Steve von Horn: I want to speak with you about your upcoming charity event and your new comic book, but first I would like to ask you a few football questions.
The defense has been extremely dominant since the team has come back from the bye week, and over the last two games you guys have shut down the offenses of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions. Has this been the base Tampa-2 executed very well, with the defense challenging quarterbacks physically to fit throws into the tight zones, or have you guys been shifting more towards man-to-man, cover-1 schemes to challenge quarterbacks mentally with different coverages and pressure concepts?
LB: We challenge QB's with different coverages, but we have great corners that can play Cover-2 well and they can man up on receivers well, as evidenced by this past weekend where [Charles] Tillman locked up Calvin Johnson and Tim Jennings was taking the ball away on many opportunities. It doesn't really matter what defense we’re in, the players make the defense. It’s the personnel. The guys that are on the field create the small windows and create the opportunities defensively, the guys up front and the back seven.
SvH: So now let me ask about the Lions game. You guys just shut down the Lions 37-13 at home, in a game that was a little chippy for a blowout. You had a big hit on Calvin Johnson. He recently spoke to the media and said it was a clean hit; that you hit him with your shoulder pad and that he told you it was a clean hit during the game. However, there were some other hits in the game that seemed a little more questionable. How did you and your teammates feel at the time? Was it a message game, or was there some extra tension there?
LB: Nah, you know we play each other often, and obviously they are a division rival, but for the most part you play within the rules of the game. Obviously, if you're playing a violent game at a high speed, there aren't a lot of opportunities within those few seconds to go a little bit higher or a little bit lower. On certain plays things happen. It's part of the game, and that's why we have those officials out there officiating. There are some plays, like my hit, that hopefully after this year they change. Maybe they review it and decide there are some other things we need to do with regards to how we officiate the hitting in the game, the physical aspect, because it’s part of the game. This is football.
SvH: Do you guys want to see the Lions again in the playoffs, or would you rather just leave them out of the picture?
LB: The Lions are a great team. They've come a long way in the years I’ve played here, and they've certainly given Detroit something to cheer about. As far as I'm concerned, we have a goal and it doesn't really matter who stands in our way. So whether it’s the Lions, or the Green Bay Packers, or the Atlanta Falcons, or the Dallas Cowboys or whomever, it doesn't matter.
SvH: Now let me shift gears a little bit. When you aren't shutting down opposing NFL offenses and earning Pro Bowl honors, you are a pretty serious fan of comics. You even have a website, Lancescomicworld.com. That is where fans can share in your love of comics, but what is it about the art form that attracted you at such an early age?
LB: I was always a very imaginative kid. It was me, my sisters, and my mom, so a lot of times it was me playing by myself, having to come up with scenarios in my mind. The great thing about comics is that there are no limits. You can create; it's all about creation and your own imagination. Going for a ride on somebody else's imagination to just cool. For me, it’s one of the coolest things you can possibly do, and I get tied into stuff like that. Like I said, the best part about it is that there are no limits, and you can literally experience someone’s created world.
SvH: I know you probably have a new favorite comic book hero, and we'll get to that in a second, but putting that aside, who are some of your favorite comic book heroes?
LB: The Darkness is at the top of my favorite comic book heroes. He's conflicted, kind of the hero-antihero character. Then some of the usuals are up there as well, like the Hulks and Wolverines. The Silver Surfer is still near the top of my list. I like gritty characters too, as I also like all the characters of the Hunter Killer series. This is just to name a few.
SvH: What's great about all this is that you're using your love of comics to help the community as well. On December 3rd, from 1 pm to 4 pm, you are hosting the Second Annual Comic Book Drive Celebration at Challenger’s Comics in Chicago. Can you tell people a bit about what the Comic Book Drive is and where they can get involved?
LB: The Second Annual Comic Book Drive is an opportunity for people to donate comics in a major push to get young kids to read. You know as well as I do, for some kids growing up, it's not easy. For some it's just one of those things where it's more difficult to learn how to read than maybe to learn math. It’s just one of those things. Comic books are any easy, fun way for kids to learn to read. As many comic books as I picked up as a kid, I never really realized at the time that it was helping me. It was something that I liked to pick up, I read them over and over, and in a tricky way it helped my reading habits.
Besides the drop-off at Challenger’s, there are also going to be drop spots at various grocery stores around the Chicagoland area. If people are interested in learning more, or need additional information on listings and times for drop-offs and donations, they can visit Lancescomicworld.com for more details.
SvH: In addition to the charity work, you have also been involved in creating your own comic called Seraph (for a sneak peek click here). I understand you're using Seraph to compete in the Fifth Annual Image Comic and Top Cow Production Pilot Season Competition. Can you explain a little bit about the premise of your comic, and how people can support you in this competition if they want to see more?
LB: Well the word ‘Seraph’ actually means angel, that’s one of the things I researched before setting the premise of the book. Basically, he is a character who has everything taken away from him. All of his loved ones are taken away in what is a plot to capture heaven. Upon trying to take his own life, Seraph is brought back to life by God through his own guardian angel.
He is given great powers, but his powers are dictated by how righteous of a life he lives, and how close to the Bible he can maintain. It’s a problem for him, because his faith has been completely lost. He’s a guy who pretty much hates God and hates religion, so it’s an ongoing conflict that he has within himself. There’s a lot of cool action and a lot of villainous characters. We had to basically take the whole universe to use as a teaser for the pilot season, but if Seraph wins first place I’m going to have a great time telling the whole story.
SvH: I know that Seraph is being released on November 16th, and then voting on topcow.com begins in the month of December. How does voting work? Is there any limit on voting if people want to support you?
LB: For the first round of voting there is absolutely no limit to the amount of times that you can vote, so vote as often as possible. To fans of Seraph, pick the book up. I know a lot of comic book fans and people who pick it up won’t be disappointed. From that first stage, it then goes to a top-four where fans are only allowed to vote once per day. The book that is voted number one gets to have its full story told.
SvH: You have a picture of the artwork for Seraph up at your website right now, and I know Seraphim is the highest order of angel in Christian theology. I believe the word means ‘burning ones’ in Hebrew, and I encourage fans to check out that artwork on the site. Moving on, I heard that last year you compared teammate Anthony Adams to the comic book hero, The Blob. Do you have any teammates you want to give a little jab to this year?
LB: [Laughter] Oh man, let’s see here. I could definitely see Major Wright being Sunspot. He’s a little bit darker, but a very powerful character. I would say Brandon Meriwether would be Nova, because the guy is a hitter. He brings it every time, and when I think of someone who can bring it, nobody brings it like Nova. Gabe Carimi, who we just drafted this year, I’d probably say he’s Sasquatch. He’s a big guy who played his ball at Wisconsin, so he’d be Sasquatch.
SvH: That’s great, I like it. Speaking of Anthony Adams for a second, he played his ball and graduated from Penn State University, where some very horrible things are coming out as to crimes that have occurred over the past few decades. Is there any chance that if Seraph gets voted through, perhaps you dispatch Seraph to a fictional east coast university? This seems right up the comic’s alley, as there seems to be a serious need for some righteous justice.
LB: First of all, it is obviously very unfortunate what has happened at Penn State. That needs to be said first. In the comic book world it does open up ideas for issues, especially for a character like Seraph where we do take on those issues. Even in his first issue, he is looking for an orphan girl who was basically pawned off by her own addict mother. All of these different issues are issues that are real life, and you can use them in a comic book with a character like Seraph to affect his life, and obviously you have to have some sort of outcome where you send a message to the reader and the audience.
SvH: Lance, thank you very much. It has been an absolute pleasure. Make sure to stay happy and healthy as you guys make a push for the playoffs.
LB: Alright, I appreciate it Steve, see you later.