<span style="">Garrett Hartley/Paul Spicer.aspx">Paul Spicer admits he was the kind of child that just couldn't stay clean.</span>
"I was that kid that was always down in the creeks, chasing minnows, tadpoles, crawfish, anything moving that I could get my hands on," the newly signed defensive lineman said this morning after his workouts.
"My first job was out in the fields picking corn in the fields of Indiana in the hot sun," Spicer said. "I would be filthy at the end of the day, and honestly, I didn't care. I would have mud and corn silk all over me. It didn't bother me in the least bit."
The rough-and-tumble attitude that Spicer evidently embraced is a child and a teenager served as his calling card as he ventured onto the football field. His football journey began at junior college in Illinois, then onto Saginaw Valley State in Michigan, as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Seattle Seahawks in 1998, and into the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, Detroit Lions and finally the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played the past nine seasons.
Spicer, who signed a contract with the Saints on March 17, has settled in quickly into the Saints' off-season strength-and-conditioning regimen. While a new face to many of his teammates in Metairie, Spicer is familiar with the team's new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who last year served in a similar capacity with Spicer's former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Spicer, 6-4, 295 pounds, is a nine-year NFL veteran who has played in 117 career regular games and owns 63 starts and has totaled 349 career tackles, 28.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles. His approach to the game, and life for that matter, is based on productivity and getting the job done. As such, Spicer specializes in finding who has the football and seeing to it that whoever is in possession of it pays the freight costs.
"I would describe my style of play as not very pretty," he said. "I will do anything it takes to help the team win. Plain and simple. And I play with passion."
Perhaps that explains why he felt it was a perfect fit when searching for a new team to ply his trade and elected to sign with the Saints, but Spicer said, at the end of the day, there was only one reason he wanted to be a Saint.
"Because I know this team can get to the big game," he said with unabashed conviction. "You have people all around this place that are very hungry and I see it every day. There is no b.s. around here, people are working, the coaches are involved and passionate and the players are feeding off of it. I love it."
Spicer is only two weeks into the team's off-season strength and conditioning program, but clearly has already brought an energy and passion to the team, as evidenced by the fact that he is one of the first players each morning to roll into the weight room and partake in the strenuous three-hour workouts. "There is nothing I would rather be doing," Spicer said. "This is the best."
Spicer said that the off-season program is the foundation for what the Saints' defenders will rely upon once the pads go on in the summer time, and that the hard work will only intensify under Williams' watch.
"Coach Williams finds the best 11 guys to put out there, and he doesn't care what round you were drafted in, he doesn't care where you came from, he doesn't care what you look like, or any of that," Spicer said. "He just wants football players and guys that will leave it all on the field. He finds out what you do best and plays to your strengths and he is demanding. Very demanding."
Spicer's versatility is illustrated by the fact that he has played every position at one point or another along the defensive line during his career. "I would play safety, running back or quarterback if they told me to," he said. "I don't care. As long as I am out there helping the team win. I honestly could care less where I line up. Just point the way and I'll go and get there."
Spicer said that he mentality was shaped by coaches he's had throughout his career that have embraced his rugged style of play and allowed him to make plays, relying on his toughness and passion to make up for whatever shortcomings caused him to go undrafted 10 years ago.
"I came from a small program and didn't have coaches that were connected and knew people, but I knew all I needed was a chance," he said. "No one likes to be told you aren't good enough, but when you get cut, that's what they are saying. So that fueled my fire. When I got cut by Seattle as a rookie, I told myself, 'work harder and stay hungry and don't let it happen again.'"
It did happen again in 1999, when Detroit released him after two games, but in 2000 he landed in Jacksonville and was intent on forging a long career in the NFL, which obviously he has done. Spicer said that he despite the normal aches and pains accumulated over the course of a season, he has never allowed injuries to slow him down. "Mind over matter," Spicer succinctly stated. "I look at an injury as something that is trying to slow me down, and I won't allow it happen. It's me versus it, and I will prevail."
Spicer, who is 100% healthy, instead tries to play the game by being as physical as he can at all times on the field and impose his will against anyone wearing an opposing uniform. "I play hard and with passion and want to be the one doing the hitting, instead of getting blocked or hit," Spicer said. "I know it's a physical game and I will get hit, but I am going to hit you harder than you hit me and I will keep doing it play after play. I want to wear you down and make you quit."
Spicer summed up why he approaches the game with such fervor and zeal. "I love this game. It's unconditional love," he said. "I won't let anyone take it away from me."
Like the kid in the creek, Spicer is anxious to get down and dirty.