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Kellen Winslow| Pro Football Hall of Famer

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
February 9, 2024 5:41 am

Kellen Winslow| Pro Football Hall of Famer

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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February 9, 2024 5:41 am

Amy sits down with Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow. Amy finds out how Kellen  learned how to play football.

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Offer valid for a limited time, $10 minimum per order. Additional terms apply. It's a place where friendships are forged, football is revered, and food is enjoyed. Solo Stove, the perfect flame for the big game. Kellen Winslow, a tight end, was inducted in the same 1995 Hall of Fame class as Steve, spent his entire career with these San Diego Chargers. Never met him before, had no idea that he's about so much more than football. I told him and we talked about the fact that the NFL just keeps expanding.

It's got urban sprawl. There's really no off season anymore. People just can't get enough.

And I wanted to know from Kellen, why is that? The power of sports and the effect it has on society. I took a class as a freshman, a recreation class, and the opening lecture was a professor who came in and said that we basically spent three phases in our life. There's work, there's rest, and there's recreation. And we sleep eight hours a day, we work eight hours a day. I wish I slept eight hours a day. The other eight hours we spent in some pursuit of recreation, and sports is a major part of that. It is. And yet for you it was a job, right? Yeah.

How immersive is it? Is it an all-in thing? Well, it can be, but it's also dangerous when it's all in. Because if it's a singular focus, you don't develop your other personal skills, your other skills you have in other areas.

And when that singular focus is taken away from you, you're lost. A lot of today's athletes, they're very diversified. They've got the social media, they've got the platforms. A lot have podcasts these days.

It seems like many athletes do. What was it like when you were in the NFL without the social media component? Well, it was a different way of developing your brand. That was very rare.

Those vehicles were not there. But in some ways it was a good thing because it forced you outside of football, or baseball, or whatever your particular sport was. Because if you had the singular focus, once that's taken away, you're really lost and you struggle to know who you are, or what your capabilities are, or what your contribution is to society. You hear from a lot of former pro athletes that really struggle once they're out of the locker room and off the field. So how was the transition for you when you finally retired? Well, mine was a little bit different because I didn't grow up being the star athlete. I played one year of high school football. I was on the chess team before I played football in high school.

Wow. And when I did play that one year of high school football, it was just okay. And the schools that came in to recruit me were recruiting me on potential that he might get bigger, he might get stronger, he might get better. And my high school coaches were my biggest advocates that I was going to be okay to play. And I just continued to get better. But my childhood, my upbringing, my work history was, let's say, varied during my development, where I had different jobs. And before I played football, I was a member of the Teamsters Union because I worked at United Partial Service.

Wow. And I played chess and then I ran a lot. So when it came time to football became my singular focus because of collegiate athletics and professional athletics, I knew that there was something else out there that I could do that I might be good at. At what point did you catch the bug and it became something you really enjoyed? More than likely when I realized that football and chess are the same thing and that my role in the game of chess and football, I'm the knight at tight end. And as the knight, I control certain spots over the middle.

So I took it as a philosophy. My job was to control the middle of the field as the knight on the field. But when I realized that the game of football slowed down for me because my high school, football in high school, my freshman year in Missouri and probably maybe half of that year, I just didn't know what was going on, why I was out there, what I was doing, why I was doing it.

I didn't understand time and space continuum. I didn't understand the passing game, why this was this or this was that. But when I realized that football was chess, I went, oh, okay, I know what I do. I know why I do it. And I know what you do. And I know why you do it. And it all made sense to me. And the game slowed down for me. And I began to think of the game differently.

I've done this business now for 20 plus years. I've interviewed countless athletes. You are the only one that I've ever heard compare football to a game of chess and yet football is so cerebral. It really can be.

That's so fascinating. Well, it's a game of chess. And that's why when I was doing collegiate football from the booth as a raw caster, I would always struggle with offensive or defensive coordinates being on the field, because there's no board game that you play that you're board level. You can't see everything that's going on. So when you have an offensive coordinator down on the field, I wonder if somebody could do a study and compare the plays that are called by a coordinator who's on the field versus ones in the booth.

And I think you might see more creativity calls coming from the booth because your viewpoint is different than the viewpoint of being on the field. Wow. Kellen Winslow is with us. Hall of Fame tight end from the 95 class spent your whole career with the San Diego Chargers.

Nobody else wanted me. Well, that was their loss. Is it strange now seeing the Chargers in L.A.?

Very. I still at times refer to them as the San Diego Chargers. So to stop that, I just call them the Chargers. Gotcha. They may move.

I don't want to get in deer to another city. What's your perspective on some of the great tight ends today? So Travis Kelsey, who is not just a huge mountain of a man who can pretty much catch anything that Pat Mahomes throws to him, but is also this incredible personality. George Kittle, another one who is one of the top in the league.

I know it was a down year for the position, but how different from when you played? Well, when you talk about those two, they're basically the same person, same personalities, very outgoing, very funny, you know, and on the field or off the field, you know, they draw a crowd. And that's the great thing about it. I like watching them play because there's a type of players that when the game's on the line, they want the ball. You know, not everybody wants the ball when the game is on the line.

Right. They like the stats. They like to have a good game, but when it's third down and we need six yards, not everybody's stepping up, throw the ball to me. So we've all seen that who've been in the huddle and played team sports. You know, those who want the be in the moment.

I like the fact that they like to be in the moment and they want to contribute. So I enjoy watching them and have a great deal of respect for what they do that way. When it comes to, you know, the game, who's going to win, it's a personal thing. I want Kansas City to win because I'm a Missouri guy and I lived in Kansas City for a number of years. I know a lot of chief fans.

I know Andy Reid and I watched Patrick Mahomes, you know, during his career, watch his dad's career. So like most procrastinators, excuse me, prognosticators would at a Trump moment there, excuse me, most prognosticators would say that they've looked at all of this and they choose who they want to, you know, they choose based on the facts. Most of them are just, it gets down to, yeah, yeah. I like their pants. It's my favorite color. That's why I'm choosing them. The Chargers powder blues.

Those are sweet. Those are sweet, but I never played in the powder blues. We didn't have the powder blues. It was just that era, I guess, you know, the color was in short supply. Just couldn't get it or it was on the, you know, catwalk in New York and everybody was dominating that color, but I never played in the powder blues. Interesting.

Kellen Winslow with us here on Radio Row. You were, you mentioned not playing football until your senior year in high school and then it turns into this hall of fame career. So love that part of the story. So then just to go back to what we were talking about, when you left the league, the transition wasn't as tough because you were saying you'd had a whole varied interest before you ever got into football. I knew that I could do something else. And that's one of the biggest things about leaving the game. You know, it's no different than leaving the military. You, in the military, that's your identity.

That's your title. That's where you get your respect from that uniform. But when you take the uniform off, you know, what does a person who's done 20 years in the military wear the day after they retire? Their uniform. They don't know what to wear, you know, because now that the putting on the uniform or some portion of the uniform doesn't make sense.

And they may have some clothes that they have around the house, but it's rebuilding a whole new wardrobe, which means building a whole new personality, unless you have a plan, unless you've done something else. So, or you stay somewhere close to the military, like go to work for a defense contractor. I have an uncle who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, flew B-52 bombers in the Vietnam and Korean conflict, Korean, I should say, and Vietnam conflicts.

He never called them a war because war was never declared. And he had a plan. So he went to school, every base that he was stationed on, he graduated with six degrees and he went to work for a defense contractor until he retired.

So he had a plan for that, but it kept him close to the military being involved with the defense contracting business, which is an extension of the military. So I kind of used that model. And when I knew I was getting close to leaving the game in that year eight, year nine, I decided I was going to go to law school. And I listened to people who I trust and respect. And one person told me, Dr. Walter Daniels, a professor at the University of Missouri Columbia told me that a good way to spend my time would be, a good way to spend my time in transition would be in school. So those three or four years of going to law school were a good time for me to figure it out. What did you do with that law degree? Well, I took the bar once, I failed passing the bar the first time in Missouri bar. I got sick the morning before the first break of day one and didn't come back to write day two.

And of course, if you don't write the whole thing, you can't pass. So I fell, I missed, I came very close to passing, but did not pass the bar and then decided that I don't want to practice law. So I went into broadcasting and public speaking. And then from there, I went to work for Disney in Orlando, Florida, excuse me, Lake Buena Vista, Florida. And I worked there for five years. And then I did three different stints as an athletic director at three different schools in three different divisions and retired two years ago after spending five years as a special assistant to the president at a small Catholic university just outside of Detroit, Michigan, Madonna University. Feels like we could talk for hours. There's so many different interests and different branches of your life.

I'm going to ask you about something that you've always been passionate about. I've heard even in your hall of fame speech about more minorities, about not just at the playing positions, right, but in general manager spots, in coaching jobs, coordinators. Here we are, it's decades after you played. How would you evaluate the league in that respect? It's getting better.

It really is getting better. Opportunities are there. In many ways, the numbers, the sheer number of individuals who are coming into the league, coming to the coaching ranks from the player ranks is pushing that number. But it's really no different than what's happening in society as a whole. If you think of African American players as immigrants, and most immigrants who come to this country, start at the bottom.

It's designed that way. You start at the bottom, and through generational work and generational success, you work your way up so that your children one day will have an opportunity, and that opportunity will be a great opportunity. Then one day you find that you have a head coach in your ranks because of the work that's been done by other people. It's the same type of thing in the days of, let's see, the early days of the early days of the early turn of the century, 1920s and 30s, when African Americans were in this country, their goal was to get a job that had benefits and had a pension. That set the formation, the foundation for them to buy a house. From that house, they could send their kids to college. There were a lot of kids who were first generation, the next generation first generation college kids.

Then that first generation college was able to set the expectation early that their kids were going to go to college, and their kids naturally went to college, and they did even better. It's the same thing that's happening in the coaching ranks. We started at the bottom. There was a time when we couldn't play this game. The progress is taking place. We just have to continue to work it to remove the barriers, whether the barriers are physical barriers or whether they are perception barriers. We need to remove those barriers. Well, thank you for your insight.

I appreciate you elaborating on that. About to find out the new Hall of Fame class, right? Am I going to get in?

Am I going to get in? There are many who are waiting, potentially, for the phone calls. What do you remember about your phone call, your revelation? The good thing about when I got in in 1995 was that we didn't have all the social media coverage. We didn't have all the technology for instantaneous information, so there wasn't a lot of talk about the Hall of Fame as it is today. Now, look around.

It's everywhere. This was not media row in 1995. I mean, radio row in 1995, but today is so instantaneous.

The conversation is constantly going on. I remember when I got in in 1995, I was at the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida. It was the year that the Chargers made the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers. I was having breakfast with two very good friends at the Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel, and over breakfast, I got a phone call. I didn't recognize the number, but I answered it. I didn't even remember that the committee was voting that morning, and it was Pete from the Hall of Fame, and Pete said that he wanted to inform me that I'd just been voted to the Hall of Fame. Tears flowed. You know, the champagne came out. The orange juice came out, and we had a good time in celebrating that, but it was a life-changing day.

Yeah, awesome, and more men are about to have that life-changing moment. Before I let you go, sir, why is it important for you to work with Mike Ditka and the Gridiron Grades? The Gridiron Grades has been doing a great job over the last 20 years and filling in the gap where NFL benefits, and when I say NFL, I mean, I want to say it's not the owners. It's the NFL. It's the union. The Players Association, as well as the NFL, have now gotten better benefits for players who played, retired players who played during my time and even before, and some of them after I played, but those benefits weren't that great a while ago when the Gridiron Grades started, so this Gridiron Grades were able to help people financially with medical costs, with basic living costs, with helping them with resources, etc.

With the Gridiron Grades along with Southern Recipe Small Batch, they've done a great job in raising money to support Mike Ditka's visions for the Gridiron Grades, and of course, wouldn't it be a tight end who leads this effort because that's what we do. Awesome, I love it. Well, it's great to meet you. Nice to talk to you for the first time. I just love that we can talk about a lot of things that have nothing to do with football. That's cool. They have everything to do with football because football's a part of what we do. That's true. Microcosm of society. That's all it is.

Hall of Famer, Kellen Winslow. Again, thank you so much for your time. It's great to connect with you.

You bet. A peanut butter M&M's production. In a world where Super Bowl winners get the world's admiration and a fancy ring, but the runners-up get nothing. One retired cop returns. That's one retired quarterback. Read the script.

Oh, sorry. One retired quarterback returns to claim what's his. Um, that's claim a ring with diamonds made from M&M's peanut butter, but you're on a roll. The Ring of Comfort, coming soon to a Super Bowl new you.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-09 07:17:08 / 2024-02-09 07:24:57 / 8

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