When Corey Graham suffered a concussion on the first play of the Buffalo Bills’ season opener, Bacarri Rambo was thrust into action sooner than expected. And with one memorable body-slam of a tackle, the safety helped set the team’s physical tone in a 27-14 win, too.
Graham’s concussion protocol went well, as he’s expected to play Sunday against New England. Still, Rambo knows to stay on call. His two interceptions were the difference in an upset win over Green Bay last year.
In this weekend’s “Getting to Know,” Rambo discusses life on the farm as a kid, how it instilled a work ethic and when he felt like a real-life “Rambo.”
Where are you from? What’s your hometown like? “I’m from Donalsonville, Georgia. It’s real country. A small town. Three traffic lights. Not a lot of citizens. Population is real low. Everything down there is sports and farmland.
So what did you do growing up? Ride horses. Rode my four-wheeler. Played sports. Helped my Dad out with his horses. Feeding them. Loading hay.
How big was the farm? It was a nice-sized barn with a couple acres. Probably 10 acres. We built a fence around the farmland – cows, hogs, chickens.
What time did you have to get up – 5, 6 a.m.? On the weekends, I used to get up at like 6 a.m. From when I was probably like 9 to a junior in high school.
So Friday nights, you’re not living it up? No, I didn’t live it up until Saturday.
What kind of four-wheeler did you have? I had a Kawasaki 360 Prairie, a 4x4 and did a lot of mud-bogging.
This life of growing up on a farm – how does that make you? Work ethic-wise, it’s unbelievable. It helped me grow into the person I am today. I work for everything that I want. Hard work pays off. I don’t mind getting up in the morning and working. That’s why I really appreciate my dad pushing me and for that lifestyle of if you want it, you have to earn it.
So what were your jobs on the farm? Load hay. Feed the cows. Water them. We had to build fences for them, cut down trees, burn the trees. I put barbed wire up on the post. I had to use hole-diggers, dig the holes and put the posts in there. I did it all, man. It was pretty tough.
What was the toughest job, the one you dreaded the most? I’d say the hole-digging because you have to dig it like 3 or 4 feet with a hole-digger. It’s two poles and you’ve got this thing where when you shove it into the hole, you squeeze the sticks and they clamp and grab the dirt. You pick it up and pull it out. When you put the sticks together to open up, shove it in the hole, pull the sticks apart and then close. It’s like picking up dirt. It’s the same thing – “ugh, ugh, ugh.”
Did you have siblings? Yeah, I had two younger brothers and a younger sister, but I guess I was the Chosen One. I had to clean out the pool, mow the yard, feed the dogs. I had to do a lot of chores growing up. It made me who I am today. I don’t mind going out there and getting what I want. I go out and work, day in and day out. I don’t mind working. I love to work. I find excitement in work.
So when you go to college (at Georgia) and you’re learning a whole new defense, did this all help? Yeah, it really did. It made me put in the time and effort. If I wanted to learn and be successful, I had to put in the work and I was doing that on and off the field with my playbook and my schoolbooks.
Outside of the game, what do you like to do in your free time? I watch a lot of film. Hang out with Cordy Glenn. Play video games. Talk to my wife and FaceTime my daughters and my wife. But mostly just film, video games and communicating with my wife and daughters.
Stephon Gilmore says he has a projector screen in his house. What’s your film routine like at home? I just watch it on my iPad. I don’t have time to go through all of that. I just sit there with my iPad in my own personal space and just zoom in. I watch play-action and third down. I try to find things that help me determine what routes they’re going to run. I watch to see what formations they run certain routes out of. I see what formations they like to run in third and short, third and long, all that. And sometimes, I sit there and watch highlight tapes of other players and study their game.
Who do you like? I watch Ed Reed, Eric Weddle, Jairus Byrd, all of those guys. Those three guys.
Aaron Rodgers picked on you bad your rookie year and then you got revenge. Real sweet revenge. What changed from your rookie year to then? I just took the game more serious. Not even more serious. I just understood it better and matured. Grew up. And I understood the game more. It’s tough coming in as a rookie and having all that pressure on you. But now, I’m settled in and I understand the scheme. I see it and I just go.
So what’s going through your mind when this MVP quarterback is going after you like he was that first game? I was just playing hard and hoping the coaches would change up the coverage to take that load off me or something. But I don’t look at things like that as always bad. Sometimes, I look at it as good. Sometimes, I go back and still look at that like ‘He sees me doing this, and did this. If he sees me doing this…’ I take pictures of those things in my mind and still remember them so I won’t allow them to happen again.
How did that first game help then? It did. Just certain routes. How to cover them. How to play the middle of the field. Just work on taking angles to the ball. Mainly the routes in the middle of the field and seeing what he sees.
What’s one thing people don’t know about you outside of the game? I feel like I have an OK sense of humor. I tend to make people smile and laugh. I know when to be serious but I’m not always serious. If I’m real close to you – once you know me as a person – you’ll say I’m a funny guy. Enjoyable to be around. I like to crack jokes, have fun, lighten peoples’ day up.
And then you’ll body-slam a player. How many texts did you get on that hit? I got a couple texts. I got a couple photos on my social media. I don’t like body-slamming people outside of the game. I only do that between those white lines. I just want to make the tackle. If it takes me choke-slamming somebody sometime, I’ll do it.
Does your Dad still have his farm down south? Nah, he sold his horses, sold his dogs, sold his cows, I guess he didn’t have anybody to help after I went to college. And the thing was, I was on no pay! I was like, ‘Dad, why aren’t we getting paid for this?’ He said, ‘I pay you with a house over your head, food on the table and clothes on your back.’ There’s nothing to say. He gave me a car to drive and everything. I really appreciate it. He allowed me and pushed me and guided me to be the man I am today. Even my mother, my mom got my first horse for me. A black and white Paint. I called him, “Captain.” He was a stud.
So where did you ride horses? You might ride by my house, into town and see me riding a horse on the side of the road. By the road. In the country. On the farm. In the fields. I ride horses everywhere. I never had a chance because I was always on the football team, so I had to be on the float. But I always wanted to ride a horse in a parade. I always wanted to and never had the chance.
What makes riding horses fun? It’s just enjoyable, man. Enjoy nature, enjoy wildlife. I go through the woods and see the deer, the raccoons, the turkeys, peacocks, all that. It’s nice to sit there and look at the wilderness. I’m an outdoor type of guy. If I’m not in the house, I’ll be outside just enjoying the nice weather. I even like it when it rains sometimes. My grandma had a tin roof over her house and you could hear the rain hit the roof and it just puts you to sleep – it always used to put me to sleep.
You definitely get the four seasons in Buffalo. Do you hunt, too? I did coon hunting, squirrel hunting. Every Christmas is the best Christmas because it’s Jesus’ birthday and I’m alive. But one of my favorites was when I got an ATV, my four-wheeler, and I got a pellet gun. You couldn’t tell me nothing. I thought I was the real Rambo that day! I was 15 or 16, riding around shooting squirrels and everything. I loved it, I loved it.