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EXCLUSIVE: NaVorro Bowman interview done by kids at his ProCamp

Bowman explains how he held onto the ball when he “broke his knee,” his biggest QB hits, and more.

My favorite part of going to ProCamps is the Q&A that a few lucky kids get to have with the featured player. A few get admittance through Citibank Private Pass and a few more are brought in through drawings and/or contests. It’s an unfiltered interview session and the one with San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman was no different. We have the full transcript:

How long have you been playing football?

I’ve played football since I was 6 years old. Believe it or not, I’ve played center before, I’ve played running back, I’ve played safety. As you get older you start to realize what type of position you want to play and what kind of player you are, so that is to say, just go after it. As long as you’re having fun with football wait til later on to figure out what position you want to play. 6 years old is really when my mom and dad signed me up for it and it took a little while for me to get used to being heavier than kids my age. I never had a chance to play with kids my age because I was so much heavier. I played with the older guys and that’s what kind of gave me the attitude, that I believe that I can play with the big dudes. All that stuff I still remember to this day.

How did you keep a hold of the ball when you broke your knee?

I guess that shows how much I wanted to win. Before that play I was just dropping into coverage and the ball is the main goal, to get the ball. Once I realized I had the ball, I didn’t really feel the knee at the time, but I knew it was gone, that I couldn’t run with the ball. The leg wouldn’t move or anything. So, holding the ball was for my teammates, it wasn’t for me. I kind of already knew that I was done. It sucked that they didn’t give it to us, right? But I heard after that play that we were able to get the ball anyway. So it’s just a team sport and so when you go through things like that you just think about the team first and I think that’s what made me hold onto the ball.

How do you feel about being an NFL superstar?

It’s a blessing. I was drafted in the 3rd round. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get to where I am and just to prove the naysayers wrong, the teams that passed up on me, just to show them that I went to Linebacker U, that I know how to play the position of linebacker and for me to get the respect that I get from the players throughout the NFL, that’s what makes you a superstar, nothing else, not the articles that you read, not the pictures. As long as you get respect throughout the league, from the other players, that’s what you want to leave the game with, just having that respect from you peers.

What has been the biggest highlight in your career?

I have to say that the goal is to make as much money as you can in this league because it is my job and for me to sign a huge contract I think was the biggest highlight, not just for me but for my family, for me to give back to them and give them things that they’ve never seen in their lives, and for me to take care of my family also. Being able to do that and to see things that I never had as a child, to be able to show my family and my brother and my kids and things like that. If I wasn’t where I am, none of those things would probably happen so I think that’s a highlight on a personal side. As far as football, just going to the playoffs as many times as we did, having a shot to play in the Super Bowl. It sucked that we didn’t win the Super Bowl but I know several players in the NFL that haven’t ever been to the playoffs, that haven't ever been to a Super Bowl and they’ve played football for 16-17 years. So those things you have to cherish. When you get to the Super Bowl, [or] you make it to the playoffs, you have to take advantage of it and those are the highlights that I’ll never forget.

Who’s the best quarterback you ever played with?

(After a brief pause, laughter from many of the adults in the room)

I’ve enjoyed all the quarterbacks I’ve played with. But I play defense so it’s my job to do my job so I can get them the ball back and so they can go do their job.

What quarterback have you hit the hardest?

Hmmmm. I’d probably have to say Russell Wilson. I get a chance hit him a lot. He likes to run the ball. Me and him are pretty good friends. We see each other a lot at different events and we remind each other about plays that we’ve made against each other so I’d probably say Russell Wilson.

How did it feel to get drafted?

It felt great. Just knowing I was able to play with the best football players in the world. If you get a chance like this you just want to take advantage of it and not let it slip away. Give it all you have because at the end you don’t want to have any regrets saying I wish I did this or I wish I could have done that. You just want to make sure you take advantage of every opportunity that you get.

What’s you favorite memory at Candlestick park?

The pick-six, brotha! It was the last touchdown there and I think a lot of fans just appreciated that play. The last play there and no more games being played there and things like that. So the pick six is just really a play that I will never forget and I think your dad, your mom and no one else will ever forget because it really sent us to the playoffs and Candlestick will be remembered for that play forever.

If you weren’t an NFL player, where would you be?

Well, some campers reminded me of being good friends with Kevin Durant. I played basketball and the last I played, I put a lot of time in the gym. I’ve traveled thoughout America, I played in the biggest basketball tournaments growing up so I would probably be chasing a basketball around if I didn’t make it to the NFL. I know I would have went to college, that’s always been on my mind, and graduated with a degree somehow in some type of field and pursued that. Doing something positive and smart and trying to make the best out of it.