Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Interview with Andrew Luck

If you don't know Andrew Luck by now, you definitely will get to know him during this upcoming college football season. The Stanford football team may not have a magnificent season, but their quarterback, 20 year old, Andrew Luck, will dominate. WalterFootball.com projects Luck as the third overall draft pick, (2nd quarterback selected behind Washington's Jake Locker) to the Kansas City Chiefs. You may have heard of his father, Oliver Luck, who played quarterback at West Virginia University and Houston Olivers. Oliver Luck is also the President and General Manager of the MLS team, the Houston Dynamo.

Here is my interview with the Luck-iest quarterback on Earth:

Brad Wolff: You are projected a top-15 draft pick, have you given any thought to making this your last college season?

Andrew Luck: No. Not at all.

BW: What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

AL: The best advice I've ever gotten (pondering). That is a very good question. Respect people from my father.

BW: If you weren't a football player what occupation would you be?

AL: I would play soccer.

BW: When you aren't playing football, what are you doing?

AL: Hanging out with the guys on the team, playing video games, reading a book, or doing homework (chuckles).

BW: What NFL quarterback are you most similar to and why?

AL: All of those guys are a lot better than me, but if I had to pattern my game around anyone it would be Peyton Manning.

BW: What team that is on your schedule are you least looking forward to playing this season?

AL: I'm least looking forward to playing the Stanford defense.

(both chuckle)

BW: Are one of your goals for this upcoming season to win the Heisman Trophy?

AL: That would be great, but I figure that if the team is having a good season, that means that I'm having a good season. So if I'm in contention to win that trophy, then that must mean that my team is winning some games. So that would be a good thing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Interview with Rays Star Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist is the starting second baseman on the Tampa Bay Rays. He made the 2009 American League All-Star team with a batting average of .297, 27 home runs, and 91 runs batted in. That season he was voted MVP of the Rays by the Tampa Bay sector of the Baseball Writers and finished 8th in American League MVP voting. Zorilla, the nickname given to him by his manager Joe Maddon, is very involved with his Christian faith and is a true class act. Here is my interview with Mr. Zobrist:

BW: Reading about you and meeting you, tells me that you are a nice person, how do you plan on maintaining being a child's role models as you get older?
BZ: I model my life after my Lord and Master Jesus Christ and His life. He has called me into God's family and I am a representative for Him so I just try to be obedient to what He asks me to do. When I do what I want, it is natural for me to ignore autograph seekers but God wants me to share my testimony card with them and be loving. That power and initiative comes from Him.
BW: What was it like once you found yourself on the field with the best players in the game?

BZ: I was pretty nervous at first because I wasn't sure if I belonged there. I mean, these were players I grew up watching and I never thought I would actually be playing with them. Over time though you realize that you can play with them and they are just normal guys trying to do their best just like anyone else in their skill. God has blessed us all with different talents and abilities.
BW: If you weren't an athlete, what would your occupation be?

BZ: I don't know. I really like the game so I might be some sort of coach in it or possibly a teacher. I also could see myself being a minister and trying to help people live their lives as God has called them to.

BW: What is the funniest thing that has ever happened in your locker room?

BZ: That is a really tough question. I don't have a good answer for this, but I always laugh at my teammates for little things they say and do. Recently, one of our coaches came out and was dancing to a rap song and I was cracking up about that one....tried to get it on camera but didn't get a good shot of it.

BW: What is the hardest part of being a baseball player?

BZ: Everything you do is measured by stats and it is difficult to keep your identity as a person out of the game. It can swallow you whole if you let yourself be engulfed by your statistics.
BW: Who are the hardest pitchers for you to hit?

BZ: Josh Beckett [Red Sox], Roy Halladay [Phillies], Felix Hernandez [Mariners], Jon Lester [Red Sox], Josh Johnson [Marlins].

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Interview with Pat LaFontaine

Pat LaFontaine was a center for all three New York Hockey teams, the Islanders, Rangers, and Sabres. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. He had 468 lifetime goals in his 15 seasons. Pat becomes the 2nd athlete in the past three interviews of mine who was selected third in their sports draft. Here are my questions:

BW: What was your greatest acheivement and why?
PL: I was fortunate to represent the U.S. at a couple of Olympics and that was very cool. Probably the greatest achievement was winning the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. The Canadian team featured Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Brodeur, etc. and they were the host country. When we beat them in the best-of-three final it was the biggest U.S. hockey win since the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team.

BW: Who is your idol and why?
PL: When I was a kid I loved Guy Lafleur and Gilbert Perreault - two of the fastest skaters and best players around. Things were a little different back then because there was no Internet. I would have to wait for the newspaper or for the Hockey News to arrive to see my favorite players stats. I always immediately looked to see how Guy and Gilbert had done in their previous games. As I developed as a player, it was a bit ironic that I played in the Quebec Junior League and broke all of Guy's scoring records. Later in my pro career, I went to Buffalo and followed in the footsteps of Gilbert as captain of the Sabres.

BW: What was the funniest story that ever happened in the locker room?
PL: This story didn't happen in the locker room, but it was one of the most memorable of my career. I was with the Islanders in 1987 and we were playing the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. The final game of the series went into the 4th overtime period, but neither team could score. It was after 2 a.m. and I looked around the stands and fans were sleeping! The organist started playing the theme song from "The Twilight Zone". Our trainer came over and shot cold water straight down my back and said, "You're gonna get one..." I hopped over the boards and covered at the point for Gordie Dineen - one of our defenseman who had pinched on the play. The puck came to me and I just turned and fired it toward the net. It went over the goalie's shoulder and in at 8:47 of the 4th overtime to win the series for us. The game had started on a Saturday and it ended very early on Easter Sunday morning and became known as the "Easter Epic". It remains one of the longest games played in NHL history.

BW: What advice would you give to someone growing up aspiring to play in NHL?
PL: It is an immense privilege to be able to play in the NHL. I was very blessed and a lot of things went my way to be able to make it. A lot of people think that you have to specialize in one sport from an early age in order to turn pro. Most of my teammates played a lot of different sports when we were kids. I liked to golf, water-ski and play baseball. That helped me develop other aspects of my game and made me WANT to be on the ice even more once hockey season started. I have a brother who practiced every bit as much as I did but he never made pro. In order to make it as a pro you have to develop your God-given skills. You can't abuse your body and you need to work hard on your weaknesses. Everyone likes to focus on the things they are good at. But when you focus on the things you are weak at, it makes you a much better athlete.

BW: What was it like playing for the Islanders and then the Rangers?
PL: I loved playing for all three New York teams (Buffalo, too!). The Islanders gave me my first shot and I got to play with great players like Bryan Trottier and Denis Potvin. I met my future wife here and grew to love Long Island. I probably had the best years of my career in Buffalo and I enjoyed the people of Western New York. It was a thrill to have the Sabres retire my jersey and to score the last goal ever scored at the Auditorium. When I joined the Rangers I got a chance to play with Wayne Gretzky, Mike Richter and to score the 1,000 point of my career. The Rangers were a first-class organization and treated me and my family just wonderfully.

BW: If you weren't a hockey player, what would your job jave been?
PL: That is a very good question. At the time I was a teenager, I was hoping to play well enough to earn a scholarship to Michigan State University. My dad was an executive in the auto business so I might have done something like that. Since I retired, I have really enjoyed redesigning homes and landscaping. Maybe I would have gone into architecture and design?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Interview with Marty Lyons

I am home! And I haven't wasted any time to start up blogging. Marty Lyons played 11 seasons on the New York Jets at defensive tackle. In the early 1980's, Mark Gastineau, Abdul Salaam, and Joe Klecko formed the Jets "New York Sack Exchange." Marty is the chairman of the Marty Lyons Foundation, which fulfills the wishes of terminally ill children and teenagers. Visit their website at http://www.martylyonsfoundation.org/

Here is my interview with Mr. Lyons:

BW: Who was your football idol and why?

ML: Growing up in Florida I really didn’t have a football idol. My idols were my 3 older brothers. I wanted to be as good as them or better. They set the bar pretty high in the Lyons’ Sports Arena.

BW: What was the greatest moment of your career?

ML: Being elected by my college teammates as the defensive captain of our National Championship Team in 1978.

3. Who was the most difficult offensive lineman to get past?

Dwight Stephenson from the Miami Dolphins and John Hannah from the New England Patriots. Funny thing is, they both attended the University of Alabama.

4. What was it like getting the opportunity to play for Coach Bear Bryant?

Playing for Coach Bryant molded me into the person I am today. He taught us to respect the game, respect our family, respect our teammates and most of all, respect life.

5. Who was your favorite teammate?

In the pros, I had two favorite teammates. The first one is Joe Klecko. If you were going to war, Joe would always have your back. The second one is Kenny Schroy. He’s been a teammate not just on the field but off the field as well. Kenny is a lifetime teammate.

In college, Rich Wingo and Murray Legg were my favorites. 30 years after being teammates in college, they are both still only a phone call away.

In high school, my favorite teammate was Ted LaVenture. He has been there through thick and think, good times and bad, he’s the best.

6. What was the greatest lesson you ever learned?

Respect yourself and others. Give more then you received, live life to the fullest, touching as many people as possible along the way. Change the way people think and change the way people act by your actions not your words. Remember 4 things you should do every day to be a better person: Live, love, laugh and be happy. To make a difference in this world all you have to do is CARE!!