How has the offseason been since we last talked?
“I would say very eventful. I’ve had a lot of fun, personally. Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day, a lot has been going on. Obviously for the team we’ve had a lot of moving parts so it’s been an interesting offseason to say the least.”
You participated in St. Baldrick’s Day. Talk a little bit about that experience.
"It’s the second year in a row I did it. I didn’t have the super long hair to chop off this year so I grew my beard out for like two and half months, three months and it’s all for a great cause. It’s a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and I think we ended up raising about $110,000, which is awesome. It’s a great event like there is every week in New Orleans. There’s always something going on. So many people from the community came out to support it so it was a great success.”
This week you have another busy week. You have teamed up with 52 businesses to extend the reach of “What You Give Will Grow” initiative. First talk about that for some people that don’t know about it.
“To keep it somewhat short, when I first got drafted here I immediately thought how cool is it to have this platform to reach and do some good things in the community. The longer I lived here in New Orleans, the longer I’ve loved this place so I wanted to do anything I can to make it a better place to live because this is my home. Anyways, I just think it’s a responsibility and obligation to players. Fans buying tickets and coming to the games supporting us, they buy our salary so I feel like it’s an obligation and a responsibility to be fully engaged with the community and doing things that are going to benefit them. The thing that we are doing this week with 52 businesses is we’re researching and trying to find out if there is a way instead of having it as a fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation, can we turn into my own non-profit with very lofty goals of making it a zero cost foundation. One hundred percent of the money raised will go directly to the cause. I’ve been busier this week then probably any other time in my life but it’s been really exciting. I’ve been so encouraged by so many people. I didn’t realize maybe how big of an impact I’ve had on some people. It’s been really neat just to meet people and see people that want to get involved.”
Talk about where you are going to be going this week and how people can find out where the next stop is on your tour.
“They can find out all the stops on the tour by going to whatyougivewillgrow.com and it’s pretty easy. Put your name and email in there and you’ll kind of be on the email list for things that are going on. We’re trying to keep some of it under wraps, just because it’s fun to do. You’ll be kept posted on that and while I’m at different events I’ll always be live updating people whether it’s Twitter or Facebook. Just letting them know where they’re at and if they want to join they can.”
Can you give people a hint where you are going to be today?
“Today we don’t have much going on publicly. The big, well actually two events now, I’ll be doing something with the WWE red carpet event but also we’ll be doing a crawfish deal on Feret street on Thursday evening late. We’ll put details out about that coming up.”
Are you a big wrestling fan?
“I’m not a big enough fan to know every person in the WWE but growing up when it was on TV I would watch it. I’m excited to hopefully meet some cool people. One of the people I really want to meet is Hulk Hogan. I just want to see how big he truly is in person. I know when he was in the Rocky movie they listed him as nearly seven feet tall and 390 pounds when he was in his heyday, which is enormous. I’ve never seen anyone like that in real life and I would love to meet him.”
Did you think SMU got robbed of a NCAA tournament bid?
“I did. They didn’t help themselves by getting knocked out of the first round of their conference tournament by a team that was not doing too well this year. There is always more you can do. I won’t go off the reservation on that. I thought they had a great season. It’s been amazing how quickly Larry Brown has turned the season around. Actually, the way I got back was I was watching the LSU game at home and just seeing how rowdy the crowd was and I had heard different comments from Coach Pitino when Louisville played there and some other coaches saying how crazy it was. I used to go to the games when there were like 300 people in the stands. I was like this is crazy. I never thought I’d see it in my life so I just booked a quick trip over there and went to see the third round against Cal and we beat those guys on the last second shot. Cam Jordan, if you’re listening we beat Cal. It was a really neat experience. We rushed the court and I got to meet Larry Brown and a whole bunch of other people that are in the SMU athletic department.”
Tonight SMU plays Clemson. They might need your good luck.
“Yeah, I thought about going to that game but I realized the venue is going to be pretty cool to play in obviously, Madison Square Garden but if there was going to be one game I went to it was going to be the one at SMU because I wanted to see it full SMU fans. Who knows what the fans are going to be like up in New York. You’re going to get a mix of all sorts of people.”
Did you fill out a bracket this year?
“I filled out a bracket with my wife. We’ve doing pretty good. We’re not winning out family pool but I think we’re in second place. Obviously with a seven and eight seed in the final four that is the epitome of March madness.”
Is your champion still alive?
“Florida. Still alive but I’m sure 35-40% of brackets still have Florida picked. We did pretty good I have Michigan State going and they just lost. I had Louisville going and they just lost to Kentucky, who may end up winning it all. I had Arizona who just lost to Wisconsin. All those guys made decent runs so it was a respectable bracket.”