Ten questions about life off the field with Carolina Panthers defensive tackle and NFL journeyman Bruce Gaston, who was signed to the practice squad on Tuesday:
Q. This is your ninth team in three years, right?
A. I believe so, yes.
Q. That’s kind of a unique experience for a player.
A. To be honest with you, the overall journey is fun and I’m blessed to be here and be able to help my family. You meet good people, but at the same time it can be stressful because everything may not always work out how you want. At the end of the day, it’s a journey and I know how I want it to end. I’m still writing my chapter. It’s ‘to be continued.’
Q. Do you ever think about what it would be like to stay somewhere longer?
A. You know, I’m looking forward to when the journey does end. That I can say, ‘It finished how I wanted it to.’
Q. In your career, sometimes you’ve been in a place for less than a week before having to go somewhere else. What do you do during that week?
A. I mean, sometimes being in that position you’re at the mercy of whatever happens. In this specific position (defensive tackle), obviously you could still get picked up by any team overnight. That’s happened to me before. I went to one team and was on the practice squad, and then two days later I got picked up and was on an active roster. Sometimes it was the next week. At the end of the day, you can’t control it. ... I’m loyal to whatever team I happen to be on at the time and right now that’s Carolina.
Q. So I assume you’ve gotten really good at packing.
A. Oh, yeah. I’m a professional traveler. I got that locked down.
Q. What is one thing you make sure you always pack?
A. Deodorant, toothpaste, socks. I’m not going to lie, my rookie year when I was traveling I forgot socks every single time I traveled. Every single time. I’d have to Uber in the middle of the night to Wal Mart to get socks. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget socks.
Q. How does your family respond to all of this change?
A. Well, my family still supports me. Obviously I help support them too. They’re so loyal, you can’t ask for anything more than that because when you live this lifestyle and you’re at the mercy of getting up and leaving all of the sudden, your family understands and supports you and it’s a great thing.
Q. What’s the best memory you’ve had from a specific town or city that you’ve been in in the last three years?
A. You find yourself traveling to different teams and you meet teammates that you’ve played with before. I played with (safety Michael Griffin) before.
Q. Any cities you loved?
A. Well, I was in Chicago and I grew up there and grew up a fan. So playing there and running out of the tunnel was great, growing up a fan and all that. ... Seeing all the people from the South Side go up north with the Bears. But don’t get it twisted, now I’m a Green Bay fan. (Shakes his head, laughs, palms his forehead.)
I mean, a Carolina fan. You know. Geez. So many different teams, I’m telling you. Carolina fan. It’s a blessing.
Q. Would you say you describe yourself as a ‘journeyman’?
A. Oh, definitely. There’s a lot of words, but mostly it’s a journey. That’s what this is. To the end of my career, it’s all going to be a journey. And playing in the NFL allows me a lot of opportunities to do other things too. It’s a blessing, you can’t really get better than that.