In his first game as an active player, on his first drive against fellow rookie Joey Harrington and the Lions, Green Bay Packers safety Marques Anderson ran back an errant pass 78 yards for a touchdown. It was a memorable highlight to an improbable season. After all, the chances of a third-rounder starting at safety for Green Bay are as slim as a sausage link going untouched before a game at Lambeau.
But alas, Anderson started the team's final 11 games, including their playoff loss to the Falcons. He is considered to be a member of the starting lineup for years to come.
While Anderson gets ready for his sophomore season, he takes on NFL.com.
Where are you right now?
Anderson: In California, but I'll be between California and Arizona.
As a Southern Cal native, what are the best and worst parts about Green Bay?
I'd have to say the fans (are the best). It's a small town, but you get the kind of love that you'd get from a big city. Everybody supports you -- good or bad -- and there's always a positive energy around there. You can't negotiate or substitute that.
The weather (is the worst). We played the Vikings at night last year and my arms were frozen by the third quarter! It was ridiculous.
Moments after stepping on the field for the first time as a pro, you ran an interception back for a touchdown. Not many of us get the chance to do that -- what's it like?
It was unbelieveable. I couldn't believe it was happening! When you come into the NFL, you don't really know where you fit in. First impressions are big in this league, so when I ran back that interception in Detroit (78 yards for a touchdown), that let me know that I belonged. It was a huge confidence builder.
What's the worst pronounciation of your first name (pronounced like "Marcus") you've ever heard?
I get it all, but "Mar-keys" and "Mar-kez" are the most common.
I hear you're a poetry fan. What's your favorite?
I really like Chaucer. Poetry was one of the most challenging courses I took at UCLA. I like [literature] that can give many different perspectives so that each reader can come to his or her own conclusion. I think that's why I majored in American Literature. When you're talking about somebody's writing, there's no set way of looking at things. When you read something, it's like "what did you get from it?" There's many things in life that are like that.
Choose one: Better stadium -- Rose Bowl or Lambeau?
Lambeau. There's nothing like it. As soon as you come up that tunnel, man, you feel that tradition. And the energy there is phenomenal. We had a good crowd at the Rose Bowl, but there's nothing like Lambeau Field.
Give me your best Brett Favre story?
Probably the first time he spoke to me. As a rookie, you're coming in and when you see him, you're in awe. After the New England game, Favre came up to me and said, "If you keep making plays like that, you'll be a very successful man in the NFL. As a rookie, I'm really proud of you."
How many people asked you about Favre's possible retirement after the season ended?
A whole lot. But he's coming back. I'm happy.
You scored more touchdowns than fellow rookie, first-round pick Javon Walker. Did you let him know it?
(laughs) No, we're buddies and roommates. It was said, so I didn't have to say anything. He knew.
What's the worst part about the offseason?
Complacency. You're on the grind for six months straight and then suddenly you wake up and have nothing to do but work out. Then you build a relationship with the people you play with, and then you don't see them for a while. Everyday for 12, 13 hours a day you see these guys, then you don't see them anymore.
Can Panthers second-round pick and ex-UCLA teammate DeShaun Foster make a successful comeback after the brutal injury he suffered during the 2002 preseason?
DeShaun is a fighter -- he knows what it takes to play football. It's unfortunate that he had to go through that injury, but hopefully he comes back a stronger and better player.
Lastly, please list your goals for 2003.
For one, we need to better our record and go deeper in the playoffs. Personally, I want to go to the Pro Bowl. I think I've already solidified myself as being able to start in the NFL, but now I want to take it to another level where I'm learning more about the game and making plays like I did in 2002.