Obviously, this is not really breaking news -- just like Obama being a Steeler fan was not breaking news either. But this is definitely noteworthy: We now have a president that goes out on a limb to root for a team and does not pander to both sides! Maybe change really is in the air?
You also have to admire a former player -- undoubtedly one of the best of our time -- who goes out on a limb and roots not for a team that he played for, but the team he grew up loving.
"My favorite Super Bowl moment, as a fan, had to be some of those acrobatic catches by Lynn Swann," said Joe Cool, a.k.a. Joe Montana, a.k.a. Big Sky. "I'm a Steeler fan."
I spoke to Joe today as part of Gatorade's huge Super Bowl unveiling this weekend. Many have seen their controversial ads over the past few weeks, "What is G?" -- these cryptic spots were designed to leave viewers scratching their heads and wondering, "Gee, what is G?" This Sunday, they'll run two new spots, revealing that Gatorade is indeed G -- which again falls under the category of breaking news that isn't really breaking news, as I did a simple YouTube search and got to the bottom of the mystery weeks ago. But really, I'll pretend to be surprised on Sunday.
This week down in Tampa, the power-drink-formerly-and-still-sort-of-known-as-Gatorade also launched something called G Studio, an exhibition of several murals created by abstract artist SwankOne, each depicting a great "G" moment in Super Bowl history, narrated by Common. All murals will be available for fans to bid at nflliveauction.nfl.com with proceeds going to the NFL Retired Players Fund.
In Studio G, a select group of past and present NFL players took part in the creation of a painting depicting great moments in their careers -- then autographed the works to be auctioned off. The players involved spanned generations, and included Ronde Barber, Matt Cassel, Brandon Jacobs, Aaron Rodgers, Derrick Brooks, Jerry Rice ... and Joe Cool, himself.
So really, this was a great chance to talk to a couple of these guys -- of course about the power of G -- but really to ask them questions that I really wanted to know. As a woman who loves sports and not stats, I didn't really scrutinize the finer details of "The Catch," or "The Chicken Soup" game, but instead, I asked the Mr. Joe Montana the following:
EB: Joe, with all the great QBs and athletes from the area, do you think maybe there is G
in the water in Western Pennsylvania? (Note: both Joe and I grew up near Pittsburgh.)
JM: I think it's that Iron City Beer, actually! No, when you're coming from a tough area, a
blue-collar area like around my house growing up, with steel mills and coal mines,
sometimes it's a kid's way out. If you couldn't afford college, sports were a great way to
keep out of trouble and give an opportunity for a better education.
EB: What do you think of some of today's QBs? Which of these guys epitomize the heart, hustle and soul of the game?
JM: Guys like Brady and Peyton. They have done it for a long period of time and done it well. These guys have played at the top level. Brett, too.
PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF EB: Loved that Joe and I are on a first-name basis with Peyton and Brett! But curious as to why he didn't mention our buddies Ben or Kurt ...
EB: What was your most thrilling Super Bowl moment?
JM: Well, it's the image that was depicted in the mural. It was the John Taylor pass [in Super Bowl XXIII against the Bengals in 1989, with just 34 seconds left in the game.] That was my best G moment. That's the ultimate way to end your season ... a game-winning pass.
EB: How can the Niners increase their G?
JM: Singletary brings a different attitude [to the team] that they were missing ... an old school attitude ...and I think they need to hang on to that.
Totally agree Joe. So, I also got to speak with Aaron Rogers earlier in the week to ask him a few of my own personal questions.
EB: What was your favorite Super Bowl moment as a fan?
AR: The Joe Montana/John Taylor pass in Super Bowl XXIII.
PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF EB: Cool! Synergy! I am also interviewing Joe!
EB: What do you think it will take for the Packers to have their own G Super Bowl moment next year?
AR: A lot of times, getting to the dance takes the team with the best chemistry ... the team that is hot at the best time. We have a talented team; we just have to learn how to win again. We're going to pay more attention to detail -- we lost seven games by four points or less. We just have to get there and we have the right guys to get there. And in the executive office, we have the right men and women to get the job done.
EB: How is that shoulder doing?
AR: It's great, thanks so much for asking.
EB: No problem!
EB: At the age of 25, you have faced some obstacles in your career ... the pressure of being one of Jeff Tedford's protégés ... your controversial draft pick ... the Favre situation this year, but you persevered -- and came out of the gate really strong this past season. What kept you going at moments like these?
AR: It's my faith that keeps me grounded. I rely on my family during trying times -- especially this summer ... my older brother, mom and dad, my younger brother, and my best friends. I lean on all of them.
EB: What are you doing there at Studio G -- and why did you feel like this was an important project for you to get involved with?
AR: I like that this project involved all athletes, not just players I play with ... it was great to work with a company I respect and someone like Spike, who I have great respect for. This was just a special thing to be involved with.
EB: Tell me about the NFL Retired Players Fund ...
AR: You know, they have laid the groundwork for myself and colleagues to be able to enjoy the good fortune that we have and protect our future. It's very important.
EB: Do you wish Brett Favre was a member of the NFL Retired Players Fund?
AR: (Laughter.) No comment.
EB: So A-Rod, as your teammates call you, what's it like to date Madonna?
EB: No comment again?
AR: Uh, yeah.
EB: So I'm interviewing Joe Montana tomorrow ... have you met him?
AR: Oh really? No, I haven't met him yet. (Awe in his voice.)
EB: Why do you think he represents G and what advice would you seek from him?
AR: (Suddenly breaking into his own L'il Wayne voiceover): Joe is "Joe Cool" ... He is so "G" ... He is in a class all by himself ... Four Super Bowl rings, three MVPs ... he is the most amazing QB ... the winningest QB in the NFL ... coolness in the pocket ... a cool head down the stretch ... Joe is ... Clutch.
EB: Well, geez, um, do you want to be on the phone when I interview him? Want me to ask him anything for you?
AR: Yeah, can you ask him how do you get from being a good QB to a great one? What were some of the things he did, or who were the people that he talked to between when he first got in the league in 1980 to 1981 when they beat the Cowboys ... Like what were the one or two things he did to go from good to the best?
PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF EB: This conversation just shifted and you are now witnessing this young QB trying to reach out to his hero -- through you, by the way -- and his tone is just so earnest and sincere and I think you just really have to get him his answers and I think it might help him to become a better QB. And maybe even become the Joe Montana of his generation.
So back to Joe.
EB: I interviewed Aaron Rodgers this week and he told me that you are his hero. [Then I read Joe the Aaron Rodgers/Li'l Wayne monologue.) What advice would you have for Aaron. How did you go from good to great?
JM: I learned two things from Bill Walsh: Preparation is really important for the success of a quarterback. You have to spend more time off the field than on ... knowing and learning plays and formations. You know, we didn't have those little earpieces -- we'd have 100 plays, three to four formations each. So I had to know the plays, the formations, in what order ... I spent a lot of time tracing over plays and I would know exactly where my receivers would be. I spent a lot of time at it. The more comfortable you are going in, the more prepared you'll be. It's like studying for a test. You'll be fine if you go in prepared -- every game is a test. You're always going to be nervous, but you're less nervous if you're prepared. The other thing Bill taught me was to strive for perfection. It's not possible, but you have to try for it. If you try to be mediocre and you miss that ... then you're not very good. If you try to be perfect, you end up still being pretty good. The key is just to never be satisfied.
PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF EB: Wow. Goosebumps. Lump in throat. I think I just experienced the power of G. Or probably more accurately, the power of Joe. Aaron, I hope you get this message.