Former Charger Center Courtney Hall (Part IV)

In the final piece of my discussion with Courtney Hall we touch upon some emotional topics including the Courtney Hall Scholarship Fund, Rice University and the current news regarding the San Diego Chargers.

"What is the Courtney Hall Athletic Scholarship Fund about?"

"I started a foundation back in 1993 and with that foundation we contribute to students educational options. We try to enrich students' educational experiences. We have different programs going on.

"One is the Scholarship Fund at Rice University which contributes money towards student athletes to offset the cost of student athletes at Rice University because we are not a huge college football program. We are actually a drain on the schools budget. So by contributing the money to the athletics, it helps not only the football team remain competitive, but helps the school at large so they don't have to funnel all of the money into the football program.

"We have a scholarship like that. We have a scholarship as UCSD, for minority applicants or students there. A merit based scholarship for people at the University of California- San Diego.

"I have a program that I instituted at my old high school where we give a group of entering ninth grade students, cumulatively we give them $10,000 dollars and we have them invest it in the market and in twelfth grade they can use that money towards scholarships, college, etcetera."

"Nice. Very nice, I wish I had that."

"The foundation… we do a lot of good things with, but for me it is more based on education. That is something that I value, and something my mom instilled in me when I was younger and I have tried to carry that through until now."

"It is important," I add. "Finances, especially when you are younger. I didn't learn until I was in college and I got bit by that. Even figuring out how much a loan on a car would be and how much I really would be paying in the end."

"That's very true. I didn't know really until I got two years in the Pros. I didn't realize, there's all this opportunity, there is savings and bonds and a lot of ways to not only preserve your money but make money. I just want to expose other kids to that as well."

"That's great, a great service to the kids and their futures.

"What is your feeling on Junior Seau?"

"It's tough. In one respect I definitely understand the organization. It is a business and there are no two ways about that. As much as Junior has done for that community, he was raised there, and he has done so much for the Chargers. I don't believe you have ever seen, besides his first year; ever argue about money in the newspaper. He's been a consummate tem player, he's been a great leader, he's been a great player and still is a great player. It is tough to see how they handled that and I think if they could do it all over again they would have handled it a bit differently."

"I think so too. Especially with the stadium trigger and all that it just seemed strange timing to me."

"It was. I try to tell people, Jerry Jones, the way he handled the whole Emmitt Smith deal. I mean Emmitt is a great running back. I don't think anyone thought that Jerry Jones was going to be able to afford to bring Emmitt back for another year. His output and his productivity. The way he handled it, he made a big deal about Emmitt, his last year, he brought him in for a meeting. Made is very public, made a big to-do about Emmitt, we are sorry we have to let you go. That seems like that would have been fitting for the Chargers to do for Junior, instead of go find somewhere else to play."

"I couldn't agree more," I add.

"I think they are making a mistake. I think Junior has a lot left in him. Twelve times in the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl is not a popularity contest. People watch film in the NFL, first hand experience, and I am not going to vote for someone that is not playing well. I don't care if I haven't played against them; I am not going to vote for them. The fans vote in the players as well and if he has a great name, well if you poll throughout the nation a lot of people… Junior is kind of a hidden secret here. People really don't know about Junior Seau, they have not really seen him that much.

"Anyway, I think they are making a mistake. There are a lot of other issues that are involved there. You have cap issues. They are probably thinking two to three years down the road they need to create some room and even develop some of these young guys here. So I can really understand what they were doing in that respect."

"I agree, even in his press conference he was so…loyal to the fans," I state. "He thinks with his heart. It may have been a little bit rash of him to have his press conference, but I don't really know all of the particulars about it. Just the way he handled himself in the press conference was still a beautiful thing to see."

"It was and I think that is another intangible as an organization this day and age you really have to take into consideration. Junior is a class act, he is not only a class football player, but he is a class person. PR wise and having that kind of player on your team that people look up to and will rally around the team and the player. You need those types of guys on the team. You don't need the type of guys who are in trouble all the time, no matter how a great of a player they are."

"So what has changed about the game since you left?"

"I think what we were talking about earlier, I think just the size. These last three or four years I have been trying to keep up with the game, but it has been kind of difficult because of school. Last year I tried to watch a little more football. You've got players like David Boston…"

"He is a monster," I say referring to him in a good way.

"He is 6-3, they are like my size, and they are running 4.5 and 4.4's its insane."

"Can I ask you how, well, the combines back then?"

"I had a pretty good combine."

"How many times did you bench 225?"

"I did it 36 times."

"36!" As Courtney surprises me at every turn. "That is impressive."

"I was actually the combine champ that year."

"Very nice. I was actually working on my Wayne Hunter notes and he did 37 reps and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God. He has eaten his Wheaties.'"

"You know it is just amazing, the size. I think every year it just continues to get that way. It's probably a cliché, they are going to continue to get bigger, they will continue to get stronger.

"Another thing that I have been pleasantly surprised with is just the parody that there is in the league these days. Back when I was playing it was San Francisco, it was Washington, it was the Buffalo Bills. Those were the teams, for everyone else, forget it. You were just hoping to hang on. The salary cap and everything, not the salary cap, but free agency, I think it is a great thing. It has done a lot to help out some of the team that may not have made it before. Tampa Bay is a great example.

"When I was playing they were the stepchild. It was like, 'Ooh we are going to Tampa, alright! Let's see what we can do Friday and Saturday and then we will go to the game get a victory and come back home.'"

"I think free agency has really enabled a lot of teams to compete on a more level playing field."

"I agree, it has given each team a chance to win, or at least compete," I add.

"Courtney I appreciate your time, I don't want to take up anymore. We have been talking for about 30 minutes now," I say with a laugh.

"No problem. I am here in between classes."

Again, I appreciate your time; it has been a pleasure talking with you. You are very eloquent and I really appreciate it."

"Well thank you. It is good to know people still remember me," Courtney says with a laugh. "You leave and you figure, especially since I kind of just left. Not the type of player that would have all the big press conferences, but the people still remember you and remember that you put it down for the team and you left it all out on the field week in and week out. You are appreciated for that."

"They do remember believe it or not and offensive linemen are getting more and more play these days, because they are so important. You were a class act then and you still are now. I mean who can forget you are just the fifth center in Division I-A Football to start every game."

"It was an accomplishment."

"I think you were only the third back then…"

Seth McKinney of Texas A&M joined the elite group in 2002 The rest of the group with Courtney Hall includes Bryan Stoltenburg of Colorado, Chris Lorenti of Central Florida and Matt Hancock of New Mexico State.

"There weren't too many. It was very difficult to come in as a rookie, and as a freshman to come in and start on that kind of level. I do appreciate it, and I had a great time. I will definitely be back to San Diego."

"Courtney thanks again for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to join us, it has been an honor."

Chargers Update would like to personally thank Courtney Hall for allowing us to interview him. It was a pleasure to deal with him and talk to him about the many issues surrounding him and the league. We only wish we had more time to spend picking his brain.

Thanks you Courtney from all of us at Chargers Update.

Denis Savage can be reached at or via the following link:: Denis Savage

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