ESPN Wisconsin

Tuesdays With Wilde: Frank Zombo

Who would’ve thought I’d be starting games for the Green Bay Packers? I was always one of the better players growing up, but … I’d like to think that I’ve stayed the same. I haven’t gotten big-headed or anything like that, because I realize that this could be taken away from me tomorrow. I still am close with all my friends and family back home, and I always try to stay level-headed.

 

You see that hit that I had on Cutler, and it’s worth more than 75 grand. I mean, 75 hundred. (laughs) 75 grand, that’d really hurt. It’s worth more than that $7,500 in the grand scheme of things. It was a good, solid hit that caused an interception and put the quarterback on the ground for a good minute. That’s the way I’m looking at it.

 

The last few months have been a whirlwind. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve come a long way. I still have a lot to accomplish. This could be taken away tomorrow. I have to play well my next game. I can’t be looking back and saying, “Look how far I’ve come.” I have to play well. But it is pretty cool to see how far I’ve come.

 

Right now, I’m driving a Ford F-150. I’m not making all that much money this year. I mean, I’m making more than most kids coming out of college. But I’m not going out and buying a new car or a new house right away. I’m going to save as much money as I can, because you never know what might happen. My dad’s always helped me out with having a car. In the summer, I’d drive an Impala, and then in the winter I’d drive the F-150 with the snow and stuff. My dad told me when we had $10,000 left to pay on the Impala, he said, “You can take the Impala and pay the $10,000, or I’ll give you the F-150 for free.” I took the F-150.

 

My girlfriend Jessica and I have been together since I was in the 11th grade. She’s definitely been with me before all this, and she’s put up with all the stress of football – traveling, not really getting to see her all that much or not getting to see her as much as I should. She’s definitely a keeper. Seven years, that’s a long time. Now that I am getting money, that might be the first thing I do splurge on – a nice little ring for her. She’s been there through the tough and the hard, so she’s definitely a keeper.

 

She lives in Ann Arbor right now, she’s got a good job. So she’s not going to be moving here anytime soon. We don’t know how long this is going to last, and we want to save as much money as we can. She went to U of M. She was a year older than me.

 

I didn’t like Michigan State. We played them at Central (Michigan) every year. It’s a little rivalry that’s started up. We beat them last year. I don’t like Michigan or Michigan State.

 

I love the HBO Sunday night lineup with Entourage, Hung and True Blood. I was never a Turtle, and I hate Vince. He’s probably the worst character on there. My favorite character is Johnny Drama. And Ari. I’m more like an Ari Gold, just running stuff in college.

 

You know, I’ve really started getting into country, so there’s a lot of that on my iPod. Zac Brown Band, I like them. Jack Johnson – he’s not country, but I’m into him. I started getting into country just being in Green Bay, and in college. It’s just more relaxing.

 

I just bought the DVDs of The Office, and I love ‘em. I never really watched it, but I bought five seasons the other day and I’m just going through them. I just sit in my room by myself and just laugh all day. Movies, my favorite is probably Forrest Gump. And any war movie, I really like.

 

I like Sammy’s Pizza, on Oneida Street. I like the homemade ravioli. It’s pretty good. Being Italian, my dad makes a nice spaghetti sauce every Sunday that starts about 8 in the morning and we eat about 6 at night, and it cooks all day. So I’m real particular about my spaghetti sauces, and I like theirs. But we haven’t gone to a whole lot of restaurants. She came last weekend, and I bought a couple chickens stuffed with some cheese and spinach and I cooked that up.

 

I like to cook, but I’m more of a crock-pot guy. Or, somebody gives me a recipe and I follow that. I guess that’s kind of cheating, though. My dad’s spaghetti sauce, that’s a family recipe that’s been passed on.

 

If they made my life into a movie, I think I’d have Keanu Reeves play me. We look alike. (laughs)

 

I’m not into Twitter. Facebook, I have it, and people write on my wall and stuff, and I thank them, but I don’t keep track.

 

I’ve been recognized a few times around town, but not a lot. If you go to a restaurant, you’ll have some girls buy you drinks or send some shots over. “No thanks, I’m OK.” Then they act like they don’t know who you are, or they don’t know you’re football players. But they know. Sometimes I go to the mall or a store and someone will know you. I think it’s all because I was on the Larry McCarren Show. I think that’s where they recognized me from.

 

I talk to my parents – each of them – every day. It’s been like that all through college. My dad was great as I was growing up and playing sports. You see a kid miss a shot in basketball or whatever, and their dad is over there yelling at them. My dad would never do that – unless he saw me not giving 110 percent. That was really the only thing. He said, “I’ll never be upset with you, unless you’re not trying your hardest.”

 

I have one little brother who’s a sophomore in college. He’s a smart kid, a real hard worker, and he’s doing really well. He does dialysis procedures, and I go in and visit him at work sometimes. It’s an older crowd that he takes care of, and they just love him. He goes to Oakland University in Michigan.

 

Walking out to Lambeau for the first time for the first game I played in – that first start against the Colts (on Aug. 26), when I knew I was going to play a lot and I was going to have a big role – that was quite an experience. Night game, Lambeau Field, sacking Peyton Manning – it was just unreal.

 

I’d love to play this game for as long as I can. I think I can do that, staying healthy, God willing. But I’m just focused on this next game. It’s really important. And I’m not just saying that because everybody says that. Really, this game is very important to me. I’m trying to secure a spot on this team for a long time, and this is the next step in doing that.

 

When I first came in for the rookie orientation camp, there were three of us undrafted outside linebackers – me, Tim Knicky and John Russell. We had a good bond. Tim and I were real close, and Russell’s a great guy. I talked to Knicky about a month ago after I saw him on “Hard Knocks.” I always think about it, but I have to give him a call and see how he’s doing. Who would’ve thought?

 

I think I came in as the last of the free agents. I remember coming into rookie orientation and thinking, “I’m last on the depth (chart).” I was like, “Wow, I’ve really got my work cut out for me.” But now look where I’m at.

 

Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.

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