The day after the Baltimore Ravens’ crucial Monday Night Football win over the Houston Texans, Ronnie Stanley is still celebrating. For Baltimore’s starting left tackle, the victory and following off day calls for a snack.
“I got some Krispy Kreme,” says Stanley via mobile, and fresh out of line. “I played well, so I thought I deserved some doughnuts.” What did he order? “A little assorted half-dozen. Probably won’t eat them all, but just a few to pick from. Chocolate and original glazed.”
The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder needed some fuel after grinding through the matchup against the Texans, in which he suffered an apparent knee injury that he feared could be a torn ACL. Yet Stanley checked out fine with trainers on the sideline before returning to the field to do his job: protect quarterback Joe Flacco. His prowess is the reason the Ravens selected Stanley with the sixth overall pick in 2016. At Notre Dame, he was a consensus 2015 All-American. When the 23-year-old isn’t guarding Flacco’s blind side, he’s trying to prove a point to his quarterback, embracing his half-Tongan/half-African-American heritage or crushing on @badgalriri — Rihanna. Maybe one day she’ll notice him on the field.
What’s the most painful injury you’ve sustained in your life?
You know those souped-up golf carts that are meant for outdoors and hunting? I was in an accident on one of those and ended up breaking my arm and my right ankle. I could’ve died. That was the most painful experience I’ve had in my life. That was freshman year in high school.
What’s one thing you always do before a big game?
One thing I’m always doing is making sure I’ve done everything I can. I’ve warmed up. I’ve gotten as much direction as I can. I kind of overprepare.
What’s the most unique thing about your quarterback, Joe Flacco, that not many people know?
He’s a hilarious, superoutspoken guy with a ton of opinions … nothing really weird, but if there’s something that could be a gray area, or you’re going back and forth, he’ll always have an opinion. That’s the same with me, so we’ll always be trying to be the right person in the conversation. We both love trying to prove the other wrong.
What’s your most vivid memory from the day you got drafted?
Walking out on the stage, seeing all those people and holding up that jersey for the first time in front of the crowd. Just it all settling in. Everything you’d dreamed of since you were a kid, and it finally happening in one moment.
What was your first major purchase after being drafted?
I didn’t even purchase it, I’m leasing it, but I guess you could say my car. It’s a BMW. It was originally white, but I got it wrapped in this dark matte gray.
If not for the NFL, what career path would you be on right now?
Probably something entrepreneurial, having to do with a technology startup, along the lines of innovation.
In November, did you bet with any of your Ravens teammates that Notre Dame would beat Miami?
I didn’t bet anyone at first, but I was having a good feeling about it the day of the game. Our D-tackle Brandon Williams, an hour and a half before the game, was trying to set something up with me. We ended up betting, and I ended up losing.
If you could meet any athlete, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’d want it to be someone I could gain some wisdom from, not just someone who was good at their sport. … I’d probably say Muhammad Ali, back in his day. I met him when I was a kid, actually. He was in Las Vegas because his grandson, who’s a lot younger than I am, played at my high school. I never got to talk to Muhammad like that because he was a lot older, so to be able to talk him when he was younger, and be able to have a full conversation … he had a lot of insight.
If you could take one celebrity on a date, who would it be and why?
Oh, gosh … I’d go with Rihanna. … She does her own thing … and is supersuccessful.
What’s your favorite platform for social media, and why?
Twitter, for sure, because the content is hilarious. You can’t find funny s— like that on any other social media.
How did you come up with the Instagram handle @megatronnie?
When I made my IG, I was sitting there thinking, ‘OK, I want something to go with my name.’ So I said, ‘What ends with ‘-ron’?’ so that I could finish it off with Ronnie. I was just making up all these names in my head, and I came up with ‘Megatronnie.’
Who’s the most famous person following you on IG/snap/Twitter?
Jerome Boateng is pretty famous, I guess. He follows me. We’re actually pretty good friends.
What’s one thing about yourself that others might consider embarrassing?
Just the way I act in general … the things I say.
What’s one place in the world you’ve never been that you’re dying to visit?
When in your life did you realize you’re half-Tongan, and what does your Tongan heritage mean to you?
I knew I was half-Tongan when I was pretty young. My parents did a really good job of introducing me, my little brother and my little sister to the culture. We went to a lot of family reunions with our Tongan side of the family. To be around them a lot as kids definitely normalized the heritage for us.
Do you get a lot of love from Tongan NFL fans?
For sure. I always get some type of tweet, or some message, from not just Tongan fans but Polynesian fans in general. It’s such a small group of people compared to other races in America. To see someone of that ethnicity playing football … they all support us because there’s only a handful of us.
You have a huge tattoo inspired by your Tongan heritage — what made you get it?
I always thought tribal tattoos were amazing. Just the detail, the pattern, the art, the symmetry. What I got was actually done by Haloti Ngata’s little brother. … In the middle, I have a big dove that’s on my grandma’s tombstone. I also have my mom’s name written in Tongan within the design. The rest of it is all traditional Tongan freehand. … It took like 13 hours, and I did it in one session.
Where does your courage come from?
My parents always telling me to stand up for myself and to do what I know is right. They were always reaffirming, ‘You’re no less than anyone else … so don’t let people walk over you.’ That definitely made me a lot more courageous being out in the world by myself.
What will you always be the champion of?