Sam Montgomery is the “Most Interesting Defensive Lineman in the World.”
Well, maybe not. I can only speak about the players I cover.
But he definitely gives the Dos Equis Man a run for his money.
Before I go on, you should know this: the guy is evil. Montgomery told me the last thing he was scared of was the dark — until he embraced it in middle school.
That’s when Montgomery started playing football. And that’s when he channels his inner darkness.
In 22 games at LSU, he’s recorded 22 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He’s considered a top-five prospect by some draft experts.
“That’s what this sport teaches you to do, not to be fearful, to overcome everything. I have football to thank for that,” Montgomery said.
While Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier should be terrified, you shouldn’t.
There’s a duality to Montgomery. By all accounts, he’s kind and welcoming off the gridiron. Quirky, even.
This is a guy who’d rather play RPGs than watch MNF. He boasts a 1.5 KDR playing against what he says is superior Xbox Live competition. He retweets messages professing his love for “Bleach,” an anime on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Montgomery has eclectic, extensive tastes in video games: “Mortal Kombat,” “Left 4 Dead,” “Gundam,” “Oblivion.” I mentioned “Final Fantasy VII” and he rattled off the names, albeit fudged, of almost every possible party member.
Cid Highwind is his favorite, in case you were wondering.
But by far, his favorite character in all of Imaginationland is Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s where Montgomery got his nickname “Sonic Sam,” his Twitter handle and background and his sack celebration. The picture of him sitting at his locker, surrounded and covered in Sonic merchandise, is priceless.
Montgomery’s video game fanaticism is well-documented because journalists love writing about him, even if he makes us wait while he inhales his post-practice burrito.
Listening to my recorder, I counted off 34 seconds from the time he was asked a particular question to the time he answered. His smacking was audible.
I’m confident when I say he’s the unanimous favorite interview on the team, and he knows it. When I asked why he thinks that is, Montgomery said he could provide two reasons:
1. “I never gave a sugar-coated answer.”
2. “If I give an answer, there’s a right way and a wrong way to answer things, [and] I answer with respect and courtesy. And I tell the truth as well.”
Well that makes three, but you know what he means.
Players are coached on how to give the media the blandest answers possible. Unless you’ve bumped shoulders with him at Bogie’s, how many fans actually know what quarterback Zach Mettenberger is like?
Generic quotes make for stock stories. There’s only so many times I want to write, and you want to read, “Tigers not looking past [INSERT +42.5 UNDERDOG HERE]”. But every time you mine Montgomery’s words, you strike gold. His witty, intelligent personality is evident in every line.
He’s also an open book. Last September, Montgomery, unprompted, mentioned in passing to one of The Daily Reveille’s former sports writers how his Sonic nickname ties him to his murdered brother.
He made an intimate personal revelation to a sports writer out of the blue, which is unusual. Many of the athletes we cover would rather do any number of things than talk to us. Their lips usually open just enough to spit a cliché.
Not Montgomery. He treats the media like people, even considering them friends. He digs at them like an old pal.
“[I just want to] see what everybody’s up to,” Montgomery said. “See if anybody’s lost any hair.”
As a student journalist, I hope I don’t have to worry about that any time soon, but this isn’t about me. What can be said here is that the way Montgomery handles himself in the media is natural, along with the rest of what he does.
Whether he’s tearing a quarterback’s head off, speeding through the Green Hill Zone, or hamming it up with old, cynical writers, Montgomery is always himself. That’s why he’s truly interesting.