It was special from day one because of the fact that we were both former Tar Heels. From day one, once I found out that he was a former Tar Heel it made the relationship special. We would always check with each other to see what the Tar Heels were doing and check on scores and things like that. It was special from the start, and then we experienced that Super Bowl together, which was special. I feel like Coach Bunting and I share a special relationship with that memorable year and it has been good [since then]. Whenever I come back I chat with him. Sometimes I talk to some of the players. I call them after big wins. I definitely keep in touch with Coach Bunting.
Like I said, at that Lettermens' Weekend, nobody from the 90's was there. This is the first year that I've been able to go because my schedule was free. It gave me a chance to meet some of the older guys, the guys from the 60's, 70's, 80's who were ACC guys. It gave them a chance to meet me, which was great for the both of us. It was great to meet the older guys because they paved the way for us. I told them, 'You laid the foundation and paved the way for guys like me, so it is important for us to come back and show appreciation. I want to reach out to the guys I played with and try to get them to come to my event along with you all so we can all interact and have a good time and get to know one another. Hopefully, this event will get that accomplished.
Coach Bunting says all the time how he wants to reach out to former players.
There is only so much he can do. If these guys don't want to be reached, he has done all he can do, but I think that is where I can come in and some of the guys that I played with that I have relationships with will come back. A lot of the guys might not be as outgoing or sociable as I am. They don't really know anybody. Once Mack Brown and Madd Dog, the strength coach--the equipment guy is the same and the cook--they don't really know anybody so it's kind of hard. Normally, when your head coach leaves, the strength coach is the link to get the guys to come back, but all the strength coaches left and almost all the coaches. Coach Browning is still there, but most everybody is gone. That is probably the main reason a lot of those guys don't come back.
You seem to be acting as a bridge to a lot of the guys who were here when you were here. Is that something you have talked about with Coach Bunting specifically, because I know he likes it when former players come back.
Yes, he likes it. I have talked to Coach about 'We have to get these guys to come back,' but he still has a job to do. He is going to reach out, but he has to take care of his job. That is what I'm here for. I'm willing to reach out to the guys and try to get them to come back, to help out as much as I can, and that is what I'm doing.
What were your thoughts when you found out that Coach Bunting was taking over at UNC?
I was excited because I knew what he helped us do when we were in St. Louis. We had one of the better defenses that year. He is a very disciplinary coach. He holds guys accountable. I knew with some time to grow in that position as the head coach that he would gain confidence and get better and better--and he has. I'm very excited for him, and hopefully this year we can start getting this program back to what it was before. I have all confidence in Coach Bunting that he can get it done.
You mentioned speaking to some of the players on the team. What sort of advice do you give them?
I just tell them to set high goals. I had high goals and I stayed positive. I was very confident in what I could do, and that is why I feel like I was able to achieve what I did when I was in school. If you put forth the time and dedication you can accomplish anything you set for yourself.
I just tell them to stay focused and stay motivated because there is not that much difference in talent. The one thing that separates guys is heart and determination and confidence. The difference in talent on the professional level is not much of a difference. I try to instill that in the young guys when I come back.
There really isn't time to list all of your accomplishments, but you have been a three-time All-American in college, you have been to the NFL Pro Bowl, you have a Super Bowl ring. Is there anything left for you to accomplish?
I have accomplished a lot, but being able to achieve what most guys set out to do when they play professional ball has made it easier for me. I was three-time All-American in college, I played in the Super Bowl, I made the [NFL] Pro Bowl. I have accomplished a lot in this league, but I set high goals for myself. When all is said and done, I want to be mentioned as one of the best and have a name that carries for a long time. Ever since I was in high school that has been my goal.
At some point football will end for you. Hopefully, that is a ways into the future. What will the next phase of life carry for you?
That is still up in the air. I don't know what direction I will go once it is over, but I want to finish strong. People asked me, 'Why did you stay in school? You should have left earlier,' because my stock had dropped, but everything happens for a reason. My first three years in the league I didn't start. My statistics are better than every corner who went before me in the '99 draft, and they have had twice as many snaps.
That is something that has motivated me from day one, the fact that six corners were picked in front of me based on the way they worked out in the combine. Because I came out as a red-shirt junior I wasn't able to work out at the combine. They had a jump on me with the Senior Bowl and being able to practice for the coaches. That gave them an edge, so I have used that as motivation, and I am still motivated now.
There is only one corner that came out with me, Champ Bailey, who has more Pro Bowls that I do. I use all that as motivation to be the best I can be, and I want to finish my career with a bang. I feel like I have a lot of football left to be played, and what separates me is that I just keep making plays. I'm going to keep making plays until I'm done.
For people who are considering your golf tournament, what would you say to convince them to sign up, and what can they expect once they do?
They can expect first-class guys at a first-class event. I'm bringing the best guys, top-of-the-line guys, all the Tar Heel greats. Everybody from Vonnie Holliday to Greg Ellis to Chris Keldorf, to Brian Simmons, and there is a whole list. I'm bringing all the greats. You can expect a chance to enjoy yourself at a first-class club at a first-class club, for a first-class cause, which is the kids.