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Barbara Terry interview with Mike Piazza

When you think of Mike Piazza, you think of the all-time home run champion for Major League Baseball catch­ers, hitting 400! You think playboy, because of his good looks and success. You think of a 12-time all-star during a career that is likely to end up getting him into the Hall of Fame. You don’t necessarily think of a family man and a guy that’s hip on car dealerships.

All right Mike, let’s start with the very beginning. What was your first car?

I believe it was a, yes, it was a ’72 Nova. It was kind of neat. It had the air shocks in the back with the air hose. It was red. My father was in the car business so we always had a plethora of cars. I even had an IROC Z.

What motor did you have in the IROC Z?

I don’t even remember. I think it was the larger motor. The sport with t-tops and stuff. That was standard issue in high school for me. What else did we have? We had a bunch of stuff. Like I said, the good thing about being in the car business was that you get so many trade-ins. I mean, my first job was when I was 12 years old, washing cars down at my dad’s car lot. So I was driving around the parking lot when I was 14. I’ve always loved cars and it is such a big part of my fami­ly history.

Your dad’s dealership, was it a used car dealership or was it a franchise?

My dad started with used cars and then he was one of the first Datsun dealers in this country in 1968,1 believe, which is now Nissan. Then he eventually went into Honda. He got a Honda franchise, and the gas crunch hit in the ’70s. They did really well for him, especially in the last year or two, as there’s been a big push for hybrids because of the gas prices. Remember, back in the ’70s, there was a gas crunch and people were lin­ing up for gas? Do you know what I’m talking about?

Mike, I was not pumping gas in the ’70s, so I do not remember that!

There was this gas crunch in the ’70s and people were waiting for gas. I don’t know if it was OPEC or what.

Each station had a certain allotment of gas per week and when they sold out, they were done. So, the point is, there was a rush on Hondas. They were selling hun­dreds and hundreds of Hondas a month based on what was going on with gasoline.

Cars are cool.

No, they are very cool. It’s a part of Americana. Like the way horses were in the 1800s and horseless carriages were in the 1900s. There’s something about America and its vastness and the freedom it offers, you know.

People love to drive with the top down. It gives them a sense of freedom, it’s what the United States is, where­as, in Europe, the towns are laid out in a communal sense. You have the plaza orthe piazza and the church.

You could walk to church or walk to breakfast or walk to coffee. This country is a little more based on the automobile. I’m going off on a weird tangent here.

That’s okay (ALL LAUGH). You mentioned you were driving at 14. How old were you when you got your dri­ver’s license?

Seventeen.

Why were you 17 and not 16?

Because my dad wouldn’t let me drive. He thought if I drove at 16, that I wouldn’t be as focused on baseball.

Ohhhhh.

Yeah. I think it goes back to what I was saying. You’re rebellious at that time. I think if I got my license at 16,1 would have been too worried about cruising for girls instead of baseball.

That’s what we all did at 16.

Yeah, but I remember him telling me,’If you get to the Major Leagues, you’ll have all the cars you want and all the girls you want but you have to get to the Major Leagues first’ I remember him saying those words, so, again, I have to thank him for that.

Your dad was very insightful and correct regarding his beliefs in your future career.

He was right, so maybe, again, I have to thank him. In his defense, too, I was a very aloof, free-spirited kid. It all worked out, as you can see.

Okay, so you got your driver’s license when you were 17 and you had a Nova. Can you tell me more about the Nova. Was it a trade-in at your dad’s dealership?

Yeah, it was a trade-in. I actually think a friend of his had it and then I drove it for a few months. I really only had it for a couple of months, then I just started looking around at other cars. I would be at my dad’s dealership when a trade- in would come in and would drive the salesmen crazy because they wanted to resell all of the trade-ins, but I wanted dibs on some of them.

This is how I got my IROC. It was funny because I remem­ber that car, being as I have an affinity for those late-’60s muscle cars – the Camaros, the GTOs, the Chevelles. I love watching auto auctions on TV. I think it’s cool. But I’m more into the one-off classic car look with a new car vibe. I’m not big into the whole complete reproduction, which I think is cool, but I like the newer versions of the old car.

Of course! Like the new Camaro and/or the Challenger coming out. What do you think about the Saleen Mustangs?

I think they’re cool cars. I’m not a huge Ford aficionado. Obviously, some people are Ford and others are Chevy. There are a few Fords that I like, but I was always big on GM – a little bit of MOPAR and I like the Chargers. I watched The Dukes of Hazzard as a kid and those are cool cars. Some guy here locally has a beautiful Charger. He’s trying to sell it and keeps reducing the price.

How fast have you gone in a street car?

It’s pretty funny. I had a ’97 Mercedes S-600 in California when I played with the Dodgers. It’s so funny, but I don’t want to tell it. A friend of mine is a guy named Eddie Braun – a Hollywood stunt man. He has crashed cars his whole life. He’s Charlie Sheen’s stunt double and I met him in California. He’s huge. So I had this, not the SL, but the S, the 600, the two-door with aftermarket 19-inch Pirellis. I just remember we were going down the 405 with no traffic, about 11:30 in the morning. Eddie kept telling me to step on it so we could see what it could do. So I hammer it down. This car was a monster, the V12.1 look down and I’m doing 120, and I blow right by a C.H.I.P.

No way.

Yeah. He pulls me over. He comes up to the window. He says, ‘License and registration.’ Then he says, “Where you going so fast, Mike?’ Just like that. Apparently he recog­nized’ me. I was playing for the Dodgers, so I was some­what recognizable, I guess, and my buddy Eddie said, ‘Officer, I’m a stunt guy. It’s my fault. I encouraged him. I said let’s see what this can do.’ He was totally trying to help me out and this guy goes, ‘Do you know this girl?’ He just started to make small talk and didn’t give me a ticket. I told him, ‘Officer, I never drive like this – wide open road, not a truck in sight – so I opened it up.’ I don’t want to say that’s an excuse, but this was the most safe condition where you could actually do that. This was so straight, at a point after Laguna Beach, where you could see for five miles. I ham­mered it and never felt anything like it It was, like, 120. That’s it -11:30 in the morning and I got pulled over.

It’s too tempting not to feel the rush of the speed when you have perfect conditions.

I’m not advocating breaking the law, but you’re right. I find it hard to believe that someone in the middle of Montana in the summer with five lanes and no cars… again. I’m not saying it’s okay, but, if you’re going 100 miles an hour, nobody’s going to notice.

I love coming to Florida. It is so laid back here.

Yeah. There are so many cars out there now, it really is dangerous. You don’t know. In Florida, a cop told me 20 per­cent of the drivers are over 80.

Oooooh!

That’s one in five over 80. With that statistic, you have to be careful. You have to drive defensively.

It should always be about safety and safety first.

Yeah. Now I have Cheerios on the floor of my Mercedes.

Do you ever see yourself owning a hybrid; don’t you want to go zero to 60 in 30 minutes?

That’s a good question. The Escalade – isn’t that the biggest contradiction-the Escalade hybrid. It’s like having a huge golf cart.

Yeah. You don’t have the horsepower like you would with a big V8 gas engine, so do not expect to really be able to punch it.

Until they really perfect the technology of some kind of alternative fuel, whether that be the hydrogen cell or the hybrid, I think I will stick with my current cars.

Have you heard about the Tesla?

Yeah, the four-door they’re now making. I just had the Car and Driver that it was in, and that’s a pure plug-in car, right?

Yes, and it does have quite a bit of umph and get-up- and-go!

No, I don’t doubt that. I think the question is, again, if you plug it into the wall, you’re still using some form of fossil fuel – some coal plant or whatever – unless it’s nuclear. I don’t know. I have no problem with alterna­tive fuels. I think it’s cool and there is a market for that one day. I don’t think you’ll ever get the gas-fueled combustible engine out of the Americana, as it is in our blood. Of course, you can tone it back. If you have a Prius you take to work every day, that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not saying you always have to have a Ferrari or a Mercedes, but I think there is an affinity for a combustible engine in this country. I don’t ever see it subsiding.

Well, it can’t totally. For instance, you take the South, you take construction workers. They’re never going to work out of a Prius. They need a truck. They’ll have to have their three-quarter and one-ton pick-up trucks to use for their careers, to make a living.

You’re right. It’s like when I travel; I take the babysitter and my wife, my daughter and the luggage and her coach and other stuff. So I have to call for an SUV to pick us up at the airport. Am I going to take two Priuses? We’re a traveling culture, we’re a driving culture and I think alter­native fuels are great. I think they should be pursued and perfected. I think it would be great to pull up and get hydro­gen. It would be cheaper. I just don’t want to end up like the Hindenburg. I don’t want to blow up.

(LAUGH) When you first got signed to a big contract what was the car that you went out and grabbed up?

That’s a good question. I would say, not when I first got signed, but that Mercedes was like my first toy car, that two-door.

Now you have a Mercedes and a Range Rover. What other cars have you owned?

Living in New York, I always had an affinity for Mercedes. I had one of the first BMW 7 Series in this country-the new 2002, black 745.

You know not to buy the first year of any new model. Why’d you do that?

Because I wanted it. Because I wanted to be the first to have one.

They had a series of mechanical problems with that new body 745 in 2002, so your car probably spent more time in the shop than in your garage, right?

Yeah. I don’t follow suit with most people. Usually you’re either a BMW guy or a Mercedes guy. I like them both. I think the BMW 7 Series is a great driving car. My Mercedes S-550 I have now is a great car. I think there’s something to be said about German engi­neering. The doors shut more crisply.

Nice luxury suspension. There’s a butt for every seat. That’s why so many manufacturers stay in business – because we all have different tastes.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s like with wine – there’s French wine, a little more European, a little smoother. There’s California wine, a little more robust; Cabernet, out-of-the-barrel drinkable, a little smoother. I think that’s the cool thing, and I’m into being all over the map. If I see a car and I like it, then I will buy it. I don’t stick to a genre.

Do you have your eyes on a particular vehicle now?

Yeah. I want the four-door Lamborghini, black exterior with parchment/tan interior or the silver. I just don’t know if I want to pay $400,000 for a car.

A four-door Lambo?

I think it’s cool. I have to have a baby seat in the back.

I can’t have a two-door anymore. When you have kids, your whole life changes.

What has been your favorite car from the get-go?

That’s a good question. That’s like picking a favorite fla­vor of ice cream, a favorite candy.

You probably have a certain passion for each car that you have owned.

I was never a huge Porsche fan. It’s sort of smaller and I’m a bigger guy, so it’s tough for me to get in. I’ve always liked larger formatted cars with four doors, and with that said, yeah, it’s fun driving a Ferrari. I was actually considering getting the, you remember the 456 GT automatic Ferrari. When it first came out it was the first automatic car that I can recall. It had a front engine, so it was kind of a cool car.

I see you cruising down South Beach in a Bentley Arnage.

The Bentley Arnage. Maybe the Silver Spur, but I don’t know about the Arnage. I would have to say that this is the largest collection of Bentleys in the world, in South Beach. There’s no question. It’s funny, you pull up to a hotel and you expect special treatment with a Bentley. I have a friend and we joke. We’re, like, There’s anoth­er Bentley and another Bentley. There’s another Bentley.’ Yeah, when those first came out, they were all over the place. But look how Bentley got in that market, that higher-end luxury market in the U.S.

SUVs, without a doubt give you a sense of security by being elevated.

Oh my God, you just want a fighting chance if, God for­bid, you get in an accident. There’s something to be said about that. With a lot of cars in America, there are also a lot of bad drivers…really bad drivers. I now think, as a parent, your priorities shift. You kind of become more evolved. I want my daughter in a nice safe Mercedes with something around her.

What Mike was most proud of was his wife, daughter and family. He seemed to be at a very happy place in his life, improving his dream homea renovation project he began as soon as he retiredand building a family.

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Barbara Terry interview with Roy Oswalt

Roy Oswalt is a celebrated Major League pitcher who has spent his entire nine-year career, thus far, with the Houston Astros. He’s won almost twice as many games as he’s lost (137-70) and has compiled an impres­sive 3.23 career ERA. He’s won 20 games twice – in the 2004 and 2005 seasons – and has played in three all-star games. Roy is in contention for the Cy Young Award seemingly every year, finishing in the top five for Cy Young voting year after year.

So, Roy, what was your first car?

It was a ’63 Step Side truck. I worked all summer to get it. It was a bad green. We got a guy to paint it for me for $500. He did a pretty good job, too. Painted it blue. I drove that until my senior year and got another Step Side Truck – a ’95. I’m looking for that truck – the ‘63.1 have the serial number and everything. I’m trying to go through the state where you can send in and they’ll see if you’re looking for it for real or looking for some­one. They make sure you want to find it. I just want to restore it.

I have other athletes in the book that have located a car from their past. David Ragan, for instance. There was an old Corvette his dad had sold to get funds to help David in his early racing days and he found it in Pennsylvania. The guy didn’t want to sell it back and David wanted to buy it to surprise his dad. I guess David sweetened the deal and he finally got it.

It’s actually funny, 10 years after I sold it, I was walk­ing through the woods and the truck drove by and I couldn’t get back to my truck in time to catch it, and that was it. I wrecked the ’63 one time and tried to Bondo it myself. I noticed the Bondo when it drove by. That was probably eight years ago when I saw it. I sold it 13 or 14 years ago.

What did you own after that? Cars, trucks tractors, bulldozers?

When I was drafted after college, I bought a boat – a splash and sea kind of boat I used to tow around the city. We had fun with it. I had that for three years. I towed it around from New York to Michigan to Florida and all across the country. Then I sold it and I bought a ’98 Explorer in 2000. Now I have a Cadillac Escalade I bought in ’01 when I got to the major leagues. I got another Cadillac Escalade last year for my wife. And I have a ’63 Chevy Camaro and a 2010 Tundra.

Tell me about the Bulldozer that you have.

The best thing I own. (GRINS FROM EAR TO EAR) The restaurant I own, I actually made that parking lot with it. I got it for winning a game in the World Series in ’05. The owner of the Astros has a lot of real estate in Texas and he bought a bulldozerto clean up his ranch. I asked him what he was going to do with it when he was done and he said, probably sell it. I was going to buy that one from him. We were in the playoffs and I was watching Tate on the St. Louis Cardinals before I pitched against him. The owner came in and we were talking while I was watching Tate on TV, and he said he’d buy me a new bulldozer if I beat Tate. I got up, shook his hand and went back. I remember pitching about the sixth inning and we were winning 4-1.1 was thinking I needed four more innings. I got through three more innings and the reliever came in, in the ninth, and finished it off. I never left the field. I sat in the clubhouse next to the owner and reminded him of it, and he came through. I got it in the off-season.

What kind of music do you listen to in the car?

All kinds of country – Kenny Chesney, Merle, Hank, Rascal Flatts.

Have you ever looked at another player’s car and told yourself you needed one of those?

I am not big on new cars. We have a lot of guys that have Lamborghinis and stuff, but I’m not big on them. I like older cars. We have a first base coach – Cheo Cruz – that played with the Astros for 20 years. He had a ’57 Chevy that was nice and he also had a ’64 Mustang that was a convertible. That was nice. I like old, classic cars.

They’re hard to beat. What about your Camaro? Tell me about how you found it and the restoration process.

I was actually in Texas. I love ’67 and ’69 Camaros. Probably ’69 the best. I was looking at one that was pretty close to the original, something I liked. It was nice on the inside. I like the old-school look with a new school ride, so I was going to keep the look on the outside, but have the drive and suspension of a new Corvette. I took the inside of a 2010 Camaro and put it in the ’67 Camaro.

Do you get a lot of tickets?

No. (LAUGHTER)

Something was definitely up here. I wasn’t going to leave it at that.

Do you get pulled over a lot?

I’ve had a few tickets.

How fast have you gone?

Well, actually, I wasn’t driving. I was 15 and I just had a permit, but my friend had his license and we bor­rowed a car from a friend. She was 19 and the car was a new Accord with about 500 miles on it. There was a town up the road about eight miles – we used to hang out there. We came driving through town in a new car

and everybody wanted a ride, so we picked up two girls and my wife-who I was dating at the time -and my brother and a friend of mine. So there were seven of us in a Honda Accord.

How did you manage that?

My friend, my wife and I were sitting in the middle. My brother and two girls and another guy were in the back. We decided to go to another town and shoot some pool, and we wanted to see how fast it would go so we floored it.

Was it a four- or a six-cylinder?

It was a six. We probably got it to about 120. It would­n’t go any faster. We were on a straightaway, and back then they wouldn’t let cars cut off. Now, they run too fast, they’ll blow up. We get to the top of the hill and there’s a State Trooper. All I see is blue lights. At the time, my buddy told me he had a license, but he didn’t. He had a permit. I had a permit. My brother had a license. So my buddy’s legal, but he only has a per­mit. He says, ‘What do I do?’ I said pull over and he said he wasn’t stopping. So we don’t stop and that policeman chased us for, it seemed like days, but it was hours. We had that thing floored.

This is like an episode of Dukes of Hazzard.

Yeah. We’re flying down the road. We can see blue lights two hills behind us as we go up a mountain on a dirt road. The car’s turning so we decide, whichever way the car goes, we’re going the other. There’s two dirt trails. Well, this car’s going 30 and we’re going 100, so there’s a little bit of dust. Then we get to a T, and luckily on the other side of the T is a field, and we’re, like, which way, which way and nobody answers. So we actually jump the T and head out into this field and I’m, like, ‘Right, right, right,1 and we turn right. We got so far ahead of him he called back-up and set a road block. But we’d taken so many turns, they didn’t know where to set the road block. We get back to the high­way and there’s three cars. When we passed the offi­cer, it was pitch dark so he couldn’t see the color of the car.

We got in between those three cars and as all this goes on, my buddy that has a license changes seats with my buddy driving because he doesn’t want to get in trouble with his permit. We ease up to the road block and they have Mustangs ready to go. We pull up with a car in front of us and a car behind us. An officer comes up and asks to see a driver’s license. He says, ‘What are you guys doing down here?’ My buddy says, ‘We had to take this girl back home after we went to the movies. What’s going on?’ Like we have no idea. The officer says, ‘Somebody’s trying to be funny and outrun the law.’ The police officer gave him back his license and we drive through the road block. We’re free and laughing all the way home. Three days later, the guy that turned at the top of the hill got video.

Oh no.

Yeah, and they got the tag number. They went to the girl’s house. We dropped the car off that night and I know that thing had dings and scratches on it. We washed it up, but it was dark and we couldn’t see. She’s, like, ‘You guys are so responsible. Anytime you want it, you come get it.’ I felt bad. Three days later, the cops come to her house to arrest her. She told them who did it and called Scott, my friend, and said, ‘Get ready, the cops are coming to your house.’

Wow.

They showed up. He got a lot of tickets and stuff, and we all got in big trouble.

Did you get grounded? Did you get a whoopin’?

I didn’t get a whoopin’, but I got grounded for a while.

Wow, that’s a great story. That has to be one of the best that I have heard. Rules are made to be broken!

Until my kids read it.

Okay. It’s a great story, though. I have to print it. But maybe we should move on. When you got your first big contract did you go out and buy a cool car?

I actually didn’t. I was scared I wouldn’t make the big leagues, so I put most of it back to build a house. I did, however, buy that boat.

With the Step Side Chevy, it seems that you are quite a Chevy guy. Is there a dream car or truck you have ever wanted or dreamt about?

Classic cars. I like ’57 Chevys. They were big cars growing up. My dad loved them and he would brag on them. Going down the street, if we saw one, he would always ask us what make, model and year.

Have you ever had any bad accidents other than outrun­ning the law?

I’ve had a few. I had one in high school. (A DEVILISH GRIN SPREADS ACROSS HIS FACE) I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I was doing. I was taking home a friend after high school who didn’t have a ride, after baseball practice. That ’63 truck I had, it had a six-cylinder when I got it and I put a 327 in it – an old Holley.

What’s up with you and this horsepower thing? You always need it bigger and faster.

It’s funny, when I stop at a light if they take off, I have to pass them. There’s something about competition. I have to beat them and race through town.

So, I take him home and he says something like, ‘This thing won’t run very fast.’ I take off and I try to go around this long curve and I let my right tire get on the gravel. We actually went down in one ditch, and went across and started spinning in the highway. As we’re spinning, it’s funny, it’s almost like slow motion. My buddy says, ‘We’re going to flip.’ I’m trying to drive and we start to straighten out. I shift into second and try and go the other way to drive out of it. I’m going so fast, backwards, smoke is com­ing off the tires. We go through and hit a fence post and end up in a pond. I get out and I think my truck is dead. The fender’s gone and I try and back it out. The tire actually had come off the rim when I came off the road and I could­n’t get it out. I had to call a tow truck and got grounded for that, too, because I wasn’t supposed to be down that way.

What year was this and how old were you?

Nineteen ninety-three, and 16.

So, Roy, why are you so rough on vehicles?

I like to try them out.

How well can you drive a stick shift?

That’s all I drive.

How many more years will you play? I ask because some athletes in this book are on the cusp and some are retired.

I’m going to play two more, for sure, and then decide. We’ll see where I’m at. If I’m close to something, I might go after it numbers-wise or championship-wise, but probably not much longer than that. I want to try and do something else, maybe NASCAR. I love competition.

Cool. Okay, road trips. Do you have any favorites.? I’m sure you drive from Texas to Mississippi.

Yeah, I own land in Mississippi. Actually, Jake Peavy, we own land together there and in Michigan, and we kind of hunt there and go to Illinois and hunt, and then Alabama, maybe, all season. It’s a tour.

So, your hunting ranch, is it like Jay Novacek’s hunting ranch. The Upper 84?

That’s what I have here.

Tell me all about it

I started it in ‘06.1 high-fenced it and I’ve been trying to get the deer to a high quality so somebody who would pay to come on will shoot quality deer. I just started selling hunts this year and had a few guys come on. It’s fun. A lot of these people are corporate people and I like meeting them. It gives you options after baseball. Plus, watching some­one else kill one is as fun as hunting. The place in Illinois and Missouri is just personal, with friends and family.

Is it solid deer or are there other options for a good hunt?

I have some exotics too, from Africa and India.

How long does it take you to dress a deer?

Just take the hide off of it? Twenty minutes.

Tell me about your charity. Fund 44.

We have a bond set up, so if someone loses their house in a fire or they lose their job, we buy stuff at Christmas for them.

Tell me about your restaurant.

We just built it. I wanted a steakhouse close. I’m tired of driving 45 minutes to eat.

I figured that was your restaurant when I drove by it. Do you have frog legs on the menu?

Yes, we have frog legs, quail, a catfish buffet, but we specialize in steaks. All Angus. I try to buy the best. I looked all over Texas and I actually get meat from Buckhead in Atlanta. The biggest thing for me, here, I try and invest in quality, but here you have to have something you can afford. I could have the best in the world, but no one around here is going to pay $50 a steak. I’m trying to get the best quality that you can afford. It’s been working so far. It’s called Home Plate and we opened in November of 2009. □

Roy, without a doubt, had the most rural location out of the 40 athletes in my book. Something about the smell of game, cow shit and hot rides just takes me back to growing up in small town Texas. Floy’s Southern hospitality was addictive and inviting. Heck, he even left me drive his bulldozer!

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Barbara Terry interview with Dan O’Brien

Dan 0′ Brien is a three-time world champion and gold medal Olympic dec athlete. How many people could com­pete in so many events -10-10 track and field events…to be able to finish them, let alone beat everybody in the world at the 100-meter run, the long jump, shot put, javelin toss events and so forth ? How much energy must a guy like Dan O’Brien possess, how much drive?

So, what was your first car?

My first car was a beat-up B210, when I was in 11th grade. I got it for $500.

What color was it?

It was primer gray.

So, it was obviously used when you got it. How many miles did it have on it?

You know what, I don’t even remember. But it was really old and beat-up. I do remember I sold it when I went off to college. I had that car in high school, but I didn’t drive it a whole bunch. I had a buddy that knew this girl that had a convertible. We drove around all the time. My car was just kind of a rig that I would use when I didn’t get a ride from somebody else. And it was amazing, I sold it for more money than I got it for when I went off to college a couple years later.

Wow. It sounds like you were a kind of car wholesaler.

Well, you know what? I lived in an apartment complex before I went to college and there were a couple of girls that borrowed my car all the time. Finally, I said, ‘You know what? I’m leaving in a couple of months and it’s yours if you wanna buy it.’ I had a couple people that wanted it and I sold it to the highest bidder.

Where do you think that truck is now?

Oh, you know it’s gotta be in the scrap someplace.

All right so what’s your favorite car, or dream car, if you don’t already have it? What would that car be and do you think that you’ll ever buy that car?

Absolutely, and I do believe I will actually own that car at some point. But the car that always catches my eye, that always stands out, is the E55, the Mercedes E55. They’re sports sedans, top-of-the-line sports sedans.

Do you think you’ll ever pull the trigger on the Mercedes?

You know, I’m actually looking around right now and I like the older Mercedes. They offer a little bit more room inside. I owned a C Class – I owned two C Classes – in the ’90s that were actually World Championship awards. A Mercedes with an IAAF Track and Field sponsor in the ’90s, and I won a C Class Mercedes in 1993 and then another one in 1995. So I owned a C Class Mercedes, you know, for many years. I got rid of those, and I got my wife a car. I’m sure that I’ll get my E-Koff at some point. It’s interesting, I always look for a carthat’s a couple years old. I’m kind of stuck in the old models. I like the old European, where it’s really, really roomy inside.

What color combination Mercedes are you going to buy?

You know, I like the traditional black exterior with the tan interior. I also like the silver and white in the desert. It hides the dirt better, if you’re always clean­ing your cars. Leather’s a little bit more tough to han­dle in this heat, but I don’t know. I think it’s probably gonna be the black or silver.

Okay, I guess living in the desert area, you have to change the batteries a little more often.

Yeah, you do. It’s really interesting. I lived in the Northwest my entire life until about 2002 and it didn’t seem like you had to really pay that much attention to the service on your vehicle. Every 3,000 miles, 2,000 miles, you get your oil changed. But your tires seem to last a lot longer, your bat­teries seem to last a lot longer. Here, I’ve moved down to the desert where, in five years, I’ve changed my battery, I’ve had to get a new windshield. You really gotta keep up on the maintenance of your vehicle just because of the toll the hot weather takes on the car.

Yep, and with the air filter, you’ve gotta change it every 3000 miles, 10,000 miles because of the dust.

Absolutely. And when I moved down here, my car had to go through an emissions test. I’ve never really had to do that.

Can you drive a stick shift?

Absolutely. Yeah, I learned how to drive a stick shift when I was just in high school, when I was just learning to drive. We had about a 20-acre farm and it was important that I, even at age 14 or 15, knew how to drive a car. My uncle had a Volkswagen Bug that he made into kind of a beach dune buggy, and he used to let me drive when we got out into the country. That’s how I learned.

Sounds fun. How old were you when you got your driver’s license?

I was 16, and I think I failed the first time.

The classroom part or the driving part?

The classroom part. But I remember I took my driver’s test in a stick shift.

Oh really?

And I remember I stopped on a pretty decent incline of a hill one time and had to gun it pretty good. But I can remember, it was like a little Toyota pick-up that I took my driver’s test in.

So, funny stories? Like any bad mishaps?

Actually, there is an interesting story. I told you about my friend…he always had a convertible, whether it was a V-8 or an MG. His name was Don and he and I were best friends. We were such good friends that people could’ve mistaken us for each other; we looked alike and hung out together all the time. But he had an MG – a ’78 MG – where, instead of the lug nuts, he had one big bolt in the middle and you could screw off the bolt and you could pull the whole tire off. I remember driving down the road one night and, all of a sudden, the back right half of the car clunks down,

sparks are coming out the back and we’re going 45,50 miles per hour, and we see this tire pass us on the right side. The tire had come undone on that side. The big locking nut in the middle had come undone and the tire had come right off. We’ve got a big rooster of sparks coming off the backside and we see this tire just go past us on the right side. It’s at night, and it looks fantastic with the sparks and everything. So, the tire goes down into the ditch and I’ll bet that tire went a mile into a field. We had to go find this tire in the mid­dle of the night, jack it up and put it back on. That little MG, we just put it through so much. But it was a real­ly strange little car. It was always in the shop. We were always working on it or something. But I haven’t been in any major accidents. Not any mishaps too major, anyway.

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve done in a car?

The most interesting thing.J’ve done a lot of driving, I will say that. Actually, my dad, when we were growing up, bought a, instead of a motor home, he bought a converted school bus. Somebody had converted a pretty good-sized school bus into a camper and it had a woodburning stove in it. It held, like, six or eight peo­ple and we had a pretty large family growing up, and we took this bus. It was white and green. We took this bus everywhere. We went camping in it, we took it to southern Oregon, clear down to L.A., up to Disney World, into Disney Land in Magic Mountain. We real­ly lived in this thing. My dad worked for warehousing in Oregon and there were even times when he would take it out on his work station for the weekend and work for four or five days in one area, and he would live in this. As kids, my brother and I used to go with him and live in this converted school bus. It was real­ly big, and we had a lot we took in there. Now that I think about it, man, I don’t remember growing up being a hippie, but I guess we had this hippie bus.

All right, what are your thoughts on owning versus leasing a car?

I always own my vehicles. Always. I’ve always tried to figure out why people lease and what the benefits to that are, and I’ve always been brought up with the mindset that, if you can’t afford to buy it, then don’t.

Buy the thing so you don’t have to make payments on it. That’s the financial advice that I’ve gotten from the people around me. I thought about leasing a vehicle and I asked a lot of questions. I know people that own car dealerships and I know people that have done both. There never seems to be a standard answer. It seems like it’s different for everybody, and I’m still try­ing to figure that one out.

Well, I think a lot of people are told that they can write off their payments when they lease more, but if you drive your car to or from work and you own your car, then you can do the same.

That’s interesting. I’ve always owned my vehicles, but I’ve been on a leasing program as an athlete – a professional athlete – where I would do a deal with a local Chevy deal­er or some Pontiac dealer and I would get a car to drive for the season or the year. Pretty handy to trade that car in every 4,000 miles or 9,000 miles and get to drive a new one. I enjoy that, but there was always that kind of underlying idea that, This isn’t my car’ so you treated them in the sense that, ‘No, that’s not my car.’ When you’re leasing a car, you watch how you treat it and watch where you park and the kind of stress that you put your car through. I remember, when I first got my first Mercedes, I wanted to cover it up and keep it hidden away because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to it So you really have to treat the car differently when you lease them.

other cars in the past you’ve had leases on cars – but how do you think that affected your decision in cars?

I’ve always just been kind of practical when it comes to cars. I want the thing to be comfortable, clean, I wanna go out and just know that it’s going to start up every day. Even when I didn’t have much money. I’ve tried to take care of my cars. People have gotten into my cars and said, ‘Gosh your car’s clean.’ I don’t go really overboard with cleaning my car. It’s kind of part of ownership with me because I like a clean car so that I can have anyone in it at any time and not think, ‘Oh, my car’s dirty and I don’t want to drive it.’ It’s about practicality. I don’t put big, fat tires on my trucks or big, crazy rims or extravagant paint jobs. I like a good sound system in my car, and I usually just go with however I buy the vehicle. I usually just keep it that way. I have never spent an abhorent amount on changing the look of my exterior of my car. I’ve put a step-aside on my Land Cruiser because it had an option.

What kind of music do you listen to when you’re driving?

I’m very odd. I’ve been told by many people – people not even my own age, kids that I coach – that I have a very wide range of musical tastes. The kind of music that I lis­ten to? I actually listen to a lot of talk radio when I’m driv­ing in the car. I listen to the Adam Carolla show, I listen to Howard Stern, ESPN radio, and just this last year. I’ve been listening to a lot of political discussions on the radio, and I listen to some local guys here in Phoenix. It seems that that’s where I get the majority of my flavor when I’m driving in the car. The kind of music that I listen to is, I like classic rock and roll and R&B. The only bad thing about the radio is that you get the same pop music or same R&B over and over and over again, so I change the channel constantly. But on Saturdays and Sundays, especially dur­ing football, I’m always trying to find a football game.

What do you currently drive?

I drive a ’97 Toyota Land Cruiser, with 70,000 miles.

And that’s actually the one we’re going to do the photo shoot with?

Yup. And that’s a pretty cool car. I bought that car in ’97 and, at the time, it was my largest single purchase. I wrote that check and thought ‘wow’ because I’d never written a check so large for anything, ever. I put it in the garage and I drove a leased car with a local car company that I did a trade-out for a commercial, and my Land Cruiser sat in the garage for a couple of years. So, when I brought it here to Arizona in 2002, it had 30,000 miles on it and it was six years old.

How fast have you driven in a car?

I think I’ve gone 110,115 with a friend of mine that owns a Bentley.

Let’s say, if you would’ve not become an athlete – obvi­ously you’ve chosen a ’97 Land Cruiser and you’ve had been very practical. Saying that, if I still lived in Oregon, where I grew up, I probably would’ve gotten into a Ford F-150. If I lived in California, I would’ve had a car because you do so much more driving there. I like driving on the freeway a lot, I like seeing where I’m going. With the gas mileage, it’s kind of hurting me right now. But, for me, it’s a technicality. My all-time favorite car that I had in the mid ’90s was a Toyota Camry. It was a six-cylinder, it went fast, it went tight, the driving went tight, it was clean. I put my Mercedes in the garage and drove my Camry on a daily basis.

Dan was enthusiastic, to say the least. We thought, on the way to meet him, that he had to be high-energy, but the man we met, the guy that beat the world at track and field in 1996 when he won the gold in Atlanta, was far more energetic than even we conceived. I suppose, as a decath- lete, you learn wasting time is wasting possible success. Dan was gracious and infectious, excited to be part of the book, and he wanted to get the whole process going.

Dan gave Catherine and I more material than we could have asked for. He gave us action shots – jumping hurdles, throwing his javelin, running the bleachers, sweating his tail off – and he graciously gave us pictures of his Land Cruiser.

So, how many Gold medalists are this cool. It takes some energy to enter the 10 events in the decathlon – running, jumping, throwing, let alone to be the very best on the whole planet at it I He was a joy to be around, and we had a great time at the University of Arizona with him. If the stu­dents that he teaches get half the energy we got, they’re lucky kids.


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athletes, boxing, Dallas Cowboys, fast, football, nascar, sexy, WWE

Barbara Terry interview with Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard is a man who needs little introduction. He is a two-time World Boxing champion, once winning the WBC World Welterweight and WBA Junior Heavyweight championships. He is a former Olympic gold medalist, winning it all at the 1976 games. He won two AAU championships, the Pan AM Games in 1975 and three Amateur National Golden Gloves titles. He was voted the boxer of the ’80s and is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time.

What do you miss most about boxing?

It’s so amazing for me and other people. You don’t appreciate things until they’re gone. The moments that I cherish with my family, my dad, my brother, my friends, I miss my friends. I don’t miss boxing, I miss the camaraderie. Being around my friends and family, when that comes to an end it’s, like…wow…

It’s very unique that you say that because a lot of ath­letes that are in the book are from team sports, like hockey, baseball or football. Some of them are retired, some of them are getting ready to retire. My question to them is always: Number 1, What are you going to do with yourself, and, number 2, Are you going to miss it? The team sports guys always tell me that they miss the camaraderie and their teammates. That’s what they talk about It’s interesting to hear you say the same thing, because boxing isn’t considered a team sport…

Boxing is individual, although there’s a team concept because you need a great corner. You need a great trainer, you need a great prep man, you need all of these things, but it’s more of a mano a mano. It’s more you versus me. I miss that time in training camp, and Dad and Mom cooking meals. It was one big family.

Right. All of the people that surrounded you and assisted you in your sport and all of those people cre­ated an unspoken team.

Right, right. Yeah, exactly.

Operating as a team sport instead as a one-on-one.

Exactly. Now that I look back on it, it was a team. You know, the trainers were more than just training me, they were rooting for me with their spirit and with their belief. It was awesome.

Well, for you to be successful, you really had to have that foundation and that belief. If you look at the real successful athletes, it seems that they had the strong push from their parents, and it seems like your par­ents totally supported you and gave you that neces­sary foundation.

Yes. I started boxing when I was 14. When people look at me or meet me, even my wife, she can’t believe that I was a fighter because I don’t look mean.

You don’t look mean. (I laugh because it’s true, but he was a world champion boxer. He chuckles as well). Right. I don’t have that edge or that air. I just don’t. So when they show a documentary about me, I look and I can’t connect the two. I mean, I am who I am. This is truly the way I am. I remember, eight months ago, they honored me at the Riviera Country Club. It was me, my wife and my kids. Daniel was seven at the time and Camilla was 11, and they showed old highlights of my career: the Olympics, some championship fights. I was watching my kids through my peripheral vision, and they’d look at me and they’d look up there at the screen because they couldn’t believe it, because, to them, I am Papa!

Right. They were having a hard time putting two and two together. (We both laughed hard at the thought of his wide-eyed son, puzzled at his father mauling so many hapless opponents. Doubt they’ll ever break curfew or get smart with dear old Dad!)

It was the cutest thing ever; it was so cute because they just could not believe that was their papa! I asked my kids, ‘Do you know what Papa used to do?’ They said, ‘You were a boxer. You won the Olympics!’And that’s what they know.

But they don’t know the visual of the sport itself.

No they do not, which is good.

What was your first car?

I wish I had that car. It was a dark blue 1967 Chevy Nova. I bought that car myself; I paid, like, $300 for the car. I worked at the Glen Arm Recreation Center. I saved my money and I saved my money and I bought the car. I remember, back then, years ago, you could change the gas pedal for a metal foot, so I did that because it was the cool thing to do. Then I changed my gear shift into a little ball. Yeah, and I had a little crucifix on the rearview mirror. That car was mine. I was so proud of that car. I bought that car with my own money and I cherished that car. It was so cute; I wish I had it again.

Where do you think that car is now?

Jesus Christ. I was looking for it.

You should find the VIN number and find it; it might still be in one piece!

You know what? My little car was so resilient; I bet it’s still around. I might put an APB out on it.

(WE LAUGH.) See, you have a passion about that first car. You bought it with your own money.

Oh, I did. It was my car. I bought it with my own money. I saved and I kept it clean.

Can you drive a stick shift?

Yes. Not well, but I can because I had my toys. I’ve had the Porsche, I had a Maserati, a Ferrari, I had all of those little toys.

And what happened?

I never drove it because I’d leave it in the garage and the battery would die. I had some wonderful cars.

How many cars do you think that you’ve had during your lifetime – since that first pride and joy?

Oh…I think…I would say…50 cars. Yes, 50.

Fifty, that is a great number. What cars do you have now?

The one that I drive, that I cherish and that I love the most is my Smart Car. I love that thing. My wife bought it for my birthday. She surprised me. Because I looked at the Mini-

Cooper. One day I saw a car zooming past and I said to myself, ‘What the hell is THAT?’ Because it looked like a golf cart, like a baby’s shoe, a large baby’s shoe. I remem­ber we then looked for one. It was hard to find because they were on back order. We drove around looking for them and asked, and the manager said these cars are hard to come by. There’s a six-month or a year wait, some­times. He said he’d keep an eye out, and if something came up, he’d call me.

After that, my wife pursued it. So, my birthday came around and we went to Orange County, being as my wife’s mom lives there, and my wife told me that we needed to go by her mom’s house to pick up something. We went by her house, she raised the garage door, I walked in the garage – and the garage is large – but I didn’t notice it sitting behind the trash can because it’s so small! It’s so tiny, she parked it parallel. And I thought, this is my car! I kept it in Laguna, so when we went to Orange County I always had a carto drive. Then I decided that I was going to bring this car to L.A.

I drove it, got off of the exit and on the freeway. I was driving, like, 50 miles an hour because it was so little. I thought I could get blown away by a tractor trailer. I tried it at 60 and I tried 70, then here comes a big truck flying by. The car didn’t move from the burst of wind from the big truck and that surprised me.

Sounds like your Smart Car has excellent grip.

Right. It’s stable. It hugs the road, it’s so low. I got it to 80; I wasn’t supposed to, but I did it because this is my car. I love it. I drive it every day.

What tires do you have on it; maybe the tires helped the car hug the road?

The same tires that come on it – muffin tires. They’re cute tires. The tires are no bigger than on a golf cart, but I love the car.

How many miles per gallon do you get in your Smart Car?

Thirty-five easy, maybe more.

Okay, so you have the Smart Car and what other vehicles do you have…

We have a Tahoe hybrid, and that car is for the kids. We take the kids to school in that car because my kids – and all kids, I think-they don’t believe in keeping a car clean. That’s their car. I love driving my car because, going a long distance with the family, it is a great car. The thing about it is, you don’t know the damned thing is on because you can’t hear it. Sometimes I start it twice, not knowing it is already started. But it’s a great car. I love that car.

So you’re all about the Green Movement.

No question, yeah. I have two cars-two vehicles-that I think benefit the environment.

Would you ever buy another gas-guzzling vehicle after owning the hybrids?

No. That’s my car. The Tahoe hybrid is my car, and my Smart Car.

If you had a dream car that you never pulled the trigger on, what would that be? I know you had the Maserati, the Ferrari and you had the Porsche. Was there ever a certain car that one of your friends has owned that you have desired?

The only car that comes to mind was an Aston Martin. That was a cool car. Didn’t James Bond drive that car?

Yes, the D.B. 9.

Yeah, yeah, I liked that. That is the only car that comes to mind. But I’m kind of past that point now; I’m a Smart Car and hybrid type of person now.

What’s your favorite color combination when it comes to cars?

I like black on black. I like blue with a cream-color interi­or. I like white. My wife doesn’t like white; she thinks it’s too showy, but that is why I like it!

Very crisp, like your Smart Car.

Yes. My Smart Car is white. I like my color combination of my Smart Car – white with kind of a red interior.

What kind of music do you listen to when you’re cruising down the freeway?

My kids laugh at me. I like the oldies, but the goodies. I like Luther Vandross.

Hey, Luther’s good. He’s not an oldie-but-goodie!

My kids have me listening to some of the rap. They like Tl.

Everybody’s into Tl, a lot of the athletes. Tl, Tl!

I also like Johnny Gill. My music is Johnny Gill. Johnny is a very, very close friend of mine and my family. Johnny will come over here and sing, and the kids love it. The kids love his voice.

Yeah, he has a good and grooving voice.

Oh, a great voice.

Have you ever been involved in a car accident?

Yes. Two accidents, to be exact. I was in one back in the late-’60s, with my mom. My mom was driving me and my two little sisters to South Carolina. What happened, it was late at night and she had just gotten off work but wanted to get on the road, and then fell asleep at the wheel and we went off the road and into a ravine. It was frightening. It sends chills up and down my spine when I think about it. You know how big the old jacks were back then?

Yes.

Well, the impact of the crash, when we hit the ravine, sent the jack straight through the trunk and all the way into the back seat of the car. I had just grabbed my little sister and brought her up front. It was awful. Then I had a head-on collision in a Laredo Jeep. What happened, I took a left turn and this guy went, like, BOOM, straight into me. I had contusions and bruises, but you don’t feel the pain until, like, two days later.

Right like the inner bruising that you get from the impact

Yes. It was really, really horrible.

How old were you when that accident happened?

I was probably in my mid-20s.

How old were you when you were in the childhood acci­dent?

I was in my teens -17, or maybe 18.

Do you have any favorite road trips that you like to take? I know you said that you have relatives that live in Orange County, but any driving trips that stick out in your mind?

Yeah. My wife and I like to go to Santa Barbara. It’s a nice drive down the coastline. It’s so beautiful. We also think a beautiful ride is to the Montage along the PCH. That’s a nice ride, and we know the owner of the Montage in Beverly Hills. He is a friend of ours. It is fantastic. Beautiful.

Do you prefer cars or trucks? Do you think that you lean towards one or another?

Well, I do like both. It depends on what the activity or trip is. If it’s a long trip, I like a big truck. If it’s just around the corner, I like the smallest car I can find – or a convertible.

How fast have you ever driven in a street car on the free­way?

The fastest I’ve driven…! drove 100 miles an hour one time because I wanted to see how it felt. I was scared of the police and it is not smart to drive that fast, but I had to do it. I did it for, like, two seconds and it was, uhm. I don’t know if it was a revelation or I got some big feel out of it, but I did it. I had to do it.

What has been your favorite car out of all of the ones that you have owned since you first got your driver’s license? Is there one that sticks out in your mind that you wish you still had?

You know, I truly loved my 280Z.

Oh my gosh, I am a huge Z person. Those are great cars.

There was nothing like it and I remember when I first had that car. To me, from my memory, when I got in that car, especially at night, the dashboard lit up like a cockpit of an airplane.

Yes, the orangish dashboard lights.

All the lights and all the whistles. I loved that car.

I was always a huge Z fan myself. Then they stopped making them in 1996. Then they came out six years later with the 350ZX, which was similar to an Audi TT or the Infinity coupe, so the Nissan Z no longer made a statement

Back in its day and time, it was the sexiest car on the road.

No question. It threw its hair back and said, ‘Look at me, baby.’

It was so cool. To be honest with you, I liked driving it at night because of that orange light.

Was yours an automatic or a stick?

It was an automatic. It was so cool.

What color was it?

I’m thinking it was a cranberry, like a reddish cranber­ry-

Did it have burgundy cloth interior?

It was burgundy! I also remember that car so well because, when I took it to the car wash, it smelled great and was clean. It smelled great, like a strawber­ry!

Sugar Ray Leonard was a genteel, relaxed, awesome man. He was so easy to talk to. To his kids, he’s Papa. He’s a devoted husband to his wife and, surprise surprise, into the Green movement. Here is one of the greatest boxers of all time – wealthy and affluenta happy family man who drives a Smart Carl Go figure. Hard to believe his punch could literally kill a man. He could have been the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all time. He had the fastest hands and the quickest feet. I’ll never forget this interview. Frankly, when we got to the questions about the cars, it was just like I was talking shop with an old friend.

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athletes, Dallas Cowboys, fast, football, nascar, olympics, sexy

Barbara Terry interview with Chad Knaus

Chad Knaus is the most talented and driven pit crew chief in the history of NASCAR. No kidding, and I know a little bit about racing. He’s the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win four consecutive NASCAR champi­onships with his current driver, Jimmie Johnson. He’s worked with Daryl Waltrip and Jeff Gordon, and was actu­ally a part of the original Rainbow Warrior crew. He’s been involved in racing with his dad, John Knaus, since before he was legally able to drive. Simply put, he knows cars, power and speed.

What was your first car?

My first car that I ever owned was a 1972 Rally Sport Z28 Camaro, and that was a long, longtime ago. It was cool. I bought it beat up and junked, and worked on it and tried to get it going, but it all did not work out quite the way I wanted it to. After that, I had a Chevrolet Blazer, then a handful of other cars. I had a couple other Camaros, including a Camaro SS and just some things like that.

I was curious, with that inauspicious beginning, how he got to where he is and, with success and a life immersed in cars, what his tastes are now.

What do you drive now?

Currently, my daily drive is a Chevrolet Tahoe. I drive it every single day, but one of my favorite cars is a 2007 Corvette Z06.1 have a BMW M5, which I love. It is a very cool car. I have a 2003 C4S Porsche Carrera; I have a Silverado pickup truck; and I have four motor­cycles, so I have all kinds of stuff.

A good variety.

Yes. I also have a 1966 Chevy Nova. I bought it last year. My father actually built it when I was about 14 years young. Then he sold it, and the guy that bought it from my father approached me last year and asked me if I wanted to buy it back.

Tell me about your classic Camaro that you just treated yourself to.

It is a second-generation Z28, which is what my first car was, and I always wanted to get another one. It’s a great car to drive and it is currently a great project that I love a lot.

How did you acquire it?

I actually got it from Mr. Hendrick. He started the Hendrick Performance Group. It is on-site, here, so we have a lot of very skilled race car mechanics and fab­ricators that are working on these cars. Rick located the car and the guys here at HMS have done some engine and electronic work to it. So it has turned out to be an awesome ride.

How much money do you think Mr. Hendrick made off of you on the Camaro? (LAUGHS)

He may not have made a lot of money off of me for the Camaro, but in other areas, he makes plenty of money off of me! (LAUGHS)

What kinds of work do you suppose has been done to the Camaro up to this point since Mr. Hendrick acquired it?

It has a different engine in it than it did when it was factory, so it is putting out additional horsepower over what it did with the original 350. There is not a whole lot that has been done to it from a performance stand­point, from the original stock equipment. We want to make sure to keep it as stock as possible with the appearance, but we are going through it to make sure that it is running right, and that the engine is up to par and that all of the running gear is correct. We are also going through it to fine tune it, which will make a huge difference with a car like this.

What is your favorite color combination with cars?

I think it is hard to argue with black. When black is clean, it is nice. Blue and silvers are also nice; silver on black is nice. My BMW is silver; my Porsche is blue. I am not a big red fan. I do not like a lot of red.

How fast have you driven in a street car?

Probably, on a street, 145 to 150 miles an hour. I have had my Z06 up to 150 miles an hour when I was driving to Rockingham one day. I have been faster on two wheels. I have gone 174 on my GSXR.

Have you had any bad accidents dating back to the get-go?

I have had some accidents, that is for sure. I had an all­black 1997 Camaro SS that was really nice, and I was driv­ing home here from work at Hendrick Motorsports one day. A Volvo stopped in front of me as I was coming along a bend a little too fast. I had to go down into a ditch to avoid him, and called the tow truck and all of that cool stuff.

This seems like a very silly question, but to be fair to all, I have to ask it. Can you drive a stick?

Yes, absolutely.

What age did you learn how to drive?

Young – probably 12 to 13 years old. My grandfather used to take me out to drive through the hills and the apples orchards in Wisconsin where I grew up, so it was hilly and wavy roads…we used to go out there and drive around a little bit. It was a lot of fun.

Do you prefer cars or trucks?

It depends on the day; it depends on what I am doing. If I am going out to dinner or something like that, I would probably rather drive a car. But just driving to work every day, I choose to drive my Tahoe. I like them both, I really do. I think that a truck definitely serves a purpose – to haul my motorcycles and trailers around – so it all really depends on the situation.

When your career took off, did you find that you were ever influenced by someone else’s car?

Personal car?

Interesting that he differentiates the two automatically. To Chad, there’s work cars, cars that fly and must be kept running with unbelievable efficiency, and there are those other cars – the ones you take out on a Saturday night.

Yes.

I can remember when I started here at Hendrick, one of my biggest motivators was when we won the champi­onship with the 24 car and Ray Evernham was the crew chief at the time. Mr. Hendrick gave him a bright red Acura NSX, which is a beautiful car. So that was one of my moti­vating factors in my life – to be that successful, so that I could get those perks.

If the Z06 is not your ultimate dream car, then what would it be?

I have always wanted an Aston Martin DB9 because I think they look really cool. Obviously, when you start to get into exotics like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, they are sec­ond to none. They are pretty awesome pieces of equip­ment. So I have not gotten my dream car yet…once I figure out what it is, I will. I am a car guy. I love cars, so there are not a lot that I do not enjoy. I do think that if you are going to go into exotics, then it would have to be the Lamborghini Gallardo.

Hmmm…Chad in a James Bond-type vehicle. I don’t know. It doesn’t quite seem to fit, but…I’m betting that this question can only be answered one way, and perhaps lead to some interesting, maybe even humorous, stories.

Do you get pulled over a bunch?

I used to a lot, oh my, a lot. One time I got nine tickets in one year. That was really bad, but now I am usually good for one speeding ticket a year. So, nine is my record.

What is the craziest thing that you have ever done in a car?

On what level? ‘CHUCKLES. I do not know. Ummm. Not that I think it is a good thing, but when I was young, I would run from the cops and stuff like that.

Wow, not what I was looking for, but that deserved a follow- up or two, for sure.

Run from the cops?

Absolutely.

What were you doing?

We used to get together as kids and we would all kind of park and hang out, just like kids do. As the night pro­gresses, we would start drag racing and doing things like that on the back streets. Cops would find our new spot about every two weeks, so we would have to split and get away.

Have you ever hit an animal while driving?

I had a buzzard fly into my Tahoe as I was driving down the road to the airport. There was some type of road-kill on the road and I see this big bird coming in with approximately a six-foot wingspan. I could see it flying down towards me, then I saw the piece of road-kill on the road, then figured out that it was trying to get to it. The buzzard flies right into the door of my Tahoe and scared the *&%*%* out of me. My girlfriend at the time was in the passenger’s seat screaming. It was bizarre.

What kind of damage did it do?

Thankfully, it did not do any damage; it made a heck of a noise.

Do you have any favorite road trips?

We were actually racing, so we had to drive from Birmingham, Alabama, to Phoenix, Arizona, which was an incredibly excruciating drive, as you can imagine. And I was young; I was 18. It was three people, nonstop driving all the way across the United States. It was pretty intense, and I remember we were going down the road and it was my turn to drive. You know those little road aspirin pills, like No Doze type pills. The guy that I was riding with said, ‘Here, take a couple of these and they will help keep you up through the night.’ I told him I would take some in a lit­tle bit and I remember looking at the bottle and, as I was driving, I read the bottle wrong. Being young and not real­ly understanding the dosage, it said to take so many mil­ligrams per 10 pounds of body weight, so I ended up taking, like, 10 of them. I was wired for two days straight. I was a wreck. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck, but I drove all the way across Texas by myself – from one end to the other.

What kind of music do you listen to when you are driving?

Oh my. I have every type of music that you can think of. It really depends. Like, if I am driving the Corvette, you obviously want to have something that is a little more upbeat, like a hard rock and roll, to a heavy metal, to a rap. If I am driving my BMW, I listen to Ray Charles, Michael Buble. If you looked at my iPod, you would be shocked, as I listen to everything…Hall and Oates, James Brown, Journey.

Variety keeps it interesting.

That is what they say.

If you could describe the perfect woman as a certain type of car, what type of car would she be?

I think you would have to go back to the early years, because I think you would want something that is del­icate, curvy, smooth lines and fast all at the same time. You are going to have to look at late-’50s Corvettes or ’50s and ’60s Jaguars, ’50s Ferraris. It would be easy to say a new Ferrari or a Lamborghini Gallardo, but I think I would personally have something a bit more elegant.

Even though you mentioned elegant and curvy, you did make reference to all cars that have horsepower and tend to be fast. So, does she have to be fast and a multi-tasker?

Yes, to a degree. Nothing wrong with a little cross- training! I like fast cars, yes I do, but I also like beauti­ful cars, so I think that you have to be able to dress it up and take it for a night on the town!

You obviously won your fourth straight championship last season <2009), so where do you see yourself in, let’s say, five years?

You know, I think in five years my crew chief years will probably be winding down pretty dramatically.

Why do you say that?

It is very taxing to live this lifestyle as a crew chief; it is like living in dog years. You sacrifice so much in life in order to fully commit to work. You sacrifice friends, family, relationships. It is something that, if you are going to try and operate at the full level of being a crew chief, you just do not have time for a lot of other things in life. I do not want to go the rest of my life and not have a family and close friends and enjoy week­ends off. I want to do things that other people do, like watch races on Sundays, as that might be kinda fun! I think that, once we get to the five- to six-year area, when I get up into my 40s, I think that I am going to be ready to slow down a little bit.

When I met Chad, I realized that I was in awe. He is, simply put, a living NASCAR legend. When you race, your car is your universe. It’s what separates you from the pack. The crew chief Is In charge of making your universe run at opti­mum efficiency, under hellish circumstances. Chad Knaus has done this better than anyone else on the planet. He is a very, very intense, in-your-face pit crew chief. Always go, go, go, and also a witty and clever guya workaholic for certain – but a genuine good ol’ guy.

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Barbara Terry interview with Lee Roy Jordan

Lee Roy Jordan is a famed, storied former middle linebacker who played for “Bear” Bryant at Alabama, and for the Dallas Cowboys for 14 years in the ’60s and 70s. Lee Roy won a National Championship while attend­ing Alabama as part of a perfect 11-0 season in 1962, and he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. In his pro career, Lee Roy was a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro. He played in three Super Bowls and has one ring.

What was your first car?

A 1951 Ford. I bought it my senior year in high school to go off to college in. It was a beautiful maroon. It was a few years old, but it was very nice. My older brother went and helped me pick it out. I wanted someone else’s judgment on it to make sure I was getting the right car for the right price.

How long did you keep it?

I guess, four years – right before my senior year in college. Then I traded it in on a brand new 1961 Chevy Impala. That was kind of fun. I kept that car a few years, until I came to Dallas and signed my con­tract.

So you switched from Ford to Chevy?

Yes. And, with my signing, I got a new car – a 1963 Riviera. It was the first year Buick made that car and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I came to Dallas and went to the showroom at the dealership. I was so excited about it and felt like that was my one sports car, part of my bonus deal.

What color was that sweet ride?

It was beige, and really nice. A two-door sports car, Riviera was around for 15 years or so. Buick made it that long, but the first year was the most beautiful one of all.

How long did you keep it?

About four years. We started having children, and did the typical thing and got a station wagon.

How many kids do you have?

Three boys. We love them so much and enjoy them. Now we have three daughters-in-law, and six grand­daughters and one grandson. Number seven was a boy. I’m proud of all my grandchildren, but having a boy meant something to a male like me, having a male to carry on the name.

Great.

I decided to get back on the subject of autos with the happy, pleasant legend sitting before me.

What do you listen to when you drive?

Elvis is my favorite. Alabama, I really love. Willy Nelson is one of my favorites. I’ve seen him a number of times. We used to go with him to a golf tournament up in New Mexico. Charlie Pride had a golf tourna­ment up there we used to raise funds for. Mark Cashen and a group of us would go up; a lot of the pickers and singers were there. Charlie Pride and all of his entourage. We’d get on Willie Nelson’s bus, and they would pass the guitar around and one per­son would sing a hit song and then another. It was a wonderful experience. Charlie Pride is one of my favorite people.

So, do you like classic country music?

Hank Williams Junior is great. We saw Willie two weeks ago and we saw him again last night, so we keep up with Willie and the boys.

Right up my alley! What about Merle Haggard?

Merle Haggard is another favorite. Love his music. Definitely one of the great all-time guys.

Tell me about what you drive now.

I drive a Toyota Sequoia SUV. I have my golf clubs and shotgun and hunting bag – everything in the back of it, and I keep it there. If I want to shoot skeet, I just go in my truck. I get my dogs and put them in the trailer and go hunting.

So it totally suits your needs and it’s versatile.

Yes. I’m not a car buff. I want something that suits me, gets me to and from and gets me back and forth and car­ries my stuff. We take a lot of trips to Alabama, my wife and I have a home there. We’re always going to and fro, carrying stuff. The two of us, we carry a lot of clothes and golf stuff, so we have to have a bigger vehicle.

And what year is it?

An ’06. It’s probably got 40,000 miles on it. I don’t put a lot of miles on it, but I put a few going back and forth to Alabama.

What’s you favorite color combination when it comes to vehicles?

I like the lighter colors – grey or tan – my favorite col­ors. I have a white one right now. I like something

dust doesn’t show up on. I couldn’t have a black car, it would drive me crazy. I’m nuts about keeping things clean, so I’d be washing it every day.

What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven?

I was at one of the race tracks out in California and did some training. They showed us how to drive race cars. I got up to 120 and that was exciting. On the roads. I’m kind of a five miles an hour above the limit guy. The police won’t likely give me a ticket at five over the limit.

I went 10 over the speed limit today and got one. I used to be able to beat tickets when I lived here in Texas, but being from out-of-state now, he wasn’t buying it. What do you think about hybrids?

I’m interested. I’ll probably buy one next. If the econ­omy improves, I might do that soon. I’m conservative and I like to save money. There’s some vehicles I wouldn’t use because the engine sounds like it’s guz­zling gas.

Like the big Hummers?

Yes, and Cadillac Escalades and all that. They have the big engine, but the engine sounds like it gets no gas mileage and they don’t. Eight to 10 miles to the gallon, I’d imagine.

Did you ever see a teammate’s car or truck and say,

‘Hey I have to have one of those?’

Yeah, Randy White’s truck. He and Mark always had nice big Ford trucks. I got some, but they weren’t nice. I don’t trade often. I keep them a good while.

Do you prefer to lease or own your vehicles out­right?

I’m a pay-to-own kind of guy. Leasing, they say, is cheaper than buying, but I might keep a vehicle five years and I might drive it two and hand it down to my kid. They might drive it three or four more years, so I think you get more bang for your buck that way.

Do you have a dream car, or have you ever had your eye on a car you wanted and didn’t pull the trigger on?

No, I really never had that. I probably had some trucks I wanted for hunting purposes that I couldn’t justify purchasing because I don’t hunt enough. I’ll buy something used, or a dealer car. I bought a Ford Excursion from a dealer’s son and got a good deal.

It’s my hunting truck.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I love quail hunting. That’s my favorite thing. I hope we’ll soon get back to where we have more quail around here. I like to play golf. I love riding horses. I have had too many, so my wife tells me. I had the pleas­ure of turning one of my horses over to my granddaugh­ters – a horse I hunted quail on – and these girls take such good care of him. And he’s so gentle and he takes such good care of them. I’m so excited they’re learning about horse riding at such a young age, and I have fun with them.

I love quail and dove hunting. Just to be able to get out and breathe the outdoors, sport my camo gear and take it all in! How is the dove hunting in Alabama compared to Texas?

Somewhat good. We have some good dove hunting in Alabama. We go out in Albany, northeast of Abilene, a good place to find doves. I didn’t have a company dove hunt this year, but there’s been some good dove hunting in the past.

Have you ever had a bad accident in a vehicle?

No. I really have been very fortunate. I’ve had fender benders. I did hit one person from behind, not paying attention. I was going a bit too fast on the freeway and cars stopped. I probably hit them at about 15 miles an hour and we bent our cars up, but I’ve been blessed that way.

What does your wife think about your choice in vehi­cles?

Well, she kind of lets me do my own thing. I want to be in my vehicles and she insists the car be big enough to take both of our stuff because, when we go to Alabama, we take ALL our stuff – our clothes, golf clubs, she took four potted plants last time. All that fun stuff.

Do you like cars over trucks, or SUVs because you get the best of both worlds?

I like SUVs, something that sits up higher than low cars. I like visibility. I think it’s much safer, maybe not for the lower cars, but I like height, so SUVs fit that. And I like space in the seats so I can get in and move my legs around. I’ve had two knees replaced and I have to have some space.

What was your favorite vehicle? The Ford? The Chevy? The Buick?

My favorite was the 1963 Buick Riviera. It was so beauti­ful. We had Cadillacs and Lexuses, but that was my favorite. I like the Lexus. My wife has a convertible I gave her last year – a Siebring, Chrysler, hard-top convertible – and it looks terrific. When the top is up, it’s a hard-top, but when it’s a convertible, it’s sharp too.

That’s a good fit for her.

Yeah, because she takes our granddaughters out and they ride in the back like Miss America.

Awesome visual. I want to go back to something we started with earlier and get in-depth. Do you think that the Buick is your favorite because it had to do with sign­ing your first Dallas Cowboys bonus?

Probably. It was the first sports car – or only one -1 ever owned. All my other cars were four-doors to carry a bunch of people. That was a two-door and I was single then. I married my wife a year and a half later.

Where do you think that car is now?

Oh, man, I don’t know. You mean that exact car? I don’t have any idea.

We should do a VIN search to see if we can locate it.

I don’t think they go back that far. My favorite car now, though, is a 1958 International pick-up that was my wife’s grandfather’s. I had it restored 10 years ago. It’s a 3 in the tree stick.

Wow, such a collector’s item. They made a great product

Yeah, and I’m so proud of it because it was her grandfather’s. It primarily sat in the garage for years, and I had it painted and restored like new. We take it out at our property when we go on Thanksgiving, and we get it out and drive it around and the grandkids get in the back. We have a great time.

What color is it?

It’s a light blue. My wife asked me why not make it a forest green because of all the trees up there. With the territory we have, we have woodlands on the river. That’s where our lodge is, right there in Tuscaloosa by where the football team plays. We go there and watch football games, and this pick-up is as cute as can be. I wanted to restore it to its origi­nal, or I was talked into it, and she thinks it should be a forest green to match all the pine trees we have up at the lodge.

Paint it camouflage and you’ll blend in!

Yeah, great idea. (LAUGHTER)

Being a huge Cowboys fan, I was thrilled to get to inter­view this Cowboys legend about his experiences with vehicles throughout life and his tastes in automobiles. In fact, truth be told, though I love all of the Cowboys, Lee Boy Jordan is my favorite legend of all time, so I was roar­ing to get this one started.


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Barbara Terry interview with Ed Too Tall Jones

Ed “Too Tall” Jones Is a legendary defensive lineman from the 1970s Dallas Cowboys teams. He played with the world-famous America’s Team version of the Dallas Cowboys under Tom Landry and was in the NFL for 15 years, interrupting his career for one year of professional boxing, where he went undefeated. Along with “Mean” Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ed is probably the most recognizable defensive player of the 70s, an era wherein most defensive players remained anonymous. At six feet, nine inches, Ed was a bit too big to hide and too much for most offensive linemen. He’s a former Super Bowl champion and a three-time Pro Bowler, who is only credited with 57 sacks, but they didn’t record sacks until midway through his career. Unofficially, he had 106. Either way, he put the fear of God in many an NFL quarterback.

I started with the usual questions and let Ed go. I didn’t have to prod him or guide him, just ask him questions and listen intently. What was your first car?

My first car was a 1948 Chevy. I used to watch the old gangster movies, like Elliot Ness, and I saw that car and absolutely loved it. There was a guy in Tennessee that was an antique collector and I talked him into let­ting me buy that 1948 Chevy.

Where do you think the car is now?

I would give anything to know, and in fact, I would try and buy it back…(he chuckles)…I sold it when I fin­ished college and had it all during college. When I graduated, I bought a new Cadillac Eldorado that I thought was just the most beautiful thing. Then I sold the 1948 Chevy.

What color was it?

It was solid black.

How old were you when you first learned how to drive?

I grew up on a big farm in Tennessee and I learned how to drive sitting in my dad’s lap, driving a tractor. Then, when we would get in the car, I would sit in his lap and drive, being as we lived way out in the coun­try. We were, like, six miles from the city, so he would sit me in his lap and let me drive. The first time he trust­ed me on my own, I was, probably, 14 years old.

What is your favorite color combination with cars?

My favorite color combination would be a two-tone – black and grey.

I wondered what such a gentle man, who endured such a rough business, listened to when he drove. He grew up on a farm, lived in the South. What was his soundtrack while he drove around this big country?

What kind of music do you listen to when you drive?

Blues. I grew up listening to the blues.

Do you sing along when you are driving?

No. I do not torture myself to death.

Most interesting thing that you have done in a car.

Most interesting thing that I have done in a car?…ummm…(CHUCKLE)…l have always wanted to know what it feels like to be behind the wheel at 150 miles per hour, so I did it once. It was just a few years ago that I was driving to Houston for the NBA all-star game. I go to all the NBA all-star games – I am a big basketball fan. I go with a group of friends and most of them still live in Tennessee and Florida, so we were going to need a car in Houston. I took my SUV, which is consid­ered the fastest SUV on the road. I left early in the morn­ing and I waited until I got on some good freeway. There was not a car out there, and I am a very safe driver. I got it up to 150 miles per hour, and once I got to 150 miles per hour, I got off of it and I was satisfied. Never want to do it again.

I took a guess as to where it was. Being from Texas, there are only so many places you could get away with driving that fast.

Was that on 1-45?

Yes, 1-45.

What type of SUV?

My Mercedes G55. I have been on the Autobahn in Germany and I had my limousine driver…I was over there doing some promotion work and we got on that thing. I was in the back seat and it was the most uncomfortable I have ever been in my life because he got it up to 165 miles per hour. I do not like it unless I am behind the wheel.

So you felt that you were not in control?

Exactly.

Tell me about your Chevy truck that we are going to shoot some photos of today.

Earl Campbell is a friend of mine. I was in Austin a few years ago, and he had me over to his home for lunch and I saw his Chevy truck. He is a member of the Chevy Club and his truck is ranked number four in the country. When I saw it, I said that I would give anything to see number three, two and one. He told me that number two belonged to his neighbor and he called, but the neighbor was not at home. Earl Campbell has been trying to buy the number two truck from his neighbor, and his neighbor told him that Earl would have to give him his bank account, his home and his truck.

Earl said, ‘Ed, if you are going to get into this whole Chevy Collectors Club, you are going to need to buy you a short- bed with five windows.’ I looked for one that was not already fixed up because I have my own ideas and I want to do it myself. I found one two years ago and I have been putting together different ideas of what I want to do with it. I have been going back and forth on the ideas because I really want to make it right and totally different than any other out there. I think I am close to putting it all together.

Tell me more about the Chevy truck, and do you plan on entering it into the Chevy Club contests? Do you want to compete with Earl Campbell’s Chevy?

I have narrowed the restoration down to three different ideas that I think are all absolutely fantastic, but I want to see the number one, two and three rated trucks because I want mine to rank right up there so that it can be in the top five when restored.

What year is it?

It is a 1951.

What year is your Mercedes SUV G55?

It is a 2005 – the last year that Mercedes made the G55. They only made 300. They are not making them anymore, other than for military lieutenants and sergeants. They bul­let-proof them and send them to war. I just thought about the uniqueness of buying something that is the last year that they will manufacture it. Mine is number 113 and, for me, being six-foot nine, there is plenty of head room, plen­ty of leg room and, even though I drive the speed limit, I like knowing that it is the fastest SUV on the road. Just in case.

How many miles does it have on it?

Probably less than 20,000. Where I live, I am centrally located, so I am never on the highway much. The furthest I have ever driven was to Houston. That is what I drove to the all-star game, and I will never do that again. It is short runs to the airport and the golf course, so I am never on the highway more than 10 minutes.

What was the first car that you got when you first got signed in the NFL?

That was 1974, and I bought a 1974 Cadillac Eldorado. I thought it was the prettiest car in the world at the time. I kept it two years. I love keeping cars a longtime, but I kept it for just two years because it really wasn’t a good car. Cadillac makes good cars, I am sure, but this was perhaps a lemon. So, I traded it in and bought a 1976 SLC Mercedes that I kept for 11 years. I love keeping cars a long time.

How many cars do you think you have had since you were first signed by the NFL?

Six…including what I have now.

Wow. Compared to many athletes I’ve Interviewed, that isn’t very many. He must really develop a love for, and take care of, his vehicles.

What has been your all-time favorite?

My favorite all-time was a 1957 Chevy that I have always loved – even when I was a kid – and I still do. My second favorite that I bought was a Silver Shadow 2 1980 Rolls Royce. I thought it was the cutest and nicest body in the world, so I kept it until it was totaled. I would still have it if it had not gotten totaled.

Oh no, how did it get totaled?

I had some lady friends of mine that wanted to use it for a bachelorette party. They took it out and the lady that was driving it – the one responsible for it – dropped every­body off. She stopped off to get some cigarettes, was pulling out of the convenience store and a vehicle speeding caused her to hit the gas. Being as that car was so fast, she hit a pole. Anytime you damage the front end of a Rolls Royce, it is no good anymore. It will never be the same.

The frame got bent?

Yes. It was totally damaged, so that was it. It was a bronze color. At night it looked black, but during the day it was a bronze color. It was absolutely beautiful. I loved it. Miss that car.

A Rolls Royce, Cadillac and Mercedes SUV – what Ed had was stylish and powerful. He is a big guy, so there’s a prac­tical need for room and horsepower.

I know that you were attached to your Rolls Royce, but let’s say that you could go out and buy any car in the world today. What would that car be?

I have my dream car; my dream car was my 1957 Chevy, which I had for 20 years. I got tired of convert­ibles. Every time that I would take it out, it would be a beautiful day and people would recognize me in it. I am one that never likes attention. When I first got it, I did not care and I loved the attention that it attracted. But I do not anymore…No, now I am trying to hide. So I said, rather than just let it sit in my garage, somebody could use this car. I shipped it to Tennessee so that friends of mine could drive it. If I get the right offer, I will sell it.

I knew that Ed also likes motorcycles, though, admittedly, he’d have to stick to a big bike to support his size.

I hear that you have a Harley. What model is it?

I have a 1992 Soft-tail Springer. When I bought it, they did not have the TV motorcycle shows where they customize. Being six-foot nine, it looks like the bike is riding me, you know what I am saying? So, if I had heard of those cus­tomizing shops at the time, I would have had one custom- built for me. What I did was, I had a guy in Kentucky that was known for his paintwork for hot rods. Also, I had it shipped from the factory in Milwaukee to Kentucky where they took every piece loose and chromed everything that they could chrome. Then they put all of these different paints together where it was a colorful bike because I got tired of hearing people say that they got hit, or this person pulled in front of me, or I did not see you. I said, ‘If you do not see this coming, you must be legally blind.’ I wanted something very colorful to take out on beautiful days with friends. I have several friends of mine who are Harley col­lectors and I like to just joyride with them sometimes.

What colors do you have on your Harley?

My Harley is maroon, fuchsia, yellow, teal – a splash of color – but they all tie together. I spent an entire day with the family that painted it, putting colors together.

Were you ever influenced by another teammate’s choice in cars?

Early in my career, I used to envy my teammates’ cars, being as they had all of the hot cars – the Porsches, known as the fastest car on the road and all of that. I would love to drive that, but I couldn’t fit in it. One of my teammates bought a car that I absolutely loved. I used to watch the TV show Route 66.1 tried to buy a 1966 ‘vette, but could not fit in it because the dash extends out. So the owner of the 1966 ‘vette said, ‘Ed, do not ask me to take out the back seat and do all of this drilling.’

Raise the roof…

Yes, but one of my teammates had one. I used to envy my teammates’ vehicles that I would love to drive.

Well, it is obvious by his size that “Too Tall” fits, but why was he too tall? Tall, yes, but what made him too tall?

Tell me how you got the nickname “Too Tall?”

First day of practice in college, I walked into the equip­ment room and the trainer gave me the longest pair of pants that he had. They hit me above my knees. He shook his head and said, ‘Wear these, stay out of contact drills and we will have you a pair made.’ I walked on the field and a guy who played forthe Cleveland Browns did a dou­ble take and said, ‘Hey, do you know that you are too tall for football?’

That is a great story.

I am glad that something started, because I had been called so many names. I’m glad that everyone settled for one.

Was Tom Landry your coach your whole career with the Cowboys?

Tom Landry was my couch for 14 years and I played with Jimmy Johnson for one year.

So you did play for Coach Jimmy Johnson?

Yes, I did.

In that one year with Jimmy Johnson, it was with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Jay Novacek.

Yes.

You also played with Lee Roy Jordan?

Yes. The best leader I have ever played with, the best j vocal leader. He knew how to get under everybody’s skin I in a positive way.

How many years were you with the Dallas Cowboys?

Fifteen years. I hold the record for most years and most games.

You signed directly with the Dallas Cowboys?

The Cowboys traded in 1973 with the Houston Oilers for Toby Smith and Billy Parks, which made me the first overall pick. This blew me away at the time because, during that time, the first overall pick was always the quarterback, running back – the guys that play the glamour positions. To be a lineman, to be the first one chosen, who did not even have a high school career, I thought it was just absolutely amazing.

It is, because you are so outstanding.

Well, I try to be. Either that or I fooled them. □

I can honestly say that Ed possesses a heart the size of Texas. He was hospitable, congenial, courteous and kind. He kept us relaxed and smiling the whole time we were at his house, and afterwards he insisted on taking Catherine “the photographer” and I out for a Texas-size steak dinner. He even gave us his season tickets to the Cowboys game the next day, and incredible seats they were!

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