NFL player pays alma mater visit

NFL player pays alma mater visit

By Courtney Linehan

Kelvin Hayden is a Chicago native and an Illini football great who didn’t have to travel far to begin his NFL career. Hayden played two seasons at Illinois after starting at Joliet Junior College. He moved from wide receiver to cornerback during the Illini’s defensive facelift following the 2003 season, starting every game of his senior year at cornerback and leading the Big Ten in interceptions.

Hayden is now in his second season with the undefeated Indianapolis Colts. After beating the Washington Redskins on Sunday and practicing Monday morning, Hayden headed back to Champaign to visit Illinois football practice and watch Monday Night Football with his former teammates.

QUESTION: How do you like Indianapolis?

ANSWER: Indy’s good. Being from Chicago, it’s kind of slow motion. But I can get anywhere I want in about 15 minutes, so that’s great. Their fans are great though. There’s a whole lot of Indy pride.

Q: I was going to say, it’s a huge football town.

A: Oh yeah. They love the Colts. Everywhere you go you see Colts banners, Colts billboards, and it’s great to see the fans are behind us and supporting us.

Q: How’s the season so far?

A: I really can’t complain. We’re 6-0, we take it week by week. We have one goal in mind, and that’s the Super Bowl.

Q: Are you happy to see the Bears in the same position?

A: Oh yeah, and I’m a die-hard Bears fan. I’m cheering for them every week. They’re not on our schedule, so why not cheer? Then hopefully both of us will be in the Super Bowl.

Q: It’s kind of cold out here today; have you guys had to practice in weather like this?

A: Yeah, but last week it wasn’t bad. Any time we have a home game we don’t have to practice outside, and that’s real nice. This week we’ll be outside though, because we’re playing Denver next week. In Denver it’s supposed to be pretty cold, so you might as well get used to it.

Q: Is one of the great things about being so close that you can come back and visit?

A: I tell everybody it’s a gift and a curse. I’m so close to home, I’m two hours from Chicago, but everybody wants to come see me play, and that’s the curse. I get to go home and see everybody, but then when ticket time comes around I’ll be needing 20 tickets. It has its pros and its cons.

Q: What’s it like playing for a 6-0 team?

A: Oh, it’s great. Last year with us chasing history, going 13-0, it was a great feeling. But you can’t look at it like that, because last year we were 14-2 during the season, and we lost in the second round of the playoffs. You have to take it one week at a time because nothing’s guaranteed in the NFL. On any given Sunday you can lose, so that’s why we take it game by game.