Friday, July 27, 2012

Panthers' Smith catches questions

Carolina Panther star wideout plans to excite this season
Carolina Panther wide receiver Steve Smith always seems to be misunderstood. People that don’t know him think that he’s got a quick temper, while those that do know him understand his passion for the game. He also doesn’t get as much credit as he should for the way he plays on the field.

There’s a lot more to Steve than his ability on the field, though. He’s a genuinely good person. He serves as a mentor and friend to the boys of the Carolina Panthers Courage House. He visits often to play basketball, video games and assist with homework. He also buys all the guys at the Courage House season tickets every year. That’s only a sample of what Steve is all about.

I wanted to see what he was up as training camp was approaching. Take a look at what one of my favorite football players and I talked about recently.

Anthony: What’s going on, Steve?
Steve: Nothing much.

Anthony: As you know, I thought you did your thing this past season. Give me your thoughts on the past football season.

Steve: Oh yeah, it was real nice. The team did a great job of rallying around Cam (Newton). We accomplished some of the goals that we set at the beginning of the year. But, we still wanted to end the season stronger. We definitely think some things will work out better this season.
Smith chats with D'Angelo Williams and Cam Newton.

Anthony: No doubt. I feel good about Cam. What type of things do you like to do when you’re not running routes, catching balls or doing something related to football?
Steve: You know, play video games, interact with my children, barbecuing and things like that.
Anthony: Oh yeah?
Steve: Yeah.

Anthony: What kind of games do you like to play?
Steve: I’m into the snow boarding games.
Anthony: You like snow boarding?
Steve: (Laughs.) Yeah.
Anthony: OK. How often do you get back to California? (Steve’s home state.)
Steve: I go every May. (Both laugh.) I make sure I go when it’s sunshine over there.

Anthony: (Smiles.) How does a California guy end up going to college in Utah?
Steve: I didn’t want to go somewhere too far from home. But, I wanted a free trip to somewhere different. I always told myself that I wanted to go somewhere for free, that I wouldn’t ever visit. I liked the atmosphere. And, I was from California and had never seen snow. (Both laugh.) There were a lot of things that I liked about the school. Plus, they pass the ball a lot, so that helped me.
Steve Smith will actor Will Smith, during his visit to Charlotte.

Anthony: No doubt. How are you enjoying Charlotte?
Steve: It’s great. (Laughs.) I actually live in South Carolina. South Carolina is even better.
Anthony: When I watch you on the field, I’m always impressed by your ability.Do you think that you get enough respect?
Steve: Probably not. But respect is actually in the eye of the beholder. You don’t have to respect me, but corners know that when they line up against me it’s going to be a tough game. Just because nobody says a lot about me doesn’t mean that players don’t respect me. Teams run a different coverage from what we watched in their previous games.

Anthony: (Smiles.) OK. Is there a lot of trash talking that goes on during football games?
Steve: Yeah, sometimes. I did a lot of trash talking my first couple of years, but now I don’t. It exerts too much energy. I may say something to a guy to see where his head is.
Anthony: (Laughs.) Uh huh. I bet, dawg.

Steve: (Giggles.) A lot of times a guy is talking to me, and I just ignore him. (Both laugh.) And, that kind of irritates him. He can’t get me out of my game.
Anthony: Which defensive back would you say has played you the tightest?
Steve: I would have to say, “Champ.” Champ Bailey. He usually does a good job against me. 

Anthony: You began your career as one of the premier kick return guys in the league. Now you’ve obviously elevated your game as a receiver. Where are you in your career?
Steve: I’m kind of where I would like to be in my career. I am enjoying playing. I'm enjoying life. I’ve got my goals. I want to be a consistent pro bowl receiver and a hall of famer. But only time will tell.

Anthony: If you could play any other position, what would it be?
Steve: Honestly?

Anthony: (Smiles.) Of course
Steve: Punter or long snapper.
Anthony: (Laughs.) Come on now. Why?
Steve: They have long careers and don’t do anything. (Both laugh.) What they make in three checks, I probably make in eight or nine checks.
Anthony: What’s your favorite TV show?
Steve: “Law and Order.”

Anthony: I used to watch that all of the time. That used to be my show too, dawg. What’s your relationship like with coach Rivera?

Steve: (Laughs.) Uh, I’d say day to day.
Anthony: (Laughs.) Let’s conclude with free association. 

Steve: OK.
Anthony: The Temptations.
Steve: Good music.
Anthony: Rocky Balboa.
Steve: (Laughs.) Ugly.

Anthony: USC.
Steve: Shammed.
Anthony: Utah.
Steve: Up and coming.

Smith with his wife at a Bobcats game.
Anthony: Peyton Smith. (Steve’s son)
Steve: Future first rounder.
Anthony: The lovely Baylee. (Steve’s daughter.)
Steve: Staying at home until she’s 30. (Both laugh.)
Anthony: Well, we’re through dawg. I appreciate you taking the time to do this.
Steve: It's cool. You know that. I'll see you later, man.
Anthony: You already know.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Throwback Q&A with Hawk's Jeff Teague

As some of you know, I'm starting to compile some of my favorite Q&A interviews with sports stars for a book that I hope to finish within this year.
I was looking over some interviews this morning while discussing the topic with a friend. Former Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague, who's presently the starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks was one of my favorite athletes to talk to.
He's got a very good game. And, he's the first Wake guard to really impress me since my main man Chris Paul. I caught up with Teague a couple weeks before he declared for the NBA Draft in 2009. Take a look at some of the things we talked about during a cool conversation.

Anthony: What's going on, Jeff?

Jeff: Nothing, really. Just been chilling. Getting ready to head to Indy for the Easter break. It's going to be good to see family and friends I haven't seen in a while.
Anthony: Let's talk a little basketball for a minute.

Jeff: All right.

Anthony: Characterize this past season for me.
Teague during his days at Wake Forest
Jeff: I mean, we did pretty good. We were ranked number one for a minute. We beat some good teams. We did some good things. We definitely finished better than a lot of people predicted. It was kind of disappointing to not advance in the Dance. But Cleveland State wanted it more than we did that night.
Anthony: That's an understatment. What happen to you all that night? Nevermind. (Both laugh.) I don't even want to go there. I talked to someone that played against you in high school. And, he said that you drive to the cup more now. Do you penetrate more than you did in high school?
Jeff: Uh, I penetrated a lot in high school. But I also shot a lot of threes because it was easier to get my shot off. I guess you can say I'm a better penetrater now.
Anthony: (Smiles.) Who are you picking to win it all?
Jeff: UNC.
Anthony: No doubt. What are you usually doing when you're not balling, bruh?
Jeff: Probably in the locker room playing video games with James (Johnson) and Gary. I love fighting games.
Anthony: Do you have a favorite show you like to watch?
Jeff: I still watch old re-runs of the Jamie Foxx Show during the late night.
Anthony: What was the last CD you bought or copied?
Jeff: Probably some Lil' Wayne CD.
Anthony: If you could play one-on-one with anyone who would it be?
Jeff: Probably LeBron. He's one of my favorite players to watch. I probably wouldn't win. He's beat me 11-3 or something like that. But it would be fun to play him.
Anthony: OK. Who wins between you and CP (Chris Paul)?
Jeff: It depends on how many dribbles we get because CP can shake you up a little bit. If we only get three dribbles then I think I could get him. We've played a little game called one-on-one-on-one. I won a couple. He won most of them. (Both laugh.)

Anthony: Are you coming back next year?
Jeff: (Smiles.) Yes. I think I'll be back next year. I'm pretty sure I'll play my junior year.  
Anthony: If you could trade places with anyone who would it be?

Jeff: Bill Gates. I need some money. He's got all the money.
Anthony: What kind of car would you like to have right now?
Jeff: A range rover. Chris' brother, C.J., got a hot range. I've wanted one ever since I saw his last year.
Anthony: What are the hottest sneakers right now?
Jeff: Probably the latest Jordan packages.
Anthony: What do you think about my kicks. (I'm showing off my exclusive Josh Howard Air Jordans).
Jeff: (Smiles.) Oh, those are hot. Real hot. I like those.
Anthony: No doubt. Let's finish up with free association. Uh, Wake Forest basketball.
Jeff: Great program.
Anthony: Jeff Teague.
Jeff: Student-athlete.
Anthony: Josh Howard. (Utah Jazz forward.)
Jeff: One of the greatest.
Anthony: Best guard in the ACC.
Jeff: Tyrese Rice. (Boston College)
Anthony: We'll stop right there, bruh. I'll catch up with you later homie.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Panther's DeAngelo Williams chats with ya boy

I may not have met a cooler pro football player than Carolina Panther running back DeAngelo Williams. He and I met during his first year with the Panthers.
Williams was drafted 27th (first round) by the Carolina Panthers in the 2006 NFL Draft after a stellar career at the University of Memphis. I was at the press conference to welcome Williams a couple days when he was drafted. I instantly gravitated to the speedy running back. I think it was because how low key DeAngelo is most of the time. He's simply a funny and cool dude.
It seemed like just yesterday he and I were talking about how cool it was to be playing with and against guys he used to play with on video games and watch on television.
Take a look at some of the things DeAngelo and I discussed during a past interview.
Anthony: What's good, Dee?

DeAngelo: I'm doing all right, man. I'm hanging in there.

Anthony: (Smiles.) Let me ask you this. Has the league been everything you expected it to be?

DeAngelo: Yeah, it's all right. You remember...coming in, I thought it was going to be extremely fast, the guys were going to be extremely big. I overemphasized the characteristics of the NFL so it wouldn't be as bad as it would've been if I had underemphasized it. It's just about how fast you make your decisions. Plus, speed kills in this game. But you still have to know a lot about what's going on on the field. There's more to this league than being fast.
Anthony: I remember you were almost shocked during your first preseason game a few years ago. (Smiles.) I think it was against Buffalo.

DeAngelo: (Laughs.) Yeah. You still remember that?

Anthony: (Smiles.) No doubt.
DeAngelo: I wasn't ready for it. I was like, "Wow." I even had to pinch myself a couple time on the sidelines to make sure it was real. I mean, those were the guys that I used to watch on TV for years. After the game, you walk to the middle of the field and see some of those guys and you realize they're celebrities. But it's nothing now.

Anthony: (Smiles.) I feel you.
DeAngelo: I'm going to tell you what got me. The fact that there were so many guys willing to help me when I first got into the league. I thought things were a lot rougher in the league. Even my coaches at Memphis told me not to make many friends, and that everyone is competiting. But everyone wants to win.

Anthony: No doubt. Did you feel like you were better than Reggie Bush? I mean, it seemed like he was the big talk coming out of college -- for obvious reasons.

DeAngelo: It's not even that, man. We're in two different offenses and we both do our thing for our teams. The same about when we were in college. I don't compare myself to him. I'm sure he doesn't compare himself with me.
Anthony: How much have you enjoyed living in Charlotte?

DeAngelo: It's been all right. It's different, man. I don't go out much. I'm not a go-out-much person. I like to sit at home, or go bowling. Or, I'll watch a movie.
Anthony: We'll need to get you to come bowl during Chris Paul's celebrity bowling event for charity.

DeAngelo: (Smiles.) Yeah. I'd love to come get down.

Anthony: What do you listen to before games?

DeAngelo: It's strange,but I don't even listen to music.
Anthony: Whatever.
DeAngelo: Honestly. I don't. When I'm in the car I'm usually on the phone. I'll hear something on the radio and be like, "That's hot." My girl will probably download it to my iPod, but I will probably only listen to it two or three times a month.

Anthony: Why did you keep No. 34? I thought you would go back to your college number (20).

DeAngelo: I like 34. I wore that number in high school.
Anthony: Oh, OK. I didn't know that. What's your favorite television show?
DeAngelo: (Smiles.) I like the Boondocks and The Family Guy. I've even got the Boondocks box set.

Anthony: How much longer do you see yourself playing in the league?

DeAngelo: I honestly don't know, man. I'm still excited. I have a strong passion burning inside of me for this sport. I don't know anyone that can foreshadow my career. I don't take that many hits. I get tackled. There's a difference between getting tackled and getting hit. My running style helps me. I think that will further my career in the league.

Anthony: Do you have any nicknames?
DeAngelo: When I first got into the league DeShaun (Foster) called me Dark Wing, Bojangles, Razzle-Dazzle. He told me that I'm not Bo Jackson. He said that I'm Bojangles. (Both laugh.) You know I've got a little shake to my game. DeShaun used to call me anything, though.
Anthony: (Laughs.) I see. Let's finish with free association. Just tell me the first thing that comes to mind.

DeAngelo: OK.
Anthony: Wynne, Arkansas (DeAngelo's hometown).
DeAngelo: (Laughs.) Next question.
Anthony: (Smiles.) Memphis.
DeAngelo: Beautiful. I love it.
Anthony: DeAngelo Williams.
DeAngelo: A sight to see.
Anthony: Carolina Panthers.
DeAngelo: A team to be reckoned with.
Anthony: T.O. (Terrell Owens).
DeAngelo: A beast.
Anthony: Steve Smith.
DeAngelo: Ultimate game breaker.
Anthony: I agree. Well, we're done. I will see you later on this summer. Good luck to you this upcoming year.
DeAngelo: All right, bruh. Thanks.