Selected on his 23rd birthday in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL draft, Craig Nall enters his third season as a backup quarterback with the Green Bay Packers.
Before landing in Green Bay, Nall was forced to overcome obstacles placed before him as he spent his first four years (including a redshirt season) in a quarterback logjam at Louisiana State before transferring to Northwestern (La.) State for the 2001 campaign.
That move put him less than 150 miles from the home of Packers scout Alonzo Highsmith, who saw five NSU games in 2001 and convinced the Packers coaches at February meetings to "have a look at this kid."
Allocated to NFL Europe last summer, Nall led a Scottish Claymores offense that topped NFL-E with 4,169 total yards. He led the league in passing yards, with 2,050, and touchdowns, with 18. His 95.9 quarterback rating also was a league best.
Nall now finds himself watching and learning from perhaps the greatest quarterback in NFL history in Brett Favre and hopes to one day create his own legacy in the green and gold.
Recently, Nall sat down with Packers.com to talk about this and a few other topics in our latest edition of Random Questions.
Packers.com: What is the best and worst part about playing in the NFL?
Craig Nall: "The best part would have to be the money. A lot of people joke about that, and I'm not playing for the money but it really is one of the perks. But just being in this locker room is right up there, too, as far as the guys you get to meet and play with -- the Brett Favres and Darren Sharpers -- guys you get to spend time with on a daily basis. It's priceless.
"As far as the worst part, probably about the middle of the season. Those meetings start to get a little monotonous. You've done it for so many weeks in a row. So that would probably be one of the main downfalls. But it is necessary."
What is one word you would use to describe training camp?
Who is your favorite musician?
"That's a good question. I have a lot of respect for anybody that makes it on their own. I listen to a lot of different types of genres. One of my favorites is Remy Shand. A lot of people don't know about him but he does all of his own music, all of his own vocals. He does it all.
"In the hip-hop area, it would probably be Outkast. I'd have to put Caedmon's Call in there too. They're one of my favorite Christian bands."
If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?
"Jesus. He made the ultimate sacrifice and it would be amazing to see him in person or to be able to touch him and to feel that kind of love. There's never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like that again."
When did you realize you wanted to play professional football?
"When did I realize I wanted to, or was going to have the opportunity to?
"I realized I wanted to play professionally at a pretty early age, whenever I started playing and started to realize what the game was all about. It was just a childhood dream.
"I first realized I had the opportunity to play pro ball about halfway through my senior season (at Northwestern). I started playing pretty good and was putting up some big numbers. It had been a while since I actually had gotten out on the field on a regular basis and I wasn't really sure where I stood either. So my senior year was really the first time I figured out that I had a shot to do this."
What would you say is your best asset as a football player?
"I don't think that I get rattled too easily. I think that Coach (Mike) Sherman, Coach (Tom) Rossley and Coach (Darrell) Bevell will echo the same comments.
"They have to talk to me sometimes about showing some emotion, that I'm too even keel. But at the same time, I don't get rattled too easily and I think that -- being a quarterback -- is a strength of mine. I'm usually pretty focused and pretty calm out there on the field. Every now and then, whenever something is on the line or something bad happens, you'll see me with a little emotion."
What is your favorite outdoor hobby?
"Probably deer hunting. I don't get a chance to do it a lot and my girlfriend will probably say I'm stupid for answering that. It would be either deer hunting or golf."
Of the two, which is your better sport?
What was your favorite cartoon growing up?
What is your favorite sports movie of all time?
"Caddyshack is a great one. The Bad News Bears was pretty good too."
If you could play golf in any foursome, past or present, who would be the other three members?
"Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, and Jack Nicklaus."
What is the greatest adversity you've had to overcome in your life?
"Probably my situation at LSU, not getting to play whenever I felt that I should have been playing, having to bounce back from that and transferring schools where I didn't really know anyone. I basically had to start over with no idea if I could really play.
"I knew I had talent, everybody has talent. But until you get out there on the field and start to build some confidence, you just really don't know. And to have to overcome all of those doubts and fears and to be able to step out there and lead a team and to play well and to fulfill your dreams, that was probably the hardest time in my life."
What is your first memory of playing football?
"It wasn't really in a game, but when I was playing flag football my very first year -- I was about 9 or 10 years old -- we had tryouts for the positions on our teams. Obviously, being one of the tallest players on the team, I went in there and volunteered to be the quarterback.
"After I took the snap and took a couple of steps back, the coach got onto me and made me do it again. After I did it again -- and I remember this as clear as day -- my best friend's dad, who is also my dentist, said 'Craig, you're not going to cut the mustard.' So I ended up moving to fullback. You don't really gain many yards playing fullback in flag football.
"Now that I'm playing professionally -- at quarterback -- I like to remind him of that from time to time."
Who in the locker room could you picture being a head coach one day?
"Doug Pederson, Marco Rivera and probably Donald Driver.
"They all have confidence. They have an ability to communicate and they obviously know what they're doing.
"With Donald, he's such a people person and I think he would get along well with the families of his players. And he's always trying to make people smile.
"Marco just seems like a down to earth guy that works really hard.
"I think Doug has actually expressed some feelings about getting into coaching. I think quarterbacks make good coaches because they have to understand the entire field as opposed to just one position."
How long did it take for you to fully understand your position?
"I'm still not totally there. I understand it a lot better than when I got here. I can call a play in the huddle now. That was one of the most difficult parts of it when you first start out, and it still can be. You can ask Brett (Favre). We'll have plays that are 16 or 17 words long sometimes. Hopefully, those are on the wristband.
"A lot of people think that radio systems in our helmets help out. They do to a certain extent, but the frequency cuts off with 15 seconds left on the play clock. So if we don't get the play in before that time, we're stuck and then you have to just hurry up and think of a play with the personnel that you have in the huddle.
"The way we do it, I'll hear the play first and then the formation. But when we relay it in the huddle, we'll give the formation and then the play. The reason for that is that if you call the play first and get cut off at that 15 second mark, there's only one or two formations that you have practiced that week with that certain play and you can pick one fairly quickly.
"If you give the formation and then get cut off, there are endless possibilities of plays that you can run from that formation and it gets confusing. So one of the hardest things about my position is to learn to hear the play backwards and to relay it in the huddle the right way. After a while, those plays start to get wordy and it gets pretty difficult.
"When I was in Europe, we ran a similar type of offense, but all of the terminology was different, so when I came back to training camp it kind of threw me off a little bit because I was having to separate the two different terms for basically the same play. And the same thing happened when I first got to Europe."
If you could change one NFL rule, what would it be?
"Well, we're (QBs) pretty protected. They do a good job with us as far as late hits are concerned. So I definitely wouldn't change that at all.
"I think I would probably change the pass interference rule. I think they need to let those guys play a little more. The defenders have a right to the ball as much as the receivers do.
"Now if they start holding and tackling, that's different. But sometimes the offensive guy might just get a little nudge or something and the defense will get called for a penalty. It's a physical sport. I think they should let them play."
Where did you grow up and what is the best thing about your hometown?
"I grew up in Alexandria, La., and the best thing about it was my childhood, just being able to play a lot of sports. A lot of communities don't have that.
"In 1991, we moved to a new house outside the city limits. It's a real quiet neighborhood. We don't have any street lights, it's out in the woods. We have a lake and I was able to go out there and camp with my buddies and do a lot of hunting, fishing and all those things you would think a southern boy would be able to do."
What is your favorite TV show?
What is your favorite video game?
"Tiger Woods Golf."
What is your favorite food?
"Chicken. Cooked any way."
What was your favorite toy as a child?
"I had a number of different bikes, starting off with a BMX. Once I got older, my dad got me one that was custom built. I think it had a Diamondback frame, but it was just customized for me and I loved that thing to death."
Do you have any superstitions or rituals?
"Not really. I don't really believe in having to go through life having to do certain things exactly the same way every time. I believe that God is in control of everything no matter what we do."
Who is the first person you call on the telephone after a game?
"It's either my parents or my girlfriend. It depends on which one answers."
If you weren't in the NFL, what would you be doing?
"I would be working somewhere. I was majoring in construction management at LSU, but when I transferred to Northwesten, they didn't have construction management. They had industrial management, which is somewhat similar but a little bit different so I ended up getting my degree in general studies because some of my credits didn't transfer. But I would probably be doing something along those lines.
"I've also been thinking about getting into coaching a lot more the last couple of years. But that's still a few yeas away."
What is the best thing about being a Packer?
"Being able to walk through that tunnel and seeing the fans cheer the way they do.
"Understanding the rich tradition that we have here and to know that I'm a part of that and I'm in the record books as being a part of it, being a Packer. Hopefully I can say one day that I was one of the all-time greats here.
"Also, just getting to sit next to a guy like Brett Favre everyday and just hearing his jokes.
"It's just a special place. I feel like I've found a home here and I hope to be here for several more years."
What was it like the first time you met Brett?
"I was a little star-struck, definitely. I remember the first day I shook his hand and seeing him come in the locker room. He's just got that swagger to him. That confidence that he walks with just oozes out of him.
"But he's been very cool with me. He's not one of those guys that is standoffish. If you saw him on the street and didn't know he was Brett Favre and walked up to him and had a conversation with him, you wouldn't know he has all the money that he does.
"He's just not that type of person. He's down to earth and the way he plays on the field is how he acts off the field. He's a special guy and I'm glad I'm getting an opportunity to learn from him."