What did you take away from tonight and hearing USC student questions?
Just kind of feeling the love, the Trojan love and being around. It's really nice reception to come back. I love this place and we spent so many wonderful years here. I feel very fortunate to be received as we were and hangout with Sark and Dave and some of the people that showed up and to see a couple former players in the house here, it's very fun.
What was your reaction telling the Will Ferrell story, then he appears?
I can't believe he tried to steal my thunder here, I can't believe he did that. No, it's great fun to see him and everything he does is funny. He doesn't even have to speak a word and he makes you laugh. But he was, in the time we were here, he was a part of the fabric of what we were doing and I put that in the message about having fun and enjoying the time here, as well as winning and doing all that stuff, so he continues to be an inspiration to me.
Has this offseason been everything you thought it would be after winning a Super Bowl?
I think the thing that was most surprising was the depth of the reception up north by the people. The spirit they bring was exemplified throughout, they've always been spirited and all that, but the emotional connection that was made in this accomplishment – you know – the pride they take in it and all that, it's very humbling. To just be a part of that – from the kids to the older people, they all watch. We were mostly involved in what was going on around Seattle but I know it goes on beyond that. Great, great fun to share that with them.
When you reach ultimate goal, what is challenge to get back there?
It is a tremendous challenge, it is a different challenge in some regards because of all that goes on between now and when we go back to work. Had we never approached the conversation, never even tried to talk about what it is going to be like, then I'd be concerned about it, but we have been. We never set our sights on winning the Super Bowl, we never talk like that or to get the ring. The guys are really proud of it and all that kind of stuff, I don't want to discount any of that, but it's about doing things well for a really long time, so and then some day you look back and say "Well, what did we do?" as opposed to just going nuts and relishing in the time – that one time when you did something. So, a lot of hard work, a lot of great focus, great conversation about who we are, what we are will take place. I just totally feel so lucky to be in this challenge of trying to recreate. I love that here at SC and took the most pride in trying to continue to be on it. Things – times come together. Players come together, good things happen, but it's sustaining that really is the sign of great medal so I'm really looking forward to it.
It's been very difficult. I think Sark sees it exactly – the focus needs to be on where we are going not on what's happened before. Any time you are looking back you are going to get caught up in what was behind you, so I think he sees it beautifully and he's going to put that in course – he's already set the course – and will see what this program is proud of, capable of. That doesn't mean they are going to win National Championships and all that stuff, but they are going to do great things and he totally knows, so I'm thrilled he is taking over.
How do you think USC handled it?
I think it's been a tremendous challenge. I'm not sure who you want to address on that. The players have continued to bust their tail, had a great surge with Ed [Orgeron] when he jumped in here, unfortunately it didn't work out for Lane [Kiffin], I really think it is more about the whole sanctions and that whole process that put us in that situation. We made some mistakes along the way and I never thought it was dealt with properly, I thought it was dealt with poorly and very irrationally and done with way too much emotion instead of the facts. Unfortunately, the kids that played in this program after the fact are the ones that got held back. It's too bad and I hope that that message is out there that this process needs to be better than what it was. It looks to be better already, but at that time I think they handled it extremely poorly.
Were you worried about your reception here?
No, I wans't worried at all. I really wasn't worried because my expectations weren't that it was going to be – whatever. I was just coming in here to have fun and share with the people that were here, but it was really cool. It was really fun. Everybody had so much fun, before we ever got here, coming through Tommy Trojan and the student center and all that, there were a lot of cool things that were happening, so I feel very fortunate. People coming up and wanting to talk and say stuff and high fiving and autographs and all that. It was just kind of fun.
On Richard Sherman and Erin Andrews…
When we beat the 49ers and that game was over and all that, we had some time and the very next morning Richard and I sat down and we talked through what had just happened. He didn't have the opportunity, exercise, to stop that from happening. He was just so emotional at the time. I thought it was an extraordinary illustration, I'm really – I know it sounds crazy but I am grateful for the illustration because people saw the depth of the passion that guys play with. Not just our guys – all performers play with. It got captured right in the midst of the passion and he was explosive almost. I think it was shocking to some people. He didn't have the time to collect himself. By the next morning he had the time and he was remorseful in a sense – not for that he responded that way – but that people took it the way they took it. And you also got to see because of the extraordinary following for that, you got to see the spectrum of the wonderful individual who Richard Sherman is and he showed you who he was and had the opportunity to speak on his own behalf and on our behalf and on every athlete who has ever been jacked up and fired up from McEnroe on across the board, that's part of this endeavor of sports that we play at this level and it's real. It was real. I think Richard handled it so many aspects of that so well. I think that he really showed a lot of people what this game and what athlete's lives are all about.
On his work in the streets of LA…
I appreciate that everyone can use the battle. It's from the heart or it wouldn't be there and the guys that do the work are so emotional and extraordinary and they've gone through so much to get to where they are. It wasn't always the path that everybody thinks is the right path, but it was the path they needed to take to become the people they needed to become and the work they do to help those young people from taking somebody else's life to supporting their own chance for a life, and giving those moms and dads – those kids coming home – day after day. The work is extraordinary that they do and we owe so much to them and I wish everybody knew that as they know about the scores of the Super Bowl. I wish everybody understood that the model being created here is so powerful and that we know how to do it because we deal with people one-on-one from the heart and we reach in their heart and give them a chance to figure out what they can become.
Should the NFL come back to LA?
I hope so. This community deserves it and the league would love to see it happen. I think they've expressed that many times, but it has to be right. It is a huge challenge. It is a huge undertaking and there is only so many people who can pull it off because there is so many aspects to it, from the state to the league, to the local levels – there is so much going on there, but I hope that in my time we will get to see it. Because everybody – kids deserve it, fans deserve it, and it's a great city to play in. It's a championship city and it would be wonderful to see it happen again.
How fulfilling was it to show you can succeed in NFL with what you did at USC?
Let me say this to clarify, I didn't say this very clearly: it isn't that we did it. It's the way we did it. The way that we did it was to take care of the individual's. To totally engage in the individual's development and help these guys be the best they can possibly be and care about them and look out for them along the way. We took a lot of guys who had issues in the past and we tried to help them through that so they could reach their potential, which was the same thing we did at SC and we treated them in the same manner and I wanted to see if you went to the NFL level of competition and you treated people like that, what the results would be. I thought they would be what they are, that's why we went for it, but that's what I'm proud of, and I didn't really say that very clearly when I said it earlier, maybe. But, it's not the accomplishment – I don't care about that – I care about that we were able to show that you are able to have people perform at this kind of level by really caring for them and only helping them be what they can be and not trying to show them what they're not, not trying to deal with them in that manner. I know that we're a little unique in that way that we speak and operate and I thought it was the opportunity to demonstrate that and hopefully with our work here at SC and our work at Microsoft and the places we go from here, we can continue to show that there is a way to develop people to become their best and not just have to coerce them or challenge them or beat them down to build them back up. Those ways are okay, they work. Historically, they've been the best ways ever… but we just don't do it that way and I think it's pretty exciting, pretty cool to demonstrate that.
You mention John Wooden, other coaches who were inspiration?
Bud Grant was one of the guys. I have a bunch of guys. But Bud Grant of Minnesota was one of the great inspirations to me. I'll always go back to that, but there was always something – all the way back to my high school coach and all the guys that – there are so many guys, and I'm not just saying that to just pat them on the back, everybody contributed to the way I see things, I'm just a collection of all those thoughts and all, but Coach Grant really had something unique about him and a way to operate from the truth of what he knew and was always working to try to figure out how to get closer to the way he did it.
You talked about how the NCAA acted on emotion instead of facts, but you did say you made some mistakes – what did you mean?
Well, I wish we would have known what was going on, what was happening. I wish we would have known. But we didn't know. And had we known, I wish we would have acted properly and appropriately to take care of business, we just didn't know what was going on then. And had we known it, I would like to think we did the right thing and would've stopped it and would've fixed it by doing what we should've done. But unfortunately because we didn't know, the university gets killed over the deal. I just think it was not handled well. I sat in the meetings, I listened to the people talk, I listened to the venom they had for our program. They didn't understand a thing of what we were all about. They never were here. They never even got close to figuring what we were all about because we are all about like we are now – doing the right thing, taking care of people, looking after ones, doing everything we can to help everybody engage in what this thing was all about and they tried to make us out like we were something other than that. It was just wrong and they made a terrible error in and I'll say this too – the thing I'll say about the whole approach, the philosophical approach from the NCAA's outlook as it has been in the past is about punishing the school for things that go wrong. It's people that do this. It's people that cause these problems and it's people who have nothing to do with the university and the direction and the focus – they say ‘well, we can't do anything about that , so let's just punish the school'. Look what they did to Penn State, look at that. $60 million dollars they charged them. There's a million ways – I just don't understand. The philosophy after all these years and this updated time, isn't more on point with what is necessary and what should be done. I think it's all about philosophy – I don't think they have it nailed right now. So I don't mind saying that, I'm glad I got a chance to.
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