People think you've had a meteoric career an undrafted free agent after college in 2010 and now the New York Giants' star wide receiver. But your book Out of the Blue suggests you had it tough. Why?
Every step, whether at high school or at college or at the NFL, I had to climb and crawl and scratch to get there. But also I did things that set me back. My coaches used to tell me, "Man, you're making this thing so hard on yourself. You're really giving yourself more obstacles to climb to get to where you want to go."
One of your big setbacks was the SAT. How many times did you take it?
Maybe five or six. That was just a dreadful, dreadful test for me, even though passing meant so much. I had to pass to play football in college and keep achieving my dreams.
If someone nowadays says, "I need an analogy," how do you react?
Not me! Not me! You're going to have to find someone else or give me 30 minutes.
You grew up in a tough part of New Jersey with a lot of talented kids. Many fell by the wayside. Why not you?
My mom was someone who didn't take no for an answer, who always told me, "Once you start something, make sure you finish it." I think that's what kept me on the straight and narrow, on top of her just being a Puerto Rican mom, strict to the bone.
How much of your success do you attribute to living with your mom and grandparents above a taekwondo studio?
If I had lived two blocks away, I probably never would have heard of the studio and never would have got into karate school and never met [my instructor], who everyone had to call The Sir. God knows what would have happened then.
Your father got liver cancer, his health insurance ran out, and then he committed suicide. What did you take away from his passing?
No matter what the disease, what you feel like the person's facing, how close they are to you, just spend time. No matter whether they're at a point where you can't really help them, try to still be there. I wasn't talking to my dad at the time. And I feel like that was part of the reason he was feeling so down and part of the reason he took his life. Nobody was talking to him when he needed to talk. If I'd just talked to him for 20 minutes, it probably would have changed something.
What are your thoughts on head injuries in the NFL?
I definitely think it needs to be looked at seriously. It's obviously hard to manage because of the high volume of hits in the NFL. But it's something they're working on. Taking away certain hits to the head by the defensive players on the offensive players is a great step. I think that will help get guys acclimated to hitting in different areas. I think it starts [in youth leagues] and goes all the way up.
You're Catholic, and you have a kid with your girlfriend, who is also your manager. Why haven't you married her yet?
I just want the timing to be right. And I feel like we're almost there, but once I wake up that one morning and I look over at her and I get that "go buy a ring" feeling, that's when it'll happen.
You're pretty good at football, basketball and taekwondo. Any other sport you admire?
Soccer. I have tremendous respect for guys who use only their feet and are so quick laterally and have phenomenal decisionmaking and can curve the ball the way they do. They're going full speed, and they know exactly where to hit the ball to make it spin a certain way or pass it to a teammate.
Would you go so far as to play?
I've been trying. It's not as easy as it looks on TV.