Tuesday morning I had the distinct pleasure to talk to Courtney Hall, ex-Charger, and former center for a San Diego team that went to the Super Bowl in 1994.
Hall played eight seasons for the Chargers after a college career at Rice highlighted by his continued dedication to the school and ability to stay on the field. He is one of five Division I-A centers to play every game of his four year college career, no small feat.
Hall continued that legacy onto the Pros until a knee injury ended his season in 1996 and ultimately his career.
He is not bitter, in fact Hall has taken the time to fully grasp life and rededicate himself to aspiring goals. Always the hard worker, in the NFL and in the game of life, he is a refreshing blend of savvy and humbleness.
The minute the conversation began, we talked as if we were old friends catching up on life after not speaking for a few months, laughing at our journeys as we retell them.
"Courtney, how do you like Chicago, and have you made it to any hockey games out there?"
"Great town, very cold, but it is nice. I took my kids to a hockey game, the (Chicago) Blackhawks and the Phoenix Coyotes were playing a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun. I got to see the fights."
I can only laugh at this point. Being a big fan of hockey, and having played in the minors, I always find humor in "I saw a fight!"
Courtney continues, "I am sitting there watching the hockey game, now the last time I went to a hockey game I was seven or eight years old. So I went to the hockey game and I am sitting there and there's a lot of action and people are getting into it, except when they score, but then a fight breaks out and everyone stand up and they are like, (in his best Rah, Rah, voice) ‘Yeah! Yeah! Get em! Get em!'"
"Yeah it's better than anyone actually scoring," I reply with a laugh.
"That's pretty dumb," he says with a laugh, "but it was pretty neat."
Just like old pals the subject changes so quickly it is hard to keep up.
"I am in the middle of doing my paper," Courtney says with a voice draining with effort.
I cannot resist, despite realizing he is going for his MBA and knowing full well I will know little on the subject.
"What are you doing the paper on?"
"It's a bankruptcy issue, not all that interesting," he replies.
I get a good laugh knowing he probably said that to let me loose and free me from the burden of having to ask more. Still I forge ahead.
"Probably something I know nothing about then?"
"I didn't either until about three weeks ago. Yeah it is just a bankruptcy issue and I am trying to combine some of the legal aspects and financial aspects and try to come up with my own theory. The thing is, I was telling a friend, you think you came up with this great idea and then you look and everyone has written on it."
Still not satisfied I grope for more.
"Didn't you have a double major in managerial studies and economics?"
"I did. When I went to Rice, from '85 to '90, I majored in managerial studies which is basically economics, a dual degree. They didn't have minors at the time so I figured what the heck mine as well make it difficult on myself. Kind of been my history, I always like pushing myself. I figured that was one of the more difficult routes I could take.
"I could tell since you never missed a game in your college career, right?"
"Never missed a game," Courtney confirms, "Although several times it was close. I started when I was a freshman there; I got there in '85. Well the funny story is I wasn't supposed to start. When I got there I was 16 years old, I came there as an engineering major."
"Sixteen?" I blatantly interrupt.
"Yeah I enrolled at Rice when I was 16."
"You have got to be kidding," I dare say.
"Wow, I am impressed," I add.
"My dad had just died the year before, when I was a senior in high school, so my mom made them promise…with all this, starting a major in engineering, and dad just died and away from home, we would like you to promise me that he will sit out his first year, redshirt.
"So when I got there that was the plan, I was going to come there and redshirt and do my engineering, come to grips with that and everything. After the first week of training camp Coach said, ‘Hey Courtney we need to make a call to your mom cause we had promised her we were going to do something, but we need you to start for us.' Made the call to my mom, my mom asked me if it was alright and my first game was against the University of Miami back in '85 and Vinny Testerverde was playing and it was pretty neat."
"Wow that had to be a rude awakening."
"It was. We got crushed," Courtney says with a laugh years later. Miami won 48-20, while Rice went on to win three games that season. "But it was fun, that being my first game and here are these National contenders. I still have the tape at home, at my mom's house. There's Jerome Brown, there was Michael Irvin, Vinny Testerverde, Alonzo Highsmith, all these stars and it was pretty neat going through my four years remembering that game."
We will be back tomorrow with the tougher side of his career as I continue my talk with Courtney Hall.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the following link: Denis Savage
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Former Charger, Courtney Hall Interview (Part I)
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