Sam Farmer, pro football specialist for The Times, is spending some of his time this season swapping e-mail with people in and around the NFL. Farmer recently was online with Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, a fixture in the Dallas Cowboys' top-ranked defense.
Farmer: What are the things we don't see from the outside that make Bill Parcells a great coach?
Glover: Motivational tactics. He uses a lot of different ways to get people motivated, to push people's buttons and to get them to play to their ability and sometimes exceed their own expectations.
Farmer: How do big-bodied defensive tackles such as Daleroy Stewart and Willie Blade help you do your job?
Glover: Their presence really makes a difference. If you force two people to block them, that frees me up to go one on one with most guards.
Farmer: In September, NFL owners almost voted to do away with NFL Europe. How did playing overseas help shape you as a player?
Glover: I think it gave me some quality reps and [allowed me] to get on film so NFL teams could see me. It helped build my confidence a lot and, more importantly than any of the football stuff, I had the opportunity to travel around Europe, which probably would never have happened if I didn't play over there.
Farmer: More often than not, a fifth-round pick drops off the map. The Raiders had some good defensive linemen when they drafted you, then they used the No. 2 pick on Darrell Russell in 1997. Were you ever concerned your NFL career would end before it really started?
Glover: Yes I was. When I got cut by the Raiders, I immediately enrolled back in college because I thought that was it. I was just going to go back to school and start working again. Luckily, I got a call from the Saints and the rest is history.
Farmer: Was there a turning point in your career, a time you first really showed what you're capable of doing?
Glover: When I went to New Orleans, that was it for me. That was the biggest shot I had, so I had to go and prove that I was a capable NFL defensive tackle and that was the turning point.
Farmer: Your defense ranks No. 1 in the league, but there are no Cowboys in the top 30 in sacks or interceptions and only one in tackles. Do we read too much into those statistics?
Glover: Sometimes you do. I think a lot of time, the guys who are in the top one, two and three of those statistics aren't on the top one, two or three defenses. We are doing it collectively, all together. We are not worried about who gets the glory and the press and all those types of things. We just want to win ballgames.
Farmer: I understand you're a big fine-dining fan. What do you miss most about the restaurant scene in New Orleans? And have you ever had anything from there shipped in?
Glover: Oh, wow, that's too much to answer. I love the food in New Orleans. Dickey Brennans was great, the House of Blues was fantastic. They have so many good restaurants down there, it is really hard to pinpoint just one, but the food was excellent. I never have gotten anything shipped to me here.
Farmer: With Marshall Faulk, you, Robert Griffith, Kyle Turley, Brian Russell all coming out of San Diego State, is that place underrated as a producer of NFL-caliber players?
Glover: I think it is. We've been able to put out some pretty good athletes from San Diego State who have been pretty successful in the NFL. It's a small talent pool down there and hopefully they can continue to produce some good athletes.
Farmer: What CD is in your car stereo right now?
Glover: R. Kelly, Sam Cook, Bob Marley and Jay Z.
Farmer: Is there a TV show you try not to miss?
Glover: I try not to miss "Monday Night Football" and it used to be "The Sopranos," but that's not on anymore. It used to be "Sex and the City," but that's not on anymore.... Anymore, there's nothing good on TV, but "Monday Night Football."