Apparently, the guy from the Dos Equis commercials has a football equivalent. The Wall Street Journal deemed Patriots rookie punter Zoltan Mesko, who grew up in Romania, the 'NFL's Most Interesting Man' on Wednesday. Even after a standout career at Michigan, the fifth-round pick still hasn't come to grips with his success.
"When I was 10 years old, I barely knew American football existed," (Mesko) adds. "If you would've told me I'd get two degrees and a pro contract for kicking a ball in the air, I probably would have said, 'Oh yeah? Are you going to disappear into thin air for your next act?' "
Mesko's story is truly unlike that of any other NFL player.
Mr. Mesko was born and raised in Timişoara, Romania, right on the Hungarian border. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, life improved dramatically for most people living behind the Iron Curtain—but not much for Romanians. Mr. Mesko spent Christmas Eve, 1989, ducking on the floor of his parents' apartment in Romania to avoid getting hit by cross-fire during the revolution. His parents, Mihai and Elizabeta, both engineers, couldn't leave the country until they won America's Green Card lottery in 1997, when he was 10.
More great details from writer John U. Bacon (that's my pseudonym from now on):
- Mesko speaks five languages.
- Mesko's eighth-grade gym teacher recruited him to play football when Mesko booted a kickball so high that it broke a ceiling light.
- Mesko was an Academic All-American and was also the first specialist in the 130-year history of Michigan football.
Mesko also has a hell of a foot, which is good news for the Patriots, who were the worst punting team in the league last season -- at Michigan in 2009, he set records for yards per punt (44.5) and net yards per punt (41).
Sadly, Bacon didn't ask Mesko if he drinks Dos Equis.