Minnesota Vikings cornerback Corey Chavous isn't sure which three-word phrase he likes more: "Interception by Chavous," or "SportsCenter is next."
Chavous isn't the stereotypical professional athlete that feasts on an all-you-can-eat buffet of headlines and highlights that focus on his own playmaking abilities, and his only. Surprisingly, it's just the opposite.
During football season, Chavous's five VCRs work longer hours than he does. Each VCR alone records double-digit hours of college football every week; 800 college games total in his video chest. Diligently, he makes sure every NFL game that week is recorded as well. NFL Films, he isn't. Football Films, he is.
His vast collection of videotapes and self-produced highlight films — miles of tape, actually — are the foundation for Chavous' belief that once his professional football playing career is over, he'll have no problem pursuing another career. In fact, that other career is already taking off.
It started way before he ever entered the NFL.
"I had four TV internships in college," said Chavous, who as an Arizona Cardinals free agent cornerback signed a four-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings in March. "I helped the producers produce their newscasts every night. I edited video and highlights and helped write scripts and put scores into the computer.
"What I was doing involved a lot of pressure. It was very hectic minutes before the newscast. Sometimes they'd go on (air) and they'd still need highlights off the satellite. The script was already written, so I'd have to get those highlights to follow that script and get it done before sports went on. If you don't get it done, the sportscaster gets hung out there. It only works if the whole team clicks. You've got to do your job to help him get his job done."
Teamwork. Pressure. Chavous thrives in it at a television newsroom or on the football field. In both instances, Chavous often is left on an island by himself. It's just him and the task at hand, together on an oasis. If he doesn't come through, everyone knows. The results are either a blown sportscast or a blown pass coverage.
"People go off on you if you're in their way," Chavous said of the sports production newsroom. "I had to get my job done with expediency, and get my job done in a timely manner."
Judging from his already-impressive background in sports television, it appears he's done his job so far. "Hopefully I'll have an impressive résumé, so I can get a job after I'm done with football," he said.
Hopefully? His résumé is already loaded.
Chavous, who will enter his fifth NFL season this fall, is considered in the sports media business as somewhat of a football historian. He owns more than 400 NFL and college football videotapes. In 1999, he joined Dallas broadcaster Norm Hitzges as an analyst of the NFL Draft in New York City on a nationally-syndicated radio show. For the 2000 and 2001 NFL Drafts, Chavous served as the NFC Eastern Division analyst for ESPN's national radio coverage. In last year's draft alone, Chavous offered on-air analysis for ESPN-TV and detailed breakdowns of college players for the Arizona Republic newspaper's draft coverage. He also has participated in ESPN.com's chat lines during draft weekend.
"I can give scouting reports on every NFL and college football team," said Chavous, who stressed he wasn't being arrogant, just accurate.
Before he even signed with the Vikings, Chavous was more than familiar with the team's secondary situation. "(Robert) Tate's a good cornerback. I played against him in college when he was at Cincinnati," Chavous said. "Eric Kelly and Carey Scott are young and have potential, too. Kelly's from Kentucky and Scott's from Kentucky State. Kenny Wright is good, too. He's from Northwestern State."
It's as if Chavous was waiting for the video to role, before he continued to offer individual scouting reports on strengths and weaknesses of each player.
"I'm a guy that loves competition," Chavous said. "There are several guys in our secondary who will be competing with me, and competition enables you to form a good backfield."
Last season, in 14 starts, Chavous had one interception, made 87 tackles and deflected 11 passes for the Cardinals. In 2000, he led Arizona non-starters with 51 tackles and had one interception. The year before, his second season in the NFL, he battled a knee injury and started just four games. He had one interception. As a rookie in '98, he had an interception in each of his first two NFL starts.
Even though he has just five interceptions in four years, Chavous says his physical play is what made him attractive to the Vikings.
"I'm a physical player who likes to mix it up … I was in a situation the last couple of years in Arizona where our defense wasn't the league's best," Chavous said. "But at the same time, we had some defensive backs come together and have some success. When I look at it from that perspective, I know what it takes in terms of commitment level, in terms of getting things going."
To Chavous, getting things going doesn't mean starting a three-year building process. After analyzing the team and judging from the video research he has conducted — don't laugh, Chavous's video library rivals ESPN Monday Night Countdown's Ron Jaworski — Chavous expects the Vikings to make a run at the playoffs this fall.
"Everyone says we're in a transition, but I don't feel that way," Chavous said. "Next year, I think we'll be back in the playoffs, because we have a good offensive team. Now we have some good defensive players. … I'm excited."
He's excited to get to work. He was the starting left cornerback in the Vikings' first minicamp two weeks ago and was preparing for the regular season well before the camps started.
"I've already started to scout certain players that I'll face this year, like Terry Glenn (of the Packers) and Az-Zahir Hakim (of the Lions)," Chavous said. "I've looked at their tapes and looked for tendencies and habits they do."
Whatever it takes to get an edge. Chavous' endless hours of video production are not only preparing him for a future career, but it's making him better at his present employment, too.
"I was a good leader for the young guys in Arizona," Chavous said. "Hopefully I'll be a guy that people can look up to in Minnesota." VU
FIRST VEHICLE: 1966 Chevy truck
CURRENT VEHICLE: 1998 Lincoln Navigator
FAVORITE VEHICLE: ‘66 Chevy truck
HOBBIES: Cooking, music, videotapes, making highlight films, broadcasting
FAVORITE ACTOR: Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman
FAVORITE ACTRESS: Halle Berry
FAVORITE MOVE: Wrongfully Accused
FIRST JOB: Selling watermelons, and picking peas in fields in South Carolina
OFFSEASON RESIDENCE: Arizona
IF I WEREN'T PLAYING FOOTBALL: Helping produce news casts, show production
Getting To Know: CB Chavous
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