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Together from the beginning

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000


TAMPA -- The license plate on his car reads DB4LIFE, indicating what cornerback Donnie Abraham's profession is. But when it comes to his devotion off the field, the soft-spoken Abraham needs no plaque.

He's a family man. He's the son and grandson of family men. He grew up in a household bubbling over with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. From an early age, he understood the value of family, and by the time he was a 15-year-old in Orangeburg, S.C., he respected his family and knew the importance of making it proud of him. "The most important things were my parents," Abraham said, thinking back to 1988. "They were always around and kept us in check, made sure we didn't stray away and do things that we were not supposed to do. My dad had eight brothers and sisters, and they all had kids. The cousins always got along. I remember so many good times with my cousins. We used to have cookouts all the time, big, huge family gatherings. All the time."

Even at 15, when peer pressure can lure a young person into unchartered territory, Abraham did not go for the fake.

"Well, when I was 15, I didn't live a very exciting life," Abraham said. "I was laid back. I had a steady girlfriend. I was a typical high school jock. That was the year I got my driver's license, and that was good for the fact that I could go out and stuff like that, but I was still pretty laid back."

But Abraham was sizing up his first major hurdle in life.

"The only real obstacle that I remember was that I almost didn't play football," he said. "I had to decide. I thought I was going to play basketball (as a point guard). Looking at it now, I was sorry, but back then I had a game. At that time I had basketball high up there. I felt basketball was a better game. No one was telling me not to play football, but I just was leaning toward basketball."

Abraham had a change of heart over the next two years and played varsity football in his senior year of high school.

"When you think about it, I almost didn't play this game," he said.

Q: What wisdom would you impart to the Donnie Abraham of 1988?

A: I know I would be the bomb, I would be the man. If I knew back then what I know now, I would have gone to the biggest school, been the No. 1 pick. There is so much stuff that I have learned growing up, it's hard to say one specific thing. I have no regrets in my life. I feel like I have done everything that I should have done. Frankly, I kind of wish I had done some more crazy things.

Q: Who was the person you admired most?

A: My dad, Nathaniel. My middle name is Donnie; I'm Nathaniel, too. Just the type of guy he was, the type of man he was -- not just a father but a great example, a role model. He treated my mom well. He was a good husband. He was active in the church. He always worked, always worked, and never complained about it. He was just like my grandpa (Eugene). They both had a hard time saying no to someone.

SUPER BOWL XXII

Jan. 31, 1988

San Diego

Redskins 42, Broncos 10

MVP: Doug Williams, Redskins quarterback (18-of-29 for Super Bowl-record 340 yards and game record-tying four touchdown passes, all in the second quarter).

IN THE NEWS: March 11: Robert McFarlane, former national security adviser, pleads guilty in the Iran-Contra case. Nov. 8: Republican George Bush is elected president. Dec. 1: Benazir Bhutto is chosen prime minister of Pakistan, the first Islamic woman to gain such a post. Dec. 21: Pan-Am Flight 103 explodes because of a terrorist bomb and crashes in Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground.

BEST PICTURE OSCAR: The Last Emperor

MUSIC OF THE MOMENT: Appetite for Destruction/Guns n' Roses

EVERYBODY'S WATCHING: thirtysomething

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