You are currently working with the NFL Network. How does it feel to be on the other side of the game after playing on the field for so long?
Well, I love my job. You know I do what I love and I love what I do. It keeps me in contact with the game, players, management and head officials from the league, so I’m in close proximity to the game but far enough away to have maxim(imum)? time with my children as well as my family.
How do you feel about being considered one of the first athletes to brand your own swag and bring a little bit of hip hop into sports with the gold chains, do rags, bandannas etc…
I don’t know if I was the first to do it. I probably received the most notoriety from it. I’d say that a lot of people may try to “brand” but you’ve got to have substance to brand. I don’t think Michael Jordan was the first one to attempt to brand but Michael Jordan has such tremendous substance that it made it viable to a “brand”. A lot of people take for granted the substance part of what you are. When I talk about substance and branding I mean you have to have game. You just can’t have the flash, flamboyancy and articulation when it comes to the media, you need to have GAME. That’s what’s going to keep you around.
Being at the top of your game, how did you deal with life off the field when people instantly became attracted to you?
I’ve always been two different people on and off the field. I learned how to really separate the two. The only time I got lost within myself or in life was when I got confused.
How did you separate the two to the public? Did you become a COMPELELTY different person?
I was a completely different person. On the field I was very aggressive, flamboyant, energetic, and tough. Off the field, I’m very laid back. I never raise my voice or use profanity. I don’t smoke and I’ve never tasted alcohol. I’ve never been high a day in my life. So no one would ever associate that with the person that was on the field.
In your opinion what are some of the negative and positive effects of the NFL off the field?
I don’t think there are many negatives but there are a lot of positives. The only thing that gets misconstrued is that some people make a big mistake. Athletes think that the game can love you back and you can’t fall in love with something that doesn’t have the ability to love you back. While they are wrapping their arms around the game they are expecting the game to wrap their arms around them and that’s not the case. So in seeking love from something that you love so much you get it from other places. You get it from drugs, alcohol, women and accolades; you try to find that love in other places because the game can’t love you back.
What is the transition like for players leaving the game? How do they deal with it?
It’s tough because often, the NFL focuses on young guys coming into the game. Programs like The Rookie Symposium teach these guys how to handle this transition into the game but a lot of the focus needs to be on the transition out of the game.
How does one go from being somewhat of a focal point his entire life, all the way from his youth to adulthood then when its time to go, the game leaves you. You’re sitting up there stuck–looking for a hug from something with no arms.
My momma once told me, “a fan only blows when you hot.” After that, the fan moves on to the next person. It’s the same game that’s been played since the 30s just with different names in it so the