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All NFL players are human beings. That means they enjoy things outside of their profession. They have hobbies and tastes and interests just like you and me.
For Redskins tight end Niles Paul, it's going to the movies.
As he rehabs and recovers from the ankle injury he sustained at the beginning of the preseason, he also has some more free time to head to the local theater and catch up on the latest flicks, his favorite pastime.
Each week I'll sit down with Paul and we'll converse about the most recent movies he's seen, debate about their strengths and weaknesses, needlessly scrutinize or praise actors and directors, analyze his Netflix queue, and, hopefully, find another window into Paul's personality.
In our latest conversation,we discuss the last "The Hunger Games" movie, thanksgiving movie outings and the upcoming movie "Creed."
You saw the final Hunger Games movie…and?
I'm a fan of "The Hunger Games." I watched the first movie, I liked it. And then I heard there were a lot of people complaining about "You left a lot of stuff out." So I said let me go read the book. I read the second one, so when I watched the second one, I was critiquing the movie based off what I had read. I just felt like I was ruining the movie for myself. So, I didn't read the third one. I went into Part 1 of the third one, watched it, I understood what they were doing. This is like the calm before the storm. They're explaining the story before things start to get real. I went into this one, and they had two movies to do it. I feel like this is becoming a trend – it's for a monetary reason – they take these movies that could be one amazing film and they split them in two parts. You get two average movies when you could have one epic movie.
I'm glad you said that because I felt like "Mockingjay -- Part 2" was a little sleepy.
Yeah, well the thing was there were parts of it where I was like, "Yo, that was crazy." The underground monsters, the mutts, they were bad, that was an incredible scene. And then Finnick really went to work down there. That's what you want to see action-wise. Because when it picked up, it picked up. When it slowed down, it slowed ALL the way down. And it got real corny. It is a love story, but they made it more focused on the love story of Peeta and Katniss. I'm sitting there, and I haven't read the story yet, and I can tell you what's going to happen at the end of this movie already. Peeta and Katniss will be together and Gayle is going to pull some slick stuff.
It was funny when Peeta and Gayle are talking about who is going to end up with her, and both of them determined that she will eventually have to decide herself.
Yeah and they were both cool with that.
Have you ever been involved in a love triangle at all?
No, that's not even in my characteristics. If we've got to fight over a girl, then you deserve each other. If you're dealing with somebody else, you're not going to deal with me. If I was Peeta, Gayle and I would have had problems. If I was Gayle, Peta and I would have problems from Day 1. If I'm in Gayle's shoes, Katniss is my girl, the girl I grew up with, the girl I took care of. Just because you were in The Hunger Games, and you had pretend love to save his life... Nah, that's my girl. That's my shorty.
It's nice that this series has never stereotyped Jennifer Lawrence into choosing a guy. It's them jockeying for her.
These movies are so beneficial for women in a sense because it empowers them with Katniss Everdeen. The Mockingjay, she's the symbol of hope. She leads the people to the rebellion and she saves the people in the end. That's a big thing for me. You don't see too many movies that empower women at the end.
She doesn't want to be propaganda in these movies. She wants to be on the front lines. But once she reached a certain level of fame, she was shielded from the doing that. Did you ever notice once you got to a certain point in your career that some of things you normally did, you couldn't do anymore?
I was raised -- and a lot of people don't understand -- in Omaha, Neb., North side, 44th street. I find myself not being able to hang out with my friends that I used to hang out with because we've all gone separate paths in life. They know at the end of the day, they're still my boys. I just can't get caught in that life with them. I kind of try to stay to myself out here and I find hobbies and stuff. I find myself making decisions that are the best for me. I haven't heard from a couple of my boys in a long time. We all took separate paths and I had to make choices just like everybody else. I can't even tweet the same I used to tweet. You take on that responsibility. I try to give [Twitter] a little taste of my personality…but still try to keep it professional.
Thanksgiving is a big movie-going time. Do you have any memorable Thanksgiving movie outings?
We usually try to find a movie to go see every year when we're all together for the holidays. My most memorable one was we saw the movie, "This Christmas." We all were at home in Nebraska. That was the last time we were all together for the holidays.
How tough is it to get the family to agree on one movie?
It's usually not that tough. My older brother usually picks out the movie or one of us picks out the movie and we all go see it. There's a pecking order in our house. The alpha-male is probably my oldest brother. If he says "We're going to see this movie…"
Even your mom is OK with that?
Yeah, everybody will go see it. "Alright."
"Creed," starring Michael B. Jordan, looks like the big Thanksgiving movie coming out. There are just a handful of black actors under the age of 40 that are big in Hollywood and Michael B. Jordan seems the most noteworthy of them.
I didn't really think about that, man.
How important is it for him to be in a movie like this?
I saw "Fruitvale Station" and I thought he did an amazing job. He embodied the character. This movie, all it is is a "Rocky" spinoff. Now we have Creed, the son of Apollo Creed. They kind of tried to do this already. They're giving this black kid an opportunity to headline a movie on Thanksgiving at that.
And it's not ultimately a black victim role that he played before.
Right. You want to see him take on a role that doesn't leave you furious at the end. Watching "Fruitvale Station," I was like "Yo." I didn't know about the situation. I didn't know exactly what happened. I just ran through all these emotions of anger. How did that happen? Obviously it happens all the time.
So to have Michael B. Jordan play Creed, you can kind of see people looking at him as a Rocky figure. People love Rocky. People almost forget Rocky Marciano is a real person and he's not Sylvester Stallone. You can see them giving Creed that role -- letting Rocky pass the torch to him. And if this movie does what it's supposed to do, you better believe they're going to come out with more movies. It's only right.