Are you the kind of guy who speaks his mind in the locker room? Do you lead verbally or by example?
16. You played with Bucs quarterback Luke McCown during your time with the Browns. What can you tell me about him?
17. Did you and McCown get a lot of snaps together in practices and games? What are his strengths?
18. Did the locker room quit on Jon Gruden last year or drown him out? His intensity was obviously starting to get to a lot of the players who have been around awhile.
19. Playing on the offensive line you probably didn't get a chance to spend a lot of time with new coach Raheem Morris. What do you know about him?
20. Are you happy with the team's off-season signings? It wasn't a very busy off-season.
21. What do you do during your off-season? Do you take time off or is it a 12-month game for you?
22. You made it to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year. What did that mean to you?
23. In know you own your own clothing store in Orlando and two restaurants. What else keeps you busy off the field?
24. With so many friends and family back in Central Florida, how many tickets do you have to scrounge up for home games?
25. Finally, I understand that, while you struck gold when you signed with the Bucs last season, you struck oil early this spring. What was that all about? Are you an oil tycoon now? (Faine invested in an oil company that struck it rich during the off-season).
Thanks a lot Jeff and good luck this season.