UNCUT OUTTAKES: A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George appears in the Oct. 29 edition of ESPN The Magazine.
|Neither snow nor sleet nor freezing rain can keep Eddie George from his appointed rounds.|
Dan Patrick: Congratulations on your diploma from Ohio State last June?
Eddie George: Thank you very much.
DP: What was your major?
EG: Landscape architecture.
DP: Landscape architecture?
DP: How does that help you in your job?
EG: It doesn't.
DP: OK. And I know it doesn't help your golf game.
EG: Not at all. That's the funny thing about it. I should be a master at it, since we studied golf courses and all, but that just tells you what my GPA was, right?
DP: Speaking of golf: If it weren't for Tiger Woods, would you be as interested in golf as you are?
EG: Four years ago, I really didn't care for golf, but he really made me start watching -- and I saw that golf is kind of a cool little sport.
DP: So if Tiger were white you probably wouldn't be playing.
EG: I probably wouldn't be interested, no.
DP: Did you have to promise anybody you'd get your degree when you left?
EG: My mom really wanted me to go back and get it. And I just wanted to go back and finish up something that I didn't complete, and I was so close -- so I said, well, let me finish this now instead of waiting another 10 years after I'm done playing ... it was definitely something that I wanted to do for my mom, myself, my family and my son.
DP: Compare yourself as a student now to the student you used to be.
EG: Oh, man. Very focused. I'm so used to sitting in meetings for four or five hours every day, it was nothing to sit for an hour and a half in class. Back in college, man, I was just focused on trying to find the best frat parties.
DP: After a typical NFL game, what hurts most the next day. Arms, legs, shoulders, head?
EG: It depends on who you're playing. If you're playing the Ravens, it's typically your whole body and your head.
DP: Let's say you're playing a team like the Bengals.
EG: You know what? The Bengals hit pretty hard too.
DP: All right, give me something...
EG: If you're playing a team that really doesn't care that day, it's later in the season...
DP: Like the Colts?
EG: My ankles.
DP: The Colts have a soft defense, so you're not going to be too banged up, right?
EG: No, not too much ... probably just a little hip bruise or something like that.
DP: Three words that describe your running style.
EG: Oh, wow. Powerful, graceful --man, a third one ... I don't know -- you think of one.
DP: Angry ... hungry ... desperate.
EG: Hungry. Hungry is a good one.
DP: All right, three words that I would never attach to your running style.
EG: Uh, never attack. Slow. Let's see here ... I don't know.
DP: How about ... soft.
EG: Soft? Right. Soft and complacent.
DP: OK. I also wouldn't call you shifty.
EG: No, you wouldn't, but I do have a little shift, so I wouldn't say that. It's a little shift, not a lot of shift.
DP: Three toughest guys in the NFL.
EG: Ray Lewis. Let's see, who else ... John Lynch and Steve McNair.
DP: Where do you keep your Heisman Trophy?
EG: In my trophy case.
DP: It's in the house?
DP: When the ladies come over, do you take them on the tour by the Heisman?
EG: Of course. You have to.
DP: Do the ladies say, "Can you strike the pose for me?"
EG: No. Not that pose, anyway.
DP: Is it part of the test if they don't know what the Heisman is? Is that good or bad?
EG: It's truly good. I get to tell the whole story of my college career, and they're pretty impressed by that.
DP: So you have to explain it.
EG: Pretty much.
DP: See, that might be a turnoff.
DP: Yes. Because I would want my ladies to say, man, you got the Heisman!
EG: Typically most girls don't know what the Heisman is, unless they're really sports fanatics -- and I really don't like to hang out with girls who are truly sports fanatics. Because if they know you won the Heisman, then they know a lot of other things about you, too.
DP: They probably know how much you make.
DP: Are you bothered by the fact that everybody knows what you make? Or if they want to find out, they can...
EG: Not really. It doesn't bother me at all.
DP: When you make that much, you don't care?
EG: No, not really ... they're going to find out, so whatever. I mean, I have to be smart enough to keep that type of person away from my circle and keep them out of my way, really ... I pretty much have a good head on my shoulders and am able to see who's real and who's in it for what, so it really doesn't make a difference to me.
DP: But if you made $18,000, you'd want to keep that quiet.
EG: Of course.
DP: So why did you have the Z cut into your hair when you were a kid?
EG: It was a fad back in the day. You know, you have the little Z's, the little designs ... it was something that I wanted to do -- and my mom, she really didn't particularly care for it because she didn't think it looked too good. So she really wanted me to be clean and cut. I just wanted to have a little trendy style.
DP: But why a Z? What did the Z stand for?
EG: I don't know. I saw it on some guy I was playing basketball against and it looked kind of cool, so I thought, you know what? Let me get the Z...
DP: Your mom was a flight attendant, right?
EG: Yes, she still is.
DP: Where did you go sightseeing? Where would you recommend people go sightseeing, because you probably went to a lot of foreign countries...
EG: I've been to France, Spain and London. One place I would definitely love to go is Italy. Rome and Florence.
DP: Did you get to go there?
EG: I've never been, but I would love to go. I've heard so many stories about it.
DP: Did you go sightseeing in London on your own?
EG: When I was younger, yes.
DP: So your mom just let you wander the streets?
EG: Yes. It was kind of cool, too, man. You know, I just walked around London and didn't know what the hell I was looking for, but I stumbled upon Buckingham Palace ... it was pretty cool.
DP: Did you go up to the guards at Buckingham Palace?
EG: Yes. They don't make a single movement or acknowledge anything that anyone does.
DP: Wouldn't that be the ideal offensive lineman? You know, that they don't make any false moves.
EG: Definitely. A lot of linemen are too anxious and jump around too much.
DP: What's your idea of heaven?
EG: Paradise, like an island. Water and just total bliss.
DP: What or who else is in heaven? Is J-Lo going to be there?
EG: Oh man, every woman in heaven is going to look like J-Lo and Janet -- and every man is allowed to have, like, 10 wives.
DP: See, if you can't handle Ray Lewis on the field, I don't think you can handle Janet Jackson.
EG: I don't think Janet is tougher than Ray, so it's cool.
DP: What's your idea of hell?
EG: Dark. Very dark and slimy. It's evil. Hot, you know. That's my whole feeling about hell. It's total sadness. No joy whatsoever.
DP: Do you think there will be any other running backs down there if you go to hell?
EG: I hope not.
DP: So it'll be just guys who play defense?
EG: Pretty much.
DP: Who's your hero?
EG: I don't have one, I don't think. I admire a lot of people, but I really don't have a hero.
|In five seasons with the Titans, running back Eddie George has rushed for an average of better than 1,300 yards per season.|
DP: Who did you admire growing up? Have you changed and admired somebody else since then?
EG: Growing up, I admired Walter Payton. I definitely admired Walter, and then since then it's changed to Emmitt Smith, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, those type of guys. Growing up, you watch Julius Erving. You watch basketball and football and you see all those guys winning championships ... I want to pattern myself after them.
DP: Who or what scares you?
EG: Snakes and rats. I hate snakes.
DP: You probably don't come in contact with too many, do you?
EG: Yes, I do. One night I came home and saw a snake in my driveway, and I refused to drive on my driveway till it moved. Ever since then I made sure that the guys come and put lye around the entire yard, because I don't want to see any more of those damn snakes. It was huge, too, man. It was disgusting. I hate snakes.
DP: You're giving running backs a bad name.
EG: Oh man, whatever.
DP: Pick three linemen you would love to run behind -- and this doesn't include your team.
EG: Let's see ... oh, Erik Williams, Orlando Pace and Jon Runyan.
DP: Are you rooting for Emmitt Smith to break Walter Payton's record?
EG: Oh yes. Definitely. I would love to see that, because he's been around the game -- and I would take my hat off to him. He's played for 12 years, and I can understand the pounding we take, and I'm just in my sixth year ... to play 12 years in this league as a running back is phenomenal. If he breaks the record, I think it'll be great for football.
DP: Has there been a great story that came out of the huddle? Or that was told in the huddle?
EG: No, there really aren't great stories in the huddle -- the huddle is pretty boring.
DP: No laughter?
EG: There is some laughter ... one time we were playing in Phoenix, a preseason game, and it was really hot -- and our offensive coordinator was calling run after run after run. We finally get down to the 15-yard line, and I said to Neil O'Donnell, "Please, call a pass play." So Neil looks me dead in the eye -- and calls another running play. Bruce Matthews just laughed. I was totally gassed ... it was just like the worst conditioning ever. It felt like I'd been running for days and I was dizzy and in that heat it was terrible. But that's something that Bruce always brings up, and it was really funny at the time.
DP: What's the play that Steve McNair calls where your eyes light up?
EG: I think it would have to be R-shoot.
DP: And that is?
EG: That's me running down the seam of the defense.
DP: So you just pick your spot.
EG: Pretty much. It's like a long pass. It just breaks everything up. I mean, it just breaks the monotony of constant running up in the line and filling all that and breaking tackles and getting hit. Finally I can kind of be a receiver and take the ball and try to go long or something.
DP: If you ran an 11-yard dash against Air McNair, who would win?
EG: Probably me.
DP: Oh, you say probably. So it's not a given?
EG: It's a given, but I don't want to disrespect his speed -- but I think I would win.
DP: Is there a guy on the team who could beat you that you might be embarrassed to admit?
EG: Oh, probably Jevon Kearse, but he just freaks out. I probably would be embarrassed.
DP: So Kearse can beat you in the 100-yard dash?
EG: I don't think he can beat me. I'm not going to say he can beat me. It would be close, but I wouldn't be shocked or upset if he did beat me, just sad.
DP: Plus, you probably want to say he could beat you, because you don't want the Freak upset, do you?
EG: No, no. And then I'll get in the whole thing of OK, let's bet, and then we have to go out and run the 100-yard dash.
DP: Yes, just put up a little money -- you know what? Put up the Heisman. Let Jevon put up something of equal value and then I think you'd have a race.
EG: There it is then.
DP: I think we could set that up.
DP: Is there part of you that wants to play another position? Or that could play another position?
EG: I would love to rush the quarterback one time. I want to get a quarterback sack...
DP: Did you talk to coach Fisher about this?
EG: No, no. But, you know, sometimes I would like to try my pass-rushing moves -- like on the third down, we're up maybe 20 points and the game's almost over. Put me in on nickel and send me on a blitz or something. I would be happy to do that. That would just make my day.
DP: All right, give me the quarterback you want to sack.
EG: Let's see, who is a non-mobile quarterback in the league. It wouldn't be Michael Vick. I know that for a fact, because I would get shoved. It wouldn't be Doug Flutie. Let's see -- probably Jeff George or Brad Johnson. Somebody like that.
DP: Somebody you could catch, but you don't have anything against them. These are just guys you can catch.
EG: Yes, pretty much. Guys that I know aren't going to be able to run.
DP: Would you have a sack dance?
EG: No sack dance -- just the thrill of getting a sack.
DP: Is there any significance to your number?
EG: No, none at all. It's something I got at Ohio State; they just gave it to me and I wanted a different number, actually. So someone tried to talk me into keeping that number and I said OK. I was going to make something out of it one day.
DP: So instead of taking 34 for Walter Payton or somebody else that you admired, you wanted to establish your own number.
EG: Well, I wanted 20. I wanted 20 or 32, but they were both taken and my old high school number (which was 6) was taken.
DP: Did you want 20 because of Barry Sanders?
EG: That and I loved Richie Anderson ... he was at Penn State at the time and I was a huge fan of Richie Anderson -- that's why I wanted 20.
DP: And 32 because of...?
EG: Marcus Allen. It was a good number for a big back.
DP: See, I thought you were going to say O.J.
EG: Yes, all great backs -- O.J., Edgerrin James; 32 is like the typical running-back number.
DP: Jim Brown.
DP: But if you're afraid of snakes ... well, Jim Brown wouldn't let you wear No. 32.
DP: Was there any kind of solace in the fact that the Ravens won it all last year and you guys played them well? Or does it hurt even more because you played them well and then they ran away with the Super Bowl?
EG: It hurts because we lost. You know, even if Oakland would have won the Super Bowl, we lost the game. So we knew whoever won that game was going to probably go on to win the Super Bowl, and it was really no surprise nor was I upset that they won the Super Bowl. It's probably good for them to go from our division and win it.
DP: Did you watch the Super Bowl?
EG: No, I didn't.
DP: You couldn't or you didn't?
EG: I didn't. Actually I was on a flight.
DP: And you purposely took the flight back during the Super Bowl?
EG: Not purposely...
DP: Do you think to this day you guys were still a better team than the Ravens? Or do you acknowledge that they were better than you?
EG: We don't acknowledge that they're better than us. I think we're the same type of team, and they were obviously better the last two times they played us ... so the last time they played us, yes, they were the better team.