In The Front Row with Mike Vaccaro
By JR Quitman
In The Front Row with Mike VaccaroJul 17, 2023
Scoop Jackson on writing about Sports and Hip Hop, plus lessons learned from NBA Legend George Gervin
Scoop Jackson on writing about Sports and Hip Hop, plus lessons learned from NBA Legend George Gervin
Robert “Scoop” Jackson was born and raised in Chicago and given his nickname by his Uncle. He attended Xavier University of Louisiana intending to be a lawyer. After earning a Master of Arts degree from Howard, Jackson went into writing following advice from a professor. That advice led to a career writing about sports with publications such as SLAM, Hoop and Inside Stuff, along with Hip Hop magazine XXL. Jackson recently co-authored the book Ice with NBA Legend George Gervin published by Triumph Books. In this episode, he shares his story with us including the origins of his nickname, his first article for SLAM featuring Shaquille O’Neal and his thoughts on the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. He also tells us what life lessons he learned from George Gervin and looks back at his career as he turns 60. Additionally, we hear about the person he wished he could have interviewed, his fandom for the Chicago White Sox and New York Knicks and why the late 60 Minutes and CBS Nes reporter Ed Bradley is his idol.
Dr. Matt Provencher on working with the Navy Seals and Bill Belichick plus the Grass vs. Turf DEBATE
Dr. Matt Provencher on working with the Navy Seals and Bill Belichick plus the Grass vs. Turf debate Dr. Matt Provencher attended the US Naval Academy where he was an All-American oarsman. That experience led him to a career as an orthopedic surgeon. His first job was developing a training program for the Navy Seal Teams followed by an opportunity working with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots as head team physician. One of the country's top shoulder and knee surgeons, Dr. Provencher has his own practice and is also the Fox Sports Athletic Injury and Performance Analyst while also co-hosting The Predictors (https://thepredictors.com/) using NFL Injury Analytics. In this episode, Dr. Provencher shares his journey and his injury knowledge. He explains the difference between grass and turf when it comes to injuries and takes us inside the recent procedures used to repair Achilles injuries like the one suffered by NY Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He also explains the recent shoulder injury suffered by Colts quarterback Antony Richardson, the advancements made with concussions and how his Navy training has prepared him to be ready for any situation such as Demar Hamlin's cardiac arrest.
Steve Wright from the LA Raiders to SURVIVING 31 Days on "Survivor" #survivoroncbs #sportspodcast
Steve Wright from the LA Raiders to SURVIVING 31 Days on "Survivor" Before a long career in the NFL and lasting 31 days on Survivor, Steve Wright was a four-sport athlete as a youth playing football, basketball, hockey as well as track & field. He played football for four years at Northern Iowa and was later inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame. An 11-year NFL career started in Dallas where he made the Cowboys as a free-agent and played for legendary head coach Tom Landry. After two years with the Balitmore/Indianapolis Colts and one year in the USFL, Wright found a home with the Los Angeles Raiders. From 1987-93, Wright played offensive line for the Silver and Black blocking for notable running backs Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson while also competing against Howie Long in practice. Wright moved on from the NFL after the 1993 season to begin a successful business career with a mist cooling company called Cloudburst. In 2010, he was invited to be a contestant on the 22nd season of "Survivor" and lasted 31 days on the show. Wright shares these moments of his life with us which are also part of his new book "Aggressively Human" which he co-wrote with his wife Lizzy. He takes us back to his block which led to the record-setting 99-yard touchdown run by Tony Dorsett with the Cowboys and compares blocking for Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson. He recounts what it was like during his time in the jungle of Nicaragua during "Survivor" and the effects that show had on him. Plus, he gives us his Top 5 defensive linemen he faced, and we hear about his rearward facing toilet for which he was awarded a patent recently.
Steve Largent on Hall of Fame career with Seattle Seahawks and Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund
Steve Largent on Hall of Fame career with Seattle Seahawks and Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund Steve Largent was born in Tulsa, OK before moving to Oklahoma City at a young age. At Putnam City High School, Largent was a running back on the football team before a coach convinced him to move to wide receiver. That change in positions led to a record-setting career at the University of Tulsa and selection in the 1976 NFL draft. Picked in the 4th Round by the Houston Oilers, Largent was about to be cut after four preseason games when the Oilers decided to trade him to the expansion Seattle Seahawks. From 1976-89, Largent broke every major NFL receiving record and was the first Seahawk selected to a Pro Bowl (he was selected 7 times overall). In 1995, Largent became the first Seahawk elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame doing so in his first year eligible. In addition to spending time with his 10 grandchildren, Largent is currently working to help raise money and awareness for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund (https://www.gridirongreats.org/) through Pork Rind Appreciation Day (Learn more at https://www.southernrecipesmallbatch.com/pork-rind-appreciation-day). Largent shares why he was so successful, what adjustments he made catching balls from lefthanded quarterback Jim Zorn to righty Dave Krieg and which teammates he enjoyed playing alongside. He also tells us about the Steve Largent Award, the connection he has with current Seahawk receiver Tyler Lockett and the return of the retro Seahawks jerseys. Largent also recounts the concussion he got on a hit from Broncos DB Mike Harden and the revenge hit he delivered weeks later.
Christian Okoye on growing up in Nigeria, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and his Top 5 Big Running Backs
Christian Okoye on growing up in Nigeria, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and his Top 5 Big Running Backs
Christian Okoye was born in Enugu, Nigeria and grew up playing soccer and running track despite his dad not wanting him to play sports. Okoye excelled in track and field but when the Nigerian government declined to put him on the 1984 Olympic team, he focused on football which he saw for the first time when he moved to United States in his early 20s. Okoye combined speed with his 6'1" and 260-pound frame to become a force in his new sport at Azusa Pacific University in California. Kansas City drafted Okoye in the 2nd Round in 1987 and he embarked on a 6-year career with the Chiefs. Under coach Marty Schottenheimer, Okoye led the NFL in rushing in 1989 and was named First Team All-Pro, AFC MVP and a Pro Bowler that year. Nagging injuries forced Okoye to retire following the 1992 season as Kansas City's all-time leading rusher. In 2000, he was named to the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame. Okoye, known as the "Nigerian Nightmare", shares his incredible story with us including the impact Schottenheimer had on his career, the NFL running backs he studied to learn the game and whether or not he could play in today's NFL. He also gives us his Top 5 (or 6) Big Running Backs. Okoye also tells us about his memoir "The Nigerian Nightmare: My Journey Out of Africa to the Kansas City Chiefs and Beyond" available November 7 published by Triumph Books.
Alonzo Highsmith on playing football at Miami, his boxing career and his Top 5 players from the “U”
Alonzo Highsmith on playing football at Miami, his boxing career and his Top 5 players from the “U”
Alonzo Highsmith grew up in Florida influenced to play football by his dad, Walter, who played and coached football including a stint at Texas Southern where he coached future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Michael Strahan. The younger Highsmith was a defensive end in high school and was the Florida high school Defensive Player of the Year. With offers from Notre Dame and Michigan, Highsmith elected to stay in state and played for the University of Miami. His freshman season, Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger convinced Highsmith to move to fullback, a move that helped lead the Hurricanes to their first national championship in 1983. After Schnellenberger left Miami, Jimmy Johnson took over as head coach and Highsmith continued to flourish. The Houston Oilers made Highsmith the 3rd overall pick in 1987 but knee injuries led to a short professional career. He went from the football field to the boxing ring when he retired and after a successful heavyweight career, Highsmith worked in NFL front offices in Green Bay, Cleveland and Seattle. He returned to his alma mater as the General manager of Football Operations in 2022. In this episode, Highsmith takes us back to the 1980s when the “U” started to take over college football and what it was like playing for both Schnellenberger and Johnson who he later played for with the Dallas Cowboys. He also tells us about being inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame and what led to his boxing career. Plus, he gives us his Top 5 Players to Play at the “U”.
Devon Harris: From the Original Jamaican Bobsled Team to Disney's "Cool Runnings"
Devon Harris: From the Original Jamaican Bobsled Team to Disney's "Cool Runnings" Devon Harris was born in the ghetto of Olympic Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica. He played soccer and ran track while dreaming of representing his country in the 1984 Olympics. When that didn't happen, Harris attended the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England. While a member of the Jamaica Defense Force, a colonel convinced him to try out for the newly formed Jamaican bobsled team. Making the team in late 1987, he was a member of the four-man team in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. That story became the Disney movie "Cool Runnings" in 1993 starring John Candy. In this episode, Harris talks about the sport he became synonymous with and takes us inside the training for their debut run in Calgary. He also shares how "Cool Runnings" differs from real life and how he's received when he returns to his native country. Harris also tells us about his motivational speaking career, the foundation he started and whether or not he spent time in a freezer to prepare for the Winter Olympics as depicted in "Cool Runnings".
Joe Maddon On World Series Win with Cubs, Managing Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout
Joe Maddon On World Series Win with Cubs, Managing Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout Joe Maddon was born in Hazleton, PA and grew up playing baseball along with football and basketball. After playing baseball and one season of football at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, Maddon signed a free agent contract with the California Angels as a catcher. Following four seasons in minor league baseball, he was convinced to go into coaching. He spent over 30 years within the Angels organization which included three stints as interim manager and a World Series championship as a coach in 2002. In 2006, Maddon got his chance to be a full-time manager for the first time with Tampa Bay and led the Rays to the World Series in 2008 earning his first of three Manager of the Year awards. His time with the Rays included over 750 wins but ended after the 2014 season when he decided to join the Chicago Cubs. In 2015, Maddon took the Cubs to their first postseason appearance in seven seasons and in 2016 he led Chicago to a World Series title, their first in 108 years. He returned to the west coast to manage the Angels in 2020 and held that position until the middle of the 2022 season. Maddon is back in his hometown enjoying some downtime and working with the Hazleton Integration Project which he established in 2013. In this episode, we hear about Maddon’s tie to the city of Hazleton and how it helped him become the person he is today. He tells us why his catching career has helped his career as an MLB manager. Maddon also recounts stories of winning the World Series with the Cubs and tells us what it’s like when he returns to Chicago. Plus, he gives us his take on Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout along with his thoughts on the game now and if he’ll manage again. We also hear about his podcast, “The Book of Joe”, which is based on the recent book he co-wrote with sports journalist Tom Verducci.
Kenny Albert On His Broadcasting Career, The Late Tony Siragusa, And His Upcoming Book
Kenny Albert grew up in New York in a broadcast family with dad Marv Albert and uncles Al and Steve Albert. He did mock broadcasts into his tape recorder at age 5 and was broadcasting games for real by the age of 15. After graduating from New York University, Albert began his career in 1990 and has been on the mic for more than 3000 broadcasts calling games in all four major US sports leagues (NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA). In this episode, Albert shares stories from his new book "A Mic for All Seasons" available October 10 via Triumph Books. He tells us why hockey has always been a favorite sport for him and led to him calling games in the NHL and the Winter Olympics. He recounts some of his 250+ broadcast partners including memories of the late Tony Siragusa. Albert also provides advice for aspiring broadcasters and tells us about some of his favorite moments and athletes he's been fortunate to cover. Plus, he tells us about the coolest perks of his job and how the support of his family has allowed him to excel as a broadcaster.
John Swofford on his Career in Athletics from UNC Athletic Director to Commissioner of the ACC
John Swofford was born and raised in North Wilkesboro, NC where his dad owned a tire store that catered to NASCAR legends like Junior Johnson. Swofford was an All-State quarterback at Wilkes Central High School and attended the University of North Carolina on a Morehead Scholarship. He was part of coach Bill Dooley’s first recruiting class for the Tar Heels and played both quarterback and safety. After earning his master’s degree at Ohio University, Swofford began his athletic administration career at Virginia before returning to North Carolina where he would take over as Athletic Director in 1980 at the age of 31. After 17 years leading the Tar Heels to more ACC and National Championships than any other AD in ACC history, Swofford joined the league as the 4th commissioner in conference history. He became the longest tenured commissioner in ACC history serving in that role for 24 years before retiring in 2021. In this episode, Swofford tells us what makes a good athletic director and what accomplishments he’s most proud of during his career. He also shares his advice he received from Dean Smith along with some of the coaches who highlighted his time in Chapel Hill and with the ACC. Swofford also remembers the influence of former UNC Athletic Director Homer Rice, reflects on his induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and gives his take on college athletics. In the Front Row with Mike Vaccaro is your front row seat to one-on-one conversations with sports figures. Each episode we go beyond the bio and hear about the stories that made headlines. Our guests are hall of famers, gold medalists, record holders, trailblazers and more. We cover all sports and all eras to bring you amazing guests with incredible accounts of the moments that made them the athlete and person they are today. Join us as our guests share memories of their best, and worst, moments of their journey in sports and in life.
Eddie George: Heisman Trophy Winner, Tennessee Titan, And Tennessee State Coach
Eddie George: Heisman Trophy Winner, Tennessee Titan, And Tennessee State Coach Eddie George was born in Philadelphia and played multiple sports at Abington Senior High School before his mom made him attend Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. It was at Fork Union where George grew on and off the field. After spending a post-graduate year at Fork Union, college football coaches came calling and a visit to Ohio State convinced George that being a Buckeye was a great fit. During his senior season in 1995, George set school records and won the Heisman Trophy. The Houston Oilers drafted him 14th overall in the 1996 NFL draft and his performance that year earned him NFL Rookie of the Year. In all, George spent 8 years with the Oilers/Tennessee Titans and one year with the Dallas Cowboys. He retired with over 10,000 rushing yards and stands with just Jim Brown as the only running backs with over 10,000 rushing yards without missing a start. After retiring, George earned an MBA from Northwestern and started a business career while also turning to acting which included a role on Broadway in the musical "Chicago". In 2021, George was named head coach at Tennessee State and is set to open his 3rd season at Notre Dame. George tells stories about how giving his Heisman speech compares to singing on stage. He also tells us what it's like to be in several halls of fame, how the discipline of Fork Union still serves him today and what it's like to be in the same company as Jim Brown.
Brandon Phillips on MLB Career, Winning a World Series and Owning a Pro Softball Team
Brandon Phillips on MLB Career, Winning a World Series and Owning a Pro Softball Team Brandon Phillips was born in Raleigh, NC and grew up in Stone Mountain, GA in an athletic family. He played multiple sports and wanted to focu on football before his mom suggested he concentrate on baseball. That advice led to a 17-year MLB career including 11 with the Cincinnati Reds where he was a 3-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove Award winner and a Silver Slugger Award winner. Phillips also spent time with his hometown Atlanta Braves and won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2018. Now semi-retired, Phillips and his partner Jade Cargill (a pro wrestler and fitness model) founded the Texas Smoke in the Women's Professional Fastpitch league. In this episode, Phillips tells us how he nearly attended Georgia to play both baseball and football before being drafted by the Montreal Expos. He also shares about growing up a Barry Larkin fan and his relationship with members of the "Big Red Machine" including the late Joe Morgan. Plus, he tells us why Dusty Baker was a great manager, why he doesn't watch baseball today and how he got his nickname "Dat Dude BP".
David Glenn on The David Glenn Show, Interviewing Presidents and Philly Sports Fandom
David Glenn on The David Glenn Show, Interviewing Presidents and Philly Sports Fandom David Glenn was raised in Philadelphia during a successful time for Philly sports teams. A fan of Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton, Glenn was also a lefthanded pitcher growing up and played baseball from age 5 years old into his 20s. Realizing that playing sports would not be his profession, Glenn decided on sports journalism. After moving to North Carolina, Glenn started as a print journalist with the Durham Herald Sun and eventually worked and owned the ACC Sports Journal and ACCsports.com. During a time when he also practiced law, Glenn transitioned to radio and hosted the long running The David Glenn Show which was heard across the Tar Heel state. Now back with a new version of the show airing on the North Carolina Sports Network, Glenn tells us about his multifaceted life and how he's balanced it all. He also recounts memorable interviews with two US Presidents and a few notable authors and actors. Plus, we hear his plans for his new venture and why he thinks the time is right to bring The David Glenn Show back after a 3-year absence.
Kerri Walsh Jennings on WINNING Olympic Gold and being a Hall of Famer, a role model and a MOM
Kerri Walsh Jennings on WINNING Olympic Gold and being a Hall of Famer, a role model and a MOM Kerri Walsh Jennings grew up in California in an active family. As a somewhat shy kid, she used sports as her outlet playing both basketball and volleyball. As the #1 volleyball recruit her senior year, Walsh Jennings chose nearby Stanford where she helped lead the Cardinal to 2 NCAA Titles (1996 and 1997). Her first Olympic experience came in the Sydney games as a member of the Indoor Volleyball team in 2000. She soon switched to Beach Volleyball and partnered with Misty May-Treanor in 2001 to form a pairing that would win Olympic gold in Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 (where she was 5 weeks pregnant with her third child). Walsh Jennings also won a Bronze medal in Rio in 2016 making her the most-decorated beach athlete. She shares her journey with us including her accomplishments and challenges during her rise to the top of her sport. We hear how the partnership with Misty May-Treanor came to be and how the two balanced competition and fame. Walsh Jennings also tells us what her 2022 induction into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame means to her and why she enjoys the role of simply being mom to her three kids with fellow beach volleyball player Casey Jennings. Plus, she tells us her plans for Paris 2024 and her new venture centered on sports and wellness.
Mike Candrea on Winning NCAA Softball Championships, Olympic Gold and Growing the game of Softball
Mike Candrea on winning NCAA Softball Championships, Olympic Gold and growing the game of Softball
Mike Candrea was born in New Orleans and loved playing pick-up baseball with his friends. After moving to Phoenix at age 7, Candrea’s passion for the sport continued to grow. He played second base at Central Arizona College and became an assistant coach at the school before being asked to take over the softball program. After leading Central Arizona College to several championships, Candrea was hired as softball head coach at Arizona in 1986 and he stayed until he retired in 2021. During that time, he built the Wildcats softball program from the ground up and led them to 8 National Championships starting with their first title in 1991. In all, Candrea became the game’s winningest coach with 1674 wins (currently second to Carol Hutchins), is in six different Halls of Fame and has his name on the Arizona stadium he helped build. Candrea also coached the US Olympic softball team twice, winning gold in 2004 in Athens and silver in 2008 in Beijing. The 2004 team was so dominant that it outscored their opponents 51-1 giving up the lone run to Australia in the gold medal game. Now retired and serving as a special assistant to the Athletic Director at Arizona, Candrea is still working to grow the game he loves while also pursuing his passion for golf. Candrea shares the lessons he’s learning during his career and the players who influenced him including All-American pitcher Jennie Finch. He also tells us the impact of Title IX, what makes the female athlete so special and the great perspective he has on life.
Karl Mecklenburg on Broncos career, playing with John Elway and being called "the Albino Rhino"
Karl Mecklenburg was born in Seattle but grew up in Minnesota where he started playing football when he was 9 years old. He wanted to attend the University of Minnesota, but at 6-foot and just 200 pounds he had to settle for Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. After having his scholarship removed at Augustana, Mecklenburg walked on at Minnesota and in 1982 he was the Gophers' top defensive player, All-Big Ten 2nd team and All-Academic. The Denver Broncos drafted Karl in the 12th round (310 overall) in the 1983 NFL draft. Playing for Dan Reeves, Mecklenburg flourished playing on the defensive line and at linebacker. He helped lead the Broncos to three Super Bowls (XXI, XXII and XXIV) and played his entire 12-year career in Denver. He battled multiple injuries including more than 10 concussions during his career and later was a plaintiff in a lawsuit vs. the NFL. A long-time motivational speaker, Mecklenburg shares tales from his journey including his breakthrough moment as a linebacker and what it was like playing on a team with John Elway as the quarterback (he tells us his view of "The Drive" in the 1986 AFC Championship game). He also tells us about the quarterback he loved to sack the most, the teammate who pushed him in practice and the honor of being inducted in the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 2001. Mecklenburg tells us why his versatility might be what's keeping him out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, why he enjoys giving back to the Denver community and how he got his nickname "The Albino Rhino".
Ron Cey on the BEST Infield Ever, Winning World Series with Dodgers, and "The Penguin" Nickname
Ron Cey was born and raised in Tacoma, WA where he played multiple sports up until graduating high school and attended Washington State to play baseball. After playing for the WSU freshman team, Cey played for Coach Chuck Brayton and the varsity team where he became the Cougar's top hitter and also earned his nickname "The Penguin". In 1968, the Dodgers drafted Cey in the 3rd round and he spent three years in the minors before making his MLB debut in 1971. He became a full-time Dodger in 1973 and teamed with Steve Garvey (1B), Davey Lopes (2B) and Bill Russell (SS) to form the Los Angeles infield for the next 8½ years. During that time, Cey was a 6-time All-Star and helped the Dodgers navigate a strike in the middle of the 1981 season to win the World Series against the New York Yankees. Playing for legendary manager Tommy Lasorda, Cey he was named co-MVP of the Series along with Steve Yeager and Pedro Guerrero. That title signaled the end of an era as the Dodger infield eventually broke up with Cey getting traded to the Chicago Cubs after the 1982 season. After 4 years with the Cubs and one more with the Oakland A's, Cey retired in 1987. He worked for the Dodgers after his retirement and currently hosts a podcast ("We'll See About That") and recently wrote his memoir (Penguin Power - Dodger Blue, Hollywood Lights, and My One-In-A-Million Big League Journey). In this episode, Cey shares his journey and tells us who was "his guy" growing up. He also takes us through the 1981 Fall Classic and recounts getting hit in the head by a Goose Gossage pitch in Game 5. Cey also tells us why third basemen have been an under-represented position in the Baseball Hall of Fame and why his numbers might warrant induction into the Hall.
Jeremy Roenick on NHL career, Playing for US Hockey Team, RESPECT for Fans, and Whiskey in the Wild
Jeremy Roenick was born in Boston and moved around as a youth. He played hockey for the first time at age 4 and fell in love with the game. When he was 7 years old, Roenick had a memorable encounter with hockey legend Gordie Howe, something that would shape how he treated fans during his career. As a 10-year-old, he and his friends idolized Mike Eruzione and the US Olympic team that won gold in Lake Placid, NY (Ep. 49 featured Mike Eruzione: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6Wmnarax8g&t=1068s). Roenick moved back to Massachusetts and played hockey at Thayer Academy before the Chicago Blackhawks drafted him in 1988 making his debut in October and his playoff debut that season as well. He became a full-time member of the Blackhawks in the 1989-90 season and remained in Chicago until he was traded to Phoenix in 1996. Roenick played 20 seasons in the NHL including stops in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Jose along with a second stint in Phoenix playing for coach Wayne Gretzky. He retired in 2009 as one of the best American-born players to ever play in the NHL (513 goals, 703 assists and 9 All Star appearances) but it still not inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Roenick shares his journey with us and tells us about his first All-Star game during the 1990-91 season, the teammates he enjoyed playing with the most and the moment he gained the respect of his teammates as a rookie. Plus, he recounts what it was like being in Chicago during the Bulls NBA titles led by Michael Jordan (and gives us his take on recent comments by former Bull Scottie Pippen regarding Jordan). We also hear about Roenick’s post-playing endeavors including his broadcasting and acting career along with his company Whisky in the Wild. He even gives us his take on the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals featuring the Las Vegas Knights and the Florida Panthers.
Clyde Simmons on Philadelphia Eagles Defense, his career at WCU, and Playing with Concussions
Clyde Simmons was born in Lane, SC. His family moved to Wilmington, NC when he was young and sports highlighted his childhood. Playing multiple sports at New Hanover High School (alongside Ep. 55 guest Kenny Gattison), Simmons found his calling in football. Encouraged by Wildcats head coach Joe Miller, Simmons attended Western Carolina in the North Carolina mountains. During his four years, he helped lead the Catamounts to the 1983 NCAA I-AA National Championship game and was First Team All-America in 1985 He was inducted into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002. Scouts noticed his play and in 1986 the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in the 9th round. He played for head coach Buddy Ryan and alongside Reggie White and Jerome Brown to anchor the NFL's top defense in 1991. He led the NFL in sacks in 1992 and was twice named to the Pro Bowl during his 8 years in Philly. Simmons played 7 more years in the NFL with stints in Arizona, Jacksonville, Cincinnati and Chicago. He finished his 15-year career with 121.5 sacks which is 22nd all-time. After working outside of football, Simmons made his way back to the sport as a coach both in the NFL and on the college level where he currently coaches defensive linemen at Tennessee State under head coach Eddie Georgie. Simmons also talks about concussions and what playing in the 1980s and 1990s NFL was like. He shares what he learned from coaches like Miller, Ryan and Tom Coughlin who coached him in Jacksonville. Plus, he tells us why it was important to return to WCU to graduate in 1996 and what makes his 2008 induction into the Great Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame so special. We also hear about his "welcome to the NFL' moment, which team he considered his biggest NFL rival and which quarterback he enjoyed sacking the most.
B.J. Surhoff on Brewers, Orioles and Braves career, plus raising a child with Autism
B.J. Surhoff grew up in Rye, NY. His dad, Dick, played 2 years in the NBA but his time playing professional fastpitch softball had the most impact on young B.J. who played multiple sports growing up. A standout in baseball, Surhoff was drafted by the Yankees out of high school but decided to play at North Carolina instead. Playing for the Tar Heels from 1983-85, Surhoff was a back-to-back 1st Team All-American, the National Player of the Year, the ACC Male Athlete of the Year and had his jersey retired. During that time, Surhoff also played for the US Olympic team competing in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Surhoff with the first overall pick in 1985 (ahead of notable MLB players Barry Larkin and Barry Bonds). Surhoff debuted with the Brewers in 1987 with his dad in attendance (it would be the only game Dick would see before passing away the next month). Surhoff played in Milwaukee for 9 years before signing a free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles. After 10 years, Surhoff finally made the playoffs in 1996 with Baltimore and became an All Star in 1999. He was traded to the Braves in 2000 and signed back with the Orioles in 2003. Surhoff retired after 19 years in the big leagues and was named an Orioles Hall of Famer in 2007. During his career, he and his wife had four children including his son Mason who was diagnosed with autism. While going through the challenges of raising a child with special needs, Surhoff created "Pathfinders for Autism" to help families in the Baltimore area. Surhoff shares his story with us including his time in the minor leagues, his discussions with Brewers Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker and the veteran players who helped him in MIlwaukee. Plus, he tells us which honor means the most to him and whether or not coaching might be in his future.
Tyrone Wheatley on the Wolverines, Playing for Jon Gruden and Al Davis, and Inkster, Michigan
Tyrone Wheatley grew up in Inkster, Michigan in the 1970s playing outside in “Olympic Games” with family members. Looking for direction and discipline, Wheatley found football and coaches who helped change his life. He was the 1990 Michigan Football Player of the Year and also named 1991 Michigan High School Track Athlete of the Year (after a disappointing loss the year before). Wheatley grew up a huge Michigan State fan and targeted the Spartans for his football career. Even though he wasn’t a fan of Michigan, Wheatley says the Wolverines were ultimately the better fit for him. He had an outstanding career in Ann Arbor where he was named All-Big Ten three times in football and once in track (hurdles). He was the Rose Bowl MVP his sophomore season, but credits his teammates for helping set up his touchdown runs. The New York Giants drafted Wheatley 17th overall in 1995 and he spent, what he calls, 4 “tumultuous” years in NY. He would eventually sign with the Oakland Raiders in 1999 and recounts the meeting he had with coach Jon Gruden and owner Al Davis. Playing for the Raiders from 1999-2004, Wheatley helped lead them to the AFC Championship game in 2000 and Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002 where they lost to former coach Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After 10 years, Wheatley retired from the NFL and began his coaching career with a number of assistant coaching stops in both college and the NFL. In February, Wheatley started a new chapter as head coach of Wayne State back in his home state of Michigan. Wheatley shares his journey with us including the advice he received along the way to help him on his journey and help him with the players he now leads.
Robert Smith on Playing for "THE" Ohio State Buckeyes, NFL Career with Minnesota Vikings, and his Top 10 Running Backs of All Time
Robert Smith grew up just outside of Cleveland in Euclid, OH. He excelled in track and carried that speed over to football rushing for more than 5000 yards in his high school career. After he narrowed his college destination to four schools, Smith chose Ohio State. He played football for the Buckeyes as a freshman, ran track at OSU as a sophomore and returned to football his junior season. Despite playing just two years of football, Smith was drafted in 1993 by the Minnesota with the 21st pick of the first round by head coach Dennis Green. Smith spent 8 years with the Vikings with a breakout season in 1997 and his best year in 2000 when he led the NFC in rushing with 1521 yards. Even though he made the Pro Bowl that season, Smith retired thinking he would pursue a career in medicine. Instead of being a doctor, Smith became an author and broadcaster (he's been with Fox Sports since 2016). Smith shares his journey including his love for physics and astronomy, once teaching a physics class in high school. He also tells us about the quarterbacks and coaches who were part of his Vikings teams, where he stands in the history of the Vikings organization and why it was easy to walk away from the NFL. We also hear about his battle with alcoholism which he went public with in 2013. Plus, he tells us about his new venture based on health and well-being called Fan Huddle (https://www.fanhuddle.live/) and he breaks down his list of the Top 10 running backs of all-time.
Sidney Moncrief on Hall of Fame NBA career, playing for Eddie Sutton and NBA Rivals
Sidney Moncrief grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, playing pick-up football with family and friends. Eventually basketball would become his sport. Recruited by several southeastern schools, Moncrief decided to stay in the state and play for Arkansas and coach Eddie Sutton from 1975-79. Playing alongside fellow Arkansas natives Marvin Delph and Ron Brewer (they were known as "The Triplets"), Moncrief helped lead the Razorbacks to the 1978 Final Four. He ended his career as the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder and was named the 1979 Southwest Conference Player of the Year. The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Moncrief 5th overall in 1979. He played 10 years (1979-89) with the Bucks, becoming a five-time All-Star and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1983 and 1984). He helped lead the Bucks to the 3rd-best winning percentage in the NBA during the 1980s behind just the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Moncrief was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019, one of several halls of fame he would enter after his career. Moncrief shares tales from his journey including the teammates that made him better, the toughest players to defend, the biggest rivals during the 1980s and the altercation with Celtics guard Danny Ainge in 1987. Plus, he shares his thoughts on the defensive-minded Eddie Sutton, what he considers his biggest accomplishment and the work he's doing currently with Moncrief One Team.
Larry Farmer on playing at UCLA for John Wooden and coaching UCLA
Larry Farmer grew up in Denver but didn't play basketball until his teenage years. Self-described as "coachable", Farmer learned the game and started to excel at it. First-Team All-State his senior season in high school, he was recruited by many schools before a meeting with UCLA's John Wooden started his path to UCLA. In his three years playing for Wooden (NCAA rules prohibited freshmen from playing varsity sports at that time), Farmer helped lead the Bruins to 3-straight National Championships and finished his career 89-1. Despite being drafted by both NBA and ABA teams, Farmer decided to work for Wooden as a graduate assistant coach and would return to UCLA after a brief stint playing professionally in Germany to become a full-time assistant coach at his alma mater. In 1981, he was elevated to head coach and became the first black head coach of any sport at UCLA at just 30 years old. After 3 years at the helm, Farmer resigned from that position and followed it with head coaching stops at Weber State and Loyola Chicago in addition to several assistant coaching positions through the years. Now retired but coaching girls basketball in Chicago, Farmer recently wrote his memoir, "Role of a Lifetime: Larry Farmer and the UCLA Bruins". Farmer shares stories from the book including the first time he met Wooden and the last time he spoke with his former coach. He also tells us about UCLA teammate Bill Walton and what makes him better than former UCLA great Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Farmer shares his favorite Wooden-isms, lessons the coach taught him and how Wooden ran his practices. Plus, he gives his thoughts on Sister Jean, the Loyola Chicago team chaplain who started her time with the team while Farmer was head coach.
Carlester Crumpler Sr. talks about School Integration, his ECU Football Career and who's the best Crumpler Athlete
Carlester Crumpler Sr. grew up in eastern North Carolina where, as a student and an athlete, he helped integrate the schools he attended. The only black player on his high school team in Wilson, NC, Crumpler was an outstanding running back who rushed for more than 4000 yards. His play earned him a scholarship to nearby East Carolina University - a scholarship signing that was attended by ECU coaches, board of trustees and the chancellor. Playing in Greenville from 1971-73 (NCAA rules prohibited freshmen to play sports), he garnered nearly 3000 yards and was twice the Southern Conference Athlete of the Year (1972 and 1973). He was later inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and in 2022 was named to the SoCon 100th Anniversary Football Team. The Buffalo Bills drafted Crumpler in 1974, but injuries shortened his pro career. After several ventures following retirement, Crumpler returned to his alma mater working in athletics while also spending 19 years as analyst on the Pirate Radio Network broadcasts. Carlester shares his story with us including the pressures on him as a black man in a white school and the joy he received from fans who referred to him as "Crump". He also tells us about the advice he received from Bills running back O.J. Simpson, what it was like to work with the late "Voice of the Pirates" Jeff Charles and why he's the best athlete in the family which includes former NFL tight ends Carlester Jr. and Alge Crumpler.
Dan "The Beast" Severn on Surviving the UFC and time in the NWA/WWF
Dan "The Beast" Severn grew up on the family farm in Michigan and didn't start wrestling until he was a teenager. He soon came to love the sport competing in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. His talent led him to Arizona State where he was a two-time All American and competed internationally. Severn just missed out on making the US Olympic team times in the 1980s but would eventually put his wrestling skills to use in the octagon fighting in the early days of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In a time with few rules, Severn excelled in UFC winning 101 bouts and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2005. At the same time, Severn was entertaining crowds in professional wrestling spending time with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) and National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Currently coaching and training today's fighters, Severn looks back at his multiple careers and shares advice he's learned along the way. He also recounts how he dealt with the scripted pro wrestling bouts and how he was able to survive a difficult business. Plus, he tells us which NFL Hall of Fame running back is responsible for his nickname "The Beast".
Dave Bing on NBA Hall of Fame career and being Detroit's Mayor
Dave Bing grew up in Washington, DC and became an All-American basketball player in high school. He received plenty of college scholarship offers, but football standouts Ernie Davis and John Mackey convinced him to go to Syracuse. Bing would help turn the Syracuse basketball program into a winner as the team's leading scorer playing alongside Jim Boeheim. In three years, Bing scored nearly 2000 points and was a consensus All-American which led to the Detroit Pistons to draft him second overall in 1966. He was the Rookie of the Year and would play 9 of his 12 seasons in Detroit. He was also a seven-time NBA All-Star and amassed 18,327 points and 5397 assists before retiring. Bing was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990 and was be named to the NBA's 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams. After his playing days, he opened Bing Steel and turned it into a multi-million-dollar company partnering with General Motors. In 2009, he was elected Mayor of Detroit and served in that role until the end of 2013. In 2014, he founded the Bing Youth Institute which helps create hundreds of one-on-one relationships with mentors and mentees. In this episode, Bing recounts stories of his basketball career and how it helped him in his business life. He tells us why he was such a prolific scorer and what he's most proud of in his multiple careers. Bing also shares his love for the city of Detroit and his thoughts on the retirement of former teammate Jim Boeheim as Syracuse head coach after 47 years.
"The Mayor" Sean Casey on his MLB career, working for MLB Network, and his advocacy for Mental Health
"The Mayor" Sean Casey was born in New Jersey and grew up just outside Pittsburgh playing football, basketball and baseball. Following a football injury, Casey turned his attention to baseball. Despite becoming a high-level hitter, college offers never came. On his dad’s advice, Casey wrote letters to schools to play college baseball and it was the 31st letter that caught the eye of the University of Richmond coaching staff and led Casey on a path that would take him to Major League Baseball. During his 3 years playing for the Spiders, Casey worked on his craft and lead the nation in average his junior season while also winning the first-ever triple crown in the Colonial Athletic Association (.461 average, 14 homeruns and 70 RBIs). Cleveland drafted him in the second round in 1995 and called him up for his MLB debut in 1997. The following year, Casey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds which is where he would spend 8 years and make 3 All-Star appearances. A stint for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates would lead to time with the Detroit Tigers and an appearance in the 2006 World Series where he hit two homeruns and batted .432. After one season with the Red Sox, Casey retired and started working at the newly-founded MLB Network. Known as “The Mayor” during his time in Cincinnati for being friendly with runners at first base, Casey also co-hosts a podcast (The Mayor’s Office with co-host Rich Ciancimino). In this episode, he shares the advice his dad gave him, a behind-the-scenes account of his MLB debut and the time a candy bar helped him pick off a baserunner. He also tells us about his first All-Star appearance and what it was like to finally play in the World Series after 9 MLB seasons. Plus he tells us about the great fortune he’s had around the game of baseball, his take on the new MLB rules this season and insight into his new venture concentrating on the mental part of sports and life.
Anthony Muñoz on playing for USC and Hall of Fame career with the Bengals
Anthony Muñoz grew up in Ontario, California around a loving family led by his mom. While never knowing his dad, Muñoz learned about work ethic from his mom and sports from his older brothers. Baseball was his first passion until high school when a coach saw the potential in him on the football field. That potential turned into talent as an offensive lineman and attracted college coaches from across the country. Growing up about 40 minutes from the University of Southern California, Muñoz knew USC was the only place he wanted to attend. Muñoz was a member of the Trojan football team playing for John Robinson while also pitching for the baseball team that won the 1978 National Championship under legendary head coach Rod Dedeaux. Injuries were part of Anthony’s four year on the football field, although a great performance in the Rose Bowl his senior season helped him move onto the NFL after the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him 3rd overall in 1980. Playing 13 season with the Bengals, Muñoz helped lead Cincinnati to two Super Bowls while being named a 9-time All-Pro First Team selection (twice 2nd Team), the 1991 NFL Man of the Year and a member of the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversary teams. He received the ultimate honor in 1998 when he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was the first exclusive Bengal to do so. Muñoz shares his journey with us including his coaches and teammates who helped him, his tackle-eligible plays that led to several touchdowns and his famous finger marred from a long NFL career. Plus, he shares the Hall of Fame brotherhood he’s helped create, the new role he has with the Hall as Chief Football Relationship Officer and the great work he’s done for more than 20 years in the Cincinnati community through the Anthony Muñoz Foundation (https://www.munozfoundation.org/)
Kenny Gattison on playing with and against Michael Jordan as a kid, why he chose ODU, and his NBA career with the Hornets
Kenny Gattison was born and raised in Wilmington, NC during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Sports became his outlet and he excelled in football at New Hanover High School dreaming of being an NFL tight end. When he started growing, basketball soon became his sport and one that he dominated on the streets of Wilmington playing with, and against childhood friend Michael Jordan (known then as Mike Jordan). After attending the Five-Star Camps in Pennsylvania, college coaches started recruiting Gattison. Old Dominion in Norfolk, VA would be the perfect fit for him to remain close to home. Playing for the Monarchs from 1982-86, Gattison was an outstanding scorer and rebounder and was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year his senior season. The Phoenix Suns drafted Gattison in 1986. He injured his knee his second season, but would rehab and sign with the Charlotte Hornets where he would once again play close to home. A member of the Hornets teams from 1989-95, Gattison helped lead the expansion franchise to two playoff appearances and would play with some of the biggest names in franchise history including Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Alonzo Mourning and others. Following his retirement, Gattison was called into coaching starting with a stint as assistant coach to John Calipari with the New Jersey Nets. After coaching for 13 years, Gattison began a third act as Vice President of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. In this episode, Gattison shares his journey including pick-up games with some of the game’s greats when they were just kids, recruitment by Dean Smith and the lessons he’s carried throughout his life. He also reflects on many honors he’s received including induction into multiple halls of fame and having the New Hanover High School basketball court named in his honor.
Greg Ellis on playing at UNC, NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and his Mental Health mission
Before his illustrious NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and helping to conquer Mental Health issues, Greg Ellis was a standout basketball and football player in eastern North Carolina. At East Wake High School, he was named 1993 Male High School Athlete of the Year by the Raleigh News and Observer. Though he was recruited to play basketball by some smaller schools, he chose to play football at North Carolina (while also playing for a time on the UNC JV basketball team). Playing for Mack Brown from 1994-97, Ellis got stronger and better each year. By the end of his career, he was a three-time All-American, the Tar Heels’ all-time sacks leader and had his #87 jersey honored at Keenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. The Dallas Cowboys drafted him 8th overall in the 1998 NFL draft and he played 11 seasons with the star on his helmet. From 1998-2008, Ellis played with plenty of future Pro Football Hall of Famers, including offensive lineman Larry Allen who Ellis went against in practice. He shares lessons learned from Allen, along with his welcome to the NFL moment. Ellis also tells us about coming back from his Achilles injury in 2006 and what it took to have his best season of his career in 2007 when he was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year and a member of the NFC Pro Bowl team. Ellis also tells us about side projects he started when he was still playing, how he entered into college coaching and a new movie project he’s producing that is focused on mental health. We also hear about a special moment he shared with Troy Aikman after scoring two touchdowns in 1999 and the coaching influences of Mack Brown, Bill Parcells and Mike Zimmer.
Don Beebe on his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills, Winning a Super Bowl with Green Bay, and the Leon Lett FUMBLE
Beebe grew up in Kaneville, IL playing baseball, basketball and football. In fact, he didn't like football until his senior year in high school after a coach convinced him football would be his sport. After graduating high school in 1983, Beebe spent the next six years in and out of several colleges before getting his break at Chadron State in Nebraska. Invited to the 1989 NFL Scouting combine in Indianapolis, Beebe (along with Deion Sanders) set a record running the 40-yard dash in 4.25 (it was a record that stood for 17 years). His speed helped him get drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1989 where he would play for Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy and alongside Hall of Fame players like Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, James Lofton and Andre Reed. Beebe was a member of four Super Bowl teams with the Bills and shares memories of those setbacks including Scott Norwood's potential game-winning field goal that missed wide right in Super Bowl XXV and his incredible play in Super Bowl XXVII that stopped Leon Lett from scoring a touchdown. Beebe was a member of the inaugural Carolina Panthers before moving on to Green Bay where he helped the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI playing with Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. After a 9 year career that started with a touchdown on his first reception, Beebe would retire and eventually make his way into coaching on the high school and college levels where he's the current head coach at Aurora University in Illinois. Beebe tells us about his coaching mentors Levy and Mike Holmgren, his big family in Illinois and the book he wrote in 2012, "Six Rings from Nowhere", that may one day become a movie or series. He also shares stories of his faith and his son, Chad, who followed his dad into the NFL.
Oliver Luck on NFL career, Running the XFL and his Relationship with the Mannings
Oliver Luck grew up in Cleveland playing basketball, baseball and football. After a standout career as quarterback at St. Ignatius High School, Luck attended West Virginia playing for Hall of Fame coaches Frank Cignetti Sr. and Don Nehlen. A three-year starter for the Mountaineers, Luck set several school records before the Houston Oilers drafted him 44th overall in 1982. Luck played alongside Archie Manning, Earl Campbell and Warren Moon on the Houston Astrodome’s artificial surface. After retiring and earning his law degree, Luck entered the world of professional and college sports as an executive. He spent 10 years overseas as part of the World League of American Football (later NFL Europe) before returning to Houston in various roles. In 2010, he would return to his alma mater as Athletic Director while also becoming a member of the first-ever College Football Playoff committee in 2013. After four years working for the NCAA, Luck helped restart the XFL’s second version of the league which saw success until the pandemic in 2020. Now chairman of Altius Sports Partners, Luck is taking on a new challenge helping the ASUN and WAC create a football conference. Luck tells us who the best athlete is in the family (which includes Oliver’s son, Andrew, former Colts quarterback) while also sharing memories of taking care of young Manning boys during his time in Houston.
Mike Quick on Eagles playing and broadcast career, plus "Philly Special"
Mike Quick grew up in the small town on Hamlet, NC as the youngest of 9 kids raised by his mom, Mary. Quick played multiple sports at Richmond Senor HS before attending Fork Union Academy in Virginia. He would go on to play football at NC State from 1978-81 before the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him 20th overall in 1982. During his 9 years with the Eagles, Quick became the favorite target of quarterback Ron Jaworski and is credited with setting an NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown reception in 1985. Quick later became the favorite target of a young Randall Cunningham before injuries forced him to retire in 1990. In 1998, Quick was hand-selected by Eagles play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese as his new analyst. Now in his 25th season in that role, Quick looks back at some great moments including the Super Bowl LII victory over the Patriots that included the famous play referred to as the "Philly Special". Quick also shares his thoughts on Veterans Stadium (the Vet) in Philadelphia, the Philly fans, the NFC East rivalries and the players he went up against. He also tells us about a beer named after him and Reese, his guest appearance on "The Goldbergs" and gives us his thoughts on this year's Eagles.
Tom House on MLB career and working with Nolan Ryan, Drew Brees
Tom House was born in Seattle, spent time in Portland, OR and went to high school in California. From there, the lefty would play for USC and legendary head coach Rod Dedeaux. The Cubs drafted House in 1965, but following his mom’s wishes he remained in school and did not sign. House was drafted again in 1967 and this time signed with the Atlanta Braves where he would debut in 1971 and be a key reliever for the Braves 1974-1975. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox before the 1976 season and would be traded again in 1977 to the expansion Seattle Mariners bringing him back to the city where he was born. After retiring, House went back to school to finish his degree and earned a PHD in sports psychology. In 1985, House became pitching coach with the Texas Rangers using what were thought of at the time as unconventional training, but what would eventually lead to him being considered the “Father of Modern Pitching Mechanics”. Among his pitching pupils were Hall of Fame pitchers Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddox and Randy Johnson. His work with NFL quarterback Drew Brees would also lead to House working with other high-profile quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Dak Prescott. In this episode, House shares his journey and memories of a life that has had a number of “Forrest Gump” moments such as catching Hank Aaron’s record-setting homerun ball in 1974, being running buddies with George W. Bush (owner of the Texas Rangers at the time) and being a consultant on the reality show that would become a Disney movie, “The Million Dollar Arm”. He also tells us about authoring 7 books and establishing a methodology that has spawned a website and a new app. House also shares his battle with Parkinson’s disease and hints at collaboration with former MLB standout Kirk Gibson to help combat the disease.
Mike Eruzione on win vs Soviets and Al Michaels' "Miracle" call
Eruzione grew up in Winthrop, MA surrounded by his Italian American family playing baseball, football and hockey. After excelling in high school and prep school, Eruzione wanted to play all three sports at the University of New Hampshire and enrolled at Merrimack College before fate intervened and sent him to Boston University. Playing most of his career for Jack Parker, Eruzione would become the 3rd-leading scorer in BU history and play for Team USA at the 1975 and 1976 World Championships. Following a two-year stint in the IHL with the Toledo Goaldiggers, Mike was named to the 1980 US Olympic team. Playing in Lake Placid, NY, the US stunned the world with a win over the Soviet Union in the medal round on Eruzione's third period goal. Two days later, the US would secure the gold medal with a come-from-behind win over Finland. Eruzione shares behind-the-scenes stories of US coach Herb Brooks, the bond he has with his Olympic teammates, and the other US athletes he admired in Lake Placid. Plus, he tells us about the moment he shared with his teammates on the Olympic podium, his friendship with Al Michaels after his call of the "Miracle On Ice", what life was like after the Olympics and why it took him 40 years to write a best-selling book about his life, "The Making of A Miracle". He also tells us the role he played in the World Series win for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and where his Olympic moment stands among the greatest moments in American sports history. (Hear former Red Sox Outfield Trot Nixon reference Mike Eruzione in Ep. 41: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwQN4BvSIDg&t=1119s)
Walter Jones on NFL career in Seattle and Hall of Fame induction
Walter Jones grew up in Aliceville, AL raised by his mom and seven siblings. He was introduced to football as a child and started to excel in high school. Grades forced Jones to spend two years at Holmes Community College in Mississippi before he transferred to Florida State. Playing for the legendary Bobby Bowden, Jones would be an All-ACC performer despite not being a regular starter. Forgoing his senior season, Big Walt was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks 6th overall in 1997 and would play his entire career in the Pacific Northwest. Playing and starting 180 games from 1997-2009, Jones was a 9-time Pro Bowl selection and 7-time All-Pro. After retirement, Jones would receive many honors including induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame his first year eligible. He shares memories of his journey including the 2005 season in Seattle which culminated in an appearance in Super Bowl XL. He also tells us about his late friend Cortez Kennedy and how he keeps his memory alive with his Check 96 Initiative. Plus, we hear about raising the 12th Man Flag before Seattle Seahawk home games, why Seattle has become home and how he became friends with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.
Cedric Maxwell on 1977 NCAA Final Four and Celtics NBA Titles
Cedric Maxwell was born in Kinston, NC and spent his early years there before moving to Hawaii for a time. He eventually returned to Kinston where he would become a standout basketball player in high school. Staying in NC, Maxwell attended the University North Carolina at Charlotte and in 1976 led the 49ers to the NIT finals where he was named MVP despite losing in the championship. In 1977, Maxwell and the 49ers would advance to the Final Four losing to eventual champion Marquette in Atlanta. The Boston Celtics made Maxwell the 12th pick in 1977. He and the Celtics would endure some down seasons which changed when the Celtics drafted Larry Bird. The Celtics would win the 1981 NBA title with Maxwell named Finals MVP and together would win a second title in 1984 with Maxwell leading the team in Game 7. In 1985, Maxwell was traded to the LA Clippers and would close out his career with the Houston Rockets where he played alongside a young Hakeem Olajuwan. Now the analyst on Celtics radio broadcasts and host of the "Cedric Maxwell Podcast", Maxwell shares memories of his career with us. We hear who he says was his most talented teammate, we get his thoughts on many career honors, plus we hear his thoughts on the great Bill Russell. We also learn the origins of his nickname "Cornbread", and he turns the tables and asks me a few questions.
Jesse Cole on creating the Savannah Bananas and Banana Ball
Jesse Cole grew up in Massachusetts and fell in love with baseball thanks to his dad. Recruited by Boston College and Northeastern to play baseball, Cole went south to Wofford College in South Carolina where he had an opportunity to be a two-way player. An injury his senior season, would deny Cole a chance at pro ball, but it would change his path forever. A short stint as a coach in the Cape Cod League led Cole to work behind the scenes in baseball when he became the General Manager of the Gastonia Grizzlies of the Coastal Plain League. From Gastonia, Cole and his wife, Emily, would buy a CPL franchise in Savannah, Georgia. Going against the fan vote, Cole named the franchise the Bananas and would work to improve the fan experience with the creation of Banana Ball. In the spring of 2022, Banana Ball hit the road and has become a sensation leading to an ESPN series and a cross-country tour in 2023. Cole shares the rules of Banana Bal, hiring ex-MLB standout Eric Byrnes to coach the team and the other former big leaguers who have played for the Bananas. Plus, we hear about the origins of the yellow tux.
Ed Marinaro on NFL career and starring on "Hill Street Blues"
Marinaro was born in New York City before moving to New Jersey where he was a high school standout in both basketball and football. Basketball coaches "Lefty" Driesell and Bob Knight recruited Marinaro, but football is what took him to Cornell. A three-time All-American with the Big Red in the Ivy League, Marinaro rushed for almost 5000 career yards and finished second to Auburn's Pat Sullivan for the 1971 Heisman Trophy. A 1972 second round draft pick by Minnesota, Marinaro would play 4 years for the Vikings and was part of two Super Bowl teams playing alongside Fran Tarkenton and the "Purple People Eaters" defense. Marinaro had a great start to the 1976 season after signing a free agent contract with the New York Jets, but that great start was quickly halted by an injury that would lead to his retirement. Before retiring, his relationship with Jets quarterback Joe Namath would help jump start his second career as an actor. Marinaro's first role was in the 1978 mob movie "Fingers", leading to roles on "Laverne & Shirley" and a guest role on the cop drama "Hill Street Blues" in 1981. That guest role turned into 104 episodes and 5 seasons on the Emmy Award winning show. Marinaro was introduced to a new audience in 2010 with the series "Blue Mountain State", a show that would develop a cult following. Marinaro joined us to share stories from his incredible life including the purple Porsche he drove to Vikings training camp as a rookie, the blocking assignments he had on Hall of Fame defenders Duck Butkus and Ed "Too Tall" Jones, and his time spent with Joe Namath. Plus, we hear how he garnered the role of Joe Coffey, how much he enjoyed playing Coach Marty Daniels and his viral moment at the 2022 NFL Draft.
Eric Montross on playing for Dean Smith and Carolina/Duke rivalry
Growing up in Indiana, Montross quickly fell in love with basketball, the sport synonymous with the state. He led Lawrence North High School to the state championship in the tournament made famous by the movie "Hoosiers". A 1990 McDonald's All American, Montross was highly recruited by many Big 10 coaches including Bob Knight at Indiana, Gene Keady at Purdue and Bill Frieder at Michigan where Eric's dad and grandfather both played. Montross says it was a gut feeling that led him to North Carolina where he played for Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith. While in Chapel Hill, Montross helped lead the Tar Heels to the 1993 NCAA Championship and battled Duke and other great ACC teams of the time. In 1994, the Boston Celtics made Montross the 9th overall pick. After almost a decade-long NBA career, an injury would lead to retirement and a second act that includes fundraising for North Carolina's Rams Club and radio analyst on the Carolina basketball broadcasts. In this episode, Montross shares his lessons learned from Dean Smith, what it was like playing Michigan's "Fab Five", his first meeting with Red Auerbach and his welcome to NBA moment. He also shares his thoughts on former teammate Hubert Davis, this year's North Carolina basketball team and the honor he recently received. And yes, we also discuss the "Bloody Montross Game" against Duke in 1992.
Larry Csonka on perfect season in Miami and hanging out with Elvis
Csonka was raised on a farm outside Akron, OH. He joined the football team in the 7th grade, but soon quit because he didn’t like getting hit. A coach re-introduced Larry to the sport when he got in trouble and Larry eventually learned how to play the game. Csonka began playing on the defensive side of the ball at Stow High School in the early 1960s before a chance encounter set him on his path as a running back. After high school, he played at Syracuse University for WWII hero Ben Schwartzwalder. Playing alongside Floyd Little and Tom Coughlin, Csonka set a school rushing record while breaking records previously held by former Orangemen Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. In 1968, Csonka was drafted 8th overall by the Miami Dolphins and developed into a punishing running back when Don Shula took over as head coach in 1970. Despite a sometimes rocky relationship, Csonka and Shula would help the Dolphins lead the NFL in rushing and lead Miami to two consecutive Super Bowl victories including Super Bowl VII which ended in a perfect season in 1972. The following season, Csonka was MVP in Super Bowl VIII after leading Miami to a second title. Csonka would eventually leave the NFL for the World Football League where he played in Memphis. After the WFL folded, Csonka went back to the NFL spending time with the New York Giants before a return to the Dolphins where his career would end after the 1979 season. Following retirement, Csonka would host a number of hunting and fishing shows including “North to Alaska” with long-time partner Audrey Bradshaw. A 1987 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Csonka shares his journey with us including how he became good friends with Elvis Presley and what led to him writing his new book “Head On: A Memoir” (You can order the book at https://larrycsonka.com/head-on-larry-csonka/).
Dwight Freeney on playing for Dungy & Colts and golf with Jordan
Growing up in Connecticut, Freeney excelled in all sports he played including basketball and baseball. At 6-1, his size led him to football where he set records as a defensive end at Bloomfield High School. It was in high school where he developed his spin move which helped him collect 37 sacks in his career and got him noticed by college coaches. After a visit to Syracuse, it was obvious Freeney wanted to be an Orangeman. From 1998-2001, he became a force in Central New York and set a school record with 17.5 sacks his senior season. A two-time All-Big East selection and 1st Team All-American in 2001, Freeney was drafted in the first round by the Colts in 2002 and would spend 11 seasons with Indianapolis winning Super Bowl XLI playing for Tony Dungy and setting a franchise record with 107.5 sacks. After the Colts released him in 2013, he ended his career with stints in San Diego, Arizona, Atlanta, Seattle and Detroit. The 7-time Pro Bowler would retire as a Colt in 2018. Freeney shares stories of the memorable phone calls he’s received throughout his career, his induction into the Colts Ring of Honor and being nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year eligible. He also tells us the quarterbacks he liked to sack and the one that wasn’t so easy to get a hold of. Plus, we hear about his golf game and the friendships he’s made on the course including his childhood idol Lawrence Taylor and Michal Jordan. He also tells us what it’s like being a new dad to his daughter.
Trot Nixon on playing for Red Sox and winning a World Series
Nixon was born in Durham, NC, but moved to Wilmington, NC at a very early age. It was in the Port City that Nixon played multiple sports but concentrated on football and baseball when he attended New Hanover High School. In football, Nixon played for the late Joe Miller and broke several records held at the time by NFL greats Sonny Jurgensen and Roman Gabriel. In baseball, he helped lead the Wildcats to a state title and was named the North Carolina Player of the Year in both sports. After accepting an offer to play both sports at NC State, Nixon was drafted 7th overall in the MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox in 1993. He would eventually sign with Boston and start his professional career in 1994. For the next 4 years, Nixon made his way through the minors with two brief stints in the majors including his debut in 1996 at Yankee Stadium. He would begin his first full season with Boston in 1999 spending the next 8 seasons playing at Fenway Park. His time in Boston included the 2004 season when the Red Sox trailed the Yankees 3-0 in the ALCS before becoming the first MLB team to win a series after such a deficit. From there, they would sweep the St. Louis Cardinals for the team's first World Series title in 86 years. Nixon shares memories from that incredible comeback, the aftermath of ending the "Curse of the Bambino" and what it was like to play his final game in a Red Sox uniform. We also hear about Nixon's love for football, the meaningful conversation he had with Wade Boggs, the respect he has for the Yankees and the joking nature he had with Derek Jeter. We also hear his take on being a proud sports dad of two baseball-playing sons.
Kenny Anderson on Final Four at Georgia Tech and NBA career
Kenny Anderson grew up in LeFrak City in Queens, NY raised by his mom and motivated by his older sister. Basketball was his sport at an early age which took him to Archbishop Molloy High School where he played for legendary head coach Jack Curran. Following in the footsteps of friend and mentor Kenny Smith, Anderson would win many trophies and receive plenty of accolades. After scoring over 2600 points in his career, Anderson was the top recruit in the country with Georgia Tech and Syracuse emerging as his choice to go to college. On his mom’s orders, Georgia Tech and Coach Bobby Cremins were the choice. In his freshman year (1989-90), he teamed with Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver to make up “Lethal Weapon 3” which led the Yellow Jackets to the Final Four where they lost to eventual National Champion UNLV. Following his sophomore year at Tech, Anderson would forgo his last two years and became the 2nd overall pick by the New Jersey Nets in the 1991 draft. He became the youngest player in the NBA at the time and would be voted by the fans as an All Star starter during his third season in 1994. After 4 seasons with the Nets, Anderson would make a number of stops in the NBA including memorable stints with the Portland Trailblazers and the Boston Celtics. After retiring in 2006, Anderson eventually made his way into coaching and is the current head coach at Fisk University in Nashville, TN. Anderson shares plenty of memories with us and also tells us about his open and honest documentary, “Mr. Chibbs”, the nickname his mother gave him growing up. He also recounts time with Bill Russell, the shooting guards he played alongside, the coaches who influenced his coaching style and the degree he earned almost 20 years after leaving Georgia Tech.
Karch Kiraly on UCLA Championships and Olympic gold medals
Kiraly was born in Michigan and trained at an early age with his dad, a member of the Hungarian Junior National Team, who fled his native country during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. At age 11, Karch entered his first beach volleyball event with his dad and would eventually spend four decades playing beach volleyball. After his family moved to California, Kiraly excelled at indoor volleyball and helped lead his high school team to an undefeated season in 1978. During the recruiting process, Kiraly chose UCLA over USC and would have a memorable four years playing for legendary coach Al Scates who led the Bruins to 19 NCAA titles including three with Karch on the team. Kiraly joined the US National team in 1981 and would be part of two gold medal winning teams (1984 Los Angeles Olympics and 1988 Seoul Olympics). In 1996, Kiraly and partner Kent Steffes would win the first-ever beach volleyball gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics for his third gold medal. Broadcasting and coaching would follow his playing career and in 2016 he would lead the US Women's National Team to a bronze medal in the Rio Olympics. He would follow that with a gold in the 2020 Tokyo games. He is also signed up to lead the team in the next Olympics in 2024 in Paris. Kiraly shares stories from his stops with us and tells us why he remembers some of the losses more than the many wins. He also talks about the influence he has had on the college game both indoors and on the beach.
Bob Socci on being Voice of the Patriots and Super Bowl calls
Growing up in Auburn, NY, Socci became a big baseball fan and fell in love with Tom Seaver and the NY Mets. He soon started playing baseball while also announcing it as the Public Address announcer of his little league. After high school, Socci attended the University of Dayton to pursue his broadcasting career. An internship with the Cincinnati Reds gave Bob the outlet to do mock broadcasts of Reds games. His broadcasting career would include plenty of stops in minor league baseball where he reached the AAA level several times including stops with the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Norfolk Tides and Pawtucket Red Sox. Bob also enjoyed a 15-year run as the Voice of Navy football and basketball. Then in 2013, Socci was hired to replace long-time New England Patriots radio announcer Gil Santos. During his stint with the Pats, Socci has already called three Super Bowl wins (XLIX in 2014, LI in 2016 and LIII in 2018). Bob shares his journey with us including what it was like to call the Army/Navy games, the long road to becoming the Voice of the Patriots and his final calls in the Super Bowl victories. Plus, we get his thoughts on winning the 2021 Massachusetts Sportscaster of the Year from the National Sports Media Association.
Bill Curry on playing for Lombardi and learning race from teammates
Growing up in Georgia, Curry did not like football. In fact, it was a sport he never wanted to play. But it was the sport he knew could attract the attention of girls in high school (and one in particular Carolyn Newton who he would eventually marry). Even though his dad was a big Georgia fan, Curry would play at Georgia Tech for Hall of Fame coach Bobby Dodd. With the Yellow Jackets, Curry would captain the team in 1964 and become a George Tech Hall of Famer. Later that year, he would be drafted by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers in the final round, as well as the AFL’s Oakland Raiders. When Vince Lombardi told Curry he wanted him to play for the Packers, that’s what Curry did becoming the center for quarterback Bart Starr. As a rookie, he and the Packers won the NFL Championship. He was also the starting center in the Super Bowl I victory in 1966. From 1967-72, Curry would play for another legendary coach when Don Shula traded for him to play for the Baltimore Colts where he snapped to Johnny Unitas and won Super Bowl V (after losing Super Bowl III to the NY Jets and Joe Namath). After stints with the Houston Oilers and LA Rams, Curry retired and started coaching as an assistant at his alma mater before coaching for former teammate Bart Starr back in Green Bay. He would eventually become a head coach first at Georgia Tech (1980-86), then Alabama (1987-89) and finally Kentucky (1990-96). In 1997, Curry joined ESPN where he would become a football analyst for more than 10 years. In 2008, Curry was called back into coaching when he helped start the football program at Georgia State in Atlanta and would serve as their coach through 2012. Curry shares many of his memories with us including the topic of race and how his teammates helped educate him. He also tells us about his wife of almost 60 years and her influence on his life and career. He recounts his first game as head coach and how Paul “Bear” Bryant out-coached him before the game ever started. Plus, he explains why winning the 2007 Amos Alonzo Stagg Award is so meaningful to him.
Jay BIlas on playing for Coach K and Young Jeezy tweets
Born in California, Blias was all about water sports and basketball growing up. As he got taller, basketball took center stage and college coaches took notice. Among those coaches was Duke's Mike Krzyzewski who just finished his second season in Durham. Bilas was part of a talented recruiting class that would help elevate Duke basketball and lead them to the 1986 National Championship game (Duke lost to Louisville 72-69). After that stinging setback, Bilas would be drafted by the Dallas Mavericks before spending the next three years playing overseas. Asked to join Coach K's staff, Bilas returned to Duke and from 1990-92 was a grad assistant while also attending Law School. During his time on the sidelines, The Blue Devils won two National Titles (1991 and 1992). In 1993, Bilas started his broadcasting career alongside longtime Voice of the Blue Devils Bob Harris. That experience led to him joining ESPN in 1995 while also calling NCAA tournament games at CBS working alongside veteran broadcaster Dick Enberg. Bilas shares his memories with us, including the best player he coached, the broadcast partners he's enjoyed working with the most and how his 2014 book "Toughness" came to be. He also gives his thoughts on the state of college athletics, the NBA Draft drinking game based on one word he says often, his acting career and his daily tweets featuring lyrics from rapper Young Jeezy.
Connor Barth on game-winner vs. Miami and records in Tampa Bay
Barth was born in Virginia and spent time in Tennessee before growing up in Wilmington, NC when his dad became a professor at UNCW. It was in this coastal community that Barth played baseball and soccer with younger brother Casey. Soccer would eventually give way to football when Barth found out he had the talent to be a kicker and punter. Playing at Hoggard High School for legendary coach Scott Braswell, Barth became the top kicker in the country and had a number of college scholarship offers. In the end, he decided to stay close to home and play for the University North Carolina and head coach John Bunting (our guest in Episode 14: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qWT-xKV_ys&t=2588s). In 2004, Barth was Honorable Mention All-ACC his freshman season after making 14 of 18 field goals including a game-winner against #4 Miami and a 50-yard field goal against rival NC State. After struggling as a sophomore in 2005, Barth would get back on track in 2006 and make all 11 attempts his junior season. By the time his UNC career ended in 2007, Barth owned a number of school records including 54 career fields (a record broken by brother Casey a few years later). His 10-year NFL career started in 2008 and his life as an NFL kicker included plenty of ups and downs. Barth’s greatest success came during a 4-year stint (2009-2012) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he made a franchise record 92.9% of his kicks in 2011 and was 11th the NFL in scoring with 123 points in 2012. An injury during a charity basketball game in 2013 was a new challenge for Barth and one that he overcame to kick in the NFL for parts of 4 more seasons. Since his release in 2017, Barth has had his hands in a number of ventures back in Wilmington including real estate, photography, part owner of Blue Shark Vodka and half of “Barth Brothers Kicking Camp” which is offered free in July to anyone in the community. Barth shares his memories with us, what it takes to be a successful kicker, what type of footballs are the best to kick and what surface is the best to kick on. He also tells us about his plans for a return to the NFL this season.