“Live rad and die proud,” is a saying that street skater Chris Cole lives by. At the age of 14 Chris found his passion. That passion was and still is skateboarding. As a kid living just outside of Philadelphia, Cole started to participate in local and regional skateboarding contests.
As he won more and more contests, Chris started to make a name for himself in the skateboarding industry. Not only did fans pay attentions, but so did corporations. At age 16, Chris got his first corporate sponsorship, which helped to launch his career.
Chris was named Thrasher Magazine’s “Skater of the Year” twice and won back-to-back street skate gold medals at the X Games. Check out all his accomplishments at his website!
Even with all the fame, I found through talking with Chris that he is still a down to Earth type of guy. Chris loves to give back to the community with his skate camp called “Chris Cole’s Excellent Adventure” at Camp Woodland. As you read his answers below you will find out just like me that Chris gets it and knows what is important in life.
Art Eddy: When you were growing up did you ever imagine that you would become a professional skateboarder?
Chris Cole: It was funny because when I started I didn’t know it could be a profession. Some people were pros and I have seen them in magazines. It was so far out of my reach at that time. There were only a handful of pros. It is not like today where there are hundreds of pros.
I would look at magazines and it wasn’t until I started looking at colleges that I realized that I wasn’t going to college. I was sitting there looking at the Savannah School of Art and I thought to myself that I am really not going to fill out any applications. I was probably about 15 years old at that time.
I was going to finish high school because I spent all this time in high school. To go without a high school diploma I felt was so wasteful. I stuck it out. I didn’t have any dire reason to leave anyway. I stuck it out because I knew that skateboarding was going to be my future.
CC: I remember when I started I was skating alone. When I first stepped on a skateboard it consumed my thoughts and consumed everything that I was. I never stopped skating. I didn’t have anyone to skate with. There was one kid who taught me how to Ollie. He just taught me how to Ollie and that was it. I mostly skated alone.
I started doing tricks myself. A lot of them I thought I made up. There is a pop shove it which is basically a 180. Your body doesn’t turn 180, but you just pop the board it does a 180 and you land back on it. I remember telling my friend about it.
I would do boardslides on the curb, but I would Ollie and turn 180 into a boardslide. That is called a lift slide, but I thought I made it up. Out of all of those the first kickflip I did was over a Campbell’s soup can. I did it totally wrong. My foot placement was completely wrong because this dude showed me how to do it. He showed me the completely wrong foot placement. I did it like that. Later that week I realized that I was doing it wrong. I broke it down in my head and did it correctly from then on.
AE: Was there a significant moment in your career where you felt like you made it in the skateboarding world?
CC: Man that is a good question because you are always achieving a little bit more. I did a few video parts on some skateboarding videos. Each one was a little bit of a milestone. I didn’t feel that I fully made it until a year after a very monumental video part. When kids come up to you and tell you that you are the reason why the skate.
They tell you that they saw you skate in a video and that is why they started skateboarding, that is the moment where you feel like you have made it. Through my love for this sport and what I have done and sacrificed to be really good at it, I have done exactly what I wanted to do with my talent. That is to inspire others and make them want to go out and do it for themselves.
That’s all you wanted in the first place. You want to pay it forward. These people inspired me. I picked up a skateboard. Now if I can inspire others to pick up a skateboard and enrich their lives like that then the world is a better place.
CC: It is incredible to have my own shoe. Like you I am a sneakerhead. I am not nearly advanced as the dudes who go to sneakers cons, but I have a rolodex in my mind of shoes that have inspired me. I try to take all of that information that is in my brain and use it to make my shoes. I try to put out a shoe that embodies all of the others ones that have inspired me.
It is such a cool position to be in. It is great to help out with the design especially when I nitpick things. I don’t freak out about small things, but I do notice certain things. For my shoe from the DC line that comes out next year in March, is the most advanced shoe that we have done. It has every piece of technology that DC does in one shoe.
AE: Tell me about your camp called Chris Cole’s Excellent Adventure and the great work you do with the Police Athletic League in Philly.
CC: We team up with the Police Athletic League in Philadelphia. They have a bunch of kids that they work with that love skateboarding. Unfortunately those kids just don’t have the means. Whether they come from a broken home or they have two parents who are working as hard as they can and can’t make ends meet for their kids. We help them out.
These kids love skateboarding just like I did when I was their age. They don’t have the money to get them to a place like Woodward Skate Camp. It is the greatest place for a skateboarder to go. It is just acres and acres and acres of skate parks in central Pennsylvania. It is gorgeous out there. It is a place that they would never get to go to.
We work with the Athletic League and handpick kids to go to camp with us. Along with Reign Skate Shop we pick out kids we think that would really benefit and appreciate going to the camp. We take them out for a weekend. It is fully comped by Woodward Skate Camp. The Police Athletic league shuttles them out there. Plus a bunch of my sponsors chip in and give these kids a bunch of products.
They have a great time. What we really want is to make memories. I hope that they will remember it for the rest of their lives. I tell them every year that this time right now is the best time in their life. You don’t have responsibility, but you are old enough to have freedom. I tell them that they might not be able to process that right now, but live in the moment and enjoy it.
adidas is not only getting teams ready for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but fans everywhere. Recently adidas released images of the brazuca, the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil as well as the two top ranked FIFA teams – Spain and Germany.
The kits stand out with fresh designs and top-end tech specs, most notably the 2014 FIFA World Cup federation kits are the lightest ever produced by adidas – more than 40 percent lighter than the equivalent 2012 kits. This advancement will give the world’s best players extra freedom of movement and comfort, while retaining resilience and durability on the field in Brazil.
Let’s first take a look at the brazuca. Brazuca is a breakthrough innovation featuring a revolutionary six-panel design. Created for every player on the field, the ball features six identical panels alongside a unique surface that will provide improved grip, touch stability and aerodynamics on the field. Brazuca has been thoroughly tested to meet and exceed all FIFA metrics for an official match ball, ensuring top performance for every condition.
Brazuca was named in September 2012 following a public vote in Brazil involving 1 million soccer fans. The name “brazuca” is an informal local term which means “Brazilian,” or to describe the Brazilian way of life. The colors and ribbon design of the ball panels symbolize the traditional multicolored wish bracelets worn in the country in addition to reflecting the vibrancy and fun associated with soccer in Brazil.
“The FIFA World Cup match ball is the icon of the tournament as the centerpiece of every goal, every play and every touch,” said Ernesto Bruce, director of soccer, adidas America. “adidas has a rich legacy at the World Cup, providing the official match ball for every tournament since 1970. The brazuca is a breakthrough innovation built for every player on the field.”
The brazuca’s thorough two and a half year testing process involved more than 600 of the world’s top players and 30 teams in 10 countries across three continents, making it the most tested ball ever by adidas.
Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Zinedine Zidane, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Palmeiras and Fluminese were among the top athletes and clubs who tested brazuca. The ball was also tested in competitive international matches at the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a different print design and in a friendly match between Sweden and Argentina in February 2013.
“Brazuca has a stunning design that feels inspired by Brazil,” said 2010 FIFA World Cup winning Spanish captain Iker Casillas. “Now that the ball has been launched the tournament feels a lot closer. I’m looking forward to playing in Brazil with a great ball. Hopefully with brazuca we can get the same result as in 2010.”
Fans can purchase brazuca today at www.adidas.com/soccer and starting Wednesday at adidas retail locations, sporting goods and soccer speciality stores nationwide. Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/adidasSoccer or on Twitter via @adidasSoccer #WorldCup.
Now looking at the jerseys, from a design perspective, the jerseys stand out with designs inspired by each country. The new German kit is inspired by a sense of understated brilliance, and the value placed in quality and hard work and makes references to industrial architecture.
While the deep red color of the home jersey unites Spain, while the gold flashes symbolize the current golden era of Spanish football.
Brian Deegan is an innovator in action sports. He is considered to be motocross legend and as a businessman has been nicknamed “The General.” At the young age of 17 Deegan moved from his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska and traveled to Southern California with hopes of making a name for himself in the world of motocross.
In 1997 at the Coliseum in LA, Brian made history with the Freestyle Motocross move called “ghost riding” as he crossed the finish line. Brian has won many awards in actions sports. Brian currently competes in Motocross, Freestyle Motocross, Rally Car, and Short Course Trucks as founder and co-owner of the Metal Mulisha.
I caught up with Brian to chat with him about how he entered the world of motocross, injuries, and his clothing line.
Art Eddy: Let’s go back a bit in time. At age 17 you left Omaha, Nebraska for Southern California. You had big dreams of making a name for yourself in the world of motocross. Can you recall that one moment that made you take that big leap?
Brian Deegan: Growing up in Nebraska and going to high school there I had already traveled all over the United States racing in amateur motocross. I think that just getting to see all the parts of the country and places like Southern California really made me want to do that move there. The lifestyle there made me want to take the leap from Nebraska and go to California. Or maybe it was the girls there. I don’t know. (Both laugh)
BD: When I moved out there I didn’t have anything. I went out there with a pick-up truck, two dirt bikes and a credit card. I was sleeping on my buddy’s floor. I was renting a room and just trying to make things happen. There were points where it got tough, but I realized that I never wanted to go back.
I had to make it work. If I went back my dad wanted me to go to college. I thought that if I did that I would fall back into the normal routine, which is fine, but that was not what I wanted to do.
AE: When you look back do you have one moment that you can say to yourself that you made it?
BD: Yeah, I think it was the moment where I started getting paid by sponsors. That was when Freestyle Motocross started and X-Games as well. I got my first few main sponsors that were actually paying me really good money. That was when I realized that I was on to something. I feel like I hit the sport at the right time. We were the guys that pioneered in action sports. I realized at that moment that it was the right move. It worked out well.
AE: Out of the many accolades and awards you have won does one award stand out more than the others?
BD: I would say that the biggest moment that stands out the most was when I won the L.A. Coliseum Supercross. I went against all odds and beat the best guys as a privateer. I ghost rode my bike over the finish line, which at that time was unheard of.
I walked away from the sport and started up freestyle and did the first 360 on a dirt bike at the L.A. Coliseum. I won the gold medal there that year in best trick. Those were probably the biggest highlights. That was before I got into four wheels, which was a whole new realm of highlights.
AE: To say that you are fearless is a total understatement. From what I read you have experienced multiple near-death experiences, several broken bones, a lost kidney, and a severe spleen injury. What gets you back on the track time and time again?
BD: I would say it was the will to win. Injuries are never something you plan. So really what they do is just stall you out. They are like hurdles on your way to your original goal. I always saw it as just that. I had injuries and a few near death experiences. Those basically just slowed me up for my goals. I still move forward and was always able to block it out and get back to compete. Yet getting older and having kids your priorities change.
AE: Tell me about the company you started up in Metal Mulisha?
BD: I feel like when I was walking away from racing we were kind of the rebels of the sport. We went into Freestyle Motocross and actions sports at the X-Games as the characters of that sport. We came into the sport at the time where skateboarding and BMX was big.
Motocross stepped in and we were on the big stage where the cameras where rolling. It was time to play it up. We were the guys in all black, in spikes, and heavy metal. It kind of just took off. I was able to use my business sense and with my dad being there to help me I thought how are we going to monetize this. We turned it into a clothing brand and selling other product as well. It just took off. Now it is one of the biggest action sports brands out there.
Cam Neely had an outstanding playing career in the NHL. He played 13 seasons for the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. Most of his playing career was in a Bruins uniform. In 2005 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Currently Cam serves as the president of the Boston Bruins. Cam was instrumental in organizing the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup Championship.
Cam set up The Cam Neely Foundation. He set this foundation up to help those who are battling cancer and assist their family members as well. Neely lost both of his parents to cancer. Cam knows the pain of seeing a loved one battle this disease. He and longtime friend, Denis Leary work together to run their annual “Comics Come Home” comedy night that raises money for Cam’s foundation.
Neely also has been in a few TV shows and most notably played the cult classic role of Sea Bass in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.”
Cam was gracious enough to take the time to talk with me about the current state of the NHL, his playing career, his work as the president of the Bruins, and his role in “Dumb and Dumber.”
Art Eddy: First off let’s talk a bit about some of the possible changes to the NHL. Most notably the change to overtime play. What is your take on the possible change to overtime?
Cam Neely: I am not a fan of the shootout. I have never been a fan of the shootout. So if we can decide a game before we get to a shootout I am all for it. If we get into a three on three there will be a lot of scoring opportunities and you will be able to finish out a game.
My feelings are if we can figure out to do a four on four for a period of time and then get into a three on three it should work. If there is no score to settle a game after a three on three then go onto a shootout. I do feel that there will be plenty of scoring opportunities to finish a game if we can go three on three.
AE: In your great career was there one moment or playing against a certain rival that sticks out the most in your mind?
CN: I really enjoyed playing against Montreal. It is such a rivalry. When I first got to Boston it was always a big deal when you went and played Montreal. Whether it was in Boston or in Montreal, which I really enjoyed playing in Montreal, it is such a great hockey atmosphere. Like I said it was a huge rivalry and so everybody was up for those games.
AE: In 2005 you were inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame. When you were notified of your induction what was your initial reaction?
CN: Just shock in the sense that you are put in a place with these guys where you looked up to for years and years and years playing the game of hockey. You also think about the people who helped you along the way. It is just quite an honor. I felt very honored to be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
AE: You are now the president for the Boston Bruins. Has being a player helped you out with your current position?
CN: I believe it has. I can certainly look at a lot of situations with our players and think like a player. So that is beneficial. Playing in the league as long as I did and going through a lot of things as a player I certainly reflect back on that.
I know that the game is a little different and times have changed, but bottom line is that you are still a hockey player. I can reflect on a lot of those things whether it is playing a lot of games in a short period of time or having some time off. Now I think about what it would be like for a player now that I have the experience. Being able to look back and think about some moments in time where I had some questions, but didn’t have the answers.
AE: As someone who lost a parent to cancer and I know you lost both of your parents, I want to thank you for setting up The Cam Neely Foundation. How did your foundation come to be?
CN: Well as most people know being an athlete you get to help out in various ways and different charities. When I was going through what I was with my parents I gravitated towards more cancer related causes. Then I figured why not do something I know is needed based on my experience my family had with my parents.
For us we wanted to find a way to provide comfort, support, and hope to cancer patients and their families. Being a family member of a cancer patient as I am sure you know going through with one of your parents is that there not really a lot you can do. The doctors really don’t fill you in too much. They don’t give you too much information of what is going on. You feel kind of left out, but you are still affected by that terrible disease. So that is the reason why I decided to start up the foundation.
AE: You and Denis Leary have the great “Comics Come Home” fundraiser that has a tremendous lineup of comedians. This year’s event just happened. How did it go?
CN: We say this every year, but this year it was said by many that this was the best show. It was a fantastic show. First of all I have to commend and give Denis and Apostle Pictures a ton of credit. They go above and beyond. They put this line up and great show together. It is really a fantastic way to take your mind off for a couple of hours of some of the things that you are dealing with and also raise money for cancer patients and their families. It is a nonstop laugh fest. It is a great way to raise money.
CN: (Laughs.) It is really a combination. Hockey more, but I do hear a lot of “Kick his ass Sea Bass” while I am walking the streets now and then.
In sports there are certain moments or plays that become iconic. There can be that one picture that as soon as your eyes see it you travel back in time to that moment. Whether it is Michael Jordan soaring from the free throw line or Carlton Fisk using body language to will a home run, we as sports fans live for moments like those.
One of these images that captures that essence is when Brandi Chastain kicked a game winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup. After scoring the fifth kick in the penalty shootout to give the United States the win over China in the final game, she took over her jersey and fell to the ground in jubilation. That moment will forever remain in the hearts of USA soccer fans.
I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brandi about soccer and her work with Capital One to promote the Capital One Cup. This campaign celebrates both men and women student athletes. For the past four years the Capital One Cup has rewarded the best Division I programs for their cumulative athletic performances across 39 men’s and women’s sports. After the spring season, the winning men’s and women’s programs will receive a trophy and $400,000 in scholarships for student-athletes.
Check out the Capital One Cup Facebook page to see how your team is doing!
Art Eddy: You are working with Capital One looking to find the best men’s and women’s NCAA Division I college athletics programs in the country. Tell me about this campaign.
Brandi Chastain: This is the fourth year of the campaign. When it first started I immediately fell in love with it. One reason was that I was a collegiate student female athlete. I was always looking for women’s sports to be recognized on the same level as men’s sports. Even though the awareness of women’s sports have become more prevalent in our society, I think that this promotion provides an even better awareness with sports like lacrosse and soccer.
For these types of sports that do not get the national headlines like football or basketball do, now are given the same amount of validity through the Capital One Cup. Plus both sides, men and women are awarded a trophy. I think that this is important because it recognizes the great performances from the men’s side as well as the women’s side.
AE: Tell me your thoughts for the 2013 Women’s College Cup. Which school has the best chance of winning it?
BC: 64 very deserving teams were announced for this year’s College Cup for women’s soccer. I am partial to Santa Clara because my husband is the coach there and I am the volunteer assistant there. So I would like to throw us into the mix. It is an interesting mix of teams.
There are four number one seeds all from the ACC. That is unusual and something to look at. There are some colleges who haven’t been there in a while. There are some colleges out there that have not made their mark yet and now they get the chance to do so with the Women’s College Cup.
I think the big names are always the ones to look at. Virginia has only lost one game this season. It was to Virginia Tech in the ACC semifinals. They are probably feeling the sting from that so I am guessing that they will be on a tear in this series.
North Carolina has won a bunch of championships, but they are in a bracket with UCLA, who has been having a very successful year. That bracket should be interesting. This is a toss-up year. There has not been one dominating team, except for the one hiccup that Virginia had. This year’s tournament looks to be very exciting.
AE: Any colleges that might give the number one seeds a run for their money?
BC: I think that sports fans have to know that the tournament is different from the regular season. It is different because this season is only one game long. You lose and you are out of it. You could be a better team on paper, but you can throw that to the wind. Sports are emotional. They are physical. Weather plays a big part in soccer. There are so many variables that in a season you can overcome, but not in a tournament.
You have to look at teams like Portland. They might not be having a great season, but they have a great team. You look at a school like Marquette, who won the Big East. Those are two teams that people should look out for in the tournament.
AE: How has the landscape of college soccer changed since your playing days?
BC: Number one is Title IX. It has been such a huge proponent in women’s education and therefore women in sports. When I played there was 75 Division I teams. Now there are over 325 Division I teams vying for a National Championship. That just speaks volumes. You multiply those schools by 30 people, that is a lot of players. So that alone is amazing.
AE: What advice do you have for student athletes?
BC: I would say in general that their time in college is unique. It is precious and goes by very quickly. It is hard to sometimes enjoy that time in college. There is pressure in the classroom and also on the field of play. The students that I have the great pleasure of working with at Santa Clara are probably similar to college kids all around the country. They are instinctually motivated to win and be successful.
I think it is hard for these students to balance their time with academics and sports. There is a bigger picture then these games these athletes are playing. I would say to these athletes to try and enjoy the training aspect of sports. The training is really the foundation for the rest of your life. The lessons you learn about being successful in college are things you can take with you in life.
The idea of balance is something that should be thought of for these student athletes. A person should try their best and give it their all in sports, but there are other things out there. Sports or whatever it is at that time is not the only part of you. They need to realize that and create a balance in life.
AE: Moving from college to the pros, what is your take on the current USA women’s soccer team?
BC: In past games like the 4-1 victory over Brazil, the U.S. women’s soccer team has been very strong. When you have goal scorers like Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, and Alex Morgan the list goes on you can see that.
I think defending is the number one problem. Finding the right combination of four backs, three backs, or whatever it is will be the challenge for Tom Sermanni. So I think that is the focus. The attacking part of it has never been their thorn in their side. I think finding the right combination of players who can play soccer, defend, and be organized is key.
BC: Gosh. I would say that I have loved soccer ever since I kicked a ball at seven years old. There is a lot of wonderful memories. The majority of them, well maybe half of the memories have been ones on the field. Obviously people go right to the penalty kick.
I would have to say that my number one memory was when I kicked a really good left footed goal. I was eleven years old. I can shut my eyes and remember that goal vividly. It felt really good. Then I think the moment in the 1999 Women’s World Cup where I scored an own goal in the game against Germany. The interaction that followed that will be something I will always remember. Carla Overbeck told me not to worry about it and told me that we were going to win the game and you are going to help us. After that I scored a goal and we went on to win that game.
I think that memory stands out because I was able to fix my mistake and go on to win that game. In sports there are times where you can literally change someone’s life in a moment. Carla did that for me. She told me that my mistake was okay and we were still going to win. Ever since that day I am looking for the opportunity to do that for someone else.
You can use moments like those to reflect on and tell yourself that things are going to be alright. That is why I cherish moments like those.
NY Jets -2 At Buffalo
Jets win an ugly game and get a boost from Santonio.
Pick: Jets -2
Detroit -3 At Pittsburgh
Steelers shock the world with an upset at home for win number four.
Pick: Steelers +3
At Philadelphia -5 Washington
Foles keeps rolling in a high scoring affair.
Pick: Eagles -5
San Diego -2.5 At Miami
Dolphins pride finally kicks in as Tannehill turns in a big game.
Pick: Fins +2.5
At Chicago -3 Baltimore
The Bears win a bruiser in harsh conditions.
Pick: Bears -3
At Cincinnati -5 Cleveland
Bengals win the Battle of Ohio
Pick: Bengals -5
At Houston -10 Oakland
Spread’s a bit too high, but in the battle of the backup QBs, Texans win one for Kubs.
Pick: Texans -10
Arizona -9 At Jacksonville
The Jags show up and don’t lose by 9.
Pick: Jags +9
At Denver -7.5 Kansas City
The true leader of the AFC West steps forward with authority.
Pick: Broncos -7.5
At Seattle -12.5 Minnesota
Whether Percy has huge contributions or not, this is a lopsided affair.
Pick: Seahawks -12.5
At New Orleans -3 San Francisco
Brees at home backed by a balanced offense against a one-dimensional attack that can’t match.
Pick: Saints -3
At NY Giants -3.5 Green Bay
Giants keep catching lucky breaks and the wins keep coming.
Pick: Giants -3.5
At Carolina -3 New England
The hottest team in the NFL against a team that destroys it when their dogs.
Pick: Pats +3
Last Week: 8-6
Last Season: 136-121-5
Indianapolis -3 At Tennessee
The Colts got creamed last week in all phases. They don’t have any semblance of a run game. Luck and the 6-3 horseshoes are up against a 4-5 team that’s hungry for its first divisional victory. Can the top seed in the AFC South cover on the road against a solid, top 10 defense? I think so. Luck doesn’t ever suck twice in a row. The spread’s not too harsh. The Colts can do this.
Pick: Colts -3
At Tennessee -12 Jacksonville
Spread’s a bit high, but so is the talent differential.
Pick: Titans -12
Philadelphia -1 At Green Bay
Foles over Seneca, even if Lacy goes off.
Pick: Eagles -1
At Pittsburgh -3 Buffalo
There’s talk that Ben may want out in Pittsburgh. Things couldn’t get much worse, so it’s now or never for the Steelers.
Pick: Steelers -3
At NY Giants -7 Oakland
The suddenly competitive Giants take advantage of home field and continue to right the ship.
Pick: Giants -7
At Indianapolis -7.5 St. Louis
Why would you pick against Luck at home?
Pick: Colts -7.5
Seattle -4 At Atlanta
Two teams going in the opposite directions. Seahawks keep rolling and avenge last year’s playoff loss.
Pick: Seahawks -4
At Baltimore PK Cincinnati
I like the Bengals better, but I think the Ravens will rally at home and finally get a much needed W.
At Chicago PK Detroit
Huge NFC North implications here. Lions take the lead in the division after this one.
At San Francisco -5.5 Carolina
Two of the hottest teams in football square off in a battle of win streaks, but the Niners are well-rested and playing at home with an extra week of prep.
Pick: Niners -5.5
At Arizona -3.5 Houston
Will that Case magic work on the road? I’m thinking it may only work in Houston.
Pick: Cardinals -3.5
Denver -7 At San Diego
Broncos win a shootout.
Pick: Broncos -7
At New Orleans -6.5 Dallas
Brees and Rob Ryan get the best of the Boys.
Pick: Saints -6.5
Miami -2.5 At Tampa Bay
Distraction or rally cry? If Miami was a stronger team, they’d use all the unwanted media attention for fuel. I think the Bucs have a chance to win their first game here.
Pick: Bucs +2.5
LeRoy Butler played strong safety for his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. Known for creating the famous “Lambeau Leap,” Butler still roots for his old team. If you follow him on Twitter you see that he is always giving his perspective during games.
Butler won a Super Bowl title with the Packers when Green Bay beat the New England Patriots in 1997. Butler was selected to the Pro Bowl four times and was part of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He is also a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Recently LeRoy released his latest book called “Packers Pride: Green Bay Greats Share Their Favorite Memories.” Even if you are not a Packers fan this is a great read. As a 49ers fan I soaked up every story that Butler shares in his book. The rivalry section was very intriguing.
Butler was kind enough to chat with me about the Packers, his book, and his foundation.
Art Eddy: Your book “Packers Pride: Green Bay Greats Share Their Favorite Memories” recently came out. I am digging this book. I love the stories and insight. How did you come up with the idea for this book?
LeRoy Butler: Well I wanted to do a football geeky type book. I think a lot of fans see us playing on the field, but they don’t get a chance to see what we are thinking or what were are favorite moments about playing. I got a chance to do that.
I did a book earlier about my life. It wasn’t necessarily about my life in Green Bay, but it was about my life growing up. With the “Packers Pride” it really is a tribute to all the Green Bay Packers fans out there everywhere that we appreciate them supporting us.
Some of these stories are hilarious. For me we have stories about Brett Favre growing up and Reggie White. Both of those guys were free agents. One came from Atlanta and the other came from Philadelphia. How did they adapt to the team. So I have some great stories about great guys from around the league. I just had a lot of fun putting it together.
AE: What was the reaction of your former teammates when they heard you were working on this book?
LB: A lot of guys said that they have so many stories to tell and I never either had the time to do it or thought about doing it. Me and Rob Reischel talked to about 60 guys. All of them wanted to tell at least one story or one paragraph. They wanted to be a part of it.
They had things that they wanted to share. We call it barbershop talk. Everyone has their opinion. We would say, ‘Who is your favorite guy?’ Or we might say, “Who is the best at this?’ I talk about that in the book. It gave me the chance to talk about football from perspective. It was a lot of fun.
AE: There are so many great stories in this book. I love how you break down Green Bay’s rivals and your stories of the Packers greats. Tell me a bit about those rivals.
LB: There were a few things that I talked about that was awesome like the playoff game against San Francisco. We were used to playing a 4-3 defense that is with four defensive linemen. We wanted to do some new stuff. I remember Fritz Shurmur, our defensive coordinator said that we are going to try a little 3-4. It will surprise them a little bit, because they are expecting a 4-3. We dominated them because they didn’t see that particular defensive front.
I never was asked that in my whole entire playing career. Now I have a chance to talk about that in detail. So I was so excited about that.
AE: You were credited with starting “The Lambeau Leap.” I was watching video of that play. One of the first Packers to come off the sideline to congratulate you was Brett Favre. In your book you talk about how Brett made everyone feel at home. Fans and the media didn’t see that side. How important was it for you to put that in your book?
LB: It was important because it was 100 percent the truth. Brett Favre is the single best teammate in the history of sports. What he did was what you would never see guys do. When he came from Atlanta he adapted with the African American community with hip-hop. He went with the white guys with country music. He went with some of the younger guys who were playing the video games. He went with the older guys who like to do hunting.
Everybody loved the guy. He didn’t wait for people to come congratulate him. He was assertive at his networking skills. That is why if you look at Brett Favre’s career you couldn’t name a lot of these receivers, because it didn’t care to him. He would put you in the position to make plays. Not only that guys would dive to make plays for him. Case in point when his dad died and they played the Raiders these guys were jumping all over each other making catches. He is the ultimate teammate. I was very adamant about putting that in the book.
I never did that when I came into the league as a rookie. When I came in the guys just hung around me because I was a second round pick. I wasn’t networking. I wasn’t going over trying to meet guys. I figured that I would just meet them throughout the day. It was just an awesome way to see how he networked. I don’t think that I will ever see that again.
AE: In your opinion which Packer performed “The Lambeau Leap” the best?
LB: Oh, that is a fantastic question. I would say that if I have to vote I will give three guys that did it well. Donald Driver is in that three. Ahman Green was great at it. The guy who was the best at it was Robert Brooks. He would run and jump and then turn around and sit down. That was phenomenal.
LB: One of the things was the free agents and the things we did to put together that type of team that year. We brought in Andre Rison, no one wanted that guy. We brought in Desmond Howard, who was a receiver in Jacksonville that people said he couldn’t play. He was the Super Bowl MVP.
AE: Yea, he was doing the robot into the end zone in that game. It was hilarious.
LB: Right! People thought that Desmond was always there. No, we had to go out and get this guy. Ron Cox was our middle linebacker. He played with the Bears before coming to the team. Antonio Freeman, who people said he wasn’t fast enough. He had an 86 yard touchdown in that game.
If you look at this game it was unbelievable. The development and the maturity of that team that went into that Super Bowl was great. New England had a pretty good team. They had a great tight end. They had a great quarterback in Drew Bledsoe. They had a Hall of Fame running back and a pretty good defense.
The way this team came together was like no other. Once people look back at that roster you shake your head on how we won it. These guys came together to win a championship. I am very thankful for that.
AE: How far do you think the Packers will go this year?
LB: I think that if you have a quarterback with a proven passer rating that is always over 100 and have a defense that is very opportunistic you will have good chance to make it far. There are a few injuries like Clay Matthews and some of the young wide receivers. You have young running back in Eddie Lacy and they have a fresh guy in James Starks to come off the bench. It is a good one two punch.
Not to mention that they have rookie left tackle. It is sort of a head scratcher on how Ted Thompson is putting this team together. They didn’t build it with a lot of free agents. I will be honest with you. Just look at the schools that some of these guys have come from. It is not USC. It is not Florida. It is not Ohio State. They are not coming from these big schools. For Ted Thompson, if you have talent he will find you. So anyone in that green and gold uniform you feel that you have a chance to succeed.
AE: Tell me a bit about your foundation.
LB: One of the biggest things that we did was for breast cancer. I have four daughters and I wanted to get out in front of it. Brett Favre and I did a DVD to help support and raise money for breast cancer. We are also doing an anti-bullying campaign. We are trying to get the bullies and those who are bullied to become buddies. We call it the “Don’t be a bully, be a buddy” campaign. We got to schools and talk with them to educate them on bullying.
We’re at the midpoint of an exciting NFL season with tons of interesting storylines. Babyface meathead Richie Incognito has been dominating the NFL news cycle lately, but there are more important things to ponder, like why the hell the Steelers are 2-6.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have more championships than any other NFL team, but the 2013 season has been an absolute disaster. From the patchwork set of o-lineman that take each other out at the knees to the aging defense that allowed more points last week than any other game in Steelers’ history to the inability to convert and stop conversions on third down, it’s been a rough year. As a Steelers fan, I’m open to any and every bit of positive ju-ju that can help stop the bleeding.
So I took a look at the NFL Fan Superstition Index that Bud Light put together. The official beer of the NFL partnered with KRC Research and conducted more than 9,500 interviews among the 32 different NFL team fan bases. About 300 fans per team were asked more than 50 questions in an effort to calculate the superstition level of each NFL fan base.
Baltimore Ravens fans ranked as the most superstitious fans in the NFL. Coming off a Super Bowl victory, that’s totally understandable. Jets fans are most likely to try and curse or jinx an opposing team, which also makes sense seeing how miserable the average Jets fan’s life must be. Lions fans are most likely to engage in superstitious activities alone, likely so that no one will see them cry.
I thought this tidbit was interesting – Raiders supporters are the fans most likely to wear the same article of clothing (51%) or same hat or non-clothing accessory (38%) in order to help their team’s chances of winning. That makes sense when you think of the low football/life IQ of most Raiders fans, and the fact that they rarely wash themselves or their clothes.
Steelers fans rank fourth in the league when it comes to engaging in superstitious activities with their friends. Steelers fans rank seventh when it comes to setting out some type of team memorabilia to impact the outcome of a game. There’s a lot of terrible towels you see. And does it work? Well 36 percent of the Steelers fans surveyed believe that their superstitious practices actually influence the outcome of games. Maybe we all should try harder this year.
So there you have it. If you want to learn more about your team’s fan base tries to influence games with supernatural tactics, check out the full NFL Fan Superstition Index by Bud Light. Here are some more highlights from the survey: