© St. Petersburg Times, published January 21, 2003
Not so long ago, a long snapper such as Ryan Benjamin could have gone through a season and playoffs in relative anonymity. No longer. Here is Benjamin, a New Port Richey native and product of South Florida, on hot dogs, his newborn son Aidan Cooper (born Jan. 10) and horoscopes.
RM: In the public eye, long snappers were nobodies until a couple of weeks ago.
RB: It's definitely something that's new to us. Generally, the less people know about you, the better you're doing. The flip side is also true. The more people know about you, the more likely you're doing something wrong.
RM: Long snappers have their own cult, don't they?
RB: You could say so. If you're a long snapper, you know the different stories of other long snappers. We never hear about someone going out on top. Put it this way, the long snapper is a position you could play for years in anonymity.
RM: What's in a hot dog?
RB: I'm told it's beef. But I don't think I have ever seen any beef look like that. I'm pretty sure there's some other animal parts. Let's put it this way. If there was meat in a hot dog, it's the last ingredient put in there. I'm talking nose, eyes, ears, nails and other body parts.
RM: In such a health conscious society, how are hot dogs still selling?
RB: Truthfully, I have eaten my share of hot dogs, and I can't say I particularly care for them. But I probably will continue to. I don't know. Maybe they put something in there. It's addictive.
RM: Congrats on the birth of your son, but you do know your life is over? RB: So I've been told. People tell you how much it's going to be, but you never know until you have one. It's amazing. My wife was in labor for 36 hours. In the beginning, she was calm and patient, but as time went on, she got increasingly more fiery. She did great, though. In the end, she had to have a C-section.
RM: You have heard about the 8-week rule?
RB: No, what's that?
RM: Ryan, Ryan. It's the rule that says you have to "stay away" from your wife for between 6-8 weeks.
RB: Yeah, I did hear about that.
RM: Well, my question is, who wants to do that?
RB: I don't even know if there's time for that now, to be honest with you.
RM: How good are you with the changing of diapers?
RB: I had to learn on the fly. I didn't have any skills, but I got it now. The first time I had to change a diaper was in the hospital. The nurse brought my son and said, "It's your turn." I didn't know what to do. So she showed me, and I had next.
RM: Best approach to changing a diaper is ... ?
RB: Get in there, get out of there as quickly as possible. I'm hauling. The minute I take his clothes off, the baby starts screaming. The other thing is if you're in a cool environment or in the air conditioning, then you have to be ready. The first time I did it, I took my time. And he went all over me. He was going everywhere.
RM: One would assume that you're helping Mom out when the baby cries at night?
RB: Fortunately for me, my wife is breast feeding. So she just gets up and takes care of it. There's nothing I can do at that point.
RM: You're the man. I'm thinking it was a woman who invented baby formula just to get men involved.
RB: Definitely it was a woman behind that and the breast pump.
RM: You read horoscopes?
RB: I read it every once in a while. But I don't know if I believe any of that stuff. They are pretty general things that could apply to everyone and could be interpreted in a million ways.
RM: It's possible that people born in certain times of the year exhibit certain common traits.
RB: I suppose that's true. I'm a Scorpio, and my wife is ... Dec. 15th. I guess she's a Capricorn. My wife and I are a great team. We've been together since sophomores in high school.
RM: Oh, come on, man. That's weak.
RB: Sorry, I guess I'm in a cult now: "Guys who marry their high school sweethearts."
RM: What shortcoming can you not have as a human?
RB: Trying to act like someone you are not. I can't stand people who pretend to be one thing and then you realize that they are different. I don't like hypocrisy. Be who you are. Don't be someone else.
RM: Craziest international sport is ... ?
RB: I don't know if it's considered a sport, but I guess it is. That thing they do with the bulls in Spain.
RM: It's called the Running of the Bulls.
RB: Yeah, that thing. They're crazy. Hell no, I would never do something like that. I don't want a horn up my butt. They get hurt pretty badly and for what?
RM: But they probably look at football and think it's crazy that people run around and hit each other.
RB: The only difference is when you run with the bulls, you're going to lose 99 percent of the time.