New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, 26, was born and raised in Mississippi, where he played football and was a standout in track and field during high school. He went to the University of Southern Mississippi and was the Patriots’ first draft pick in 2013. His breakout game came in 2014 against the Indianapolis Colts, where he had six tackles, one sack and an interception. Since then, he has continued to distinguish himself as a versatile linebacker, known for both his athleticism and discipline.
Jonathan Soroff: Best thing about being an NFL star?
Jamie Collins: There’s a lot. Going different places, meeting new people, seeing things I’ve never seen. All that stuff.
Worst? Flying. Airplanes. The travel part gets old, and I don’t like to fly. I don’t like being up there. I don’t like doing anything that’s not in my control. I want to be in control all the time. I’m like, “Let me fly the plane.”
Do you miss track and field at all? I do. It’s fun. I always enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t be where I am if I’d stuck with it.
Was it good preparation for football? You can take a lot of tools from it and apply it to football. That’s true of any sport—the skills you use for one can be taken to any other.
When you leapt over the Colts’ defensive line, was that something that somebody who never did track and field would think of? [Laughs.] Anybody could have done that. It’s common sense: You want to jump over that.
But you might not know how to if you hadn’t done track and field. You may be right, but at the same time, I think plenty of people would have done the same thing.
Was it planned or spur of the moment? I’d thought about it many times, and we talked about it. It was planned.
If I’d told you when you were a kid that you’d be a famous football player, what would you have said? It would have gone right over my head. I wouldn’t have listened, and I would have gone right back to doing whatever I was doing.
Are you the fastest person you know? Oh, no. Definitely not. I have older brothers—I’m the youngest—and cousins, and you’re talking about fast? My folks? All we did was race each other. I’ve got a lot of fast people, and they’re a lot faster than me back at home. I’m OK.
Biggest pig in the Patriots’ locker room? Oh! It’s gotta be one of the big guys. I can’t name names, but those guys are probably the messiest.
Player you hang out with the most off the field? AD, Aaron Dobson. He and I hang out a lot, but I like my own time. I hang out alone a lot.
City or team you like playing the most? I like playing everybody. Like I said, I’m from Mississippi. I haven’t been a lot of places. I haven’t seen a lot of things. So going anywhere is interesting to me. I always enjoy it.
Which would you rather watch: college football or pro? Neither. I didn’t grow up watching football, and I still don’t. Me and Chandler Jones have talked about this since I first got up here. I never watched football. I never thought I’d be here, and I’d rather play video games. I don’t really want to watch it.
So what do you turn on when you flop down on the couch? I’ll probably find a movie to watch. Maybe a late-night talk show. Or CSI. I’ll put that on, Miami or New York.
Patriot who’s most likely to appear on Dancing With the Stars? I’ll have to go with my man Gronk. Ain’t nobody like Gronk. He’s got some moves. The Beast.
Is Bill Belichick a big ol’ teddy bear? That’s not the way I’d describe him. No. [Laughs.]
Three words to describe Bob Kraft? Boss. Cool. And 100.
Who’s better looking—Tom Brady or Julian Edelman? [Laughs.] Oooh. They’re both prettier than a mug. That’s some Mississippi slang. You can just draw straws. Pick one.
How often do you wear your Super Bowl ring? Never. When I first got it, I wore it a lot. I never wear it anymore. I’ve got it in a big ol’ safe. It kind of slips my mind.
Biggest indulgence once you hit the big time? The first thing I bought, and the only thing I bought, was a house for my sister in Mississippi.
Do you ever eat the food the fans eat at Gillette, and if so, what’s your favorite snack? No, I’ve never eaten that stuff.
Any superstitions before you go out on the field? I don’t know that I’d call them superstitions, but I definitely follow a routine. Mostly, I try to go in there and do what I gotta do. I try to de-stress and focus, be in my head. I’m not too superstitious.
Do you have trouble finding clothes in a normal store? Yeah. Outside of a big-and-tall men’s store, I can’t find my shoe size. They don’t carry size 15. I do some custom stuff, too.
What does life after football look like to you? I live day by day, and I try to live every day to the fullest, because you never know what happens tomorrow. So I plan for some things, but at the end of the day, I try to focus on the simple things and right now. But if I picture the ideal, I’m somewhere in the country, just chillin’.
Pet peeve with the fans? [Laughs.] This is the only thing I don’t like. You know how a lot of people say, “Those athletes are rude”? We’re not the rude ones. What’s rude is when they come up, no matter who you’re with or what you’re doing, and they don’t even say hello. They just say, “Sign this. Sign that.” Not even a “How you doing?” That’s the only thing I don’t like.
So you don’t like signing autographs? Oh, I don’t mind doing whatever, if it’s the right place and time. It’s just that a lot of the time, it isn’t.
Is there a place you like to hang out in Boston? Like I said, I’m not really a city guy. I go to Del Frisco’s every once in a while.
Predictions for this season? Oh, I don’t know. You gotta take it day by day, and whatever’s going to happen will happen.