Written by: Torrey Smith

Dear Baltimore

March 09, 2015

Where do I begin? These last four years have been amazing for me. I have been able to grow as a player, and more importantly, as a man. The men who run the Baltimore Ravens organization have been essential to my growth. For that I say thank you!

We have been able to win the division twice and win the ultimate prize, the Super Bowl. I will never forget the feeling that we all experienced knowing that we did it together. The way the city responded still gives me goose bumps every time I think about it. I literally dreamed of playing for the Baltimore Ravens, not just because it is a great organization with an amazing fan base, but because of the foundation of the team and the principles that the men who run it stand by and for.

Mr. Steve Bisciotti, I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for my family and me. Your words of wisdom and support have meant everything to me, and the love that you have shown my family was truly unconditional. I will never forget how supportive you were when my brother passed away. It was one of the darkest moments of my life and you were there for me when I needed support the most.

Mr. Ozzie Newsome, thank you for making the phone call on Draft Day that allowed my dream to come true. You have made an impact on my life by simply being yourself and challenging me to be the best that I can be. You believed in me and have expressed that over the years. You have also always been straightforward and honest with me, and for that, I am thankful.

Mr. John Harbaugh, I appreciate everything you have done for me. From educating me on random things to being a supportive and inspiring Christian leader that I can look up to, you have been a person that I can lean on for support and advice. Your door has always been open for me. Thank you.

Coach Jim Hostler, thank you for teaching me how to be a pro. You taught me how to work at my craft and challenged me to be the best that I could be. I still have some work to do, and I know if I make it there, you will still tell me it’s not good enough. I appreciate that.

Coach Craig Ver Steeg, we have grown close over the years, and I truly appreciate our relationship. You have educated me and helped me grow as a Christian man. From various biblical lessons to football talk, you have made a major impact on my life. Thank you.

Coach Bobby Engram, in one year you have helped me develop and improve in every aspect of life. You have been a great coach, support system and friend to me. I wish we had more time to work together, but I know our relationship will last a lifetime.

Cam Cameron, Jim Caldwell, Gary Kubiak, thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and giving me a chance.

Mr. Johnny Shelton, you have challenged me to become the best man and Christian I can be. It has truly changed my life. I am not the same person I was even just a year ago. Thank you.

To all of my brothers, thank you! Our locker room was amazing. The leadership, guidance and overall bond that we shared is something that I will miss, but will always be thankful for. Joe, keep doing elite ish! They don’t have to respect you, but we know what kind of player you are. It was a pleasure playing with you. Tyrod, we put in work in the offseason. We go way back and I appreciate you.

To my wideouts, we had too much fun! Jacoby, Steve, Marlon, Kamar, Camp, JB, our bond goes beyond the meeting room and I’m thankful for that. Sizz, Webb, James (Jimmy), BP, Buck, Forsett, Yanada, KO, Eugene, Morgan and all of my other teammates, I love y’all like brothers and will see y’all around. Haloti and Sam, I will miss our rides to the airport. I still can’t believe y’all never made me drive. I was spoiled.

I also want to thank the entire staff, both defense and offense, for the memories. I appreciate you all and respect you even more as men.

President Dick Cass, Eric DeCosta, Joe Hortiz, Vincent Newsome, George Kokinis (my quarterback), and Andy Weidl, thank you! Craig, Darren, Smitty, Gus, Kevin, Sam, Heather, Megan, Joan, Mrs. Pam, Mrs. Val, Mrs. Toni, Jess, Money Manny, Marlon and way too many other people to name, thank you. Y’all are family to me and I appreciate y’all taking care of me.

To my family at Jimmy’s Seafood, The Baltimore Arena, BCPS, Baltimore City Public Schools, Downtown Dog Resort, No Limit, Carbiz, Worth-A-Shot, Shoe City, thank you.

To the fans, it is tough to leave a city that I now call home. Y’all have embraced my family and me, and we truly appreciate it. Your support has been unreal and I will miss being able to make y’all proud. Although I may no longer be a member of the Baltimore Ravens, at heart, I will always be a Raven. What we accomplished together is timeless.

I will be playing for a different organization, but I will remain committed to the City of Baltimore. I will continue to give back and help build a better future for our young men and women. MY COMMITMENT TO THE CITY IS FOR LIFE. This isn’t a goodbye because I will still be around and Baltimore will continue to be my home in the offseason and when my career is done. I’m on to the next chapter of my life and football career, but I will see you guys later.

To the Baltimore Ravens Organization, good luck! Thank you, Baltimore! Love!

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Written by: Justin Forsett

Our Valentine’s Surprise

February 18, 2015

To say it was an amazing – and crazy – Valentine’s Day would be an understatement. We were surprised by the early arrival of our second son, and man, I feel blessed. I still can’t believe how it all went down…

All week I was trying to plan dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day, but I was having a hard time getting a reservation at a good time. Then, while doing some research, I found out that Lauryn Hill, one of my favorite singers of all-time, was coming to perform at the Howard Theatre in D.C. Perfect plan. We could go to our favorite restaurant, Shake Shack, have a burger and head to the concert after that. Shake Shack is my wife Angie’s favorite place, so it was looking like it was all working out.

Fast-forward to Saturday morning. We have the babysitter all set up for our 2-year-old Judah. We were hanging around the house, and I went out around 3 to get a snack because we weren’t going to leave Baltimore until around 7.

While I was out, my wife calls me saying, “I think my water broke, but I’m not sure.” Okay, so I come back home. I’m thinking she’s probably experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions (which are like fake contractions), which she’d been having throughout the pregnancy. I come in the house, and I see her leaning over with her hands on her knees, clearly in a lot of pain. Okay, this is not Braxton Hicks, this is a contraction. I was like, okay, I guess we are going to have a baby soon, maybe tomorrow. In our first pregnancy, it took 10-12 hours until the baby came after her water broke. I wasn’t worried; I thought maybe we still had time to catch the show!

Angie called her doula, who told her to wait at home until the contractions reach a minute in length. Not even 10 minutes went by after she hung up the phone, and I looked over at her and she was having a contraction…and it was one minute in length!

Time for the two-minute drill. Right now! Thankfully she already had her stuff together. I needed to pack a bag. What are we going to do with Judah? While we’re trying to get that squared away, the contractions are getting worse. Forget everything else, we need to leave the house. Judah is coming with us.

At this point, it’s 6p.m. and the snow is coming down crazy. I’m driving, worrying about traffic because I’m thinking people are going out for Valentine’s Day. The snow made it worse. It was dark, I couldn’t see the road in front of me. I was leaning to the side, trying to find an open space on my windshield.

Mind you, the birthing center is closer toward Annapolis, which is about a 45-minute drive without traffic. No telling how long it’s going to take now. I can’t speed because the road is slippery. We’re driving by wrecks on the road. There was a salt truck in front of us. While everybody else was slowing down, I’m the guy going around him.

About halfway there, these contractions are getting really bad. Angie’s squeezing my hand and yelling. My son’s in the back yelling and crying because she’s yelling and crying. The nursery rhyme CD he likes is blasting. At this point, she’s throwing up. It’s crazy right now in the car. I was trying to be the calm one in the vehicle. Internally, I’m freaking out.

Just get us there safely and fast. The contractions are like four minutes apart. When we were getting close, she looks at me and screams, “He’s ready to come out!” Even though we are still about 30 minutes away, I keep telling her that we are almost there, to keep breathing, hold on. At one point, I’m thinking, man, we might have to stop this car and I might have to deliver this baby.

Thank God, when we got toward the backstreets close to the birthing center, it was almost all green lights. I was just trying to be supportive. As soon as we got there, they were waiting for us outside. They took her in, and one of the doulas took Judah. I still had to play my part and be there for her. I’m in there sweating, knees buckling. I was trying to be the support system.

Before we knew it, Zion Jay was here.

When the baby came, after all the hard work, everything we had been through to get her there…to see him come out, it’s always emotional, fighting back the tears. Judah was able to hold Zion a little bit. It was a blessing, an exciting time.

When you have one child, you feel like you could never have the same love for another. But you do. Even though it was our second time, man, it was still emotional, it was still heartwarming to see him come out, to hold him…it was special.

Angie was a trooper. She did this, for the second time, with no drugs. Since we were at a birthing center, we probably could have come home that night. But because the storm was so bad (the winds were really blowing), they recommended we stay over at the birthing center. Angie was okay, Zion was ok, and we were able to come home on Sunday.

The first night at home was a little tough, but Zion is doing a good job with the sleeping. He is waking up to eat during the night, but then goes right back to sleep. And he’s sleeping a lot of the day, so it’s a lot easier than the first time around (Judah was NOT a great sleeper!). Of course, it’s still draining for Angie. My mother-in-law got into town yesterday, so hopefully we’ll get some more sleep.

Judah is doing good as a big brother. He’s getting a lot of daddy time. I took him to a little My Gym class, which is an activity center for toddlers. We go there and hang out. Of course Angie and I want to make sure he still feels loved, so quality time is important.

For me, I’m taking on more of a role during the off-season. It’s a special time to be a father, spend time with the family. There’s nothing like it. Being a father is one of the greatest gifts that you can have. Seeing both of my sons now, carrying my features, it makes me want to go out and make sure I’m providing for them the right way, make sure I’m protecting them and leading them the way I’m supposed to. That way we can leave a lasting legacy way beyond my lifetime.

Oh and another bonus: Lauryn Hill tweeted at me saying congratulations on baby Zion. We knew that were going to name our son Zion. She has a son named Zion and a song “To Zion.” And our baby was born on the night that we were supposed to see her perform. It was just crazy how it all happened!

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Written by: Mike Utley

Accountability Above All

February 09, 2015

My name is Mike Utley. I am a former Detroit Lion. I was drafted in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft. I started for three NFL seasons. On November 17, 1991, I was pass-blocking, hit the turf and broke my neck. I am a C5-C7 quadriplegic.

And I still love this game.

People ask me if I accept this injury. No, I have never accepted anything negative in my entire life. I deal with it on a daily basis. And that’s what you do. As an athlete, you deal with mid-stream adjustments. When you are married, you do mid-stream adjustments. It’s what you do. Football is a violent sport, and I will be personally responsible for my actions, on and off the field.

I was out at the Super Bowl talking about accountability; something that these young players need to address when they choose to play this beautiful game. Be accountable. I want the kids in peewee sports, the kids in high school, and the kids in college, to all be accountable. Address the situation you are faced with and then move on from it.

You need to set your own core principles. You need to understand that you cannot break those core principles. You can bend some principles, but you cannot break them. And that’s what I stand for.

The NFL has been good to me. Mr. Ford, the Ford Family, the Detroit Lions, Mr. Tagliabue (at the time) – they’ve been great. Now, Mr. Goodell, he’s stepped up and opened up his arms to me.

But the number one message for me is that I love this game. I love the competition. These men are the best athletes in the world. And I feel blessed to still be a part of what this group has created…from the past old-timers to the Gridiron Greats to these kids now.

This game…I enjoyed it then, I enjoy it now. And I will always be accountable to myself, no matter what I do. 

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Written by: Jarrod Bunch

A Productive Super Bowl Experience

February 05, 2015

I was out at Super Bowl last week, and it was fun to see so many guys after all these years. It’s very nice to get back in touch with guys that you played with. We talked about life, what we’re up to, what we’re trying to do, our families. It’s funny talking to former teammates and opponents about their kids in college… wow, are we old or what!

I was at the Franco Harris Immaculate Reception Dinner and I ran into Mel Blount. Mel played for the Steelers in the 70s, and I have to tell you, the guy still looks like he can play! He still looks good!

It’s really cool when you see people that you haven’t seen or talked to in years, and then you find out they have similar things going on. You come back to meet and see people, and then something else always pops up that shows you just how much you’re connected.

I’ve been in entertainment since 1995 when I retired with the Raiders in Los Angeles. I became an actor, and now I’m actually doing more producing projects. A lot of players have seen me on TV shows and in movies, but I wanted to let them know that I’m also producing now…and producing something that affects the community of professional sports.

One of the first projects that were doing is about former professional athletes. We are taking them back to their hometowns – where they got their scholarship, where they grew up playing – and helping them connect with the people there now. It will be a documentary-type show, but it’s also more of an uplifting, home improvement-style project.

As the project has grown, it’s become more of a professional athlete thing, not just football. We have been developing the project, and before we even shot one, we had so much interest from the networks. We have not signed a network deal yet, but it’s more a question of where we will end up as opposed to if it will air.

Bill Goldberg from WWE, who played in the NFL, loved it so much that he is going to be the host of the show. The response from the players has been outstanding. And I’m glad I was able to go out to Super Bowl to talk to players about the project and let other people know that it exists. I’m really excited about it, so stay tuned!

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Written by: Nick Lowery

The Power Of A Pro

February 05, 2015

I was at the Super Bowl last week, and it’s funny because people kept calling me a “former player.” Truth is, we are never “former” because it’s in our DNA. And people always ask if I still miss it. Of course I do. There’s nothing equivalent that replaces it.

After I left the game, I reflected and learned during the great transition that I went from being a very good college player to arguably the best and most decorated kicker in the history of the game when I played because of my focus. Amidst all the rejection (11 rejections by 8 teams), I made it my 12th time (with the Chiefs) from learning how to focus. Learning how to be mentally and physically tougher.

As a kicker, every single lesson at every other position (including quarterback) is just not the same as the intensity you have to have as a placekicker. You have to block out 11 huge people 20 feet away who want to kill you and are paid millions of dollars to do so. You have to block out all the distractions, and the only thing you can control is yourself.

The only true thing we can rely on is ourselves, our ability to grow and our ability to learn and focus on what matters. And then if we’re lucky, when it’s time to make the transition out of football, we find something with a real level of passion. It won’t be equivalent to what we had on the field (because there’s nothing like it), but it taps into other parts of us.

I think we are in a new era (which the New York Times talked about a few weeks ago) called athletic activism. Because of social media, we’ve seen a growth in the capacity of the individual athlete to be a one-man station standing for important causes. In end, I think that’s what the Commissioner wants, what DeMaurice Smith wants, which is to look at yourself as a 365-degree person who, in the end, has a long life ahead of him even if you make it in the NFL.

The average career is 3.6 years, so by the age of 26 or 27, you are done. I played 18 seasons, but even at 40 years of age, you have a lot of your life ahead of you. Are you going to live your life based on what you did or are you going to live it based on what you learned? You learned how to focus, you learned how to inspire others, you learned how to deal with pressure, and you learned how to be a team player. And most importantly, hopefully you learned how to adapt.

Your real power is in inspiring others, connecting to others, your ability to become more empathetic with other people. An athlete has name recognition, discipline and some skill sets. The key thing is, after reclaiming your ability to focus, find your passion.

I’m trying to help athletes realize how lucky they’ve got it now and how important it is to plant seeds and appreciate what they have so they don’t blow it – for their team, for themselves, for their capacity to be role models when their careers are over. The resources for professional and Olympic athletes are enormous. We can help change the world.

So what I do now – something that I had been searching for and found – are the passions I have today. I went back to Harvard and studied at the Kennedy School of Government; leadership, youth development, non-profit management. I’ve been doing that to help launch AmeriCorps for President Clinton, help get that bill passed. What is it about? AmeriCorps is giving young people references for making a difference, for being leaders, and for making contributions to the quality of life in the small circle around them or in a bigger way. I’m pretty passionate about that.

I love working with kids of all ages and adults in the area of bullying, to teach that we all matter. It makes me emotional just thinking about it, but I was recently at the Gila River Indian Reservation at Blackwater Elementary School outside of Phoenix. I spoke to their community of parents and grandparents, and tried to say something they could all connect with about bullying and how it relates to Native culture.

I’ve always done work in the community, and I feel really blessed because I’m doing what I really love, whether it’s running bullying or leadership programs. And it’s important for today’s pros to recognize that amidst the plenty that they have, there is a great opportunity to do something really impactful while still preserving your own financial security. 

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Written by: Jelani Jenkins

A Signing Day & Recruiting Flashback

February 04, 2015

Signing Day brings back a lot of memories for me. February 4, 2009 was a really great day. We were in the high school gym. The whole student body was there. There was a table and a bunch of cameras in front of me. And my family was standing behind me, all with the same hat on. My Mom was crying. Everybody was so excited. It was an amazing atmosphere, and I remember being kind of nervous and excited at the same time.

There were five of us with Division 1 offers that year, but my selection was the only one captured on television, on ESPN. It might have been the first time I had that many cameras on me like that. Definitely nerve-wracking. All of those cameras in front of you on that day…it’s lot of exposure at a young age.

It was six years ago, but it does feel like a long time ago. A lot has happened since then. As I put back the pieces, the memories, the vision I have from the whole event is from a big, huge picture that one of the teachers at the school gave me afterward. That picture really captured the moment. I had it up on my wall in college, and I always used to look at it. Actually, the picture is hanging on the wall in my old bedroom now. It didn’t make it to Miami. It moved back home when I left college.

The recruitment process is not so easy for a lot of guys. Thankfully, my family was really hands-on and proactive, which made the decision a little bit easier. I had 50-something offers. We went to a lot of different visits. A lot of unofficial visits and only two official visits.

We were able to weed out a lot of the clutter by making a little matrix. We researched all of these schools and ranked them in terms of the categories we deemed most important. There were like 15 categories. Two of the biggies were graduation rate and players going to the NFL. Being able to rank what meant most to me and see the schools that exceled in those categories really opened our eyes. And then the visit is actually what brings it all to life.

It really felt like family when I visited Florida. Besides being in the top 5 in all of the categories I needed it to be, the school had an exciting atmosphere. They were about to play for the National Championship when I went on my visit, so the excitement around the campus was really apparent. Everybody was real friendly and took me under their wing fast. The weather was great. I just remember feeling at peace.

My choice to go to Florida definitely was a choice. I knew there were people in front of me. I knew they were a Championship team, and I wasn’t going to go in and just step on the field and start automatically. Nah, I chose them because of the competition and the competition of the SEC. And I knew I was going to be coached by the best. I knew that I was going to have to find my spot. And everything I wanted to get, I had to earn.

When I got there, it was down to business. Whenever you go to championship-type colleges, recruiting and your high school accolades don’t matter anymore. Your high school highlight tape doesn’t mean anything. And that’s the first time you realize how many great, great, great players there are around the world. There are about 10 other five-star recruits sitting right next to you. You’re not all big and bad on campus anymore. You have to prove yourself.

Everything is all glitter and gold when you get recruited (that’s for everybody), but you have to understand that once you get there, you still have a job to do. When I got to college, it became a grind. It was a lot of hard work. A lot more work than you do in high school. Playing in the heat and all that. But I adjusted..

For a lot of guys, it’s a surprise, but I kind of went there with the mentality that I had to compete. And I knew that being in the same locker room with someone like Brandon Spikes, who would help me grow in my first year, was going to be a great opportunity. I wouldn’t take back the decision to go to Florida for anything.

But the recruiting process definitely presented me with a lot of pressure. I am the kind of guy who struggles to say no. There were a lot of people that were reaching out to me and giving us spiels about the “right” place for me to go. I was a little high school kid – it seems so long ago – but I remember not wanting to hurt anybody’s feelings. Not just coaches, but fans, people who had gotten close to the recruiting process, like players at other schools. My best friend, Michael Wallace, who was sitting next to me on Signing Day, ended up signing with Penn State. And Penn State was my second choice. At the end of the day, it was between Penn State and Florida. I had to make that decision to go to Florida when he really wanted me to go to Penn State. And Florida was farther away from home (Maryland), so a lot of family wanted me to be closer. There were a lot of different stressors. It was a lot.

I tried not to get too focused or stressed out about the rankings, but I do remember being aware of where I was on those lists. My father was really hands-on with dealing with the guys that were calling from the media outlets in terms of the online rankings. My mom was taking a lot of calls, and every number we gave was to her. She managed a lot of the situation. I was able to continue to do well in school and balance everything. I think the recruiting process for me was handled the best it possibly could have been thanks to those around me.

Looking back, there’s one thing I did on Signing Day that I’m glad I did. Before I picked up the hat and chose Florida, I thanked all of the coaches around the NCAA that were recruiting me, especially the top 5 that I had on my board. I had a two-minute spiel pretty much thanking the schools for opening up their arms. It was on TV, so they heard it.

And that’s one piece of advice I would offer the guys going through this now: don’t burn bridges. I was just talking to my Dad the other day about how most of the coaches that were recruiting me are not where they were when I was in high school. Harbaugh from Stanford is now with Michigan. Urban Meyer has moved on. Charlie Weis from Notre Dame…all these guys are not where they were. Many of them are coaching in the NFL now.

So my biggest advice on Signing Day today is not to burn bridges in the recruiting process…and a lot of guys kind of do. When I see guys doing fancy stuff with the hats, like throwing the hat over to the side or over your shoulder, that is disrespectful. I didn’t even have hats on the table. I didn’t want to pick one out of five. I just pulled out the hat that I wanted.

We did a lot to not burn bridges and make sure that we showed appreciation for everybody that helped and taught me a lot throughout the recruiting process. And now in the NFL, you see a lot of the coaches that were recruiting you in college. And they remember the respect you gave to that school. They remember the kind of person you are. It goes a long way.

There have been a lot of exciting times throughout my football career so far, and Signing Day was definitely a highlight. I wish the best of luck and congratulations to the guys experiencing it today!

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Written by: Billy Cundiff

Spreading An Important Message

February 01, 2015

Living here in the Valley, it’s always interesting when the Super Bowl comes in. I can remember the last time it was here, and this year, it feels like it’s grown exponentially. So I wanted to see what was going on and get a good chance to visit with some people from my journey across the league.

I am also here because I wanted the chance to tell people about our Foundation, Colleen’s Dream Foundation, and talk about the things we are accomplishing, as well as spread awareness about ovarian cancer.

We wanted to start an organization that would be bigger than my playing career. We wanted to be an actual player in the ovarian cancer space and make a difference. We’ve gotten off to an amazing start, which I say very humbly. When we first started the organization in December of 2012, we had lofty goals and things that we wanted to get done. Since then, we’ve given out $250,000 in research grants. And we actually just gave out our biggest grant to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for $75,000.

It’s been a true blessing that we’ve been able to carry out the legacy of my mother-in-law. We lost her to this awful disease. We have our big event (a golf tournament and gala) around the third week of February, as close as possible to the anniversary of her passing. It’s our chance to talk about her as much as we possibly can and help people understand what this disease is, understand the signs and symptoms, and hopefully support our efforts to fund research that will get an early detection test and one day a screening tool we can use.

This week I’ve been able to connect with some guys I played with in other places. It’s crazy how many familiar faces you see when you walk through here. But the big thing was talking to media outlets and letting them know what we’re doing. We wanted to establish connections here in Arizona, and it’s interesting because as I’m talking to these people, they are asking things like, do you need more golfers? No, we are actually sold out. Do you need more people to attend your event? No, we are sold out there too. I just want to tell them what we’re doing and hopefully get these people to be a part of our growth because we’ve accomplished a lot in two years and are really starting to turn some heads.

We want to take advantage of the NFL and the situation we have here to let people know what we’re doing while I’m still playing so that when I make the transition out of the game, we’ve already established all these connections and people feel like they’ve been a part of this as we’ve matured.

And we already have so many current and former players involved. Neil Rackers, who’s a friend of mine and was an Arizona Cardinals kicker, loves to be involved with this because he loves to come back and give back the Arizona community. Nick Novak, who I competed with to get the job at the Chiefs (he ended up winning that job, by the way) lost a good friend to ovarian cancer, and now he’s involved. Spencer Lanning, a guy who I’ve become real good friends with and played with the last two years, lost his Grandmother to ovarian cancer. So he got involved in our efforts in Cleveland. This year, we have Mike Nugent coming out to the event. Robbie Gould, Johnny Hecker and Jon Weeks are coming too. These are guys that I’ve either competed against, trained with, played with, you name it.

So many guys are showing their support. And we are only getting started. We are in it to make a real impact.

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Written by: Chester Pitts

Lights, Camera, Action

January 31, 2015

This year I am at Super Bowl doing a little reporting and corresponding for Channel 2 in Houston, the NBC affiliate. I’m covering some of the fun, lifestyle stuff, and then I’ll cover the game for them as well.

If you’ve never been to Radio Row it’s really hard to describe. The layout, the production, there are so many radio stations here. For me, I love seeing the production of a production. I am taking it in and paying attention to the way things are set up.

Since I’ve retired and been doing some media work, I’ve found the production side very interesting. So when I get the opportunity to learn something new, I have to take advantage of it. I live in Houston, so it’s not like being in L.A. or New York. It’s a Top 10 market, but it’s not the same as the big boys, so it’s harder to learn some of this. I’m paying a lot of attention to the behind the scenes and hope to some day make a business out of the production side of things. We’ll see.

My last NFL season was 2011. And then in 2012 I did an internship with a wealth management and medical services company. I learned that business and had a blast. But it was only part-time, and I wanted to find something else to do. And then some of the media partners out in Houston asked me to come on and do some of their shows. One station said they wanted me all to themselves, and that’s how that got going. I’ve been doing that for two years now. I’m on Sports Sunday, which is a 30-minute Sunday night show. It’s awesome.

Even though I’ve been at this for a couple years, I’m still learning a new craft. The studying is different. I’m learning how to follow the cameras, how to spot my one shot, working the two shot, being engaging, how much I can move my hands because TV flattens you out…all those good things. I’m picking up and learning little things like that. I hold myself to a very high standard. If you’re going to do it, you may as well do it right. So, for me, going through the process of getting is right, is really fun and interesting.

I only played in Seattle one season, which isn’t like playing the 8 or 9 years that I did in Houston, but I had a great time playing there. There were a ton of really, really good people at that organization. When Pete (Carroll) came in and built that team up, it made it pretty doggone awesome. Seeing the way that defense has developed, the way they’re playing, what Russell Wilson has pulled off…are you kidding me? It’s been a pretty cool ride just to watch from afar.

And even though I’m a reporter, there’s nothing wrong with showing your bias, as long as you disclose it. Think about Michael Strahan. He’s an unabashed Giants fan. He calls it fairly, he sees what he sees, but at the end of the day, he still wants them to win!

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Written by: Kelvin Beachum

While I’m In The Neighborhood…

January 31, 2015

I’ve been in the area doing some training, and I wanted to come to Super Bowl this week to utilize the resources and get around the festivities, which I’ve never done before.

If I’m not in Pittsburgh, I’m usually in the Dallas area with my family, where my wife and I are from. But now, I am training with LaCharles Bentley at O-Line Performance outside of Phoenix. I came out here last offseason, and have been out here quite a bit.

I’m working hard and getting back at it. After having a good season, I want to build on the momentum and try to take it forward to the next season. I took a little time off, but I’m getting back into the swing of things. Even if it’s not crazy heavy lifting, I’m getting back into the flow of working out, getting back to those good eating and sleeping habits, so that I make sure that I have another successful season. The best way to stay in shape is to never get out of shape!

I’m enjoying it here and having fun with the Super Bowl experience. There’s a lot of stuff going on. It’s pretty cool seeing so many players here. I just saw Ryan Mundy, who I haven’t seen since he left Pittsburgh.. I saw Le’Veon Bell earlier. I’ve seen a bunch of guys I’ve played against, guys like Jimmy Graham.

There are so many great players from the National Football League here. I was with Terry Bradshaw at his roast a couple days ago, and I saw Joe Montana too. It’s special to know that a lot of people that have benefited from the NFL still find a way to come back and speak to the media, speak to current players about how to do things the right way, and stay connected to the game. 

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Written by: Donte' Stallworth

My Second Chapter

January 31, 2015

I always like to come back to the Super Bowl, especially to Radio Row. I played for a number of teams, so to be able to come back and do interviews with some of the same media outlets that I dealt with when I was a player, it’s always fun.

And now they are allowing fans in to see Radio Row for themselves. The kids are excited to see some of their favorite players, and for me, seeing the kids’ faces light up and smile, that’s one of the best parts.

While being here does make me miss the game more, it also brings back great memories. Obviously a lot of the current and former players come back, so I get to see a lot of friends, a lot of ex-teammates. This is the biggest show around, so it’s fun to come back and be able to be in this mix.

I’m currently working as a national security fellow for the Huffington Post, and thankfully, they still allow me to have my football life, so to speak, so I was able to sneak away for a few days. This season I was also doing analyst work for Comcast SportsNet New England, and they allowed me to do that. I missed some Mondays because of it and have had some speaking engagements, but they’ve allowed it. They’ve been nothing but awesome to me.

I’m living in Washington, DC and working from the Huffington Post office every day from 10am to 6pm. I’ve covered briefings at the Pentagon, I’m at the Capitol regularly, I’ve been able to go to the White House. I actually went to the White House once before my freshman year when we won the National Championship, but I hadn’t been in any other capacity. I was even at the State of the Union.

For me, I’ve always loved American politics and history, so to be able to go and do these things, it’s almost surreal. Sometimes I forget that I’m working, and walk around thinking, man, this it’s just amazing. Being able to see all the history on the walls of the Pentagon...again, surreal.

The office told me if I could find a story while I’m at Super Bowl, then to go for it. But if not, it’s fine. I’m trying to figure out how I can pull some kind of a political story out of this, and I’ve been back and forth with people at work trying to figure something out. Either way, I know that when I get back to DC, I’ll have plenty of work to catch up on! There’s never a day where I don’t have something to do, which I love!

I’m passionate about the work I’m doing, so it’s always fun. And that’s one of the things that I tell players who are in the league now or transitioning out of the league. I tell them that you have to find something you are passionate about that will keep you busy. It won’t necessarily take the place of playing in the NFL – nothing can do that – but it will keep you challenged. And that’s one of the things guys miss most when they are done playing. You miss the competitiveness and you miss the camaraderie in the locker room.

I’m so grateful to have found my next passion at this point in life. Even as a kid, I used to love to write. Back then I was writing movie scripts ☺. Now I’m able to combine my love for American politics, foreign policy and national security with my love for writing…all the while still doing my football work.

I’m in heaven. It’s a dream come true for me.

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