I recently caught up with Kawika Mitchell, the newly signed Giants linebacker who as a Middle Linebacker for the Chiefs, leading the team in tackles the last two injury-free years. Mitchell will be wearing the number 55 which was previously worn by LaVar Arrington, who’s roster spot was freed up after the Giants released him in the off-season.
JP: I know your name is Hawaiian for David. Did you grow up Hawaii? How did you end up a South Florida Bull.
KM: Well, I was born In Hawaii but I grew up in Florida. I first went to Georgia, but then I transferred to Division 1 AA South Florida because I felt like it was a better opportunity. Eventually we became Division 1A.
JP: You’ve been relatively injury free in your five years for the Chiefs. How have you avoided injury?
KM: As a rookie I had a couple nagging injuries. Basically you need to just work through them. I haven’t missed a play in the last two years. I have a great trainer down in Florida. Basically I work out all year ‘round. You really have to at this level. In college you were always bigger than people. In the pros everybody has the physicality.
JP: Given your durability and obvious knack for tackling, why did you only sign a one-year deal?
KM: It was just based on the situation. I was looking for certain terms in a contract, and I wasn’t getting it. I basically looked for the best situation and I saw the Giants who are a playoff team, with a good defense, and good leadership.
JP: But now you have to move away from Middle Linebacker, the position you played all your career. How comfortable will your transition be.
KM: It’s really not going to be that drastic, I played outside linebacker in college.
JP: OK, well that’s not the only thing you have to worry about. Obviously the New York media is going to be watching your every move. How does it feel to be playing in New York?
KM: I’m excited. I always want to play on the big stage. I feel like I don’t have much to worry about, I’ve been producing my whole career. I’ve been on many winning teams and I love to compete.
JP: What’s the biggest difference so far between Kansas City and New York?
KM: The people. The city. Everything’s different. I had a good time in Kansas City. Herm Edwards was a good coach. He was a player so he knows what we go through every day. He took care of me, but I look forward to having a good year in New York.
JP: Thank you and good luck with the season.
KM: Thanks, good luck with your site, I am a big fan of yours. (OK maybe I made this line up!)