We sat down at length with former Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski last weekend as he put final touches on preparing for this weekend when he'll finally find out what NFL team he'll be drafted by.
Here's some things that didn't make our story on Zibby.
- His first car, a 1991 white Cadillac Seville with red interior, cost him between $1,800-2,000. It also had a La Cucaracha horn that he'd often hit around his Arlington Heights, Ill. neighborhood. When he got to Notre Dame, he brought the car and drove it around campus for his first two years.
"It used to crack people up," Zbikowski said.
He said the windows were tinted and that he might look into buying another '91 Seville for his transportation although he fell in love with the Cadillac Escalade he was driving recently.
But at Notre Dame, the car made Zbikowski stand out immediately.
"There's an Escalade there, a Mercedes there, ya know, all new cars," Zbikowski said. "Then there's this thing with the La Cucaracha horn and (stuff). It's like 'Who's this kid?'"
Soon enough, everyone at Notre Dame found out.
- Zbikowski said he currently doesn't have an e-mail address and that his computer is broken.
- As of Sunday, the Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens and a few other teams inquired about Draft Day and emergency Draft Day phone numbers for Zbikowski.
- Zbikowski felt the Senior Bowl really helped his stock.
"People saw me play in person and saw the athleticism and covering skills when I was covering the tight ends, too," Zbikowski said.
- His favorite memory was a 75-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against Michigan State in 2004. It was his first college touchdown and helped make his name early as a playmaker.
- He said pretty much every NFL coach brought up last season.
"A lot of them, they all get their shots in," Zbikowski said. "Coaches are ballbusters, too. They are like 'Oh, what happened?' It's like 'Do you have five hours to talk? Plenty of (stuff) happened for why we went 3-9.''
He also said every interview included some boxing talk, mostly of Zbikowski reassuring teams his career is over as long as he's playing football.
- While Zbikowski said he wants to play for any team, the Bears hold a special place for him. He grew up watching them in the suburbs of Chicago.
"Obviously I'd love to play for the Bears, don't get me wrong," Zbikowski said. "It makes it a lot easier, too. You get to stay home, family and friends, every one of my family and friends wants me to play there because they are Bears fans."
- Zbikowski planned his St. Maarten vacation the second Notre Dame became bowl-ineligible. It ended up rejuvenating him mentally, but food poisoning took its toll physically.
Still, he needed to get away.
"I was like 'When's the banquet, I need to get out,'" Zbikowski said. "I'd have killed someone if I had to come home. At least you're gone for a week and the season should be forgotten by then, especially if you're not in a bowl game.
"We at least won our last game."
- Since the beginning of the season, Zbikowski said he hadn't watched SportsCenter. He has, though, seen Cubs games and there was one on his kitchen television as we chatted, followed by a boxing match and then a first-round hockey playoff game.
- Zbikowski was surprised how many players at Notre Dame actually read fan message boards. And he knows the consequences, too, of a constant news cycle with anonymity attached to it.
"I read them a couple times and I was ready to kill somebody," Zbikowski said. "You have people that are supposed to be your fans that are just endless on badmouthing you and your teammates.
"I don't know if I had any problems with (trusting people) but a lot of people will say one thing and then write it all over the message boards. One of the first times I ever asked anybody, I'm like 'Do you subscribe to these, do you write on these, do you look at these because if you do, I'm not going to talk to you because I know you're just going to go.' How easy is it. No one knows what your name is and what you're going to write on it.
"For me, I don't want to talk bad about anybody but I was raised a lot differently. If you're going to say something, you better own up to what you say, not have an assumed name and hide behind it. If you're going to say something, you'd better back it up."
-By Michael Rothstein of The Journal Gazette