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Getting To Know Alvin McKinley

    <span style="">                 <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Getting to Know the Newest Saint:</span> DT Alvin McKinley  

On Wednesday the New Orleans Saints signed free agent defensive tackle Alvin McKinley. The nine-year veteran of the NFL checks in at 6-3, 297-pounds and was raised in Weir, Miss.

The youngest of six brothers and nine children by Melvin and Mae McKinley, Alvin was born June 9, 1978. Melvin died in 2002 and Mae died a year later. McKinley played at Mississippi State with his brother Dennis, who later played fullback for the Arizona Cardinals.

McKinley has appeared in 97 regular season games, making 42 starts throughout his career, and recorded 307 tackles, 11.5 sacks for -76 yards, four blocked field goals, three fumble recoveries, and one interception. McKinley broke into the NFL in 2000 as a member of the Carolina Panthers. In 2001 he headed to Cleveland to play for the Browns (2001-2006), and then played one season (2007) with the Broncos.

The following is a question-and-answer interview that was conducted late last season by The Denver Post. In the interview, McKinley talks about growing up in rural Mississippi and about some of his interests away from the football field, where among other tings, he owns two businesses and makes an off-season home in Arizona.

Post: You don't exactly look like the baby of the family. Were you spoiled?

McKinley: "To a certain extent. If mom was baking a cake, she'd hand me the spoon and I always got to lick the spoon. Nobody else could get it. I could put my fingers in the bowl, put my face in it and lick the whole bowl all I wanted. Nobody else could do that. There were a few perks to being the youngest."

Post: It doesn't get more spoiled than that. Your parents must have been something, raising nine kids and you turning out to be the nice guy that you are.

McKinley: "In my house there weren't many rules. My father sat us down and said as long as you know right from wrong, there won't be any problem. But if you get out of line, and you do something you know is wrong, but you do it anyway? I grew up in an age when you got whippings. Nowadays you can't do that. They call social services. What you've got to do now with kids is, you don't hit them, you've got to talk to them. You've got to make them understand."

Post: Tell me about Weir, Mississippi.

McKinley: "Back then it had maybe 2,000 people. It was a 1A school. We won a couple state football championships when I was there. It seemed like everybody on the team was first cousins. My sister's husband went to the rival school. He was the big man on campus at the rival school. How he wound up marrying my sister, I don't know. Now when we're sitting around, he's always talking about those days."

Post: Your parents died young. That must have been tough on you kids.

McKinley: "We knew mom was on her last days when she told us none of us were babies anymore. All of us are grown and we could take care of ourselves. Miss both of them. It's something you think about them every day. Growing up, we had a summer job working with my father. Logging. Whenever school got out, he had six extra workers helping him. If school got out on Wednesday, we'd have a four-day summer break. Come Monday, we were working for him."

Post: Logging sounds like tough work. What were some of your tasks?

McKinley: "I had to get the truck warmed up at around 6:45 in the morning. Get the water, get the ice cooler ready. Some people would say my job was easy, but I was the baby boy. You know how that is. My father had me to do small jobs. Get the guys water, fill up the trucks and machines with gas and oil. Go pick up lunch. I did all the little things they didn't want to do. I was back at the house around 4:30. But think about it, at 12 years old I used to have $200 in my pocket. Not bad for a youngster. I'd buy my own school clothes."

Post: You bought your first car, then.

McKinley: "Yep. A '78 Monte Carlo."

Post: All you guys, either your first car was a '70s something, or they're driving a '70s something car now.

McKinley: "I like the old stuff so I can work on it. A car anywhere from a '72 to '84, you can go to an AutoZone and get any part you need. A new car you've got to take to the dealer. You've got to wait for this part to be ordered. You come out of there feeling like you got gypped."

Post: How accomplished are you as a mechanic? Could you switch out an engine?

McKinley: "No, no, I couldn't do that. Now, if you needed to change a carburetor, I could do that. Or a radiator, I could that."

Post: What interests do you have off the field?

McKinley: "Four-wheeling. I live in Phoenix in the offseason. I do a lot of riding in the mountains. Every day."

Post: Do you remember your pickup line when you first met the future Mrs. Alvin McKinley?

McKinley: "It was in Phoenix. Her best friend was dating my best friend. I had a lot of facial hair at the time. And she was amazed by that and she grabbed it. And she said, "You know, for all that hair, it's really soft." That started it off."

Post: Something you've always wanted to do, but have never done because you either didn't have the patience or the guts to do it?

McKinley: "I just bought a bass guitar last offseason, saying I was going to occupy my time and pick up a new trade. But after the first four times I picked it up and played, I'd start coming home tired and not go back to it as frequently. I just got away from it."

Post: I know you've made some money playing football, but when you're done, you'll still have to pay the credit cards for your young, growing family. What will you do to draw a paycheck?

McKinley: "I already have two businesses going in Arizona right now. I have an air duct-cleaning business. And then we have a trucking company. It's going to be an active life when I'm done. I'm not going to be one of those guys sitting on the couch, gaining all that weight."

Post: What kind of trucking business do you have going?

McKinley: "Transport cars. My brother Dennis and I have been doing that for like three years now. And the air duct-cleaning business, now that's a fun job. What you do is go to someone's house, take the vent cover off of one, and then plug the rest with foam and take your vacuum suction machine and turn it on and clean it out. It's real simple."

Post: The best part about being an NFL player? And then the worst part?

McKinley: "The best part is when you're winning. And now you know what the worst part about it is: It's when you lose. When you lose, everybody's on pins and needles. When you're winning, everybody is loose."

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