Q&A: Northwestern alumnus John Gill Super Bowl-bound with Colts

Brian Chappatta

Former Northwestern defensive lineman John Gill (Communication ’09) has already reached the pinnacle of his profession less than a year after donning his cap and gown.

Now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, the NFL rookie is preparing for a game most players never get a chance to play-the Super Bowl. Gill took time out of his training regimen to talk about the transition to the NFL, the pursuit of regular-season perfection and the Super Bowl experience.Excerpts:

The Daily: What’s the biggest difference between college football and the NFL?

Gill: One huge thing is the competition. The competition is a lot more intense, and everyone on the team is so good that it’s constantly a competition. Also, the amount of time you have to commit to it- there are much longer days, and it’s a much longer season.

The Daily: How did your NU football career prepare you for life in the pros?

Gill: Just how to prioritize stuff, get stuff done and make the best use of my time. Another way is the whole preparation for football-film study, working out, keeping in shape, getting to know your opponent. Those are all things we did, which everyone does, but I learned how to do that well at Northwestern.

The Daily: How would you compare Pat Fitzgerald to Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell?

Gill: Pretty different in terms of their personalities. Coach Fitz is louder, more outgoing, more intense. Coach Caldwell is pretty laid back, pretty calm. Each way is different, but each way works. And they are similar in a lot of ways. They both drill the fundamentals.

The Daily: Describe what it was like pursuing a perfect regular-season record with the Colts.

Gill: We just kept winning and winning. I don’t think any of the players were really trying for the undefeated season because our ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl, and it wasn’t worth having an undefeated season and then possibly having somebody get hurt in one of those last two games. We had already secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and that was really what we needed. Obviously we wanted to win, but we understood why we took out the starters.

The Daily: What’s it like preparing for the Super Bowl in your rookie season?

Gill: It’s cool just to be in a Super Bowl in my first year. It’s quite an experience. But we’re trying to treat it like any other game. A lot of the other stuff, the other activities, are for other people. We’re trying not to get distracted, and this whole week has been a typical week of practice for us. We’re not changing anything. We’re trying to focus on the game, not on the whole idea of the Super Bowl. Just focus on the Saints, try to keep things routine.

The Daily: What are you doing to soak up the Super Bowl experience?

Gill: I’m just going to try to enjoy it along the way. We’re going to be in Miami for a week, and we’ll have stuff to do so I’m going to enjoy that when it’s time to enjoy that. And then when it’s time to focus on football and practice and meetings, I’ll be focused on that. It’s going to be a lot of fun. My family is going to be there so it’s going to be quite an experience for them, too. Going to the Super Bowl in your first year is pretty exciting, and a lot of people don’t get the chance to ever go. For all I know, this could be my last one. Hopefully it’s not, but it could be the only one I ever go to. I’m going to try to enjoy it but stay focused since our ultimate goal is to win.

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