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Danny Wuerffel | College Football HOF QB

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
September 14, 2022 6:07 am

Danny Wuerffel | College Football HOF QB

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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September 14, 2022 6:07 am

Former Florida Gator & CFB HOF QB Danny Wuerffel joins the show.


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All the digital marketing tools you need, all in one place. I had a chance to catch up with the former Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Famer, also former NFL QB, earlier on Tuesday. And I had been perusing his Twitter and saw a couple of photos that caught my eye.

So that's where I started with Danny. I saw a photo with you and your son that you had moved him into his dorm room in Florida. And I was wondering what that was like for you, Danny, and what the fall kind of conjures up in terms of football. All the emotions with the years that you spent playing the game.

Well, yeah, definitely a lot of double feelings there. You know, fall is always an exciting time in Gator football and brings back a lot of memories seeing the team on the field and all those things. And this year is just very, very special and different. You know, we have three kids. Joan is our oldest son and so to take your first and kind of drop them off and leave them is a big deal, especially for mom.

And it was a really bittersweet moment. And, you know, interesting, though, my wife, you know, she loves the Gators and she's a fan, but we live in Atlanta and don't get to a lot of games. But now that she has a son there, all of a sudden she wants to go to Gainesville for every game.

So that works out well. Was your son considering other schools in addition to Florida or was Florida always his destination? Well, he always would have loved to have gone to Florida, but he definitely applied to other places because it's pretty tough to get into Florida these days. It was once again just yesterday announced that it was ranked in the top five public universities and it's a really great school. So he was very excited to get accepted and we were very thrilled as well.

Congratulations. And there was a photo there with your former coach, Steve Spurrier, who has been around football in various forms, whether it be college or pro. What does that relationship mean to you? A guy that has impacted so many lives in that arena? Yeah, I mean, you think about thousands of people's of lives and then certainly my life. I mean, the entire trajectory of my life was changed by the chance to play for him and the success we had.

And it really just shaped the arc of my life in general. And then also, just honestly, it's been great after he's retired. You know, he's got a lot more time and a lot more energy and he's just really fun to be around. It's kind of like some people say when someone when someone's your parent, it's one thing.

But then when they're your grandparents, it's like another experience. So Coach Burr is kind of like now that he's retired, like the grand coach where you just get all the best parts and it's fun. Great to be around.

And I'll see him this weekend again. It's been a few years since you were at Florida and won the Heisman Trophy in a national championship. And the game has changed so much.

Danny, when you look at the landscape of college football, whether it's the growth in terms of its popularity, whether it's the NIL, whether it's this conference realignment that seems to take a new shape and a new form every year. What's your reaction to what you see now? You know, it's really interesting.

I was talking with my wife today about this very thing. And, you know, you feel like when you're in the offseason, you're thinking about the transfer portals and NIL and all the things going on. It's just kind of like, man, what's happening to this this sort of amazing amateur sport that we've all loved. And I think a lot of people wonder how it's going to affect us.

It'll never be the same. And I certainly have thoughts and opinions on all those things. But I'll also say that once the season started, it's like immediately you're drawn back into how amazing and fun college football is. And so I'm really, really excited that, you know, the fall is here and the games are going. And, you know, there's upsets and all these things are going on. And that's that's sort of what you love about the game.

And so I'm just really happy that that's still intact in the midst of all of it. We're really excited to spend a few minutes with former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Werfel, also part of the College Football Hall of Fame from his days at Florida and kicked around in the NFL for a few years. I actually saw an interview that you did with Tony Dungy in which you were describing your very first play with the New Orleans Saints. But when you look back on that, Danny, how do you believe football prepared you for the next phase of your life, the next calling, the next mission field, really, that we'll talk about? Well, you know, we could talk for days about, I think, the lessons that you learn playing football that are part of life and sort of prepare you for life and going through tough times and teamwork.

And just it's not about you and all these things that are important. But very specifically, you know, I just was drafted by the Saints and got a chance to go to New Orleans. And that's where I was introduced to a small organization working in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans in a very under-resourced neighborhood called Desire Street Ministries. I started volunteering there.

And when I retired, that's where I began working and have worked there ever since even up to this day. And now Desire Street works in under-resourced neighborhoods all over the southeast. And we've helped people in really tough neighborhoods do a lot of academic after-school enrichment, summer camps. We've helped start schools. We've helped start medical clinics. We've helped start churches.

We've helped start housing programs and people getting jobs and starting businesses. And just it's been an incredible journey to be a part of that. And I'm just very, very grateful for Desire Street and a chance to be a part of it.

Now, you are the executive director. And as you talk about, it's morphed through various phases, moving out of New Orleans and into Atlanta and obviously has grown. Why this ministry, Danny?

Why Desire Street? I mean, I think it is a combination of that was where I felt like I was led and just felt drawn into it. I've always felt like I've been a very blessed and fortunate person. And, you know, I've had some tremendous people pour into me and give me support. We talked about Coach Spurrier. You know, I'm not here talking to you, Amy, without him and people like him in my life.

But when you look at the landscape of the world, even in America, there's just a lot of people that don't have the same opportunities that many of us did. It's the chance to give back, to be a part of that, I think is an incredibly exciting and rewarding opportunity. And interesting newsworthy moment is, you know, I just saw in Nebraska, the interim head coach now after Scott Frost is Nicky Joseph, who many people may not know this, was working with us at Desire Street in and around Hurricane Katrina, giving back. And he was coaching on our football team there. And I've got a lot of war stories of just tough things that we went through together. And I'm just really happy to see the success that he's had.

And hopefully this opportunity will lead to more for him as well. We're spending a few minutes with Danny Warfel here on After Hours on CBS Sports Radio. You mentioned Katrina. I wasn't even sure if I was going to bring this into the interview because you've had so many experiences in your life. It's hard to pinpoint one or two. And I want to make sure that we highlight Desire Street.

But people may not know. I did not know until I started doing some research that you and your wife and your son lost your home in Katrina. How did that experience change you and prepare you for what you're doing now? Yeah, I mean, we did we we a few days after the storm, we realized we saw a picture of our neighbor's house that was underwater. And our house was a one story house. And it was that moment we sort of realized we had lost everything. But at the same time, Amy, like we were really worried because so many of the people we knew and love from the ninth ward were missing. A lot of the people that we could talk to were missing family members.

And the the mayor of New Orleans was speculating that maybe up to 10000 people had possibly drowned at that point. Fortunately, it didn't wasn't the case. But so is this weird feeling where on one hand we had lost everything we had.

But at the same time, I was safe with my family and I felt like I had everything I really needed. And I just thought that was a very powerful kind of reminder. You know, we say that to our kids a lot. You know, you don't really need that. You want that. But I think we all get mixed up between what we want and we need. And we're very blessed, in many cases, spoiled in America in so many ways that was just a great reminder of the simplicity and having the main things in life count.

And I'm very grateful for that. It's not a natural disaster that's changed America over the last couple of years, Danny. But there are so many more people in need now because of the pandemic. We see it everywhere in our nation, the economy and the struggles for families.

How much have you seen the impact of Desire Street grow or maybe even how much has the focus had to change a little bit because of what's happened in our nation? Yeah, well, certainly during covid, some of the interesting, unique challenges that surfaced when kids were not at school. You know, one was the education kind of gap where people like my kids who had resources, we had resources, we had Internet. They just went right into online school. But if you don't have Internet or didn't get more than a system that was able to provide that, the academic support was vital.

So we had a lot of sort of different types of pod learning that was happening in some of the organizations. The other thing was a lot of people don't realize an under-resourced neighborhood. A lot of the children get two of their three meals at school. And so if there's no school, now you're in a situation where there's sort of food issues.

But then on top of that, if a lot of the parents can't work because the businesses have been closed, then you can't even afford food. So a lot of the places I was just yesterday at one of our organizations here in Atlanta, Paul Kids, and they started and are still running a food distribution center, providing essentials for people in their community. And it's just an incredible adaptation to current needs. And I'm just really proud of all the amazing leaders in and around the Desire Street family that have just done such great work. The college football awards have gotten so extensive.

They're a national broadcast. And there are these incredible young men who are honored every year, mostly for what they do on the football field, the gaudy numbers, the incredible individual feats. You have the Warful Trophy that you established in 2005, which actually honors athletes for something different. What was the focus when you created this award? Well, yeah, when someone, they initially came to me as a group in Florida and said, we want to start a national football award and name it after you. And I was very honored by like, you know, there's plenty of awards. The last thing the world needs is another award.

But they said, no, this is different. We want to honor the person who does the most community service and name it after you. And it was a very intriguing idea. And in fact, it was the the former executive director of the Heisman, Rudy Risca, who finally said to me, Danny, you need to do this.

The world needs this. And so we did it. It's been an incredible journey. We've had amazing winners. We often have had over 100 nominees. And, you know, one of my desires is just to shine the light on the good work that these guys are doing. So many people are doing heroic things.

But unfortunately, we kind of live in a world where, you know, if you're not the best player on the winning team or you did something really bad, you're probably not going to get a lot of coverage. So this sort of gives us the chance to shine the spotlight on young men that are doing great things. And, you know, they inspire me and hopefully it inspires others to do more. And we're we're really excited. Our winner was invited this year to be in New York also for the Heisman Trophy weekend. So that's going to be a really awesome opportunity to highlight our winner as well. So a lot of great things are happening and we're glad to be part of it. Do today's college football players know your name or recognize that you also stood on that stage as a Heisman Trophy winner?

Or is is that too far back for them? You know, it's interesting. So like I go spend a lot of time in Florida and, you know, they're all very, very nice and kind and and know who I am. But I also think that maybe Coach Napier maybe had given him a little little bio to remind them.

Florida has a Gator growl, which is sort of a big student pep rally. And they asked me to host this year to be the emcee. So I did a promo video and I said, hey, my name is Danny Werfel. And if you're under 30, you can ask your parents who I am. And you know what, if they don't know, you can ask your grandparents.

So it's been a bit. But, you know, I'm really popular with older people. They love the moms, the grand moms.

They love me. The 1996 Heisman Trophy, but also in the College Football Hall of Fame from 2013, Danny Werfel is with us here after hours on CBS Sports Radio. How much does it mean to you that Florida, as well as Georgia, actually, because now you're based in Atlanta, former players from each of these schools that are going to get together and try to highlight and support Desire Street with an event? Yeah, really our biggest fun fundraiser and fun event is the Desire Cup. And we play off the rivalry of the Georgia, Florida, Florida, Georgia game. And right before that game, we gather a bunch of celebrities and coaches from both schools and fans from both to have a very competitive golf outing. And it's just a wonderful event.

And we have a lot of fun. And this year we also added a pickleball event, which actually some people know that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country. I love playing pickleball. And we're putting together a Celebrity Pro-Am where we've got some of the best professional pickleball players in the world.

Yes, there are professional pickleball players in the world. And we're pairing them with celebrities from the same college. So we're going to have a college-themed Celebrity Pro-Am pickleball tournament as well the week of the Desire Cup. Very exciting stuff.

People can check it out, for all the information. Alright, well I can't not ask then, as a guy who was part of those epic Florida, Georgia rivalry games, what was that like? Well, usually if I am up here in Georgia people are asking me, why are you living there? Like, Georgia hates you and they're going to give you all this trouble. And I just say, you know, I played them four times and they never gave us any trouble.

But they don't like that either. But it's been great. We had a good run. I'm very fortunate to have gone 4-0 against Georgia. So I at least can fall back on that.

But they are certainly the big dog in the hunt now. And what Kirby Smart is doing is absolutely fantastic. I'm just really proud of that program too. What did you take away from that in terms of just that tradition?

And how much, you know, it mattered to you when you were there, even if it's a quote-unquote distant memory now, right? Well, part of what was exciting about it was, you know, in the 90s Florida really hadn't experienced a lot of success in the past. And so the fans, you know, it was like they were just so thrilled to win anything. And then to start winning SEC, the national championship, it was really exciting. In fact, I remember I took a visit to Alabama and one of their selling points was they just show you all the history of these incredible, you know, teams and the Bear Bryant years. And, you know, but it was like it's exciting to go there. But, you know, you might be the 13th guy to get a chance to help them win national championship as opposed to Florida, man.

They were just starving. And so it was really fun. Even to this day, Gator fans remember those moments and that winning the national title and kind of starting that kind of tradition of excellence was very special when I look back at it. So it's the Desire Cup and, links to all that. And I'm just really excited with a lot of the things that are happening that we get to be a part of. And I just sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming when I think about what's happened in my life and what I get to do now and the things happening in the future.

And just feel like I'm a very, very blessed person and very thankful and glad to help give back. Did you have to practice getting ready for the Gator growl? Well, I've got a little bit of time.

The event is not actually still homecoming in October. So I've been, you know, going through my scales. You know, Flo Rida is the one of the musicians. So I thought that the kids would probably really appreciate if I perform one of his songs or something. But my kids thought that was not a good idea.

So then I thought I'd tell some jokes because I think I'm funny, but they say all I've got is dad jokes. So like now I'm starting to be a little a little, you know, conscientious about this thing and will self conscious of what am I to say if I can't can't do that, but I'll figure it out. When in doubt, just talk about Gator football and the Heisman every now and then just drop it in the conversation. That's brilliant. Drop the score of our game against Florida State. Throw in a joke about Georgia. Now you're talking to you should be my speechwriter.

No, I think you're doing great. So you can find Dini on the various websites that he mentioned are also on Twitter at Danny Warfel w u e r f f e l. But spell it for people who may not remember. And yes, he played football. He was a Heisman Trophy winner. He won a national championship. He was in the NFL.

But his life's work now is Desire Street Ministries. Danny, it's so good to catch a couple of minutes with you. I'm sure you're going to nail the ground. Thank you so much for the time. Thank you so much. Take care, Amy.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-31 15:49:20 / 2023-01-31 15:57:37 / 8

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