At AAA, diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than commitments. They're absolutely vital to our continued success. That's why we're always looking for talented, ambitious people who share our values and mission to provide excellent service. And we're committed to providing opportunities for continued career growth. To learn more about AAA's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and career opportunities, visit AAA.com slash careers.
That's AAA.com slash careers. The Mariners make the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Seems like a great time to welcome another former Seattle professional athlete. His name is Jesse Bradley, first time on the show, was a goalie for the Sounders, but also played professional soccer in other parts of the world.
And has a passion and a drive and an energy that will get you hooked and engaged right away. Just did a couple of conversations with him. I can't wait to hear how he does as a radio star.
So Jesse, welcome to the show. In Seattle, this is obviously a huge week with the Mariners back into the postseason. Fans are going crazy.
You're there. What's it been like in the midst of this Mariners fever? We are celebrating. There's some euphoria going on.
When you wait for something for decades, then it finally happens. I mean, people are going crazy. And I know season ticket holders who didn't celebrate, even though the magic number was down to like four, three, two, one. They would not celebrate until they clinched because sometimes there's a little trauma when your team hasn't made the playoffs. We've gone to a lot of games. You know, my kids, they're always having fun. Kettle corn, summer, relaxing, retractable roof.
There's a lot of things. But now there's actually a team that's winning, going into the playoffs with momentum. And I like to use sports as a platform metaphor for life. And I like to say, looking back at the Mariners, 2001, they won 116 games, the most ever. And that was the high point. People still talk about the glory days. And then there's the dirge of all the years without playoffs. And the Mariners needed a new song.
And sometimes in our lives, we can't live in the past, in the glory days of the past, or even in the disappointing days. But we need a new song. And the Mariners have given fresh hope to the city.
And there's a buzz right now. And hopefully we get some success. Love to see them make a deep run in the playoffs. There's some great players on the team, but everyone's enjoying it.
It's been a long time. Well, does that hope then extend to fans believing that they can be a contender for the World Series? Or are they satisfied with being nominated, quote, unquote, satisfied with making the playoffs?
That's right. They are so thrilled. Sometimes when you meet a goal and you feel like, you know, they didn't set the goal to win the World Series this year. And so there's less pressure on them.
In sports, pressure is huge in how you manage pressure. And I think they're playing freely. They're enjoying it.
You see the bond they have. You know, great teams have an awesome culture in the locker room. And with the Mariners, they built that up.
And so it's really a both and. I think they've built it with the foundation that's going to last. Julio Rodriguez, 28 home runs, right?
Rookie of the Year candidate. They've got talent. They've got some starting pitching that I think they're going to be around for a while and they know it. So they're not complacent, but they're also not nervous and they don't look up tight. So I think they're set up well and whatever experience they get this year, it's going to be valuable in the years to come.
So fans are shifting. And next year, I don't think making the playoffs is going to bring the same excitement because it'll be a little more expected. And I think they've got a chance this year. They're going to face the Blue Jays. It's going to be a great matchup. That series starting off on Friday, actually at 107 Seattle time, as you mentioned, it's in Toronto.
So I can imagine there'll be a lot of people who are either ducking out of work early or if they have to work, will be listening or following the Mariners kind of on the down low. Jesse, you were a former pro athlete and we'll talk about your career. What are the secrets to building chemistry in a locker room or a clubhouse? As you point out, it can be an intangible and it can take time to build it.
Absolutely. Winning builds a bond and winning builds friendships and everyone's happy when you're winning. But the key is to have those relationships before the winning comes. I've always felt like the best teams I've played on, the most successful teams, it's felt like family. And we just like spending time together. And whether it's cards on the back of the bus, it's getting a meal together, it's talking about life together, you get to know everyone's personalities. And when you can, you know who to joke with, you know who to jab and you know how to bring out the best in one another.
On the great teams, you're thinking we more than me. And you look around and you start to know where someone likes the ball. You know the run they're going to make and you set them up for success. And when you bring out the best in each other, it gets contagious. And suddenly people are using their gifts and they've never been playing at such a high level. And then someone else starts to do that.
And pretty soon, again, it becomes contagious. So the best teams have the best cultures. It starts with leadership.
It's the coaches. Then it's the captain of the team. And truly, you drop the selfishness.
You're not thinking about stats and awards and you're not thinking about money or your next contract. You're focused on this group and you're willing to sacrifice, make some personal sacrifices, go the extra mile. I mean, there's just a culture on winning teams that you show up early and you stay late because you're doing the small things well. My Scottish coach used to say, it's the wee things, meaning it's the little things. And he'd say, you know, the way you do the little things is the way you do everything.
And if you do the little things right, you're going to get the big results. And championship teams, they understand that they do the little things well and everyone's committed to it. You can't have silos.
You can't have division. You've got to be on the same page. You've got to have buy in.
It always starts with great leadership. Oh, my goodness. That works in every locker room. Jesse Bradley is a former professional goalkeeper in the U.S., in Scotland, in Zimbabwe. We're so pleased to connect with him here on After Hours with Amy Lawrence on CBS Sports Radio. So, Jesse, we know that Seattle sports fans are excited about the Mariners. They're also extremely passionate about their Sounders and you spent time there. You've got a big event coming up that brings people together for faith and family. What about that culture with the Sounders?
Why do people buy into it and why is it so successful there? Seattle is a soccer city and you see that at all ages. I have four kids. They're all playing soccer. University of Washington, they're ranked number one in the nation. And I'm good friends with the coach. It's great to see players developed at every level. And then the Sounders have been so strong. The Sounders won the CONCACAF title this year. And for those of you who don't follow soccer as closely, that's the champions of the MLS, the League of America, and the champions in Mexico. And they come together in a tournament and American teams have never won that. This is the first time they ever won the championship. And so the Sounders are celebrating that this year, but really it's representative of American professional soccer now so much better than it's ever been. The quality of the players just keeps raising. The fans, there's 33,000 fans on average that come to a game for the Sounders. And it's electric.
They're singing. It's an incredible atmosphere. Even if you don't understand the intricacies of the game, when you're in that stadium, you just don't forget it. And the Sounders have been consistent. They've won, again, MLS titles, two MLS titles.
They've won other cups. They have a tradition of excellence. And the city, anytime someone does something with excellence, like let's say you don't enjoy the symphony that much, but if you go and you see the dedication and the excellence, you can appreciate that. And people who come to the game see that.
And the constant singing and the movement, the dancing, it's like it's a place you just want to be. And the Sounders have carried that. Faith and Family, we had one before COVID, and then we had to wait a while for groups to gather, but this year it's back on. And so this next game that's coming up, Freddie Montero is the all-time leading scorer for the Sounders. He's also, in addition to MLS All-Star, won humanitarian awards. And so he and I, long conversation, talk about our life, our journey, our challenges, our faith, and that's part of the day. Faith and Family, you know, I love it that so many pro sports teams really see that for their athletes, it's holistic. And a lot of teams have chaplains.
Sometimes you see prayer before a game and when someone gets injured. And all of us, we have intellectual, we have social, relational, we have physical, we also have spiritual. And I think Faith and Family is a celebration that we are spiritual beings. That's an important part of our lives. And I'm so grateful that the Sounders partner with us and we get to encourage people in this part of their lives. Except that it's more recent as a development with pro sports teams that they are paying attention to not just physical health, but mental health, emotional health.
As you point out, spiritual health is so important. Athletes, just like any other human being in any walk of life, they tend to thrive when all of those various parts of us are healthy and working together. It's not just about having a physical body that is talented. It's about having a mind and a heart and your emotions that are also locked in. And you can see how teams are starting to understand that because they're spending millions and millions of dollars to make sure that their athletes are cared for in other ways.
Yes, that's so well said. Cared for is the key that it's not just someone who performs well on a field, but you're caring about the whole person. You know, I played college in the Ivy League at Dartmouth and I couldn't figure out my own life since I was doing so well. Our team won the Ivy League championship.
I had personal awards and then I was at a great school and I couldn't figure out what was missing on the inside. And then I took a class introduction to world religions and I never even thought God existed. I come from a family kind of like Baskin Robbins, 31 flavors and listeners, you know, that was spiritually listeners.
CBS Sports Radio is probably a wide range and we want to respect each other. So for me and my journey, something I discovered later in life and the professor assigned the Bible and I learned about Jesus and I was blown away. I was like, wow, I've never heard this. And I started a relationship with God. But what happened is from the inside out is that I'm not performance based identity. There's not much pressure on me.
I'm loved. And there's a security there and similar sports psychology. Why do teams bring them in? Because mental health is so important. And when you care for people, you're going to bring out the best in people and that's true in every work environment is true in sports. And when you can provide when an employer can provide the resources someone wants to develop and grow in different areas of their life, like that person is going to thrive. And when you're healthy on the inside, there's going to be an overflow on the outside.
And that that's so valuable. There's so much pressure on kids right now. They should be enjoying sports. But instead, sometimes the parents I joke that if you because my kids, you know, they play in soccer teams. And sometimes there's parents that are really over the top.
And sometimes I'm tempted to be that way. If you had, you know, a camera, call it the parents cam. If you could show the sidelines and what they're yelling at this ref who's 14 years old and like just got a ref license and they're just like cursing them out.
If they had to show that on social media the next day on your page, it would be embarrassing. Like what other position you get yelled at like that. But sometimes in sports, we just go we get out of control. And if the parents are out of control, the pressure for the kids at home is intense and then suddenly they're not enjoying it as much. And so, again, we're talking about culture in this interview, but changing the culture where it's it's different. And it isn't the pressure performance based, but it's about developing people.
It's about relationships. And when it's healthy at a young age, you know, so often the kids then are going to excel. They're going to play the sport longer.
They're not going to get burned out. And really, sports in our culture, sometimes sports dominates and it becomes the number one. And I don't think sports has ever been designed to be the number one in life. And when you elevate it that high and I know because as a goalkeeper, I put that pressure on myself, you start to lose the joy of the sport. But when it's in its right spot and you've got other things that are above it, then you actually you're at your best because, you know, we saw this with the men's national team. I think against Japan recently is that they just the World Cup's coming. They look stiff. And in sports, if you get too much pressure on you, you wait, knuckle it.
You're not going to play your best. So having sports in its proper place, caring for the whole individual, that's really going to develop the kind of athletes that are going to be long term. And then they can pour back into younger athletes. And now you've got a consistency where it's healthy. And we need that in sports. We really do. And the more athletes, high profile athletes who are willing to speak out about their challenges in mental health or that they needed time to recover from something that happened in their families or personally to them away from the field, the court, the ice, the more people will be willing to speak out and recognize that it's OK.
It's a very real part of being a human. Forget being an athlete. We're spending time with Jesse Bradley, who's a former professional soccer goalkeeper, and he played for the Sounders, but also played in other parts of the world where soccer is king. Jesse, why do you think it is that in the United States we lag behind when it comes to our passion for what people call the beautiful game? You know, such a good question.
You do a great job. And CBS Sports Radio. I mean, I get that jingle.
I was just sharing with our media director that jingle is in my head. And it's exciting to be with you today and talk about this stuff. The topics you're bringing up are so rich, like you were just talking about mental health and for athletes to be able to be transparent. I played in Africa. My career ended tragically. I took a prescribed medication to prevent malaria, and it was the end of my career. I was fighting for my life for one year, 10 years to fully recover.
And part of the side effects, of course, there was a physical side effects, but, you know, it caused panic attacks and waves of depression. And as an athlete, I never knew how to deal with those things. I never knew how to let people in. And overcoming that and restoring, kind of rebuilding my life and my mental health, there was a lot there in the recovery. And I won't get into all that, but again, that transparency, that letting people in, learning those skills, I was excelling on the field, but I didn't know in between my ears kind of how to work through things. And so I appreciate that reminder that we can be vulnerable and that a lot of times there's no healing until the revealing.
And so when there's that transparency, then we can learn in some new coping skills like that I never had before. And, you know, my experience overseas in Zimbabwe, in Scotland, soccer is clearly number one sport, you know, tying into your question. Around the world, the World Cup's coming up, there's an estimated audience of 5 billion people. There is no sporting event that comes close.
And so in America, we have great options. I mean, there's five, six, seven sports kids are choosing from. Soccer is one of many. But in other countries, soccer is number one. There's no close second.
It's not close at all. And America is making some great steps forward. I've thought in our country, soccer will really take off when the professional league is outstanding. And like I said earlier, the MLS is developed so much further than what it used to be because young kids need to see that picture and they need to go to the stadium and see the excitement and the high caliber of play.
So that's happening. Soccer takes off in a country where the kids are playing in the streets. Now, there's a lot of youth soccer in our country, but when kids are playing in their backyard, when they're playing in the streets, when they're playing in the grass, at the parks, and they're just doing it because they love the game, that's a hint that it's taken off. Another one is great coaching.
You can't have a top sport in the nation without phenomenal coaches. And that's something that we're seeing continually improve in the U.S. And, you know, one bit of evidence that I would say is that when I go to soccer games now, people clap and they appreciate the intricacies and the details of the game, like their soccer intelligence, and they're picking up on it. And I think for Americans who are used to a lot of physical contact and sometimes violent and love the collisions, soccer doesn't have as many as some other sports. Or Americans who love goals and it's like soccer, there's not as much scoring.
So I think, you know, that's a stumbling block in terms of embracing the sport. But I'll tell you, once you know the sport and you see the beauty of it and you see it around the world, that's why if you have a chance, watch the World Cup. You know, tune into an MLS game and talk to some people who know the sport because once you pick up on that, then I've just seen so many people say, soccer's not for me. And now they're like, I love watching the game. I get up early Saturday morning.
I'm watching English Premier League. And it's a phenomenal sport. It's one that you don't need a lot of money.
You don't need a lot of equipment. That's why it's so popular in many countries as well. And then there's a lot of running.
It's great for kids. And obviously, I mean, it's been a huge part of my life, so it's a passion. But I really think that America is appreciating it. The World Cup's coming in four years. It's going to be amazing. And we're building up to it. So if the U.S. team does well this year, no pressure. But I'm telling you, that's going to be a game changer in America.
It's After Hours with Amy Lawrence on CBS Sports Radio. We're spending a few minutes with former Seattle Sounders goalie and professional goalie all over the world, Jesse Bradley. And Jesse, we were just talking about the World Cup and how important it is for Team USA to do well to continue to grow the sport here in the United States. It's already the beautiful game. It's already the most popular sport by far around the rest of the world. And for some reason, we lag behind.
So yes, very important for the Americans to succeed in November. And I'm hoping, I'm rooting, because I feel like it's a team that we can all get behind. Now, one of the things that I have recognized about former athletes, and you shared a little bit of your story with us, that your career ended abruptly and that you had it taken away from you when you still thought you had many years to give. One thing that I hear over and over from former pro athletes is how difficult the transition to go from playing a sport and being in that world and that culture to then finding a new purpose for their lives. You sound like a very passionate guy, a lot of energy, a lot of drive. So at this point, what drives you? You're done playing soccer. You've recovered physically. What do you pour your energy into?
Thank you so much. You know, the women have been phenomenal in the U.S. They set the bar high. Now the men, let's go, guys. Like, let's get there.
Let's get there. You know, what I discovered in my recovery is that there's a hope greater than our challenges. I learned that my identity can't be performance-based.
What I do is not who I am. And then my faith grew. Now I'm a pastor and speaker.
Now it's my joy to spread hope to really hundreds of millions of people around the world. And it's something I never saw coming. Ending sports is brutal. I miss the locker room, miss the guys, miss, you know, the competition, the stadium.
You're never going to have that exact same thing. And for a lot of athletes, it takes time. It took me time to discover what's next. But I love giving back to the community. I love connecting a wide range of people.
I love that in our church there's people from all nations and cultures and ethnicities. And I love a place like Seattle where people ask the hard questions about faith because that was me. I had hundreds of questions, and I want to kick the tires and find out what's going on. So I love those conversations. And, you know, we continue to provide content. HopeHabits.org is a new website where we're bringing that content for people who might be struggling in their marriage or struggling to find hope.
It's all free. And we just want to be there for people, people on their phones. That's where they are meeting where they're at. And we want to provide the content, answer the questions, or at least have the discussions that are relevant for people today. I know that you have your faith and family night coming up. You mentioned your website.
And also you've told me previously that you're attempting to bring awareness and resources for clean water in Africa. So I guess my last question would be how do you have time to juggle all of these things, Jesse, with four kids? No kidding. You know, passion drives me.
I think fire is more important than form. Like our family, we have four kids. One is adopted. I'd love to see no foster care system in America.
I'd love to see every Kidna Forever family. You mentioned our initiative with clean water. We can have clean water for everyone by 2030.
I mean, $50 brings clean water for a child for the rest of their lives. I love bigger picture goals where it takes everyone to rally and step up and just to see something happen. And, you know, I wake up every day, Seattle's coffee everywhere, but I'm just feeling fully alive even before without coffee. Like when you find the pain in my life has forged and fueled a passion and a purpose that I didn't even know before that. And I think that if you're going through a setback right now, just listen to what can be redeeming, what you're learning, and then how you can make a difference in someone else's life going through that same thing. And more than laws or more than a politician, more than too much pressure on the government. Like we all need to step up and love our neighbors, discover what our talents are and just come alive, like live that vibrant life.
It doesn't have to be compartmentalized. We all have struggles. We all need each other. And I'd say like we need God too. We need love from towards ourselves, from other people and from God. And when you receive that love, then you're filled up and then you've got something to give. And that's when life gets exciting. Love God and love people.
It sounds so simple and yet it really isn't. So you can find Jesse on Twitter at Jesse J. Bradley. And you can also check out his website for a lot of these various resources. It's jessebradley.org and promise me we'll have you on the show again. Maybe you can be our World Cup correspondent once the U.S. launches forward because it's been so great to talk to you. And I feel like we could do that for a long time.
I loved it. Yeah. And I would do it any time. Let's talk more soccer. Hopefully you get a lot of emails and comments about, yes, finally some soccer.
Let's let's dive in more. But Amy, thank you for all you do. You've been consistent. I mean, you keep a lot of people encouraged and inspired at a time of the day when not a lot of people are there. So just keep spreading that hope and thank you for your faithfulness in your role, because that inspires people in their role and in their work as well. At AAA, diversity, equity and inclusion are more than commitments. They're absolutely vital to our continued success. That's why we're always looking for talented, ambitious people who share our values and mission to provide excellent service. And we're committed to providing opportunities for continued career growth. To learn more about AAA's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and career opportunities, visit AAA.com slash careers. That's AAA.com slash careers.
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