Carolina Panthers

Q&A: Carolina Panthers center Gino Gradkowski

Pittsburgh native Gino Gradkowski joined the Panthers this season, having spent last season with Atlanta. He played his first three NFL seasons with Baltimore.
Pittsburgh native Gino Gradkowski joined the Panthers this season, having spent last season with Atlanta. He played his first three NFL seasons with Baltimore. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Ten questions about life off the field with Carolina Panthers C Gino Gradkowski:

Q. There’s a Geno’s Steaks in Philly. What’s Pittsburgh’s answer to the cheesesteak?

A. We have Primanti Brothers. That’s a famous sandwich (place) in Pittsburgh. I’d have to go with that.

Q. You don’t mind throwing fries on a sandwich?

A. Yeah, I like that. They put French fries on a lot of things in Pittsburgh, even chicken salads. If you go to a restaurant and get chicken salad, they’ll usually have French fries on it.

Q. Were you a guy who waved a Terrible Towel and went to Steelers and Penguins games?

A. Obviously, I was a Steeler fan growing up. But with my brother (Bruce) being 6 years older than me, when he was drafted by the Bucs (as a QB) I was just rooting for whoever he was with. But still a Penguins fan, still a Pirates fan. I’d like to see those guys do well.

Q. Has anyone ever confused you with Bruce?

A. No. We were always built differently. He was always built like a quarterback. I was always built like a lineman.

Q. So you’ve never gotten one of his paychecks by accident?

A. No (laughs). I wish. I haven’t, though.

Q. You’ve been in Charlotte a few months now. What’s your favorite thing about the city?

A. It’s easy to get around. You don’t have to deal with too much crazy traffic, at least coming back and forth from where we’re at. I just like how it’s a smaller city and how it’s easy to get around.

Q. I’ve heard people compare it to a newer, cleaner Pittsburgh, size-wise anyway. Do you see that?

A. In ways it’s reminded me of Pittsburgh just because it’s a smaller city. Obviously, a whole lot different landscape because all the hills and stuff in Pittsburgh. But it’s a similar city.

Q. I asked you this in August, but it looks like your nose took another turn. What happened this time?

A. I don’t know. I think sometimes (with) my helmet I don’t have enough air. It’s my own fault. It’s something that I’ll probably have to get straightened out after my playing days. But right now there’s no point because I’ll probably just keep doing it.

Q. Is there anything you miss from up north?

A. Not really, not yet. I think the food’s great down here. I’m still looking for a good pizza place if you have any suggestions.

Q. Do you like thin crust or thick?

A. It depends. I like the thinner crust. I’m more of a fan of the New York style than the Chicago style. I haven’t really asked around. I just eat the Charlotte food. It’s good.

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