Daily Archives: May 16, 2012
This morning I had the pleasure of welcoming seven-year NFL veteran and former fullback for the Saints and Rams Mike Karney on my radio program, The Wake up Call, on www.sportstownchicago.com from 8-10 a.m. (CST).
Mike joined me last Wednesday for an exclusive interview where he discussed the Saints bounty program, Sean Payton’s suspension, the passing of Junior Seau, and the concussion epidemic facing the NFL.
This Wednesday Mike and I had a light hearted chat about playing in the same huddle as Drew Brees, whom Mike referred to as an all-time great. Calling Brees one of the game’s best leaders and fully capable of “running the show,” and hopes that Tom Benson and Drew and his agent can come to an agreement on a contract extension.
Referring to Benson as an old school owner, I quickly asked if that were code for cheap, to which Mike replied, “Yes.” He is willing to bet the two sides will come to a middle ground and the two sides will come to a compromise but understands that Brees is looking for a Peyton Manning-like contract.
The conversation shifted from one of his former quarterbacks I asked him if he is monitoring the development of Rams signal caller, Sam Bradford, whom Mike played with during the former Heisman winner’s rookie season.
Mike said the big thing with his development is the trust in his coaching staff and the confidence they put in him, and he thinks Jeff Fisher will bring the best out in Bradford. Provided his “diamond in the rough” targets such as second round pick out of Appalachian State WR Brian Quick pan out in a similar fashion the Saints experienced with Marques Colston.
Bradford does have the luxury of sharing the backfield with running back Steven Jackson, whom Mike referred to one of the two best players he had the privilege of playing with along with Brees.
In fact, Jackson took care of his escort through the line with some handsome rewards and gifts that magically appeared in his locker leaving the bruising fullback perplexed how that got there. Ever gracious Mike said he never expected any such gift, and was only doing the only job he ever wanted.
Mike told me he wanted to be a professional football player since he was eight or nine years old and after first playing left guard on the offensive line made the transition to fullback while pulling double duty on defense at linebacker.
In high school he realized he lacked the sideline to sideline speed to be a linebacker at the next level. He knew with a dedicated running and lifting program which included pushing cars and running hills, tips he got from Mike Alstott and Walter Payton, he could get a scholarship to college.
The hard work and dedication paid off in the form of a scholarship to Arizona State that led to becoming a fifth round draft pick of the Saints where he would pave the way for Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, and Pierre Thomas.
His career highlight of scoring three touchdowns in a primetime game against the Dallas Cowboys still brings the bruising fullback joy despite the difficult transition away from the game he played for over 20 years. Saying a piece of him died when his career ended a few years shorter than he would have liked and it was difficult watching games at times last year.
When he does watch games, he sees the game in a different light and has a newfound perspective to the game he once sacrificed a great deal for and played with passion for seven years leaving his blood, sweat, and tears on the gridiron.
However, he knows he was blessed to have played seven years in the league and appreciates the opportunity to break down games for family and friends. While also being gracious with his time to come on my radio program to share his insight and perspective with me and my audience about his career and the happenings on the NFL.
I asked Mike what he would tell a young football player aspiring to accomplish the things that Mike did in his career. The first word that came out of Mike’s mouth was sacrifice. To be great you have to sacrifice some things, whether it is giving up a party Friday night to train, or putting in the extra effort behind the scenes when no one’s looking.
During the interview Mike and I discussed how more talented players wash out of the league in a year or two while the players who work hard always seem to stick around.
Mike Karney stuck around for seven years in the NFL doing the dirty work with a smile on his face.
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Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks from birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here. To read more of Patrick’s blogs click here.