Margus Hunt is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing rookies in the NFL. The 26-year-old native of Estonia appeared to be on his way to the Olympics as a shot put/discus thrower before moving to the United States and switching to football while attending SMU.
The 6’8”, 280 pound defensive end has only been playing football for four years, but earned first-team All-Conference USA honors last year after finishing with eight sacks, two forced fumbles, and an INT. The Bengals selected him in the second round (53rd overall) in this year’s draft.
His unusual background made Hunt a perfect candidate for a “Fun Facts” interview for the Bengals radio network pregame show.
What is the name of your hometown in Estonia and describe it for us.
It’s called Karksi-Nuia and it’s a really small town. We don’t even have a traffic light. Everyone knows everyone there and when I was growing up, I walked everywhere because it was so small.
If you hadn’t been a professional athlete in the United States, what do you think you would have done back home?
I would have kept my track and field career going and seen where it took me. I would have also definitely gone to college and got my degree.
What do you consider to be your most impressive athletic achievement so far?
I don’t really know. It’s been a blessing to go through all of this and stay healthy. Winning gold medals in track and field in international competition was definitely a special feeling because you get to stand on the podium and hear your national anthem. Right now, football is the most important thing in my life and I’m trying to get that on track.
Where are all the gold medals and trophies?
All of them are back home in Estonia.
Who was your favorite athlete growing up?
His name is Virgilijus Alekna and he’s a Lithuanian discus thrower. I actually was able to work with him in 2007.
Is he famous in track and field circles?
Oh yeah absolutely. He’s a two-time Olympic winner and a two-time world champion – just an absolutely tremendous discus thrower.
What were some of your favorite places to travel during your track and field career?
China was really great. Turkey was unbelievable – it’s a crazy culture over there. South Africa is an absolutely beautiful place. Spain is really cool as well.
Have you ever been to an NFL game?
No. I’ve been here for five years and never really had an opportunity to go to a game so I’m excited to take part in one.
Are there still football terms that you don’t understand?
No. I know the words – it’s just a matter of learning the game.
Is the United States roughly what you expected or is it very different from the notions that you had growing up in Estonia?
Watching “frat boy” movies back in Estonia you definitely get a skewed overview, but I eventually put that behind me and focused on why I came here. It’s been working out well.
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