Defensive end Vaugn Booker has been terrorizing quarterbacks this season.
Focused, passionate, disciplined and from Cincinnati, a combination that has made for an exceptional addition to the Green Bay Packers defensive line.
Defensive end Vaughn Booker, who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was instilled with a Midwest work ethic, is poised for a breakout year. During a brief stint in the service of the United States Army (1988-91), Booker incorporated the Army's strict adherence to discipline. Booker credits his work ethic and discipline with his success in the NFL.
"You have to incorporate discipline into the particulars of the different defensive schemes that the coach wants you to do. You have to be patient and wait for plays to mature, then react. On that same token you also have to be pro-active," Booker said.
When Defensive Coordinator Emmitt Thomas was asked about Booker he said, "He's a guy that weighs 300 pounds and has great mobility and a real good feel for the game."
Not only is he 300 pounds, but he is also a towering 6-5 - a menacing sight for a quarterback to see barreling at them full speed. But when asked who was the toughest player he ever faced, the answer was surprising.
Booker prefaced these comments about the player by saying, "Don't let his age fool you; he is fast, usually he would take the snap and run right down the sideline, out run everybody and cut it up the field." He went on to say, " You can't hold his height against him when he is making plays week in and week out."
That player was none other then the Buffalo Bills' quarterback, Doug Flutie. Booker admits that the 5-10, 178-pound Flutie was a handful chasing from sideline to sideline in the Canadian Football league. Pursuing elusive quarterbacks around extended boundary lines in Canada and following strict regimen that the United States Army prescribes, Booker now claims that he is in the best shape of his life.
Booker played two seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Bombers, where he went to two Grey Cups. In 1994, Booker made it to the NFL and played four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before being traded to the Packers for 1998 season. Adaptive, Booker believes that the previous experiences prepared him for the role that he plays here.
"I really felt good being in Kansas City, but I was very fortunate to come to Green Bay, a team that had been to the Super Bowl two of the last three years. So they are definitely a class organization that knows how to win and get to the 'Big Dance' and that is my whole professional goal is to get to the Super Bowl. I feel that here in Green Bay we have an opportunity to do that," Booker acclaimed.
Booker was Reggie White's back-up last season. As back-up he gave White some quality minutes of rest. Registering a total of 19 tackles and three sacks as well as five fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles and 1 pass defensed, Booker made some big contributions last year considering that he was backing up the greatest defensive end in NFL history.
"I was honored to back up Reggie White." Booker stressed, "He took the time and showed me a couple of things that made me more effective on the field. He was a leader on and off the field."
Booker believes that White's great play was attributed to not only his strength and speed, but also his passion and desire to be the best.
Booker believes that is the inner passion that burns inside him to be the best on the field. Off the field his passion is centered on his family. He and his wife, Sheila, who is also from Cincinnati, actually met in Atlanta when he was there visiting friends. Recognizing her face from their hometown he approached her and that's where it all began for them. Now the couple has three children: Breana, DeVaughn and Devon, and Booker puts the same tireless energy into raising his kids.
"My kids and my wife are my whole life; everything I do is for them. If they're not happy I am not happy," says Booker." I love my family more than anything."
Booker is doing a lot in the name of his family - this year he has become a starter and is second on the team in sacks with three, in addition to 27 tackles thus far in the season. Following each sack Booker does his trademark 'Booker Shake' and of late it has been the opposing quarterbacks who have been doing the shaking. Booker feels that this is the season where the Packers shake things up and reclaim their place of prominence in the NFL.
He ended by saying, "I am excited about being in Green Bay and I am excited about the new coaching staff, and I believe that we are going continue the winning tradition here in Green Bay."