Football Program Q&A: Tim O'Brien

Photo by Gil Talbot
Photo by Gil Talbot


  • What is your concentration?
    • Electrical Engineering with a citation in Swedish
  • What do you hope to do in life once football is finished?
    • Spend the increased free time with friends making the most of my senior year.
  • Can you explain the nuances of your position and provide something for the casual fan to better understand what you're seeing on the field?
    • My job is to stand in the way of people trying to tackle the ball carrier. Every little alignment from my feet to my thumbs are critical to the success of the play behind me.
  • What is your first memory of football?
    • Wearing my pads wrong and thinking how uncomfortable they were in my freshman year of high school.
  • What's your favorite Harvard team to watch as a fan?
    • Wrestling. I never wrestled growing up, but I respect their passion and grit. Plus I get to live with two of them, Peter Bearse and Sam Goldman!
  • What are the hardest parts of being a student-athlete at Harvard?
    • Finding energy to stay up and do homework when all you want is to go to bed.
  • What's the best part of a home football day?
    • I love how close our field is to the fans in the stadium. My favorite thing is playing to the roar of the crowd, and still being able to clearly hear my roommate Ben Milliken yelling at the top of his lungs. 
  • What do you like lining up against in practice?
    • John Pirrmann, because I never know what new move he is going to try next.
  • Who has the best nickname on the team, and why?
    • Charlie Booker III has CB3 which I like because of how simple yet good it sounds.
  • Who you have a nickname? If so, how did it come about?
    • OB and Timmy O are both popular for me on the team. They both use abbreviations of my last name O'Brien.
  • How has playing football at Harvard better prepared you for life?
    • Harvard Football has taught me how to really work hard in life. No complaining, no debating, just getting what is in front of me done with the support of my team.
  • What do you think when you hear Harvard's mission statement: 'Education Through Athletics?'
    • I think of all the aspects of education outside the realm of academic education. The intangibles in life that make you a better teammate, worker, and friend. Harvard Athletic challenges me every day to improve myself and learn from those around me. For that, I think the mission statement fits. 
  • What do you want your Harvard legacy to be?
    • I want to be remembered as the guy that did everything. The guy who made plays on Saturday, and was mentoring Freshman on Sunday. The one who cleaned up the locker room after film only to mess it all up after a win. Someone who befriended every staff intern, and checked in with recruits to see if Harvard was right for them. In the end, I hope this legacy gets picked up again and again by future players. I'm just another one of those players in line who saw the seniors when I was young doing the same thing.
  • If you weren't playing football, you would be…
    • A lot lighter on the scale, and playing another sport like rugby or ultimate frisbee.
  • What is your favorite football memory?
    • Playing in my first varsity football game in college at Lafayette College my freshman year.
  • What are your favorite places to eat in the square?
    • Pinocchio's Pizza and El Jefe's!
  • If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
    • Nikola Tesla, Elon Musk, and Gordon Moore.
  • Best football movie of all-time? Why?
    • Remember the Titans because it will make you feel every emotion in 2 hours.
  • If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
    • Elon Musk because I could learn every SpaceX secret.
  • If you could go back, what's one piece of advice you would give to yourself as a freshman?
    • Be more active in pre-career opportunities presented. You don't need to feel rushed like you need to get a job, but you still need to learn of what opportunities are out there.
  • Who has the best dance moves on the team? The worst?
  • Your favorite 'Murph'-ism (saying or quote from Coach Murphy)?'
    • BYOG – Bring Your Own Grit