This week, NFL players are partnering with PepsiCo to bring fans closer to the action and to shed some light on some of their favorite gameday rituals and recipes. A few of the participating players include Calvin Ridley, Devin White, Kevin Byard, Terry McLaurin, and my favorite, Christian Wilkins.
Pepsi knows that for football’s most loyal fans, game day is more than just tuning in at kickoff: it’s the weeklong preparation, from the lucky jersey to the perfect dish to keep you and your team fueled. This fall, Pepsi is celebrating fans’ unapologetic love of football watching with exclusive content from their favorite players and celebrity superfans showing off their go-to game day eats plus a chance to win plenty of prizes, from new gear and a year of free Pepsi to the ultimate “homegate” kit.
I had the honor of sitting down and talking with Christian Wilkins for a few minutes. During that time, we discussed everything from his time with the Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa, versatility, his experience at Xavien Howard’s icy shop, and this weekend’s matchup vs. the New England Patriots.
So without further ado, here is The Phinsider’s exclusive interview with Christian Wilkins.
(Note: Interview was transcribed by me and will be posted on Phinsider Radio later this week!)
Houtz: As someone who was drafted by the Dolphins in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, you’ve been here since the first day Brian Flores, and this coaching staff walked through the door. What has it been like watching this team go from what many were considering a rebuild to now, a LEGIT AFC East contender?
Wilkins: “Well, you know, it’s definitely just been a blessing. You know, a blessing first and foremost to just be selected and drafted into the NFL and to be part of this brotherhood and to be a part of the Dolphins, which is a great organization. Like I said, it’s just been a blessing and ya know, I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to be one of the, you know, early guys in the whole Flo era. I’m excited about the things we have done and excited to see what we can continue to do and can continue to build here.”
Houtz: You open the season up vs the evil empire the New England Patriots. A team that looks much different than a year ago. How important is it for you to get off to a fast start? Do you approach a rookie QB like Mac Jones differently than you might a Cam Newton? And I have to ask, is there any chance we see you snatching chains this Sunday?
Wilkins: “Anyway (laughs)…so, yeah. So, really, it’s always exciting to get out there and compete. I’m really looking forward to week one....And how we take care of our business and how we do our thing is take it one play at a time and really focus on ourselves. It’s most important to focus on ourselves and what we’re doing. Our fundamentals, our technique, and the rest will take care of itself. You know, yeah, we’re playing the patriots. Yeah, you know they are a division opponent. But if we take care of all the little things and the things we gotta do, like I said the rest will take care of itself.
Houtz: You’re a versatile player that can play inside, outside and even a little bit of offense. what is it that makes you such a good player, no matter where you line up on the defensive line? And is there any chance we see you score a touchdown this season?
Wilkins: That’s up to the coaches if I score a touchdown. At least, offensively. On defense, you can make something happen. But really, just be a team-first guy. Really just developing my skillset so I can play everywhere and really wherever the team needs me so I can just plug right in and go.
Houtz: I hate that I have to ask, but a lot of the talk this offseason has been around Tua Tagovailoa. What have you seen from the second-year quarterback that gives you and the team confidence heading into the 2021 season?
Wilkins: “Well yeah, Tua has a chance to be a really good player. I’m excited about him and his development. Not just the player he is, but the person he is. He’s a great teammate. That stuff is really important to me and this team and this organization.”
Houtz: Yesterday on Instagram, I saw you lost a bet and were working at Xavien Howard’s icy shop. What was that experience like?
Wilkins: “Umm, Well, I was just again paying my dues. I was a little upset I lost the bet and everything, but ya know, I had to just pay my dues there. That was cool. That was fun. I had fun with it. Had the most of it.
Houtz: What is it that is so special to you about Pepsi’s “Made for Football Watching” campaign? And I saw your fried chicken recipe. Could you give us a tip on how you go about making that?
Wilkins: Yeah, It’s great to team up with Pepsi this season. For the Made for football watching campaign. It’s awesome because we’re able to celebrate fans and their love for football, and you know their love for gameday foods and everything like that. So, for me, my personal favorite gameday food, when I’m not playing anyway, is chicken wings. I love fried chicken love chicken wings. That’s what I go to. So like whenever we have a bye week or some off time or some things like that. You can find me on the couch watching all the games with my homemade bbq fried chicken. So that’s always exciting. Umm, that’s always something I like to do. So with the campaign with Pepsi, we’re able to now celebrate fans, and you know their prep to game. Whatever rituals and things like that are. We’re able to celebrate fans and all they do.
Houtz: So what does a gameday meal look like, since you mentioned what you eat during an off day? Tell us what that’s like.
Wilkins: I try to keep it pretty healthy for the most part. Something like salmon or grilled chicken or something like that. But definitely, like I said, off days, or days when I can just enjoy football. I definitely enjoy my specialty, the fried chicken and bbq sauce.
Houtz: Awesome. Thank you so much, Christian
Wilkins: “Alright, thank you!”
.@miamidolphins defensive lineman christian wilkins teamed up with @pepsi as part of their 'made for football watching' campaign. here's a look at @cwilkins42 making his signature fried chicken recipe w/ homemade bbq sauce. #finsup pic.twitter.com/yrdTo30BVB— josh houtz (@houtz) September 9, 2021
This is part of Pepsi’s “Made for Football Watching” campaign that celebrates loyal sports fans. And if you would like to sign up for the official sweepstakes, fans can check out the link HERE.
Some of the other dishes players made include Ridley’s game day nachos, Devin White’s lemon pepper wings, Kevin Byard’s Pulled Pork sandwich, and Terry McLaurin’s Hawaiian sliders.
For those interested in Christian Wilkins fried chicken recipe or one of these other mouth-watering dishes, you can find the recipes below.
Best of all, Pepsi is giving back to healthcare workers and communities alike starting today, September 9th.
Prior to the highly anticipated NFL kick-off in Tampa Bay, Pepsi Stronger Together, PepsiCo’s series of grassroots initiatives bringing tailored programming and support to communities across the country, will be giving the city’s healthcare heroes their own game day meals. On September 9th, Pepsi Stronger Together will be donating 2,000 meals from local restaurants Bubbaque BBQ, Harpoon Harry’s, Datz, and 7th + Grove to thank workers at HCA Brandon Regional, Advent Wesley Chapel, and Baycare St. Joseph Main Hospitals in the Tampa Bay area.
In addition, Pepsi Stronger Together is hosting the final stop of its Coastal Conservation Ops tour with Force Blue on September 10th with a community beach clean-up and removal of marine debris and ghost gear at Anna Maria Island. The clean-up wraps the summer long initiative to help preserve Florida’s fragile coastline.
Christian Wilkins and the Miami Dolphins kickoff their 2021 NFL season this weekend vs the New England Patriots in Foxborough.