By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 22, 2001
Bucs tight end Todd Yoder is entering his second season in the NFL and hopes to have a more prominent role. Here is the small-town boy on marriage, love, chemistry, taxes, Goldilocks and being a Jedi Knight:
RM: Heard you just walked down the aisle.
TY: Just the other day (June 9). It was a Saturday and I had to come back in time for workouts on the Monday. Actually, it worked out pretty well. Minicamp was done, workouts were done, everything was done. I got all the football stuff out of the way and then I got to chill and spend time with Susan.
RM: So, describe what being in love is about.
TY: Wow ... it's a great thing. I am so happy with her. I can't imagine not spending a day without her. She's my support person off the field. When I come home and I'm tired and beat up and cranky, whatever, she's there and we make a great team. Some things she's good at, I'm not so good at. Some things I'm good at, she's not so good at. Together we make a perfect pair.
RM: I'm guessing there aren't too many chemistry majors in the NFL.
TY: I'm probably one of few. When I went to college, I was 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds playing wide receiver. I went to college to go to college. That's why I picked Vanderbilt because of its reputation for academics.
RM: Okay brainiac, what's the trick to understanding chemistry?
TY: A lot of it is seeing things in a three-dimensional way. ... being able to see the orientation of molecules. You kind of have to imagine, when you read it on paper, what it looks like on a spacial plane. It's tough for a lot of people to grasp that.
RM: And you were thinking of medical school?
TY: Still am. I would like to get into sports medicine. I have had my fair share of injuries. It's amazing, we had one doctor at Vandy who actually played football. He was so easy to relate to. He knew what we were going through. It made a difference.
RM: If not medical school, what else would you do when your career is over?
TY: My last year, I did a lot of lab work and research and I really enjoyed that, too. So I could work for a pharmaceutical company and do drug research and stuff like that.
RM: What would be your priority?
TY: I would love to find a cure for cancer. It's one of the most common diseases. We know how it works, we just don't know how to stop it. Every single person has had family members deal with cancer. If you can find a cure for that you're going to help a lot of people.
RM: Finish this sentence, "The world will be a better place if . . .
TY: We didn't get taxed so much. This was my first year paying taxes and it was like, "Welcome to the real world!' There were a lot of things that I learned. In general, there are a lot of people who don't make a lot of money and get killed paying high taxes. We need the government programs and all that but the thing that kills me is that big percentage of the taxes go to paying off the debt.
RM: You know some at One Buc describe you as cheap.
TY: Frugal! It's probably how I grew up. I'm from a small town in Indiana where there wasn't much affluence. My parents were both school teachers. I don't need to be walking around in a $2,000 suit. I come to work in a T-shirt and shorts every day and I love that. I don't own an $80,000 car. I'm not cheap, I live well. But I'm trying to save and put as much away for my family and the kids I hope to have in the future.
RM: Did you ever consider that Goldilocks was committing a burglary?
RM: Goldilocks, you know, the girl who broke into the three bears' crib, ate their food, slept in their bed and broke a chair.
TY: I guess I never considered that. Come to think of it, you're right. You could look at it that way.
RM: Same with Jack and the Beanstalk. Didn't he rob the giant?
TY: Yeah. He also stole stuff, didn't he. You're a crazy man, you know that.
RM: Tell me about this Star Wars fascination.
TY: When I was younger, I was a Star Wars nut and it hasn't changed. I was okay with the new (movie, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace). I liked it, but I think they did a little too much with the computer-aided stuff. I think they should have been a little bit more old school. I went opening night, was there at 12:01 a.m.
RM: So you want to be a Jedi Knight?
TY: Being a Jedi Knight would be cool. You could just do whatever you wanted. You would be able to move stuff by thinking it. How awesome is that? Could you imagine to be able to sit here and just move stuff? That's supernatural power.
RM: Could be useful on the football field.
TY: You'll be the best football player of all time. You'll just like move tacklers out of the way, snap the ball and knock everybody down, get a free run to the end zone every time.
RM: And you say, I'm a crazy man.