Delonte West is an animal lover.
He has the Chinese symbol for the word lion tattooed on his neck to represent his Leo zodiac sign.
Last summer West celebrated his birthday with a lion-shaped birthday cake.
So when the former Boston Celticscurrent Dallas Mavericks guard and teammate Lamar Odom recently took a trip to the Dallas Zoo, West felt in his element.
After all, whats a trip to the zoo without dining with the lions and giving birth to a cheetah?
"Well, I think they noticed as soon as I came into the zoo my natural animal instinct, you know what I mean?" Delonte said, speaking of the actual animals. "I got a chance to eat with the lions, you know? They had Lamar playing with the penguins, but they needed me for the more animalistic-type of things, carnivore-type of things. So, I also had a chance to give birth to a baby cheetah today and Im just overwhelmed with the experience to be amongst my own and my peers."
West went on to say he hoped the animals would accept him "as the pack leader."
Listen to Phil Perry’s interview with Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who has funneled his college players — James White, Trey Flowers, and others — to the Patriots in this edition of Quick Slants The Podcast.
FOXBORO -- There's no identity crisis. He's Tony now, but he's always been Tony.
Yet Tony Garcia, the rookie offensive tackle the Patriots selected in the fourth round out of Troy, was announced by Matthew Slater at the draft podium in Philadelphia as "An-to-ni-o Gar-ci-a."
At the NFL Scouting Combine and the Senior Bowl, it was the same thing. He was known as Antonio.
That's his given name. It's how he was listed on his college roster. But it's not what his teammates and coaches have called him all his life.
To them he's Tony.
"Tony is just a childhood name," he said. "I've always been called that. I don't know why I've been listed as Antonio."
The reason for the switch? When he arrived in Foxboro, they asked him how he wanted to be listed. At Troy, they didn't.
So Tony it is, although he'll probably answer to whatever offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia calls him these days.
After Garcia was drafted, he quickly jumped on a conference call with Patriots reporters and was asked what he knew about Scarnecchia.
"Um, not much," was his brief reply.
"You will," cracked a reporter on the other end.
Since then, after rookie minicamp and a few weeks of organized team activities, Garcia's gotten to know his new boss fairly well.
"Great coach," he said of Scarnecchia with a smile. "Intense. Very intense. He gets the job done. He really knows his stuff."
Garcia acknowledged he has solid examples to look up to in Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, who've served as the examples of what to do and how to work over the course of the last month or so.
"They've been good role models," Garcia said. "They set the example here. They do everything right, know the playbook forwards and backwards . . ."
"I'm just trying to earn my place, day by day."