Brett Romberg is standing in the Atlanta Falcons locker room as he talks on the phone in slightly reverential tones.

"I'm looking at Tony Gonzalez over there," he says. "He's probably the best player at his position in the league's history. He's in what -- his 13th season? And he still looks and plays like he's 23."

"There's Roddy White," he continues. "He is ridiculously fast and doesn't drop a thing. And Michael Turner -- I didn't even recognize him when I first met him because he's kind of small, but he's thick. Thick enough to run through you, but then you're amazed at how he can get out on the corner and run around you. Always because of Ovie's blocking, of course."

He lets out a quick laugh at this point because fullback Ovie Mughelli has been dressing in the stall beside him and listening in while the 29-year-old Canadian centre goes on about the Falcons offence.

After a short pause, Romberg continued, "We have weapons here that you don't normally see on any one team. It's not a matter of whether we're going to score on you. It's how quick are we going to do it."

You could excuse the native of tiny Belle River, Ontario if he seems a little overzealous when it comes to the subject of his new team. After all, he spent the last three years at the centre, figuratively and literally, of one of the biggest messes in the National Football League. In Romberg's three seasons playing with the St. Louis Rams, the team went 8-8 (2006), 3-13 (2007) and 2-14 (2008). The Rams, a team once famously known as "The Greatest Show on Turf," got turfed by their opponents with greater regularity last season than any other club short of the winless Detroit Lions. The "For Sale" sign was reportedly hung out on the Rams franchise just shortly after Romberg fled as a free agent to the Falcons.

"It's a pretty great blessing to be here," he says with conviction. "As an athlete, you just know when you're part of something special."

Romberg certainly knows "special." He won a championship in high school, took his junior club team from Windsor to the Canadian national final and anchored the offensive line of what some view as the best U.S. college team ever, the 2001 NCAA Champion Miami Hurricanes.

He has blocked for stars like Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Fred Taylor and Steven Jackson. He has played alongside the likes of All-Pros Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Torry Holt and Rashean Mathis. His 2005 Jacksonville Jaguars team went 12-4, only to be upended in the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl Champs from New England.

This is a player who is accustomed to success and expects it in Atlanta, with the defending NFC South Division champs. "This is a winning program," he says. "With nothing but good things ahead. Coach Smitty [Mike Smith] always talks about enjoying the journey. We're going to do just that."

For Romberg, his own journey has taken him from Belle River to a college scholarship at "The U" in Coral Gables and then on to pro football in Jacksonville, St. Louis and now Atlanta. "I totally have the greatest job in the world," he says in the kind of voice that lets you know he means it. "Yes, it's ridiculously hard from a physical and mental standpoint, but there are plenty of benefits."

He says all of this acknowledging the struggles of people back in his hometown, an area where the unemployment rate has soared to near 16 percent. "Easily three-quarters of my family is employed or directly affected by the auto industry," he says. "My mom saw her hours cut back from full-time to part-time at her job. My whole family has always kept me grounded and reminded me of the good life that I have been lucky enough to earn through football."

This is not to say football has been all good to Romberg. As a centre, he is regularly subjected to the kind of physical beating most people endure in small car wrecks. "My whole body creaks now," he says. "It's so hard to get up in the morning and just go to the bathroom."

Remember, this is a young man speaking, still four weeks shy of his 30th birthday.

Those aches and pains don't diminish his love for the game that has provided for him, his wife Emily and the family they are now looking to start in their new home in Miami. "I feel my age out on the field now," he says. "But I'm going to play until the wheels fall off."

"Enjoy the journey," he says again thoughtfully. It's a phrase that Romberg clearly has a deeper understanding and appreciation for. "Enjoy the journey and you'll like the outcome. That's what coach always says to us." The next leg in Romberg's own remarkable journey begins on Sunday when his Falcons play host to the Miami Dolphins.

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