- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith grew up in Michigan and is an unabashed fan of teams from the state, including Michigan and the Red Wings. He even brought Niklas Lidstrom on stage at a recent concert.
He also made news recently for singing part of "The Victors" at the end of a Chili Peppers concert in Columbus, Ohio. We caught up with Smith on Tuesday, when he explained how he became a Michigan fan, some of his favorite moments watching the Wolverines and what Chili Peppers song he'd like to hear played in Michigan Stadium.
WolverineNation: How did your Michigan fandom start? Was it from growing up in Bloomfield Hills?
Chad Smith: I lived in Bloomfield Hills from when I was in seventh grade until I moved to California in 1988. The Michigan helmet is the coolest, still to this day, professional, college, whatever. That helmet is still the coolest. Do they still put the little football helmet stickers on when you do something good? [Eds. note: They don’t.] That used to be so cool. I just thought the helmet itself, the color and the way the stripes, it looks badass. I fell for that early and it was such a big deal. Growing up, Michigan was definitely more popular than Michigan State. Michigan State was the stepchild there for a while, you know. It was all about the maize and blue. They hooked me early.”
WN: What are you like during games? Do you have rituals?
CS: “When I’m not traveling, being on the west coast some of the games are on early. That’s really fun. You wake up, roll out of bed and the game’s on, first thing of the day. I’m not waiting around until 4 o’clock or 1 o’clock. I have little children and a wife who is not a sports fan at all. She’s like, ‘Ugh, really. OK, you’re going to be gone for three hours, I get it.’ It’s like I’m playing golf somewhere. Like don’t come in the bedroom because I’m watching the game. She’ll hear screams and yells and all right’s and yeaaaahhhh’s. I’m a passionate sports fan, all sports, but especially when my teams are playing. She leaves me alone and I’m watching the game.”
WN: Is there a memory that stands out?
CS: “I was really excited when Desmond Howard was doing his thing, man. He was just so awesome, every game he played he’d do something spectacular. It was so awesome. You knew it was coming to him, whether it was catching the ball, running it back, they couldn’t stop him. The Heisman pose. That really stuck out to me. He was such an exciting player to watch. Explosive. That was great.
“Who would have thunk, Tom Brady? He was OK in college. Who would have thought that guy would be a star in the National Football League. There’s a lot of memories. The Rose Bowls. The Big Ten is a tough conference. It’s really fun to watch them. I couldn’t say one moment, but when Desmond Howard was playing it was just so exciting. He was so explosive.”
WN: Now that they pipe in music at Michigan Stadium, is there a Chili Peppers song that you’d love to hear in there?
CS: “When the other team fumbles or Michigan intercepts it and returns it for a touchdown, ‘Give It Away’ is a fine song and fits nicely along with the whole thing. That would work for me. I’ve got no problem with that.”
22hJosh Moyer and Tom VanHaaren