This hasn't been a typical week for Gary Barnidge. Really, it hasn't been a typical season.
The eighth-year veteran tight end has already set career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, and there are 11 more games to play. National media outlets from coast to coast have been dialing up Barnidge to discuss the most replayed catch of his life, an 18-yard touchdown he used everything but his hands to corral in last week's overtime win at Baltimore.
ClevelandBrowns.com was the latest to catch up with the Browns playmaker. The conversation is below.
CB.com: Has this week been a little different than all the other ones you've experienced in the NFL?
Barnidge: A little bit. A little more media but I try not to worry about that because you can't focus on that. That's in the past. You can't worry about it. You have to get ready for this week.
CB.com: Have you been surprised by the reaction?
Barnidge: Not really. I figured something would happen like that because people were going crazy about the catch. Should have caught it with my hands. It would have made it so much easier. It's been good, but you can't really worry about that kind of stuff because you've got to get ready for Denver.
CB.com: This has already been a career year for you personally. What's the major reason why it's happening now?
Barnidge: I don't think there's really one thing. I think it's been a group effort between the receivers running good routes and they've been getting the ball. Josh (McCown) has been putting it in great places and on a line. Running backs have been blocking and running the ball. I think it just opens up everybody on the team, not really one person.
CB.com: Is it a surprise at all it took this long for you to put up these kind of numbers?
Barnidge: I wouldn't say it's a surprise. I think it's just more about the opportunities. It's tough. I've been behind Pro Bowlers in my career, Jordan Cameron and Greg Olsen. Just getting opportunities is all it is. I think anybody in the league if they have the opportunity, they're able to produce.
A look at TE Gary Barnidge's career so far. (Photos courtesy of AP Images)
CB.com: Is this kind of involvement similar to what you experienced at Louisville?
Barnidge: A little different. In college, you may game plan more for a guy to get catches. Here, we're not really game planning for anybody. It's just dictated by the coverage and the matchups, really. It's not really dictated toward one person.
CB.com: You and Josh were teammates in Carolina. Was the chemistry established then?
Barnidge: I think it helps a little bit just because he's familiar with me and I'm familiar with him and we have a little bit of that already. Still, every year is different. You've got to come prepared every year.
CB.com: What did you learn about your role when you first met with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo?
Barnidge: I don't think anything really changed. I know on the outside looking in, everybody's going, 'we don't have players at each position and stuff's not going to happen for them.' We showed that we bought into the system. Everybody has the opportunity to succeed and that's a huge aspect of us.
CB.com: You're clearly a team guy and have said you can't celebrate individual accomplishments after losses. Have you been able to enjoy this one?
Barnidge: I still don't try to celebrate it. Again, it was in the past. You can't worry about it. It's a team effort. I couldn't do that without the other guys on the team. It's not just me doing everything. The team's helping everyone succeed.
CB.com: How much did the win elevate the locker room?
Barnidge: I think it's huge. It can be a changing point for a season for a team. Just a hard-fought win and it shows we're never out of a game no matter what the score is and no matter how things look. We're always going to be in the game.
CB.com: But is there a different vibe around the facility?
Barnidge: I think it's been great. I think guys have been focused. They've been focused every week, but you can see an extra amount of focus going into the game.
CB.com: What makes Denver's defense so tough?
Barnidge: They've just got great players everywhere. Every position is stacked with guys. They're a physical defense and it's going to be a good matchup for us.
CB.com: Any idea which particular players you'll be lined up against?
Barnidge: You really don't know because you don't know how they're going to game plan it. You really can't tell who you're going to be going against. You have ideas, but you really don't know, so you really can't figure that stuff out until you get out there and see how they're going to match up with everybody. You can't really worry about that. You've just got to go out and execute your plays and everything will play out for you.
CB.com: It's safe to call you a worldly guy beyond football. Explain what American Football Without Barriers is.
Barnidge: American Football Without Barriers is something me and two of my college buddies, Ahmed Awadallah who is an engineer for Yum! Food Brands and Breno Giacomini, who is the right tackle of the Jets. We started four years ago and we go internationally to different places and we do a football camp for kids and we also visit orphanages, talk to kids, give out clothes. We want to spread the sport internationally on the ground level and help it grow playing-wise, not just by watching. We've been to China, we've been to Brazil, Turkey and right now we're narrowing it down between Morocco and Egypt for this next camp. It's been a lot of fun. We're trying to break the trend of colleges not recruiting for football internationally. They do for basketball and baseball. We're trying to break that trend and give kids the opportunity we had here in the states to get a scholarship in the sport they like to play.
CB.com: What inspired you to start this foundation?
Barnidge: I just enjoy giving back. I try to do as much as I can giving back. We were going to do one in Egypt and the revolution broke out and my buddy's Egyptian. I said let's do something worldwide. Let's not be one and done or one place; let's go all over. I wanted to do something different, so we came up with that idea of doing it everywhere and somewhere different every year.
CB.com: We know you're at the movies with 10 fans every Thursday. What'd you see this week?
Barnidge: We saw Crimson Peak. It's a lot of fun. I try to do that trivia question every Wednesday and I bring 10 fans to the movies every Thursday. The movie was good. It wasn't as good as I thought it could have been but it was very good. People are going to think it's a scary movie but it's really not scary. It's more suspenseful with a few jump scares. Nothing really that's scary scary.
CB.com: Best movie you've seen this year?
Barnidge: That's tough. "The Martian" was really good, but if you see the movie or you haven't seen it yet, read the book first or read it after. The book's by far more superior but the movie's really good as well.