NFL First Person: Week Two

By Antoine Bethea
Updated: September 16, 2006

NOTE: Last week, former Howard University standout Antoine Bethea reached a milestone that most rookies can only dream of. The three-time All-MEAC defensive back made his professional football debut with the Indianapolis Colts in their game against the New York Giants.

Each week, BASN will focus on the plight of the ex-Bison standout. Antoine will give our readers a brief glimpse of the NFL through the eyes of a rookie player. This week, he’ll talk about Indy’s win at the Meadowlands and their home opener against the Houston Texans.

INDIANAPOLISLast week’s game was a tough one for us, but we pulled together for the win. Of course much was made of the whole Manning vs. Manning bowl, but for me it was about coming into New York and getting that win.

Many folks asked us if the hype surrounding the game gets to the players. In truth, it really doesn’t. Once the lights come on and you’re out there with your teammates, it makes it just that much better. It’s just comes down to showing what you can do on the field.

Being a rookie and making my first pro start in a nationally televised game was real exciting. The fact that I also did it on such a big stage like New York just added to it.

I got a lot of phone calls from family, coaches, and friends that morning wishing me well.

Playing in New York was a real crazy experience. The fans were really loud and they’re into the game from start to finish.

But as a player, it’s that kind of football atmosphere that you play for. It’s the reason why we’ve played the games all of our lives.

Now I must admit that I was a little nervous before the game started, but once the whistle blew and I got that first play under my belt, all the nervousness and jitterbugs were gone. For us to go out there and get the win and to contribute in the win felt great.

There’s a moment you get when you say to yourself, “Hey, I’ve made it!” You look back on the hard work it took to get to this point and can say that I’m now playing with and against the greatest football players in America.

To be a part of that and to be able to say that I play in the NFL gives me a great feeling.

THE CHALLENGE OF WEEK TWO This week is our home opener against the Houston Texans at the dome. Some people might think we will take them for granted, but it won’t happen.

The nature of the NFL is that anyone can be beaten on Sundays. You just can’t take any team in this league lightly.

We approach the game thinking that we should be able to beat this team, but at the same time we have to prepare for them (Houston) the same way we would for everyone we play.

Coach (Tony) Dungy has told all week that this game is more important than last week because it’s a division game.

Plus when you add to the fact that it was also our home opener, it makes it even more important. Even thought it’s a home game for us, the preparation will still be similar to last week.

The only major difference is that we won’t be flying out like we did last Saturday.

I’ve just gotten settled in a new place that I can really call my own here in Indianapolis. It’s a much different atmosphere from where I went to school and grew up at, but I really like it here.

Like any new area, I’m trying to get accustomed to the subtle changes, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed it.

My family will be coming down to Sunday’s game and I’m looking forward to that as well. They’ve been at out previous home games, but this one will be a little more special because it’s a real game and not the preseason.

FOOTBALL AND PREPARATION One of the biggest differences for me as a player is the amount of preparation that goes into each week’s game. It’s not that we didn’t prepare as well for a game in college; it’s just that at the professional level, it’s at a completely higher level.

It doesn’t matter if its offense or defense, the preparation that goes on for a game is incredible. As a defender like me going up against a quarterback or a receiver, it really like a chess game out there.

You’re trying to beat the man in front of you and also the entire team behind him.

As a defensive back for this team, going up against guys like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Stokely everyday in practice creates a real great situation for me.

All of them are part of one of the best offenses in all of football. When I found out that I was drafted by the Colts, I said to myself that going up against them in practice everyday should definitely help make me a better overall player in the long run.

Now it’s not to say that when you go up against the other offenses that it’s a cakewalk. But you will have seen an offense in practice everyday that’s either equal to or a little bit better.

Going up against them day after day definitely gives me a great deal of confidence heading into game time.