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Tag:Five Questions
Posted on: February 3, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 1:43 am
 

DeMarcus Ware talks Cowboys, Garrett and fame

D. Ware pushes incoming rookie Cameron Heyward at the Gatorade Sports Institute.

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When nobody was looking at the end of the season, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware seemed to emerge from nowhere to finish 15 ½ sacks, the most in the NFL. It’s the fifth-straight season in which he’s recorded at least 11 sacks, and though you might not think of him in these terms, he’s one of the best defenders in the NFL.

This week, he’s been in Dallas to work with Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward in the Gatorade Sports Science Institute where, as Ware puts it, he’s helping teach Heyward “about nutrition, how to play at a peak performance and learn your body better and learn about yourself.”

We caught up with Ware today for a Super Bowl week edition of Five Questions (or more):

CBSSports: Tell me about the entire spectrum of the year for you. Wade (Phillips) getting fired and Jason Garrett taking over and the team being disappointed with the season but you having high individual performances. It was a crazy year, huh?

DeMarcus Ware: It was a rollercoaster year. First, you have the Super Bowl coming to your stadium, and you have the high hopes of playing in it. Then, your season starts off 1-7, and then all of a sudden, you have a coaching change where Jason Garrett comes in and sort of sparks us and gives us a little bit of motivation to play a lot better. Our season turned around a little bit, and you hoped it could have turned around a lot earlier.

But no matter what, it’s a job. You have to have your individual goals, and with me, it’s rushing the passer and making big plays. You have to do that regardless of how the season is going. I think I did that this season. There’s a lot of things I need to do better, but as a whole, I think I did my role.

CBS: I’ve been around a lot of teams that have the “dead coach walking” thing going, and I know what the clubhouse or locker room is like in that situation. Was that tough to experience, and when Jason was hired, it seemed like he sparked you a little bit. How much of a change …?

Ware: I think it wasn’t really a spark. But sometimes guys do well with change. The team did really well with change with a new coach and a new philosophy on how he does things. Also, putting the pads on (us at a mid-season practice) changed us too …

CBS:
Yeah, what was the reaction to that?

Ware: I didn’t like it.

CBS: I bet.

D. Ware works with incoming rookie Cameron Heyward. Ware: I don’t like to wear pads at practice during the season. For the older guys, either you know how to do it or you don’t, regardless of whether you have pads on or not. You should know how to practice. But that changed for us. It really helped out the younger guys. Sometimes they have to put the pads on and go through the fundamentals and be taught those things.

CBS:
There are a lot of pass-rushers around the NFL, like Clay Matthews and Jared Allen, who get a lot of pub. But you were the sack leader. From a national perspective, it doesn’t seem like you don’t get the same kind of attention they do.

Ware: I don’t.

CBS:
Why is that?

Ware: The thing is I’ve never thought about that. From when I had 20 sacks (in 2008), I didn’t get any pub. From getting 16 or 17 sacks a year, I didn’t get any pub. I think it’s the person that I am. Sometimes it’s the team you play on, but even when we were 13-3, I still didn’t get any pub.

CBS:
But you play for the Cowboys.

Ware: Yeah, but I don’t know. People have favorites, and maybe I’m not a favorite. To the fans, I am. To certain guys, I’m not.

Photos courtesy of Gatorade


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Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Five questions (or more) with Gale Sayers

Gale Sayers (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Gale Sayers is a Hall of Fame running back who isn’t afraid to tell Bears fans what he thinks about their team. Earlier this season, the legendary Bears RB dismissed Chicago’s success – a move that predictably drew some heat – and he’s said recently that he thought he was a better kick returner than Devin Hester.

But Sayers also wants to know what YOU think. Which is why he’s teaming up with the Pro Football Hall of Fame (along with Van Heusen and JC Penny) to highlight Fanschoice.com, where fans can pick who they think should make the HOF from this year’s list of finalists.

Said Sayers: “We have about 4 million people who have voted for who they want to see in the Hall of Fame. There are some people they put down that are pretty good players. You have Ray Guy, Jim Plunkett, Lester Hayes and Donnie Shell. There are some people that probably should be in the Hall of Fame but they’re not for some reason.”

Earlier today, we caught up with Sayers and asked his thoughts about his controversial Bears predictions, about Hester’s chances for the Hall of Fame and about his thoughts for Sunday’s Packers-Bears tilt.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Dec. 10: former Patriots WR Troy Brown

Dec. 3: Panthers QB Brian St. Pierre

Nov. 12: 49ers LB Takeo Spikes

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports.com:
Since we’re talking about the Hall of Fame and since you’re already in there, what do you think about a guy like punter Ray Guy? He was the most dominant punter of his time – and of all time – and I know there is only one kicker in the Hall, but what do you think? Should a player like Guy be in?

Gale Sayers:
I was playing in the league when Ray Guy was playing in the league. He was the best kicker I’ve ever seen. He could bullet that ball 70 yards. He was so unbelievable. I just don’t know why they’re not letting a punter into the Hall of Fame. It’s so crazy. One of these days he will get in there.

CBS: Just to dismiss punters doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, you see it every week how much they can affect the game. It’s just kind of crazy.

Sayers:
It really is. If you have a great punter, he’s almost (as valuable as a) great running back. Ray Guy was that great punter. What happens also is that a lot of those people and reporters who vote for Hall of Famers, some of the people who were around when Ray Guy was around are deceased. And some of the reporters don’t remember Ray Guy. He should have been in the Hall of Fame 15 years ago.

2. CBS: Considering you were one of the best kick returners of all time, tell me your thoughts about Devin Hester. Especially since he, like you did, plays for the Bears.

Sayers: They got him now, and he’s run back 14 kicks for touchdowns. That’s pretty good. That’s not bad at all (laughs). Will he be in the Hall of Fame? If he doesn’t get hurt in the next two or three years, and he’s still doing the same thing, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll get in the Hall of Fame. He’s been a super young man to run back punts and kick returns. He has a gift to do that. You hope he goes in the Hall of Fame, but the voters might think, “Well, he’s a kickoff returner, but he should be something else also.” Personally, I think he will get in, but you don’t know. Is (his returning only) enough to get him in the Hall of Fame?

3. CBS: Every week, there’s so much talk about how teams should play Hester. Should they kick to him? Avoid him? Punt it out of bounds? When you were playing, was there that much talk about what other teams should do about you?

Sayers: They punted to me, and after they saw what I could do with the football, they started punting away from me. But we always had two men back. When they kicked to me, I always thought I had a chance to run it back. What we did when they knew I could run back kicks, my coaches put in the offensive line to block for me. Usually, you don’t do that. You usually put in scrubs. But we had the offensive line up in front of me, and they gave me a good chance to get a block that would allow me to return the kick. With Devin Hester, they’re doing some of the things they were doing when I was playing.

4. CBS: You’ve taken some heat for some of the things you said about the Bears in the preseason and earlier this year. I wrote on this blog also about how I didn’t think the Bears were all that good and about how those early wins seemed like flukes to me. What do you think now, and do you like their chances to play for a Super Bowl?

Sayers:
I’m not against the Bears. What I saw out there earlier in the season, they didn’t look that good. I didn’t think they would be competing for the Super Bowl. With them playing the Packers, it’s going to be an outstanding game. I don’t think it will be a high-scoring game. Jay Cutler, he’s a fine quarterback, but I think at times he gets a little nicked up. And (Aaron) Rodgers for the Packers, he’s had a hell of a season. One hell of a season. I think if Cutler is not on and Rodgers is on, the Bears are in trouble. Hopefully, we can stay free of injury, and that’s one thing the Bears have done. You need to do that when you get into the playoffs. The Packers have some injuries, and that might be the difference.

5. CBS: Tell me about the Bears-Packers rivalry when you played in the mid to late-1960s.

Sayers: The Bears fans and the Packers fans really hated one another. But when we got on the football field, the Packers knew and we knew that they were going to give us their best shot and that we were going to give them our best shot. We talked to them on the field, but once the game was over, we shook hands and went home. When we got on that field, we hated one another. Ray Nitschke and Willie Wood – Hall of famers and great football players for them – and you have Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka for us, and we fought like dogs.

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Posted on: December 10, 2010 2:55 pm
 

5 questions (or more) with Troy Brown

T. Brown spent 15 years in New England and won three Super Bowl rings (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Since retiring from his 15-year NFL career, spent entirely with the Patriots where he won a Pro Bowl berth in 2001 to go with his three Super Bowl rings and his club record for most career receptions, Brown has delved into media work on the radio and on TV. He helps cover New England for WEEI and Comcast SportsNet, and he’s made national news a few times this season, including last month when he made scathing remarks about Ravens LB Terrell Suggs.

Brown has been working with Captain Morgan in the company’s pursuit of the One Million Poses challenge, which is trying to drum up $1 million for various charities. For more information, click here for the Facebook page.

We caught up with Brown this week, and we discussed Tom Brady’s MVP candidacy, the difference between Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan, and why the branches on Belichick’s coaching tree haven’t been so impressive in NFL head coaching jobs.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Dec. 3: Panthers QB Brian St. Pierre

Nov. 19:
Former coach/author Mike Gottfried

Nov. 12: 49ers LB Takeo Spikes

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 22: Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports.com:
As a former Patriots player, you must have loved what happened on Monday when your men beat up on the Jets 45-3.

Troy Brown: They seem to be the team in the NFL, and watching that beating makes Patriots fans feel good.  I was disappointed in the game. I was expecting to come there and see a good football game, though I expected the Patriots to win it. I didn’t think it would be that bad. I thought the Jets would show up a little more than they did after all the talking they did during the week. Obviously, no one on their team showed up. The coaches didn’t show up, the players didn’t show up, and it showed.

2. CBS:
It’s an interesting dichotomy I think between Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick. I was reading a column the other day that talked about how much Ryan wants to make it a rivalry. How much he talked and tried to get Belichick’s attention. And then after it was over, Belichick made it seem like it was a preseason win. What do you think about the approach these two coaches take when dealing with each other?

Brown:
One guy seems to be pretty confident in his abilities to lead his guys, and the other guy is trying to create some hype around his players. It backfired. The Patriots didn’t show any interest in talking about who’s the best team. When there was no response from the Patriots (after the Jets’ trash-talking), the Jets seemed to get frustrated. Maybe they didn’t have to worry about the Jets, because from watching them on film, they saw some weaknesses. They knew as long as they went out and played well, they could beat these guys.  I think the Patriots were inside of their heads.

3. CBS:
What’s it like playing for Belichick? Whenever anybody from the Patriots is interviewed on TV, they talk like him and don’t say anything. Belichick can come off condescending in public, but obviously, his players love playing for him and they feed off him.

Brown: That’s what you have to have in anything, in any business. Everybody has to be on the same page in order to be successful. You can’t have half the guys telling the media one thing and the other guys saying something else and the coach saying something completely different. That’s what you have in New York and Minnesota. It becomes chaotic. It’s about winning. Not talking trash.

If you’re a person that does his job and you come to work prepared to do your job, it’s easy to play for him. A lot of the people who have had problems with him didn’t come to work to do their job and didn’t want responsibility. Those are the guys who have problems with Belichick and with (Bill) Parcells. For me, it was easy. It seems that he plays mind games with you, but do your job. If you know you job and you work at your craft, it’s not hard.

CBS: But you look at Belichick’s coaching tree – guys like Josh McDaniels, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, and even Charlie Weis at Notre Dame – and these guys haven’t done much as head coaches in the NFL. Why is that?

Brown:
The biggest problem is that a lot of those guys, they change their persona to be like Bill’s all the way. You still have to be yourself. They changed who they were. You also have to realize that Bill Belichick is in charge of most everything here. Romeo Crennel didn’t even hire his own staff in Cleveland. It’s kind of tough to coach a team and be successful if you can’t hire your own staff.

4. CBS: There’s been so much talk this week about Tom Brady being the leading candidate for the MVP this season, especially with the way he played against the Jets (editor’s note: You can still check out the Top Ten With a Twist list for non-Brady MVP candidates). You think he’s the MVP at this point?

Brown:
If my vote counted, he should with everything he’s done. He’s the guy who’s gotten better and better this year, even after the Randy Moss trade. He seemed to get stronger after he got used to playing with his new crew. You have to give it to him for winning 26 games in a row at home.

CBS:
That is pretty amazing. It’s funny. After his knee surgery, he didn’t have a great year by his standards and I think people questioned whether he had lost his elite status. I guess he hasn’t.

Brown: He didn’t have a horrible season last year. If you compared that to his seasons before, he may have had a subpar season, but if you look at everybody else in the league and compared him to them, he didn’t have a bad season. When you come back from knee surgery like that, most guys aren’t the same until that following year, so it wasn’t a huge concern because they’re usually better the second year. But he may have had to get confident and more comfortable with the guys around him.

5. CBS:
I know you do some media work in the Boston-area during the season, working for WEEI and Comcast. How is it as a former player to now be a part of the media?

Brown: It’s difficult at times having to talk about your old team and not be biased toward them and be critical of guys you played with. It was a little tough at first. But for the most part, the players understand. They know you have to have thick skin and be able to take criticism. That’s pretty much it.

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Posted on: December 3, 2010 3:23 pm
 

Five questions (or more) with Brian St. Pierre

B. St. Pierre was a stay-at home dad one week and a starting NFL quarterback the next (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Last month, Brian St. Pierre was just minding his business at home, contemplating the end of his seven-year NFL career and taking care of his 20-month-old son. He was a stay-at home dad, and he was beginning to come to terms with that while thinking about the next step in his life.

He had played for the Steelers, Ravens and Cardinals, and in his career, he had only made five passing attempts. But he got a call from the Panthers, saying they needed a quarterback. A few days later, after Jimmy Clausen sustained a concussion vs. the Buccaneers, coach John Fox named St. Pierre the starting quarterback. Considering St. Pierre had been in town less than a week, this was, to say the least, a surprising move. 

This week, we talked to St. Pierre about his career, his job as a father and how surprised he was to get the call to start the game against the Ravens (he went 13 of 28 for 173 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in the Panthers loss) and actually played well enough to keep Carolina in the game (the Panthers cut the lead to 20-13 early in the fourth quarter before falling 37-13).

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Nov. 19:
Former coach/author Mike Gottfried

Nov. 12: 49ers LB Takeo Spikes

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 22: Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports.com: It must be a crazy time for you. A couple weeks ago, you were a stay-at home dad, and now you’re in the NFL. Just walk me through the last couple weeks.

Brian St. Pierre: I was at home with my wife and my son and living day to day and just loving being around him. I had played seven years in the league and I wasn’t in a rush to do anything. But I got a call from Carolina, and I was thinking about whether I wanted to do it or not. It all happened quickly.

CBS: I think the entire world was surprised when John Fox named you the starter, especially because you were so new to the team and because Tony Pike had been there all year. Were you surprised?

St. Pierre:
It surprised me in that Tony knew the offense. Me, I had been here two or three days. I practiced on Friday and they kind of told me to get up to speed as quick as possible for the next week, not knowing Jimmy was going to get a concussion. Once that happened, everything went quickly. I was putting in 14 hours a day. Then, I was told on Wednesday morning of that week that I was going to start.

CBS: And you were starting against Baltimore. I mean, really? Couldn’t they have started you against a team that doesn’t have one of the best defenses in the league?

St. Pierre: First of all, you’re starting after a couple days of being with the team, and by the way, you’re playing Baltimore. I didn’t really have time to process it. I was just trying to get my head above water. I wanted just to give us a chance to win. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I obviously have confidence in myself as a player, but this offense is completely new to me.

2. CBS: How hard is it to learn a completely new offense that quickly? If you had been on the team before and they had re-signed you, it would have been easier. But to learn a completely new playbook …?

St. Pierre: It’s really hard to equate it to anything in real life. It would be like apple meaning orange to you. Everybody runs similar type plays, but they’re called completely differently and they have different terminology. It was breaking old habits and learning new habits, all in a five- or six-day span.

CBS: How do you think the start went? I don’t think anybody could have expected much from you, but you kept the team in the game.

St. Pierre: There are always plays you wish you had back. But given the circumstances and the situation I was put in, I still felt like we could win the game because I always feel like that. I made a couple plays late in the game that hurt us with a couple interceptions, but in that situation, when we’re down 10 and at third and long, you’re just jamming the ball in there. Until the end, I felt like I gave us a chance to win against a really good team. I felt like I held my own. I definitely didn’t feel like I embarrassed myself. I gave us a chance to win, so I can get some satisfaction in that.

3. CBS:
When you were sitting at home, did you think your career might be over?

St. Pierre:
I had played seven years. The last time I was involved was last year in the playoffs with Arizona when we played New Orleans. That was my last NFL experience until now. I had a back injury with Arizona, and they weren’t sure I could hold up with my back. They didn’t commit to me one way or the other. If somebody called, I knew I’d love the chance to play again. But if not, I could move on and start the next chapter of my life. But I still stayed in shape, because until you’re done completely, you need to be a professional and stay in shape. When the call comes, it helps to be ready.

4. CBS:
When you weren’t playing football and you were staying at home with your son, you must have felt pretty lucky. There aren’t a whole lot of dads who stay at home with their kids and get to watch them grow every day.

St. Pierre:
It’s been so fun for me to be around him every day and to get to experience the little things – the little changes in him and how they grow. Mothers usually get more of that than the fathers do. I grew up and didn’t see my dad home that much. He’s an orthopedic surgeon and he was gone all the time. If I was upset, I would always go to my mom. I love my dad, but I didn’t see him as much. But with my son, I got to spend so much time with him that he would come to me as regularly as he went to his mother. It makes it all the more special. I wouldn’t trade any of that time I got to spend with him.

There were days when I put him down for a nap, and I’m just sitting there thinking how did my life go from what I did to what I’m doing now. All the good parts about it you love, but I’m used to being in the middle of action and playing NFL football. Now, I’m changing diapers and putting him down for a nap and not really having much to do. What a contrast. In all honesty, I loved being around him. It’s hard for me because I’m not around him at all now. I’ve seen him once in the past three weeks. You always want to be around him.

CBS:
But at the same time, when you’re sitting at home, your career is in flux and you’re pretty much unemployed.

St. Pierre:
I just kind of took it as fortunate I got to play seven years in the NFL, and financially, I’m secure for now. But at the same time, we have Bills to pay and we don’t have money coming in. I kind of had a plan in place for what I wanted to do after football, but I thought, ‘Let me get through this season. I can get working on some of the plans but I’ll work out in case somebody calls and they need a quarterback.’ It kind of worked out the way I thought it could.

Since I came in the league, I haven’t had anything given to me. I have had to work my butt off for anything I’ve gotten, which wasn’t much of anything. I was always on teams with really good quarterbacks. (Ben) Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, (Kurt) Warner in Arizona and the year I was in Baltimore, we had Steve McNair. Everywhere I was, there was also a first-round pick on the depth chart, so your chances to get in a game are not happening. I fought my butt off to stay in the league and I showed my worth. But this year, I thought, ‘Maybe this is the end.’

5. CBS:
But now that you’ve actually started a game in the NFL, would that provide a little bit of closure if you're done after this seasno?

St. Pierre: Once I got that start the other day, it makes you want to play more. Even though we didn’t win and it didn’t go as great as you would hope, it was fun. It felt like I had never stopped doing it from college. When you’re the guy out there, it’s just a great feeling. It’s why I play quarterback. Once I got that taste, you kind of want it more. If it ends, at least I got to start and prove to people I can play in this league. I know I put my best foot forward.

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Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:58 am
 

Five Questions (or More) with Mike Gottfried

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Bill Gottfried was a longtime college football coach (for a combined 12 seasons, he was the head coach at Murray State, Cincinnati, Kansas and Pitt with a combined record of 75-56-4), and since he hung up the whistle for good, he’s kept involved in the game. He was a TV analyst for many years at ESPN, but he’s also turned to helping boys who are growing up without fathers.

A decade ago, he started Team Focus, a program that helps provide those fatherless children with the skills of life and provides them with a long-term mentor. Three years ago, he wrote a book called Coaches Challenge: Faith, Football and Filling the Father Gap.

Now, he’s back with his second literary offering, Wisdom From Winners. In that work, he talks to coaches – including Houston’s Gary Kubiak, Indianapolis’ Jim Caldwell, former Atlanta coach June Jones and former Dolphins QB Bob Griese – about the nuggets of wisdom they’ve learned in their lives.

We caught up with Gottfried, who now lives in Mobile, this week to talk about Team Focus, his former NFL aspirations and his new book.

Previous Five Questions or More:

Nov. 12: 49ers LB Takeo Spikes

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 22: Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports: I know you wrote a book a few years ago about kids with no fathers, but tell me about this book idea and where it came from.

Mike Gottfried: I was riding on an airplane with Mark Harris, a singer-songwriter. He lives in Mobile. We were coming back and he said, “Of all the people you know, why don’t you write a book on legacies?” I said, “Well, maybe someday.” I went back and that’s about the time (former NFL coach) Sid (Gillman) died. Bill Walsh died a little bit later, and I got to thinking that with those boys I’m working with, they’re not ever going to meet a Sid Gillman or a Bill Walsh or Pete Rose or John Wooden or Nick Saban or Bobby Bowden. I thought if I could get these people to give a little nugget of influence they got somewhere along the line, I could combine it into a book. I started calling guys and sending out questionnaires.

CBS:
I know Sid died in 2003. How long did it take you to compile this?

Gottfried:
It’s been about seven years. I was real fired up right way, and then I got involved in some other things, and I put it on the backburner. Probably about a year ago, I really got everything accumulated. I took everything and started compiling it.

2. CBS: Most of these coaches are successful at the highest levels of their profession. Do you think they really stop to think about their legacy?

Gottfried: I think you do at different times. You don’t go around every day thinking about it. But when I sent the letter to them and the questionnaire and told them about the boys, they took it serious. They thought, “I do want to be a part of this. I do have something to say.” It became very important to be a part of it.

CBS: How did you get involved with Team Focus?

Gottfried: My father died when I was 11. I felt the loss of a father and I kept a lot of things inside me. I didn’t have a lot of people to ask, “How do I do this?” I grew up in a small town where the people really kind of helped raise us. They would encourage me and my brothers. I knew that played a big part in getting me where I’m supposed to be.

CBS: Were a lot of the coaches you talked to in this same scenario – maybe not a father dying but having to overcome long odds to get to where they are now?

Gottfried: Many of them. Bob Griese is one that comes to mind. His dad died when he was 10. Coaches, teachers and Little League helped him, because he was struggling. I think there a lot of guys that know the importance of coaching and the importance of being a mentor in somebody’s life. They were so interested in helping and getting out the nuggets that people taught them. That was a really encouraging.

3. CBS:
It’s interesting you say that. I always tend to think the mentoring coaches are more those guys in high school and in college. But I remember watching the TV show Hard Knocks last year, and Marvin Lewis spent time mentoring Chad Ochocinco in the world of banking and saving money. Here’s a guy who’s grown up and in his 30s, and still, Lewis is mentoring him about life. But I guess that’s why people get into coaching when they first start out.

Gottfried:
Without a doubt. So many guys I saw come to schools I was at – Murray State, Cincinnati, Kansas and Pittsburgh – I would see things in them that if you just would work with them, they really could be polished in those areas. Some of them were real shy and didn’t want to speak. We talked to them about speaking, and with some of these young boys, we put them on camera so they could see how they looked to other people. All those things you take for granted if you’ve grown up with a father. But growing up with a father who’s absent, they don’t learn it. It’s missing. If you can help them be complete, that’s coaching.

4. CBS:
When you were coaching college, did you ever have the desire to go to the NFL?

Gottfried: I had some chances to go in the NFL after I got fired in Pittsburgh. I got into TV, and I wanted to go back. One year, I had a chance with the Browns, one year with the 49ers. I talked to Bill Walsh, and he talked about going back to Tampa and I talked to him about that. Then he decided not to go back. But I thought about it a lot.

5. CBS:
Following the stroke you had a couple years ago, is the TV career over? Is that something you can get back into?

Gottfried:
Right now what I want to do is focus on trying to raise money and reach more boys with Team Focus.

CBS:
That must be satisfying experience.

Gottfried:
It really is. I’ve seen guys when we statted 10 or 11 years ago and now we see so many young men, so many serving in Afghanistan and in Iraq, so many in college, working in business, and leading all kind of different lives. When you see a picture of them from 2002 and you see this little guy in the first row and you know where he’s at today, it’s pretty rewarding.

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Posted on: November 12, 2010 11:37 am
 

Five Questions (or More) with Takeo Spikes

T. Spikes has had an outstanding career, but his teams haven't fared so well (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Takeo Spikes, the 49ers veteran LB, has been hugely effective in this league for more than a decade, mostly playing on teams that couldn’t break the .500 mark. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler, but he’s never been to the playoffs.

Though the 49ers are coming off their bye week with a 2-6 record, there’s reason for hope in San Francisco. The team is coming off a big win against the Broncos in London two weeks ago, and Spikes still feels like the team has a chance to compete in the NFC West.

We caught up with Spikes, and we discussed his worldliness, the team’s quarterback situation and how he continues to motivate himself.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 22: Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington


1. CBSSports.com:
So, you got back from London before the bye week. Aside from the big win, how was the UK?

Takeo Spikes:
London was cool. I like it because it breaks up the monotony of the season. I’ve never been to Europe before. I’ve been to other places, but not to Europe. To go over there and see a different culture was cool. I’m a people person. I went to different restaurants and to see the different sights that you learn about in school when you’re in social studies. It was a great experience.

CBS:
I’ve been to your hometown of Sandersville, Ga., and I know it’s a small town. When you were growing up there, did you ever think about exploring the world? Did you think the NFL could help you do that?

Spikes: I always knew that I wanted to go places. But I never knew I’d go as many places as I’ve been. Football has allowed me to experience much more than I could have even fathomed.

2. CBS: Let’s talk about the win against Denver. How big was that?

Spikes: It was a great win for us. Knowing what we’ve been through during the entire eight games. Just looking back at the last couple weeks, we’ve noticed a lot of improvement. We’ve gone out the last three games, and if you look at the film, we’ve gotten better. We got a much-needed spark with Troy (Smith at QB) coming in. To be able to display what we displayed in London in Wembley Stadium, it was great. The fans were unbelievable. A lot of guys figured it was like playing in college again because there were 85,000 people there.

CBS: You guys went straight from Carolina to London, while Denver spent a couple extra days at home. Do you think it helped that the 49ers flew out early to let your bodies adjust?

Spikes:
I think it helped. To be honest, we got there Monday morning, and we didn’t recover until that Thursday. That’s when everybody’s bodies were back on schedule. I can’t even imagine doing what Denver wanted to do and expect them to feel well-rested and alert. I know for us, even on Wednesday, I still couldn’t go to sleep on time.

CBS:
Could you tell during game that Denver wasn’t as well-rested?

Spikes:
That, I don’t know. I had good intention to ask those guys. I talked to them when they got off the plane on Thursday, and they said they felt fine. But damn, it must have been tough.

3. CBS: What did Troy Smith give you? I know quarterback has been a problem area. You could really see it in that Monday Night game against the Saints when the crowd started chanting for David Carr. But now you go with Troy Smith, and suddenly, it clicks. Why?

Spik
es: Just with Troy’s presence. He’s a guy who’s not only confident in his abilities but he makes everybody feel confident about themselves and what he’s about to do when we step on the field. I know it’s only one game. But if he’s going to continue to be the quarterback, I liked his performance. He made plays down the line when we needed plays to be made. That’s big for us, because as a defensive unit, we know you can only hold up for so long.

CBS:
I think it was surprising because Smith had never shown that before when he was in Baltimore.

Spikes:
It’s about timing and opportunity. When you get the timing and the opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.

4. CBS: You know, your career is fascinating to me. You’ve played at such a high level for so long, but you’ve only been on one team that’s finished with a winning record. After 12 years in the league …

Spikes:
Thirteen years.

CBS: After 13 years, how do you still get excited about football, even when the teams you’ve played on haven’t been so good?

Spikes:
I walk on faith. I think that’s the bottom line. Back in the day, early in my career, you don’t know anything about how a team is supposed to feel, and not understanding the reasons why we’re paying quarterbacks $10-12 million per year. If you have a good quarterback, you’re able to go out and compete no matter how bad your defense is. That’s a fact. Earlier in my career, I didn’t understand that. I thought the defense could do it all. But you still need help. Now, how do I keep myself going? I’m surrounded by a great group of guys, and it’s an even push. They push me all the time. I know what we can be. I see us working toward that as a defense.

5. CBS:
You guys must feel the NFC West is still ripe for the taking. 

Spikes: No doubt about it. This division is still ripe for the taking. We finished the first hard part of our schedule. All the time in this league if you start the season off good, you’re going to go through adversity at some point. The true test is how you come out of it. We have a shot, and it’s no pressure on us. Nobody is expecting anything from us anyway.

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Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:25 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 4:58 pm
 

Five Questions (or More) with Keyshawn Johnson

Keyshawn Johnson had strong comments today regarding R. Moss, Brad Childress and Mike Shanahan (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Keyshawn Johnson is a busy man. Since retiring from the NFL in 2007 after an 11-year career in which he made the Pro Bowl three times, he’s been an ESPN analyst, the host of an A&E show called Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design, and a business man.

Now, he’s partnering with Captain Morgan for a year-long project that allows fans to post their own Captain Morgan’s pose on Facebook , and for every pose uploaded, the company will donate to the First Mate Fund, which was created to benefit non-profit organizations. “It’s all for charity,” Johnson said. “Every time you upload a picture, Captain Morgan donates a dollar.”

We caught up with Johnson, and he gave us some interesting answers regarding Randy Moss, Brad Childress’ authenticity, Mike Shanahan’s truth-telling skills, and why the Bengals haven’t produced with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens lining up on the field.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 22: Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports.com: Obviously, the big topic this week was Randy Moss. Now that he’s going to Tennessee with a guy you know pretty well in Jeff Fisher, how do you think he’ll do with the Titans?

Keyshawn Johnson: I think he’ll do well. You have a strong-minded coach with a strong head there, and I really think Jeff has done a tremendous job in terms of getting players to play for him and do the things he’s asked in his 16-year tenure. He gets players to respond for him. There are only a handful of coaches who can do that, and he’s one of them.

CBS: Is that what you need for a guy like Moss? Obviously, it didn’t work with Brad Childress, but it did work with Bill Belichick. It seems like Fisher is a coach that can command that kind of respect.

Johnson: It’s really about how you approach people and how you talk to people. You don’t have to scream, you don’t have to yell. It’s the way you approach a guy like Randy. If you approach him and you’re authentic and not being some phony fake-ass guy, he’s going to respect it. You think he was born yesterday? He knows phony when he sees it. I’m sure he realized Brad Childress isn’t for real and that he’s a phony guy. He went in with no respect for him. Then, Childress recognized it and thought the best thing he could was to cut bait.

2. CBS: When a guy yells at the people who cater the food in the locker room, though, what …

Johnson:
If that happened, it’s shame on Randy. You don’t demean somebody for their cooking skills. Just don’t eat it. I’ve been on many teams where I didn’t like the food. So I brought my own food.

CBS:
But when you have a guy being a jerk like that, how does that affect the rest of the locker room?

Johnson: I wouldn’t say that it would affect the locker room. It’s always one or two guys on the team who are trying to be the coach’s pet and who are going to stand out and take on the big fish. There are always one or two guys. That’s the realness about it. That’s the normal way it goes. Every team, you have one or two guys that side with the coach and not the players. The other 50 guys side with the players.

CBS: If that’s the case, how do the rest of the guys respond to those one or two players?

Johnson: You deal with those guys at face value. You don’t give them much. You don’t tell them anything, because basically, you know they’re going to snitch.

3. CBS:
The other big story this week was Donovan McNabb and how Mike Shanahan pulled him and replaced him with Rex Grossman with the game on the line. I was watching that game, and when he did that, I was very confused.

Johnson:
Very, very confusing to those of us that don’t really know how coaches work. Since I know how they work, it wasn’t confusing to me. But he could have explained to Donovan or explained to the media a little bit better than just lying. All you have to do is lie to me once, and I won’t let it happen again. Players know it. But they’re not going to say it, because they have families to feed.

4. CBS:
Regarding the Bengals, with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and a good running game, did you think T.O. and Ochocinco would have had more of an impact on the team? Did you think that team would be better than it is?

Johnson: I thought they would be better. But statistics aren’t going to make you better. You need to have some cohesiveness in terms of how you deal with each other and the team and players around each other. There has to be something there to be able to deem yourself a championship-caliber football team. They don’t have that. That’s why they struggle. They’re 2-5, and at the end of the year, they’re probably going to have be looking for a new head coach.

5. CBS: How much of it falls on Marvin Lewis? I know he was a popular guy in the locker room …

Johnson:
It’s so hard to win in places like that. It’s just hard. It’s a constant losing vibe. You can win 50 games, and you feel like you lost. It’s just a whole perception, and it’s hard deal to deal with.

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Posted on: October 29, 2010 7:19 pm
 

5 questions (or more) with Chargers LS Mike Windt

M. Windt was released from Cincinnati in the preseason but recently signed with San Diego (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Mike Windt is lucky No. 5. As in the fifth long-snapper to play this year for the Chargers. First, it was longtime veteran David Binn going on IR. Soon after, James Dearth and Ryan Neill followed Binn to the season-ending list. Lastly, San Diego released Ethan Albright and signed Windt, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Cincinnati. Fresh out of college, Windt staged a position battle with returning Bengals LS Clark Harris, who eventually beat out Windt.

Now, Windt has begun his career in San Diego, and he couldn’t be more pleased.

We spoke to Windt this week about being a rookie free agent who’s out of work, why he never lost confidence in his abilities to play in the league and about how close he came to chucking his football career to become a fire fighter.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Oct. 22:
Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports: You were signed by the Chargers earlier this month. Considering they’ve gone through four other long snappers this year, it must be a quite a relief for you finally to get your chance.

Mike Windt: Yeah, when you get into the season, every special teams coach in the country will tell you the same thing. If somebody goes down, they want somebody experienced to back that person up. That’s what they did. That’s what (San Diego special teams coach Steve) Crosby did. He had Dave (Binn) go down, and he brought in the next best experienced guy. They just kept going through the experience pool. But they gave me an opportunity to come out and work out. I wish they had done it five weeks earlier, but honestly, if it was Week 14 or Week 16, I’d still be really happy.

CBS:
What has the past six or seven weeks been like for you after the Bengals cut you?

Windt:
It’s the most stressful time of your life. The day I got released from Cincinnati, it was not a god day. Getting released from your hometown team, it’s different. It was stressful. I knew the situation I was in. My agent explained it to me. They said after I was cut that it was going to be a couple weeks, because I didn’t have any experience. They told me not to do anything with other situations, get a job anywhere else. There are other football leagues out there, but I just didn’t want to do that. I knew I wanted to play in the NFL for a long, long time. But the only way to do that is to play in the NFL, and you have to keep yourself available. For about six weeks, it was a stressful time, knowing everybody else out there is doing their job. You’re watching every game, and seeing if anybody screws up. You don’t hope the worst for anyone, but it’s kind of hard not to hope somebody screws up.

About two weeks after I got cut, I had a workout. And then I had a workout every week until San Diego. I was actually at another workout when San Diego called to work me out. I had to fly out the next day to work out for San Diego. It kind of happened really fast, but I’m really happy. I came out here and I haven’t left yet.

2. CBS: After talking to you midway through Bengals training camp, I knew you were pretty confident in winning that job that Clark Harris eventually took. Did you think that was your job?

Windt: I was so confident that it was my job. That’s why it was such a hard thing to get released. For some reason, I knew I was going to have that job. In the competition part of it, it was a close match. You saw Clark in the preseason, and he’s gotten so much better from last season through training camp. He’s a great guy. I haven’t got anything against Clark. He’s hilarious. But we’re going after the same job, and there’s going to be some animosity. When it came down to that job in Cincinnati, if you would have asked me in the middle of training camp if I had that job, I would have said yes 100 percent. But they wanted experience.

CBS: They want experience, but how do you get experience if you can’t get into the league in the first place?

Windt: Exactly. Dave has been here 17 years, but he was a rookie at some point, too.

3. CBS: I’ve talked to people before who were rookies who had been cut from their original team. They constantly had to stay ready, because at any point during the season, a team could call you in for a workout and you’d have to be on a plane the next morning. How did you deal with that?

Windt:
It’s a mental rollercoaster, I can say that. When I figured I got in and established myself with the Bengals, everybody said you have to mentally deal with it. At the time, I thought it was the mental part of doing my job – dealing with the pressure and all that. They didn’t mean mental that way. They meant mental if something bad happened in my career, it’s how you bounced back. How was I going to respond to being released from my hometown team? What I did was that I told myself on that first day after I got released that I was going to take my day off. I went and played golf and hung out with some friends. After that, you wait.

You work out every day. I was down at the University of Cincinnati every day and I was working out with my college weight coaches. Every day I’d come in, and they’d say, ‘You hear anything?’ It gets annoying to a point. ‘If I hear something, you’ll hear it too.’ You just work out every day, and at the end of the day, you hope you got a call. Finally, I started getting calls. The good thing about that is that whether you get that job or not, every other team knows you worked out for that team. Your name gets out there.

4. CBS:
Had you lived in Cincinnati all your life?

Windt: Please?

CBS:
Ha, that’s how I know you have lived in Cincinnati all your life. Only the people in Cincinnati say “Please?” when what they mean is “What did you just say?” How is now not living in Cincinnati for the first time ever?

Windt: It all happened so fast, you can’t really explain it. The transition itself was really easy, because of Mike Scifres, our punter, and Nate Kaeding, our kicker. They helped me out with everything I needed. (Former Bengals backup QB) J.T. O’Sullivan was a huge part of it, too. When I got there, I had forgotten that he was out here playing now. He’s lived here for years. He’s been a huge help in helping me get around the city, helping me figure out where to live. Living out here, the weather is awesome. It’s 75 and sunny all the time. It’s a lot different from Cincinnati. Everybody from Cincinnati was calling me yesterday – (Bengals punter and former University of Cincinnati teammate) Kevin Huber and (Bengals TE) Chase Coffman, and they’re asking me what I’m doing. ‘Hey, I’m laying out in the sun by the pool.’ They said, ‘Yeah, we're having tornado warnings out here.’

5. CBS: I’m not sure if we’ve ever talked about this before, but you thought about becoming a fire fighter when you were done with high school. Tell me about that. How far did you get in the process?

Windt: When you go to a high school like I went to in Cincinnati (Elder), you can compare it to Texas high school football. Elder is everything to the West Side (of Cincinnati). If you have a personality like me and you want to get your life started, I didn’t want anything to do with football. I wanted to get a career started and settle down. We won two state championships, and I was like, ‘How much better can it get?’ I went through EMT training. I was going to be an intern for the Cincinnati fire department, and I was in the middle of that whole process. But I just really needed to play football again. So, I got on with the University of Cincinnati and went from there.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com