I love American Idol. Oh, god yeah. This season’s going to be a little weird without Simon and Paula. They kicked someone else out, too. The judges are J-Lo and Steven Tyler, right? They cleaned house. It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know if I’m going to be into it. I love the tryouts. I don’t know if it’s going to be as fun without Simon though. It’ll be interesting.
I have an older brother and a younger sister. My brother and I ganged up on our sister; my brother and I got in a lot of fights ourselves. We’re each two years apart, so my parents planned it out pretty well.
I don’t think I’ve changed too much. When I was younger, I was kind of wild. Like, younger younger. But every year I got a little more mellow. When I was 7 or 8, I’d be out in the neighborhood, ding-dong-ditching, doing pranks – neighborhood kid stuff that I look back and go, ‘Wow, that was stupid.’ But it was fun stuff.
Crystal Lake is a typical Chicago suburb. It’s a northwest suburb. Probably a little smaller than Green Bay people-wise. I think a lot of people think of me as being from Iowa. They go, ‘Hey, been to Iowa lately?’ ‘Uh, no. I’m from Illinois. What do you mean?’ I don’t know if that’s because of the kind of guy I am or my character or what.
We used to go into the city to go to White Sox games. I liked the Blackhawks, the Bulls and the White Sox. White Sox fans are very different than Cubs fans. We’re winners. That’s the difference. We actually know how to win.
I started playing football when I was 7. Every year, I was an offensive lineman. Then, finally, my eighth-grade year, I was able to stay under 156 pounds and play middle linebacker, tight end and fullback. That’s how it carried over into high school. I go into high school, and the first day, you’re in front of the coaches, and they go, ‘What position do you play?’ And I go, ‘Tight end, middle linebacker, defensive end.’ And they look at me like I’m nuts. But that’s what I ended up playing until my junior year. I was always one of the bigger stripers, or whatever they call ‘em.
I knew that was over my junior year in high school. My weight was getting up there, my hands weren’t what they were my sophomore year. But it was fun. I was more of a possession tight end – get in the way of the linebackers, catch the ball and run an extra 5 yards when they couldn’t get me down. I had my time.
Iowa was the perfect place for me to go to school. It was close enough to home where my family could enjoy everything with me. I think that was the best part about that. I didn’t go to Oklahoma or Nebraska – schools like that, which were a much farther drive than Iowa. It was good for me, good for my family.
The schools who were the most interested in me were Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin. Why Iowa? Coach Ferentz. It was that simple.
Wisconsin did offer. I wasn’t sold that they were sold on me being an offensive lineman. Their first pitch to me was playing defensive line. I didn’t want to do that. At the time I was getting recruited, they were bare thin on defensive linemen. I mean bare thin. They had nobody on the depth chart. They had guys going down with knee injuries left and right, and I was a guy who probably would have stepped in right away as a freshman and been a defensive lineman. And then finally, once signing day was coming around, coach (Bret) Bielema told me I could play offensive line. And I didn’t buy it.
There’s a lot of really good guys on this team. I kind of came in with Nick McDonald as my roommate, so I talk to Nick a ton. We were roommates through OTAs and camp and rookie minicamp. T.J. Lang has been great, Josh Sitton. ‘Cliff’ (Chad Clifton) and ‘Tausch’ (Mark Tauscher) have been great. Everyone, really.
I don’t know how it was with A-Rod and Brett. I don’t know. But I heard it wasn’t great. It wasn’t great, and with Cliff, it’s nothing like that. He brings me in to help me out, rather than not telling me anything. And outside of meetings and the locker room, he’s a good guy. He takes care of me. If I have any questions, he helps me out.
I’m not a big, fancy eater. There’s a place right by my house, Town Line Pub on Lineville. That’s a spot I call and order from all the time. Love Buffalo Wild Wings, Texas Roadhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse … There was a Texas Roadhouse in Iowa City, and that’s just kind of how I eat. If my family and girlfriend are in town, I’ll take them to the Republic Chophouse, but really, we’ll even go to the Texas Roadhouse. It really doesn’t matter. My family, we’re not too picky or high-end. We don’t really care where we go.
I bought a house here. A lot of people know where this guy lived, so if you’re not going to put it in the article, I’ll tell you. It’s obviously a player who’s not here anymore. A lot of people, I tell them, ‘I live in Suamico by Bay Port,’ and they’ll kind of figure it out. But I’d rather not have that out there.
I go to my share of high-school football games around here. I love high-school sports. I loved my experiences in high school. That’s when sports, there’s not much politics to the game. It’s just football, a bunch of guys with their best buddies playing football. That’s fun to watch. I remember that, because I’m only four years removed from high school. So I still know that feeling, I still remember that. High school football is awesome.
I drive a Ford F-250. I have a car deal with Heiser Ford out of Milwaukee. So I got it from them. In high school, I drove a Ford Explorer that my brother bought when he was in high school. Then it was passed on to me, and then I passed it on to my sister. And it died on her. I think she got maybe a yaer and a half out of it.
I love the Sunday night lineups on HBO and Showtime. Dexter, Entourage, Hung, Eastbound and Down. It’s on the Time Warner On Demand. So if I don’t catch them I can always go back on them.
I have an iPod. I like country. That’s my favorite stuff. I like Brad Paisley a lot. He’s great. There’s a lot. I can pretty much listen to anything country. I kind of picked it up in early high school. When I was younger, I liked anything – rock, rap. I still can listen to anything. But I prefer country music.
I love movies. I’ll go see anything, really. It doesn’t matter. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. There’s a lot of good movies out right now that I haven’t seen yet. I don’t even remember the last movie I saw in a theater. I normally find time on the weekends, especially at Iowa. You’d either hit one Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. Now, I haven’t had time.
I’m on Twitter, but during the season, I just don’t find time for it. There’s nothing for me to really talk about.
I’ve always loved to be around family. I’m very close with my parents. I talk to them, if not every day, every other day. The one thing they always said to me was always follow your dreams. Never listen to what other people are saying about you, because you know what you can do. That was true with the draft. When I was being told I can’t play left tackle or I can’t do this or that, I think I’ve shown to the team that I can do that. I can play left tackle, I can play right tackle. There was always a lot of doubters, too, back in my hometown. They’d say, ‘There’s not many people who can play Division I football.’ Well, I beat those odds. Then it was, ‘How many people make it to the NFL?’ Did that, too. It’s always, do what you know you can do and block out all the negative. And keep working.
Getting that playing time against Buffalo was great. That was really my first shot. Preseason’s preseason. Getting my first opportunity in a game was the most exciting moment so far.
I try to instill confidence in me. When I make mistakes on the field, I’m willing to admit them, learn from them and move on. I’m not making excuses for myself. I never will. When you interview me, you’ll see I’m not that kind of guy. I don’t like to evaluate what I do, I leave that to the coaches. I just go about my business. I’m accountable, I work hard, and I hope people have confidence in me. Because if I’m in there, it’s because they think I can do the job and do it well.
I was a communication major, so if football hadn’t worked out, I would’ve wanted to do something in media. And coaching, too, that would be another thing I would’ve liked to have done.
I wish I was better at golf. I like to play, but I’m brutal. Brutal.
Before games, I’m not uptight. I like to talk. I’m relaxed. At Iowa, everything was all uptight and tense. That affected some guys. But here, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. Every guy has his own space, they can do what they want.
When my career is over, I’d like people to say that Bryan Bulaga was a great player for this organization. He contributed a lot, he did a lot of great things for the organization and the community. That’s what I hope. I don’t like to put long-term predictions out there. I take it one year at a time. I don’t like to look too far ahead.
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.