Cowboys' QB embraces being a role model
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who is coming to Boise on June 8, talked with Idaho Statesman reporter Nick Jezierny to discuss his visit, his life as a football player and his life away from football.
Here is a bulk of that interview:
Question: You're a star quarterback in the NFL and you're coming to Boise to be inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. What are your thoughts on that?
Answer: First of all, as a professional athlete I've always thought it was a great privilege to be able to have a positive impact on the world in a way other than just entertaining them on Sundays and Mondays. I really feel like it's something most athletes are aware of and do a great job of. Sometimes it's overlooked publicly. That's why it's so great that the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame is out there, to give recognition to some athletes who try to make the world a better place.
Q: Do you ever think of yourself as a humanitarian or a role model?
A: I think as athletes we're all role models, whether guys like it or want to embrace it or not. Everybody watches what we do, in particular young people watch what we do. We're all definitely role models. ... As far as being a humanitarian, I don't know, that seems like kind of a big word to lay on somebody. I do feel like I have tried to make a positive impact in the world with our Parenting With Dignity Foundation, and it certainly is a great honor to be recognized.
Q: You and your father, Mac, worked on the book project "Parenting with Dignity.'' You're a father now — what is the No. 1 thing your father taught you about parenting?
A: The No. 1 thing is anything we teach our kids has to come from love first. I think our kids have to understand everything we're teaching them and telling them comes with a message of love attached to it, whether it's a criticism or a positive remark. They just have to know that we have their best interest at heart and that's our only motivation. That is the absolute No. 1 thing.
Q: You once visited the Idaho State Maximum Security Prison in Orofino to talk to inmates about the "Parenting with Dignity" program. What was that like?
A: That was the one of the more intimidating things that I've done. You walk in there and the bars slam behind you, and you're locked inside. It was a pretty intimidating situation. But once you started talking to these guys, you didn't feel like you were in danger. You felt like there were a lot of guys in there who were relatively normal guys who made a mistake. ... We had an amazing response — a lot responded in a more dramatic way than people on the outside.
Q: OK, let's talk football. As a former No. 1 pick, what kind of advice do you have for new No. 1 pick Alex Smith?
A: When you're the No. 1 pick in the draft, by definition, you're going to a team that isn't very good. He's going to have to be very patient. The other thing is you just keep your mouth shut and work hard. ...
Q: What is the absolute hardest part about playing quarterback in the NFL?
A: You have to deal with everything at the same time. You have to know what all 11 guys on your side are doing, know what all 11 guys on the other side are doing and you've got to make a ton of decisions in a short amount of time. You've got to be right all the time if you are going to win.
Q: Where is your favorite place to play football?
A: I've always been jealous of those guys who get to play in San Diego. ... Playing in New England and Buffalo for all of those years, I was pretty jealous of those guys. ... I will tell you, though, that I've always felt that playing in nasty weather has always been an advantage for me. I think I'm undefeated in snow games — I think I'm 7- or 8-0. ...
Q: Least favorite place?
A: The Meadowlands in New Jersey. The fans are nasty, and the thing that makes that place hard to play in other than the fans saying stuff about your mom, is the fact that the wind is never consistent and is always swirling. ... It's really a frustrating place to play.
Q: When I say New England Patriots, what thought immediately comes to mind?
A: It's mixed emotions, for sure. I'm still extremely proud of what I accomplished while I was in New England and I'm very, very happy for my friends who are on that team and have had so much success. At the same time, I'm jealous at what happened after I left. ...
Q: What will it take for Dallas to reach the Super Bowl, and can it happen this season?
A: I think we can. Obviously to do that you have to have some good luck and stay healthy. As far as having the pieces in place, I think if we stay healthy we have a really good shot. ... We've got a real shot to get something done.
Q: What do you want to do after your NFL career is over?
A: I'm going to start growing wine grapes up in the Columbia Valley (Washington). I might do some real estate stuff and play golf. By that time, I'll probably be pretty busy going to Little League games and basketball games and chasing these four kids around.
Q: Another NFL quarterback, Peyton Manning, is coming to Boise this summer? What are your thoughts on that guy?
A: Peyton is probably playing the game as well as anybody right now. You watch what he's doing with the offense he has and he's probably the best at the position. He's doing a great, great job. He's had the benefit of being in the same system for a long time, and he's got a great mastery of that system. ... He's just a tremendous quarterback.
Q: You've been to the Super Bowl and lost. Peyton desperately wants to get to the Super Bowl for a chance to win. Despite all of its wonderful qualities, can the NFL sometimes be a cruel place?
A: It definitely can. Playing in the NFL is the greatest job I possibly could imagine. At the same time, it can be cruel and tough on you. ... Losing in the Super Bowl is a really tough thing to swallow because you reached the top of that mountain and you're right there and can touch it, and to have that ripped away from you is really, really tough. It took me a little while to get over it.
Q: We all saw Peyton doing that TV commercial last season — "cut that meat, cut that meat" and "let's go insurance adjusters, let's go!" Would you have done that commercial at the risk of catching so much heat from your teammates?
A: I thought that one was pretty funny. The other one that was great was (Brett) Favre's deal when he was running around doing the same stuff. Peyton's obviously a terrible actor, but I think what made the commercial funny was his lack of acting skills.
Q: Do you have any regrets over some of the commercials that you've ever done?
A: There were some really bad ones early in my career. The worst ones were the local commercials I did out in New England. I was out in a flannel shirt chopping some wood. It was a Ford commercial, and it was absolutely horrible.
Q: Do you have a favorite?
A: There was a Nike commercial where I was out in the field throwing balls at this scarecrow. ... It was actually a real guy with a hubcap over his face and he couldn't see. I'm out there throwing footballs at him, and he can't defend himself because he can't see and because he's tied to a post. ... At the end of the day, he had a bloody nose and was bruised all over the place. I think I hit him in the (groin) once. It was awful, but it was pretty funny.
Q: You played on the blue turf when you played for Walla Walla High in Washington. You lost to Borah — what do you remember about that game?
A: It was just weird. Once the game started, you didn't really notice it anymore. But when you came out for warmups it felt weird. It didn't feel like football. It was really, really strange when you first saw it.