Ted Ginn, Jr. The name is synonymous with speed, agility, talent—and to Ohio State fans, the name of the former receiver equates to a sort of Buckeye deity. He’s a legend with supernatural athletic ability. Anyone who had the opportunity to watch him run around a track in high school (in 46 seconds, no less) can attest to this. His movements are fluid and efficient. Originally recruited as a track athlete, it became a simple fact that there just aren’t enough hours in a day to split between Ohio State track practice and Ohio State football. So, although he was touted as a sprinter with Olympic potential, he chose football. Regrets? Not one. Ginn will someday return to track workouts, he tells us—not necessarily to compete, but certainly to maintain that sharp speed and fitness that got him where he is today.
Ducking out before his senior season to play for the Miami Dolphins, where he was drafted as a number nine pick, Ginn still finds guidance from Ted Ginn, Sr.—his father, high school football and track coach. And while living in Miami, it is certain that he won’t be one to quickly forget his old buddies. His friendship with high school and college teammate Troy Smith hugs the border of brotherhood. Smith, quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, and Ginn grew up side-by-side, with the senior Ginn raising both as his sons. His long-term friendships are an indication of the deep loyalty that runs through his personality—especially apparent when considering his relationship with high school sweetheart Krystal McCoy, who’s moved to Miami with him.
In our Q&A and accompanying photo shoot, Ginn reveals a professional athlete who is content with his accomplishments and place in the world, and faithful to those around him. The number nine draft pick is appropriately dressed to the nines in Diesel, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more from Saks Fifth Ave. Eventually, he wants to end up back in hometown Cleveland playing with the Browns—and we hope he does, too.
Some say you had Olympic potential as a track star at OSU. Do you ever think back and wonder what life would have been like if you stayed with track?
Track is a great sport—it teaches you how to be an individual. Playing football gives you that physical standpoint, whereas track—it isn’t as physical, but it gives you heart. It’s not really a team sport. It’s more of an individual sport. It says “team,” but it’s more individual because I could go out [in the 4x4 relay] and run a 46, and give you a good time at first, but if that anchor leg doesn’t get on that first curve, you could get caught at the main stretch. I think that track was a great sport. I still love to do it. It keeps you in shape; you can live life a long time.
But the contact—obviously football introduces a whole new level of involvement.
I think that every sport is injury prone. As far as football, it’s your knees and shoulders and things like that. As far as track, you get a lot of hamstrings and calf injuries.
But you don’t have people tackling you.
You’re not doing the tackling, but a hurdle could actually tackle you.
Yeah, you could get ripped up real good.
Like I said, I love track. Sometime, as I get older, I’m going to try to go back to track. When I say, “go back to track”—to go back to train like a track athlete once I master the football aspect of it. Just being in top-notch shape, that’s what got me over to O-State. I came into football being in shape and being one of the fastest guys. The only thing I had to do was line up. Now, it’s kind of the opposite, now you’ve got to learn, then get in shape, then learn how to play the game, and then you’ll get to see more.
So, were you born to run or to play football?
I’d say both. I was born to play some type of sport, and I did everything, and I found that track and football went hand-in-hand, and football was one of my best sports.
Did you ever feel like you had to perform at a certain level to get out from under your father’s shadow?
No, as far as we go, we always have said that we’re always equal. That was the biggest thing in the house. My father was my coach, as well as my father, so when we’d go home, it was home time, and he was a father to me. When we go to school and we go to practice, then he was my coach and my security guard. There was never a point in time where I thought I was bigger than him, or he thought he was bigger than me. There was never a time where I couldn’t listen to him, and he couldn’t listen to me. And it is, to this day, and I think that’s what makes us who we are. Easily I could get under his shadow, and easily he could get under mine, but we understand that we work together. And as we work together, we should keep climbing the mountain, and then once we get to the top, we’ll both sit up there and just live like kings.
Speedy Gonzales or Road Runner?
I’d probably go with the Road Runner. He was a clever guy. He played a lot of games and he knew his craft. And Speedy Gonzales was just fast, and he just got away from people, which made him easy to get caught. As far as the Road Runner, you could never catch him. But my favorite cartoon is probably Tom and Jerry because it was a give and a take. You got him, you got me, you got him, you got me. But at the end of the day, no one could break them up. When the dog came in, they had to work together. If other cats came in, Tom wouldn’t let them eat Jerry. They were together—they were a family even though they stayed in the house, and they ran from each other every day.
What was it like growing up with a guy like Troy Smith?
Growing up, I was the baby of my family, so I couldn’t get away with anything, and I couldn’t go anywhere. When the time came for me to have somebody close to me, somebody I could hang out with and play games with, I had Troy and Antwaun Molden. It was great because I wanted brothers. We all stuck together back then, and we will always stick together. It’s hard because people don’t understand what you are going through. But those guys understood because they’ve all gone through the same things I’ve gone through.
So what was is like to share your old man half your life?
When we were in Ginn Sr’s house, we were under his rule, and whatever he says, goes–he was in control. If he told us to jump off a bridge, we jumped. If we hurt our ankles, he would say “your ankles need worked on.” That’s just how he was; it was great. We all bought into it.
I noticed that you have some tattoos. What are they, and what are their stories?
The thing about a tattoo is that a lot people ask about its meaning. The meaning of my tattoos is that I don’t ever get what somebody else already has. I only have one tattoo that someone else already has, and that’s my two boys, and he got the same tattoo. But me, I’m just real passionate about what I’m going to put on my body. It has to be something I’ve done, or wanna do, or is going to help me to be better. It’s real ink.
Is there any particular player that has made joining the Dolphins easier—giving advice, or anything else?
As you come in, you get attached to different people. The first person to really step forward was Chris Chambers from Ohio. He was also one of the guys that I would go to that my father took under his wing, and when I got down to Miami, we were both forced to play receiver. You would think that a guy would shy away from you ’cause he’s older than you, he’s coming in for his spot and you gotta sit there and teach him, but he didn’t look at it like that. He looked at it as, “Here comes my little brother. Let me get him together, and let me help him out.” And I pushed him—as I’m coming in, he’s thinking, “Well, OK, I got this young guy coming in,” and I’m thinking, “Well, I got Chris Chambers.” We go hand-in-hand. Whatever happened in the mix of whatever happened—you know we all know what happened—but we still talk, we still have fun, we still do things, and it was great. I enjoyed it, I miss him. He was one of the guys that kept it to the book and kept it real.
Does any college rivalry between you and Michigan alum Chad Henne still come up from time to time?
Oh, yeah. Once you get into NFL, it’s like you only have what you did in college. There’s nowhere else to go—you got the highest of the highest, so the only thing you can do is just get yours and try to make a legacy for yourself. But at the end of the day, you’re going to talk about what you did in college—I don’t care who you are. To this day, Prescott Burgess comes up to me and says, “Ohio State?” I had some issues with them, and it’s funny having friendly bets and different things like that against guys that are in your Big Ten conference. Then you see a Big Ten school playing at SCC, ACC—you don’t usually go with that Big Ten school because that’s your family that’s your base. As far as the Michigan thing goes, they never beat me. I never lost at Ohio State, they have been there for four years and never won against Ohio State. So at the end of the day, there’s really nothing for them to say to me. It will go, “Well, even though we never beat you, we could’ve if we went like this or like that.”
Do you see yourself following the American Dream—big house, wife and kids?
Oh, yeah. I’ve been with my girlfriend for seven years. We were high school sweethearts. She’s staying with me in Miami. She basically goes where I go.
You guys getting married?
I don’t know yet. It’s nice just staying together and having someone that loves you, having someone there to want to take care of you and understand when you’re struggling or when you’re down—who’s not really there for the money and loved you when you didn’t have what you have now. You know, it’s real love, and it’s genuine.
What’s the craziest Ohio State story from your college years?
Man, there are a lot. One thing about coming to Ohio State and being a part of a family atmosphere like it was, when I came in my class, we didn’t care who was number one, even though I was the number one guy. We didn’t care who was number one, we all hung together. We all kicked it, and we all stuck together, and I think that’s what made us stick together. Now when we do split—which I was the first one to go—we can still call each other. I can still go to their mother’s house, and I can put my feet up and act like nothing. My girl can go there. And that was the biggest thing. We came in as a family, and we stuck together, and we did some things that we weren’t supposed to, and we did some things that we were supposed to. We all lived like gentlemen, we all played like kids, and we had fun.
When you finally get some time to yourself, what do you do?
Sometimes I just like to sit at home and play video games, or I like to just sit in bed and look at the wall. I do a lot, I see a lot. I’m not going to turn on the TV, I’m going to see ESPN all day. After I watch a movie, that movie is going to come on three hours after it. What else can I do? I go through the day and see my boys, things like that from time to time. Being in Miami, you got the casino, you might go up there and spend about $500 at the most. I’m not a real big gambler, but sometimes I’ll just kind of like go up there, try to come up with something, and if not, you follow on and you relax. I’m not a real big “kick-it” guy—I just like to have fun with my buddies.
How would you spend an ideal day?
Wake up; get me an omelet with ham, cheese, mushrooms, and fresh pepper; French toast and a glass of milk. Then I would go to football practice, then go to the town that we’re supposed to go, then go home: check on my dogs and my lady. Then go sit in the living room and play video games—play Madden online.
What is your favorite tradition from your childhood that you would like to pass on to your children?
Be respectful and be honest. One thing that we do have, no matter how old we are, is that we can always go move in with our mother and father, and we never have to worry about paying the bills—the door never closes. I don’t care if you go out and you kill two people. If you come back to my house, and you were raised there, when the police come, I will say, “Listen here, this kid’s my son,” and I will take care of them. It’s always open doors, and it’s just not with us, it’s not just with me. Anyone who shared that house can go back in there and live and become whoever they want to become.
How would you change the country?
I would create more things for young kids to do. When I was growing up, we had a lot of things that we could do, and nowadays, they took it away. DZ, the Discovery Zone, they took it away. I went there from 12 to 16, and that’s just something I think about. Like Chuck E. Cheese. They used to be huge, now it’s like a one room set. If you run it right, you can put in a great situation—a great area and you can put the great people in there. Nowadays, you have to take who you have, and work with it. When things go right, they go right; when things go wrong, they go wrong, and you will understand why it went wrong. That is always on my mind.
Are you involved in a charity or support a cause?
Yeah, the Ginn Foundation. It’s my father’s own foundation supporting school sports and community teams. It represents a family-based organization, just putting kids and the most important things first. We go out and provide for people and make a way for them.
Biggest celebrity phone number in your cell phone?
Science, art or history museum?
What cologne do you wear?
What is the best music video of all time?
What domestic chore do you always try to get out of doing?
Probably taking out the trash.
What three CDs would you want to have on a deserted island?
Jay-Z: Kingdom Come, Lil Wayne: Blueprint, and some type of R&B.
What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
Green Eggs and Ham.
If you had to name your child after one of the 50 states, which would it be?
How many kids do you think you’re going to have?
I want at least four.
Who or where do you go to for advice?
What’s your sickest car right now?
550 Benz, drop top, all white.
What would your next ideal car purchase be?
I want a Bentley.
What did you buy with your first paycheck?
I bought a Cadillac truck, all white.
What is the best gift you have ever picked out for someone?
What do you wish other people were more mindful about?
What would be your sound track for dealing with rough times?
I like Dead Presidents.
What song moves you practically to tears?
What jeans label are you loyal to?
True Religion. I like Seven now too.
First football poster on your wall?
Who is your hero?
What keeps you motivated?
Family and me.
What do you want people to know about Ted Ginn, Jr.?
I love and respect people.
What is the best advice coach Tressel gave you?
“Keep God first.”
What keeps you focused when you’re surrounded by everything else in Miami?
Ohio State was like...?
It was like a real family.
Who is Ted Ginn the person vs. Ted Ginn the football player?
Who is the funniest person on your team?
Who is your best friend from the Buckeyes?
Who is your celebrity crush?
It used to be Mya back in the day.
Who is the first person you met that you were star struck by?
I’d say Steve Harvey.
Do you think you could still get down on the hurdles?
Yeah, I could run a 13.67 right now.